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Google finally takes out the trash, cracks down on dodgy apps

Google hopes an updated Google Play Developer Program Policy will help cut down on deceptive advertising in mobile applications.

The new approach imposes on developers more specific rules regarding what content Android apps can display, and makes developers responsible for ensuring their partner affiliates are not employing shady practices.

That includes tricking users into downloading apps via pop-up ads that simulate official Android OS notifications.

"Ads must not simulate or impersonate the user interface of any app, or notification and warning elements of an operating system," the new policy said, adding that advertisements must be clearly marked.

Similar schemes have run amok for years, TechCrunch pointed out; most notable are the Web-based pop-ups reminiscent of Windows system error or malware infection warnings.

"It is your [developers'] responsibility to ensure that no ad network or affiliate uses such methods to direct users to pages that make your app available for download," Google's new policy said.

Google Play team member Anthony Farrior announced the update Friday via an email to developers. All new apps or app updates published will be subject to the latest version of the Program Policy, he said, adding that those in violation may be subject to warning or removal from the mobile store.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch noted a number of other changes to the policy, including clarification about sexually explicit material, as well as the banning of apps that not only contain malware, but also link to viruses, and modifications to browser settings that prohibit the automatic modification or addition of settings or bookmarks.

Earlier this month, Google rolled out a store update that attempts to make it harder for kids to rack up hundreds of dollars worth of micro-transaction purchases within apps like Candy Crush Saga. Now, users can choose from several options for how to make in-app purchases on Android devices, including the option to require a password for every purchase made.