How Google Play works

Google Play is an online store where people go to find their favorite apps, games, movies, TV shows, books, and more.

It provides 2 million apps & games to billions of people around the world, generating over $120 billion in earnings for developers to date.1

So how does it work?

Duolingo logo

Mohamed, InovCares
Mohamed | InovCares
Monica, Headspace
Monica | Headspace
Forest logo
PBA Bowling challenge logo

Safely connecting people with a huge selection of apps and games

Google Play makes it easy to discover high-quality apps and games. We help keep consumers safe by building protections into Google Play and requiring developers to follow high safety standards.

Helping developers scale their businesses globally

We connect developers to billions of people around the world while investing in the platform, tools, services, and marketing opportunities that support apps and games businesses worldwide.

Succeeding when developers succeed

Apps and games developers are the engine of Google Play. We keep costs low for them to support their growth and innovation.

Enabling consumer choice

Google Play helps make it possible for us to offer Android as a free and open operating system. Unlike others in our industry, we don’t charge high operating system license fees. This gives device manufacturers the flexibility to innovate, allowing consumers to choose from more than 24,000 Android device models at prices starting at just $50.

And because Android is free and open, consumers can choose where they get their apps and games. In fact, more than half of Android devices come with two or more app stores.

Safely connecting people with a huge selection of apps and games

Google Play makes it easy to discover high-quality apps and games. We help keep consumers safe by building protections into Google Play and requiring developers to follow high safety standards.

Succeeding when developers succeed

Apps and games developers are the engine of Google Play. We keep costs low for them to support their growth and innovation.

Helping developers scale their businesses globally

We connect developers to billions of people around the world while investing in the platform, tools, services, and marketing opportunities that support apps and games businesses worldwide.

Enabling consumer choice

Google Play helps make it possible for us to offer Android as a free and open operating system. Unlike others in our industry, we don’t charge high operating system license fees. This gives device manufacturers the flexibility to innovate, allowing consumers to choose from more than 24,000 Android device models at prices starting at just $50.

And because Android is free and open, consumers can choose where they get their apps and games. In fact, more than half of Android devices come with two or more app stores.

What developers say

Headspace’s new high-quality experience drove business growth on Google Play.

Meditation app Headspace has invested in improving the quality of their Android app by using insights from Google Play Console. This effort has resulted in a new app design with refreshed content and structure, bringing an increase in the number of people using their app regularly and leaving positive feedback.

InovCares

InovCares

InovCares is an Atlanta-based telehealth platform that provides affordable and customized healthcare through their app, empowering doctors to maximize healthy outcomes, particularly for women of color. Using the free-of-charge e-learning courses on Google Play Academy, InovCares’ founder has been able to improve how their app listing looks on Google Play, helping them to reach more patients and doctors.

Udell Enterprises

Sterling Udell and his wife Teresa have always loved to travel and the prospect of doing so full-time was a dream for them. By kitting out their RV to support Sterling’s work as a developer, they’ve been able to realize that dream. Sterling’s apps, TerraTime and Lunescope, are inspired by his love for the outdoors and, using Google Play, he’s able to share his love with people everywhere.

Duolingo

Duolingo’s mission is to develop the best education in the world and make it universally available. By enabling distribution of their app to billions of users across the globe and across all socioeconomic levels, Google Play has helped Duolingo reach 500 million downloads and take steps toward their vision of reducing economic inequality through education.

Google Play: A platform with extensive reach

2.5+ billion active users on Google Play each month3

140+ billion downloads on Google Play in the last year2

190+ countries where Google Play is available2

A business model that works for everyone

Cem Duolingo
Cem | Duolingo

Google Play only charges a service fee to developers who offer a paid app or sell access to in-app digital goods or services.

Only 3% of developers on Google Play are subject to a service fee. The remaining 97% can distribute their apps and take advantage of all Google Play has to offer at no charge.

