In a bid to make its in-app subscriptions more transparent and secure to users, Google has announced a series of new policies. As the new policy, developers need to provide clear instructions like the cost of subscription, billing and renewal cycle and offers about app subscription plans. The new rules are meant to stop the subscription scams in the Play Store.
In addition to the rules for app developers, the Google Play Store is also providing more information to users directly, notifying them when free trials end or when long-term paid subscriptions are about to renew.
In a blog post by the company, Google provides a list of “best practices” the developers should follow to comply with the new rules. These include providing clarity about whether a subscription is necessary to use all or parts of the app. Also, if a subscription is not required, the user should be able to dismiss the subscription offer easily.
If a developer is offering free trials and introductory offers, they should clearly and accurately inform the users about the duration, pricing, and feature inclusion of the offer. They also have to state the end date of free trial and beginning of paid subscription, as well as how users can terminate the trial offer if they do not wish to start the paid subscription.
It is unclear what penalties or consequences the developers will face if they fail to comply with the updated subscription guidelines.
Google also stated that developers have until June 16 to get their existing apps modified according to the updated policy. Any new app or app update that is published after April 16 will have to comply with the updated policy.
The new subscription policies aim to cut down on misleading subscriptions and so-called “fleeceware,” where apps are unclear about the terms of their subscriptions and offer free trials in the hopes of tricking users out of their money. Apps that trick users into signing up for costly ongoing subscriptions are not only making it onto the Play Store, but in some cases, they’ve even entered the top charts.