In a sweeping update to app policies for Android, Google has banned third-party in-app payment providers from the Play Store. According to the new policy, which also dictates in-app ad policies among other things, Google is making clear that app developers will have to use Google’s in-app billing services for purchases done from within the app.
- App purchases: Developers charging for applications and downloads from Google Play must do so by using Google Play’s payment system.
- In-app purchases:
- Developers offering virtual goods or currencies within a game downloaded from Google Play must use Google Play’s in-app billing service as the method of payment.
- Developers offering additional content, services or functionality within another category of app downloaded from Google Play must use Google Play’s in-app billing service as the method of payment, except:
- where payment is primarily for physical goods or services (e.g. buying movie tickets, or buying a publication where the price also includes a hard copy subscription); or
- where payment is for digital content or goods that may be consumed outside of the application itself (e.g. buying songs that can be played on other music players).
Developers must not mislead users about the applications they are selling nor about any in-app services, goods, content or functionality they are selling.
The move is similar to what Apple did a couple of years ago when it launched Newsstand and made it mandatory for payments for subscriptions to happen via Apple’s payment service, which meant Apple received a 30 percent cut just like it did with app purchases. However, Google has not gone to those levels and still allows some categories to use third-party in-app payment providers.
Most of the items Google has announced in its new Play Store policy are meant towards making the Play Store secure for users, a major complaint most users are. The Play Store has also had its share of malware apps as well as other major vulnerabilities some of which could affect up to 99 percent of all Android devices. Earlier in April Google had removed 60,000 low quality apps from the store.
While the Play Store is far from reaching a situation where a third of all apps are made by a single developer and most of them being crappy, but Google realizes its role of being a gatekeeper in the Play Store especially when Android powers over 80 percent of all smartphones globally. In July Google CEO Larry Page had announced that over 900 million Android devices had been activated globally and over 1.5 million new devices were getting activated daily. Users had downloaded over 50 billion apps from the Play Store.