It's been said many times that compared to Apple's tightly controlled walled garden, Android is the wild west of app development. I think that's been a good thing on balance, but not always. The lack of control can sometimes cause difficulties for developers and users alike. With Google's new semi-manual app approval process, it's taking the middle road, and that's probably good for everyone.

In case you missed the news, Google has started having living, breathing human beings review apps before they are pushed to the Play Store. It's not a completely manual approval process, though. Some automated tools filter down the list of potentially problematic apps before the humans take over from the machines. According to Google, it started doing this several weeks ago and hasn't gotten any complaints from developers. The language in the dev console is a little different, which has led to some rumblings about changes behind the scenes, but it was only official today.

For developers, this means better feedback when an app is suspended or blocked from the Play Store. The publishing status will now tell devs what stage of the process an app is in. If it's still pending, that means the review isn't done yet. Rejected? Someone (probably a human) looked at it and gave it the boot. Apparently, Google thinks it can still publish apps in a few hours like this.

Less of this.

Less of this.

So that's all good for developers, but having manual approvals will help everyone in a few ways. We probably get tipped about a dust-up over an app being suspended by Google at least a few times per week. Usually this is because the app in question technically violated some policy or another, but people have been using it and everything was fine until Google swooped down and ruined everyone's day. That shouldn't happen anymore. An app with infringing content or a disallowed name will probably be caught in review so the developer can fix it before it goes live. It's going to be much less frustrating for everyone involved.

The open aspect of the Play Store has been great because it lets developers innovate as fast as they want and push bug fixes within hours of an issue cropping up. However, it also increases the noise. Every time there's a big app release, the clones start flooding the Play Store, making it hard to actually find the original. Presumably, this won't happen anymore either. The idea of instituting a manual review process for apps might seem off-putting at first, but this measured approach could be the best thing for the Play Store.