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Google Play requiring Android apps to clearly detail subscriptions before users sign-up

Alongside the first Android 11 Developer Preview, Google announced that it would review all Play Store apps requesting background location access. That policy is now live, with Google Play also introducing new requirements to make subscriptions more transparent.

Applications that want access to your location when not in active use will have to first get approval from Google. The Play Store wants to limit those unnecessary requests given how sensitive that information is.

Permitted always-running uses include social networks that broadcast your current location to friends or an emergency alert tool. Meanwhile, a retail app with a store locator feature that works in the background would “not have a strong case” to get approval. Apps where location requests are always explicit — like tagging a picture before posting — will function normally.

The official Google Play policy that details what is required for background location access was published today. New apps will have to comply by August, while existing ones have until November or face removal from the store.

A second key change today deals with making subscriptions more transparent. Users complain that it’s not always clear what they’re signing up for. The Play Store itself provides reminders when a free trial or intro pricing ends, and emails long-term subscribers about upcoming renewals. There is also increased transparency during the checkout process.

The goal of this policy update is to ensure users understand the subscription offer, the terms of free trials and introductory offers, and how to manage their subscription, including cancellation.

Google is now asking developers to explain what exactly a subscription provides, and make it easy to dismiss offers. The in-app sign-up page also needs to state the cost, billing frequency, and what users get in return.

Similarly, free introductory trials need to clearly communicate duration, pricing, what’s included, when it will become paid, and how to cancel. Developers will have until June 16 to bring existing apps into compliance.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: