Google Changes App Approval Process

August 17, 2019

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Until recently, Google Play would have apps reviewed and approved or rejected within hours of submission. That is now changing with a new Play Store policy, wherein apps will take up to three days for approval. Developers will want to keep this in mind when planning new releases and updates for their apps.

Changing Policies

In April, Google announced that they would be taking more time to review apps. While originally the statement said it would be for “developers that don’t yet have a track record with [Google Play],” developers who have been on the store for years are also reporting longer waits.

Developers submitting apps will receive a notification saying: “To help better protect our users, we’ll take more time to thoroughly review your app.” It provides a “Learn More” link suggesting developers give themselves a buffer of at least three days for submitting apps.

Impact on Developers

As a result of this change, developers cannot submit a new app the day they want it to go live without using the Timed Publishing feature. They should submit in advance through a closed testing track, then use Timed Publishing to ensure the app launches at the day they so choose.

App updates can also still be scheduled with Google Play’s “timed publishing” feature. This will allow apps to roll out seasonal changes or launch updates at a specific time without any extra difficulty.

However, this may delay the roll out for bug fixes for apps. Developers want to address bugs quickly, before the errors cost the app too many users. This could have a negative impact on their reviews or drive uninstalls, which could have a negative impact on the app’s ASO.

There is currently no expedited review process or escalation process. As this is a new update, it may take some time for Google to iron out the bugs in the process to ensure all apps have a clear path to a timely launch.

Why the Change?

Google’s change to its review process is part of its efforts to combat malicious apps. Providing extra time allows Google’s team to thoroughly inspect each app for compliance with all the Play Store’s policies.

According to Google: “This will allow us to do more thorough checks before approving apps to go live in the store and will help us make even fewer inaccurate decisions on developer accounts.”

Google will also provide more information on why an app was rejected, as well as allow appeals. While this may require app developers to wait longer before their apps go live, it will ensure the apps that do go through are thoroughly vetted, and those that don’t are given a clear reason why.

What Now?

While this change came as a surprise for many developers, it’s important to work with the changes and plan accordingly.

Developers with a planned release date for their apps should submit their app for review at least three days prior to the intended launch date. While there is a chance it will be reviewed and approved before the three days are over, it may be preferable to release an app early than late.

If a developer is submitting an update and wants it to coincide with a certain time, such as for seasonal events or special occasions, they can schedule a time to launch the update. They should still submit the update in advance to ensure it can be properly reviewed.

This will primarily impact the launch of new apps. As developers build trust with Google Play, the time to launch may decrease, as Google’s initial announcement stated it is designed for apps from developers that do not yet have history with the Play Store.

While the extra wait time may impact an app’s launch date or the time it takes to send out updates and bug fixes, developers can prepare by being aware of these changes. Unlike most changes, this is not clearly labeled at the top of the developer console. It appears after you submit your app, so be aware when submitting.

Want more information regarding App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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