There isn't a single service fee since developers operate in different industries that require different levels of support to build sustainable businesses.

97% of developers are not subject to any fees

A business model that works for everyone

99% of developers qualify for a service fee of 15% or less

Some of the benefits the service fee enables us to provide:

Security

Security

Consumers trust Android and Google Play because of their security: app reviews that help ensure safety and privacy policy compliance, and automated security via Google Play Protect that scans over 100 billion apps per day.

New Android platforms

New Android platforms

We build platforms for new form factors such as Auto and TV to help developers increase their reach in new ways.

Developer tools

Developer tools

Developers can run experiments, beta test, optimize store listings, analyze app performance, and more.

Billing system

Billing system

Users enjoy safe and trusted payments, while developers easily process transactions with Google Play gift cards and locally-relevant forms of payment.

Safe
Ensuring users’ privacy and security
Expansive
Connecting developers to a global stage
Supportive
Helping developers grow their business
Open
Keeping Android free for everyone

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Users are in control of their data and permissions.

We’re dedicated to helping people understand and make informed decisions about the data that apps and games seek to access on their devices. As part of that commitment, we require developers to disclose how they collect and use personal data in their Google Play Store app listings.

Developers are only able to ask for sensitive user data - including SMS messages, contact list, device location, and more - when it is appropriate for the primary use of the app. For example, a messaging app might want to access a user’s contact information to be most useful. Developers need to comprehensively disclose the use of these permissions before their app is published to Google Play, and are then reviewed during the app review process. Developers cannot sell personal or sensitive data.

If the developer has an acceptable use case, they still need to ask users for permission before use. Users are always given the option of declining permission with a single click. For access to location, users have even more control with the ability to limit access to a singular instance, rather than on-going.

Visit the Developer Policy Center for more information on these and other policies.

Keeping Android devices protected, automatically.

Powerful security protections are built into every Android device. These aren’t tools that users have to find and enable on their own; they’re automatic and working from day one.

One example is Google Play Protect, the built-in malware protection for Android devices with Google Mobile Services enabled. Google Play Protect and our systems scan and analyze billions of apps to keep our ecosystem safe for users and developers.

Since launching Google Play Protect, we’ve made significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse, from impersonation and fraud to inappropriate content and malware. New machine learning models and techniques enable us to identify and reject 99% of apps with abusive or malicious content before anyone can use them.

Google Play Protect is only one of many layers of Android security. Learn more about the many different ways Android keeps users safe.

Helping parents find enriching content for kids.

We are committed to providing a safer and more positive environment for children and families. We help parents find enriching and entertaining content with our Kids tab on Google Play filled with Teacher Approved apps and games (currently available in the US and some other countries and launching globally in 2021). We also empower parents to set healthy digital ground rules with Family Link parental controls.

Our Google Play policies also provide additional protections for children and families. These policies require that apps and games targeted to children have appropriate content, show ads suitable for children, and meet other requirements including ones related to personally identifiable information.

Our policies protect both users and developers from bad actors.

Our Google Play developer policies are designed to ensure that we, in partnership with our global developer community, continue to deliver the world’s most innovative and trusted apps to our users.

Key policies include restricted content, user privacy, malware, and mobile unwanted software. Our policies are generally updated quarterly and all developers are notified via email of any changes. Developers have at least 30 days to make any necessary updates to their apps, and longer if the updates are likely to be significant.

After the grace period, if a developer violates any of our Google Play policies, their app is removed or suspended from the Google Play Store. The developer is notified by email about the specific reasons for this action, provided with instructions on how to republish their app, and provided with instructions on how to appeal the action taken against their app.

Repeated or serious violations of these policies (such as malware, fraud, and apps that may cause user or device harm) or of the Developer Distribution Agreement may result in the termination of the developer’s accounts. View more info on our enforcement process here.

Every app is thoroughly reviewed before it goes live on Google Play.

