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Google will no longer ignore poor-performing Android apps

by Killian Bell | May 22, 2017May 22, 2017 4:09 am PDT

Google will no longer stand by and ignore badly-made Android apps that perform poorly on even the most powerful smartphones and tablets. The company says it will be chasing developers who publish slow and unstable titles, while also reducing their visibility in the Play Store.

One of the things that makes the Play Store unique compared to rivals like Apple’s App Store is that developers have an incredible amount of flexibility. The Play Store accepts apps that are banned on other platforms — such as game emulators — and Google is much more relaxed about vetting new titles before they are made available to users. This has upsides and downsides.

While it’s great that the Play Store is much more accessible to developers, who don’t have to jump through so many hoops to put their app out there, it does mean that the quality of apps isn’t quite as good. Users will often download titles that provide a poor experience. Now Google is finally cracking down on Android apps that don’t live up to its expectations.

At Google I/O this year, the company confirmed new plans to track down those apps and do something about them. With “Android vitals,” it is giving developers new ways to see various metrics and scores on app performance and stability, making it easier for them to identify issues and (hopefully) address them. These are the things Google will be looking at:

  • App not responding (ANR) rates
  • Crash rate
  • Slow rendering
  • Frozen frames
  • Stuck wake locks (the app keeps the device awake for more than an hour)
  • Excessive wake-ups (the app wakes up the device more than 10 times an hour)

Google will use these metrics to measure app performance, and titles that fall into the bottom 25 percent will no longer be ignored. Not only will it be chasing developers to encourage improvements, but it will limit the “promotability” of apps that fail to meet its standards. In other words, apps in the bottom 25 percent are less likely to appear in Play Store search results and promotions.

It’s certainly about time Google did something about badly-made Android apps, and though this might have an adverse impact on rookie developers who are just starting out, who might not have the experience and expertise required to build a flawless app, it’s a win for users who are tired of disappointing titles that don’t work properly.


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...

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