After some confusion – and after Apple watched Apple get its iOS App Store policies under control – Google is clarifying how and when it plans to cut its paid apps on the Google Play Store.
After a Android Developers Blog released todayAny developer with an app on Google Play who has to do some “technical work” in order to integrate Google’s billing system must do so by September 30, 2021. That means these developers can continue to collect direct payments from customers without having to save Google 30% for the next year. That deadline will likely coincide with the release of Android 12. Android 11 Widespread earlier this month. Android 12 also makes it easier for developers to offer their apps in third-party app stores.
This new policy is part of a larger effort by Google to clarify the Google Play guidelines for developers and to continue providing support for developers who want to use their apps in other stores on multiple platforms. The 1-year Get Out of Jail Card is really intended for companies with a physical main business that had to move to a fully digital platform in order to stay afloat during the pandemic.
“We have received feedback that our policy language could clarify what types of transactions require use of the Google Play billing system and that the current language is causing confusion,” wrote Sameer Samat, vice president of product management at Google.
Google is now asking developers to use the Google Play billing system for apps and downloads if the system is already built into the app, and developers must use that system to bill for in-app features or services. There are a few exceptions to the rules that go into effect on January 20th, including paying for physical goods and apps that allow money transfers, like Venmo.
While it looks like Google is becoming more and more like Apple, with developers having to charge their customers through Google’s billing system, the company couldn’t be clearer about continuing to support Android’s open API platform.
“We believe that developers should have choices about how to distribute their apps and that businesses should compete for the business of consumers and developers,” said Samat.
These options include allowing users to set default messages, keyboards, phone dialers, or other apps from a developer of their choice.
“This openness means that even if the developer and Google do not agree on terms and conditions, the developer can distribute on the Android platform,” he added.
A developer doesn’t need to use the Google Play Store to make an app available for Android. Samat pointed out Fourteen days is available on Android via Epics website or Samsung’s Galaxy App Store; Google removed Fourteen days from his shop after Epic Games intentionally violated its policies. Samat also made it clear that developers “can communicate directly with their customers via email or other channels about prices, offers and alternative options outside of their app”.
In principle, developers are allowed to tell their users which other locations they can download their app from if they do not want their information to be transmitted through Google’s billing system – a practice that Apple forbids according to the App Store guidelines.
There’s an argument about how much Google gets from developers, but at least Google offers a workaround. That could save the company from a cartel judgment.