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Google Play developer policy updated to fight spam

Google wants to fight "spammy notifications" and ensure that developers don't use names or icons that are too similar to existing system apps.

Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Google today issued a wide-ranging update to its Developer Program Policy, with the aim of making "Google Play a great community for developers and consumers."

The search giant zeroed in on two issues it's seeing across the Google Play landscape: "deceptive app names and spammy notifications." From now on, developers will not be allowed to use app names or icons that are deemed "confusingly similar to existing system apps," the company wrote in an e-mail viewed by CNET. Google didn't say what would make a respective application confusing.

On the spam front, Google requires developers to "not post repetitive content." In addition, app product descriptions should not be "loaded with keywords" to improve rankings in the store and no programs should be added to the marketplace that are designed to drive traffic to a Web site.

"Additionally, we are adding a new section that addresses ad behavior in apps," Google wrote about its new advertising policy. "First, we make it clear that ads in your app must follow the same rules as the app itself. Also, it is important to us that ads don't negatively affect the experience by deceiving consumers or using disruptive behavior such as obstructing access to apps and interfering with other ads."

Google, of course, isn't alone in dictating to developers what they can and cannot do with their apps. For years, Apple has been viewed as the most heavy-handed of application store owners, ensuring that developers stay within its stringent rules at all times. However, like Google, Apple argues that having such rules in place will create a better software experience.

Any developer that delivers an app to Google's store from this point forward is subject to the new rules, the company says. Those apps that have been "grandfathered" in have 30 calendar days to comply with the new rules. If they're found to be in violation after that period, the apps will be subject to "warning or removal," Google says.