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Google Play clamping down on dodgy ‘fleeceware’ subscription apps

Google Play is tightening rules around apps offering subscriptions in the hope of clamping down on deceptive “fleeceware” that has become prominent within the store.

Google has announced a new policy that will require Android developers to be more transparent regarding free trials, while making it easier to cancel subscriptions.

The measures include an email from Google informing users when a free trial or promotional price is coming to an end, as well as when a subscription of three months or longer is going to automatically renew.

The Android developers themselves will be compelled to point out when the app’s main functionality and features require a subscription.

In announcing the changes, which will need to be adhered to before June 16, Google says developers must display clear terms of offers, billing frequency and price prominently within the app.

Related: Best Android apps 2020

Google tells developers: “You must be transparent about your offer. This includes being explicit about your offer terms, the cost of your subscription, the frequency of your billing cycle, and whether a subscription is required to use the app. Users should not have to perform any additional action to review the information.”

When it comes to subscription management and cancellation, Google says the devs mush “ensure that your app(s) clearly disclose how a user can manage or cancel their subscription.”

The firm also says devs must explain how long free trials last and explain to users they’ll be automatically enrolled in the subscription at the end of the period if they don’t cancel.

In a blog post, the company added: “The goal of this policy update is to ensure users understand the subscription offer, the terms of free trials and introductory offers, and how to manage their subscription, including cancellation.”

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