Google has plenty of digital minefields for children and parents to navigate through — inappropriate videos on YouTube labeled for children are just one of them — but Android apps have also been a tricky place. Today, the company has announced sweeping changes to its Play Store policies, including new requirements for anyone publishing apps intended for kids.
Developers will now be required to define a target audience for their apps in the Play Console, designating their product as suitable for children, older users, or children and older users. If the app targets children to any degree, they must follow the new Families policies. If a user of any age might accesses their app on an openly-available Android device — such as a tablet at a restaurant — publishers must make sure that their app has a "neutral age screen" and create a partitioned experience for kids that complies with the rules.
These rules mandate that content and marketing must be appropriate for children. In-app advertising must be specifically tailored for the audience and come from a Google Play certified ad network. If the app has an augmented reality experience, users must be cautioned to seek adult supervision. They must also comply with the U.S. Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act, and the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation.
App publishers shouldn't use materials that may potentially appeal to kids (left) and instead use more neutral materials (center) or label their app as "not designed for children" (right)
Those submitting new apps to the Play Store will have to align with these policies from today. Existing apps must be updated into compliance by September 1.
Google is enacting a wide swath of changes to its Play Store policies, including an explicit ban on any apps related to marijuana.