Google today has updated its Play Store guidelines with yet another restriction on what developers can put in the descriptions of their apps. With today’s update, developers are now forbidden to include user testimonials in their app’s description. Any developer who breaks this rule could see the app in question pulled (via Android Police).
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Google says the user testimonials are often misleading to consumers. They also often make references to popular search terms and competing apps in an effort to improve their own search ranking. Google, for a long time, has banned developers who try to manipulate the Play Store’s search algorithm. Instead of using testimonials, Google encourages developers to ask their users to speak for themselves via the Play Store’s built-in comment review system.
The addition to the Play Store guidelines reads like this:
Please do not include user testimonials in your app description. They tend to be dubious and are frequently utilized to include references to popular search terms and competitor apps in violation of the policies outlined here. Let your users speak for themselves via Play’s comment review system.
Anyone who has seen user testimonials in the description of Play Store apps knows exactly why Google is instituting this new policy. The testimonials were often very misleading and there was no way for potential customers to verify the legitimacy of the statements. This new policy won’t, at this point, prevent developers from overlaying user testimonials on screenshots, which is another common practice.