Google is finally trying to do something about the vast numbers of malicious apps in its Play Store app marketplace, by revamping the terms and conditions developers must adhere to.
Specifically the updates are designed to ensure apps do not gather personal user information without that user's permission. Google also wants to stamp out apps that can mimic other popular apps. Google hopes this will reduce the number of malicious apps that masquerade as legitimate apps, such as Angry Birds.
"Don't pretend to be someone else, and don't represent that your app is authorised by or produced by another company or organisation if that is not the case," the updated terms and conditions warned.
"Products or the ads they contain also must not mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other applications. Developers must not divert users or provide links to any other site that mimics or passes itself off as another application or service. Apps must not have names or icons that appear confusingly similar to existing products, or to apps supplied with the device," Google said.
Google also wants developers to refrain from sending out "repetitive content."
Google has been criticised in the past for its approach to malicious apps in the Play Store. The open nature of the Android ecosystem means apps are not rigorously checked before being made available to download. This has led to a huge rise in the amount of malware being aimed at the system.
Much of this malware is hidden in apps that are disguised to look like legitimate apps. Angry Birds is a popular choice for criminals, as are Assassins Creed and Cut the Rope. These apps will often sign users up to premium rate SMS services without their knowledge. Users often only become aware once their bill arrives at the end of the month.
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