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Google Play's app testing update: What it means for you

TL;DR: Important news from the Android app + Google Play Store world: Google Play is getting stricter with their requirements to publish an app from a personal developer account. In an attempt to protect users from low-quality and "malicious" apps, all apps published from personal accounts will now require internal testing before public release.

Following the example laid out by the Apple App Store’s rigorous (and strict) app review model, Google announced it’s now taking its own steps to ensure that only the highest-quality and most trustworthy apps are listed and made available for download.  With a more complicated approval process, Google Play will likely start to lose its reputation as the 'easier' app store to get published in.

If you look at Google Play’s moves over the last few years, this news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, according to app store publishing expert Max Ott. 

“In the past, we’ve seen the Google Play Store adopt its own “privacy nutrition labels,” ensure stronger enforcement of their own guidelines, and enforce API levels as recently as this past summer,” he says. “Google has added this rigorous external testing requirement that compares to Apple's review process. It's now more complicated to publish an app to Google Play as an independent developer.”

Why is the Google Play Store adding an app testing requirement?

Google is making improvements which will aid in streamlining the testing process, ensuring higher-quality apps are available in the Store, and enhancing the overall user experience.

The positive news for app developers? This reshaping of the testing process may significantly elevate the quality of their apps. It could be a win-win for developers and end users alike.

Google has added this rigorous external testing requirement that compares to Apple's review process. It's now more complicated to publish an app to Google Play as an independent developer. -Max Ott, App publishing expert

What are the new app testing requirements for personal developer accounts in November 2023?

With some new testing rules rolling out sooner rather than later, Google is cracking down specifically on private or personal development accounts, and is likely to affect smaller app development companies and individual developers.

According to Google, using their testing tools can (on average) help apps gain 3 times the number of app installs and user engagement — compared to those that don’t take these strict measures.

What is the new Google Play app testing time?

If you’re a developer with a “newly-created” personal Play Console account, you will need to test your app(s) with a minimum of 20 people, and for a time period of minimum two weeks, before you can apply to Google to release your app for public listing and usage. 

Why? Google assures by saying this mandatory pre-release testing “will allow developers to test their app, identify issues, get feedback, and ensure that everything is ready before launch.”

Read more about app testing requirements for new Google Play Console personal development accounts here.

Do I need to update my existing Android app?

If you're wondering whether you should update your existing app with the new testing features, the answer is a resounding “yes,” and in a few ways.

First, those with private or personal developer accounts should sign up as a company or organization, which leads to the account verification step. Newer accounts are already getting reviewed with much more scrutiny, and need to follow specific protocols to ensure publishing success (like provided concrete documents, etc.).

Generally, eventually updating your app itself ensures it benefits from the enhanced testing framework, real-time collaboration tools, advanced analytics, and improved security measures. 

This not only keeps your app competitive, but also demonstrates your commitment to providing users with a secure, high-quality experience, potentially boosting user satisfaction and retention.

Google Play Store 2023 Updates: An overview

What exactly have the recent Google Play Store updates entailed? Let’s walk through the most significant, recent changes at a high level.

  1. An enhanced testing framework

One of the key pieces of this update is the introduction of a more robust mobile app testing framework. Developers can now conduct tests more efficiently thanks to enhanced automation tools and a wider range of testing scenarios. This not only accelerates the testing phase of app publishing, but also allows developers to identify and tackle potential issues before the app reaches end-users.

  1. Advanced analytics to help with actionable insights

To further support Android app developers, Google Play has integrated advanced analytics tools into its testing platform. Developers can now capture more useful insights into user behavior during the testing phase, allowing them to make data-driven decisions which ultimately will help enhance app functionality and the user interface.

  1. Stricter security measures and compliance mandates

In an effort to enhance security measures, this update introduces comprehensive security testing protocols, ensuring that apps released on the Google Play Store meet stringent security standards, safeguarding user data and privacy — and instilling confidence in Android app developers.

Overall, Google Play's app testing updates in 2023 represent a significant leap forward in the realm of app development.

With improved testing frameworks, collaborative tools, advanced analytics, and heightened security measures, developers now have a more robust platform to create high-quality apps that not only meet user expectations, but also set new standards for innovation in the ever-evolving mobile app landscape — which is very much still evolving.

Publishing an app and staying up-to-date with app store changes doesn’t have to be challenging. Trust a web+native hybrid app platform and service provider to handle publishing and ongoing updates for you.

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