When you go looking for a new app, it’s good to know what you’re getting into. That’s why app stores like the Google Play Store try to provide users with ample notice of what to expect, from permissions the app will use, to the presence (and pricing) of in-app purchases, to a rating, warning users of potentially objectionable content. That’s well and good when all the content in your app is coming right from the publisher, but what about when the app itself is a tool for consuming outside content: say, something along the lines of a web browser, or a media player? Developers of such titles can occasionally find themselves on the wrong side of Google Play’s enforcement arm, and that’s a situation that’s playing out again today, as Google shuts down the popular Podcast Addict.
What would prompt Google to ban one of the most highly rated podcast apps in the Play Store, one with north of four million downloads? According to the notice received by its developers, the app was in “violation of the sexually explicit material provision of the [Google Play] Content Policy.”
It doesn’t sound like the devs were wholly unaware of the potential for users to use their app to listen to risque content, and prior to being pulled, the app was already rated “teen,” an even more restrictive category than the “everyone” advertised by browsers like Chrome and Firefox – apps just as capable of connecting users with adult-oriented media.
This is far from the first time we’ve heard of Google taking swift action to remove apps accused of violating its content policies – ones where that content isn’t really part of the “offending” app at all – and we’re sure it won’t be the last. Is this an inevitable consequence of Google’s relatively hands-off app policy, one based more on reaction than initial approval, or could (and should) Google be doing a much better job at treating its developers with a little good faith?