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Google to ban emoji, deceptive marketing, and ALL CAPS from Play Store metadata later this year

The spotty 13-year old app shack finally growing up? Better late than never

Google is warning developers it won’t allow misleading or hyperbolic app descriptions by year-end, in an attempt to make the world’s biggest app bazaar feel less like the feedback section of an eBay profile.

Per the new guidelines, Google will limit app names to just 30 characters, with developers banned from using ALL-CAPS, multiple sequential special characters (“!!!), and emojis to promote their wares.

Among the soon-to-be-verboten practices, Google said it will no longer allow developers to imply performance or popularity through the app’s metadata. Software houses will be prohibited from describing themselves as “#1” or “top,” according to examples given by the Chocolate factory.

As part of its spring cleaning, Google also said it plans to ban developers from indicating pricing through the app’s metadata (such as by describing the app as “free” or ad-free in the title, or with elements in the app’s icon).

Additionally, the crackdown has seen Google take a firm line on apps that mislead users to obtain downloads, such as by including a call to action in the name (such as “download now”) or through visual touches in the app icon.

Google has promised to boot apps that fail to meet these standards from the Play Store, although it hasn’t offered any detail on when this policy change will take effect, or how it will enforce the rules in practice.

And the company is taking a firmer line on preview assets (pictures, videos, and screenshots that aren’t part of the metadata, but are nonetheless used to promote the app), and plans to take action against apps that use misleading content to entice punters.

This addresses an issue that’s proven endemic within the free-to-play gaming sphere. Developers of microtransaction-hungry titles will often use promotional materials that ultimately bear no resemblance to the staid, rapacious experience the game offers.

Because let’s face it, if you’re the type of moral vacuum that would create a free-to-play game in the first place, you’re unlikely to draw the line at using deceptive marketing tactics. In this case, Google has to take action.

By announcing the new rules in advance, Google said it hopes developers will start complying ahead of time. It plans to start enforcing these rules in the second half of this year. While it doesn’t plan to boot titles that fail to comply, it said it may refuse to promote or recommend them.

The Register notes that Google launched the Play Store 13 years ago, when it was called the Android Market.

Still, it's never too late to grow up, eh gang? ®

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