Google has updated its policy on accessing user geodata. Now apps that request access to user location in the background must undergo an additional review. Google will determine whether your use of user data is justified. If they decide that it isn't, you will be asked to disable the feature in question in order for your app to remain on Google Play. In this article we will explain what the review entails and how to increase your chances of passing moderation.
🟢 Review criteria
The full list of requirements can be found on the Play Console website. These are the key criteria that affect the outcome of moderation:
✔ Does the user know that they are sharing data? You must explicitly state that you intend to access location in the background. Write about this in your app description and add a screenshot. You also need to state your purpose for requesting access.
✔Is access required for a useful feature? If the app uses data in the background, it must do so to provide functionality that is valuable to the user and that will not work without the requested access.
✔Is the data essential to the app's core functionality? For example, an app might need to access background location for parental controls. If access is requested by an app that provides cooking recipes, Google will have questions for the developer.
✔Why is data collected in the background and not in another way? Check whether it is really essential for the app to access location in the background. There might be an alternative solution — for example, requesting data only when the user opens the app, or using Foreground services.
🟢 When to submit your app for review
Developers can request a review beginning on September 30, 2020. This was announced via a notification on Google Play Console. To submit an app for moderation, fill out the Permission Declaration Form by going to App Content ⟶ Policy. Previously, apps that requested access to calls and SMS underwent a similar procedure.
❗Final deadline to request a review:
- January 18, 2021 for apps published on Google Play after April 16, 2020.
- March 29, 2021 for all other apps. Apps that don't pass the review by this date will be removed from Google Play.
🟢 How to pass moderation
If your app needs to access geodata in the background, make sure that you meet Google's requirements before filling out the declaration form.
If access is not required, make sure that your app does not request it:
- Go through Google's checklist.
- Update AppMetrica SDK to version 3.10.0 or disable data collection when initializing the AppMetrica SDK.
The AppMetrica team