If you use the Google Playstore to download a lot of different apps you’ve probably come across some app that at a first glance didn’t seem worthy of the impressive ratings and install numbers. I have. And usually, just opening such apps is enough to make it clear that the ratings and reviews were fake. High ratings for low-quality apps are common, which can sometimes mean fraudulent download counts, or an app giving users an incentive to give a high rating, or even forcing them to do so in order to use the app.
It’s exactly this kind of behavior that Google has announced that they’re rolling out tools to crack down on with the Play Store.
Fake reviews are a very common way to drum up good app ratings, and on unpopular apps with few ratings, can be very effective, even with only a few willing or unwilling fraudsters pumping up ratings. This, coupled with fraudulent downloads, usually via a botnet, can make a brand new, low-quality app appear to be worth a user’s time.
Google today said it has taken more steps to prevent developers from fraudulently promoting their apps in the Google Play Store. Specifically, the company is pushing new detection and filtering systems so it can spot attempts to manipulate the Play Store as far as app rankings are concerned.
For example, if developers or promoters install apps in order to boost the app’s standing in Google Play, Google’s improved systems should spot the fraud and filter it out. The same goes for fake reviews and/or incentivized ratings schemes. As written in the Android Developers Blog:
These attempts not only violate the Google Play Developer Policy but also harm our community of developers by hindering their chances of being discovered or recommended through our systems. Ultimately, they put the end users at risk of making wrong decisions based on inaccurate, inauthentic information.
Moreover, developers who break the rules repeatedly in order to falsely promote their apps are more apt to have their apps pulled from the Play Store. Google believes today’s changes will protect the integrity of the Play Store and the apps therein. As a user, you won’t have to worry about much on your end. If there’s an app in the Play Store that’s engaging in unethical practices, Google’s systems will detect it and filter it out of your search results.
Developers will also be fine as long as they continue to abide by the Google Play Developer Policy. While app developers are still allowed to use marketing firms and third-party promoters to beef up their app’s reputation, these are to follow the guidelines laid out by Google in their Developer Support Resources.
Source : Android Developers Blog