With over a thousand human reviewers and automated protections, we have significantly increased our ability to detect and remove malicious apps. Before any app is listed or after its been updated on Google Play, it undergoes an extensive review to check for compliance with privacy policies, sensitive permissions declarations, and more. Learn more about how developers can prepare their app for approval.

App reviews can take up to 7 days to complete, but are often completed earlier. If the review passes, the app is available to publish. If it doesn’t pass, the developer is contacted with the reason and can resubmit the app at any time with the appropriate updates.

An equitable Play Store starts with policies committed to fairness and extends through how we promote apps to the tools we make available to developers.

We believe that all developers should be given the opportunity to succeed and we work to provide a level playing field for everyone, large or small, third party or first party Google apps.

Our developer policies apply equally to all apps distributed on Google Play, including Google’s own apps.

We use the same principles to decide which apps to promote on Google Play, whether they're third-party apps or our own apps. In fact, we regularly promote apps by Google’s competitors in our Editors Choice picks when they provide a great user experience. Similarly, our algorithms rank third-party apps and games using the same criteria as for ranking Google's own apps.

Google Play Console is a powerful tool for bringing apps to market, and we make it accessible to all along with many other developer tools and services. However, there is data or specific features that are only made available to some developers.

Google Play needs to understand the content and functionality of an app in order to help users discover the right app at the right time.

When developers submit apps to Google Play, they provide information about the app including the app title, description, category and graphic assets. They also give information about the functionality and content of their app. Google then identifies additional characteristics and analyzes user feedback through ratings and engagement metrics. This information helps us recommend the right apps at the right time, whether people are browsing for something new or searching for a specific title.

We take a user-centric approach to organizing and ranking apps in order to create an intuitive and enjoyable experience.

Ensuring a positive experience when navigating Google Play means making it easy to find the apps our users know and love as well as new and undiscovered titles. The Play Store gives users a variety of ways to discover the right apps, like browsing our most popular apps, searching for a specific title, or viewing recommendations.

Many ranking factors are involved in determining which apps to display:

  • User relevance: The most relevant apps to a user depends on where they are browsing or the query they use in a search.
  • Quality of the app experience: Apps that have strong technical performance and a good user experience are generally favored over lower quality apps.
  • Editorial value: Google Play provides curated recommendations to help users find content that is noteworthy and interesting.
  • Ads: Some developers choose to advertise on Google Play similar to other Google properties. These ads are well marked and shown alongside other content.
  • User experience: Google Play endeavors to ensure users have a positive experience in navigating the wide range of available apps.

For more detailed information on app discovery and ranking, visit this article.

Google Play’s tools and services are designed to help developers test, monitor, and iterate their apps and games to meet their users’ needs.

Helpful testing and interaction tools help developers experiment to create lasting and more meaningful connections with their users. The Google Play platform helps developers react with agility and flexibility when improving the quality of their apps and games. Tools for staged rollouts, beta testing, and early warning alerts empower developers to create better user experiences.

Learn more about how the Google Play Console can help developers:

Build a high quality app or game

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Release with confidence

Explore

Grow your audience

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Monetize with ease

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Engage and retain users

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Google Play knows that actionable data is critical for developers to improve their user experience and grow their businesses.

The data helps developers understand the lifecycle of their app: from how it is discovered in the Play Store, to how users engage with it, and what users are willing to pay for it. Developers also have access to ratings and reviews to understand user feedback and respond to concerns.

Developers also have access to aggregated data to benchmark their performance across the ecosystem. They can access data through the Play Console, in downloadable formats, and APIs, and continually invest to make metrics and visualizations more helpful.

Google Play ensures that the data collected and shared with developers about their apps protects the privacy and security of our users via our privacy policy.

For more information on the statistics and insights available to developers visit the Play Console Help Center and play.google.com/console/about/. For more information on data access visit this page.

From paid apps to in-app purchases, Google Play’s global commerce platform makes it easy for developers to sell digital goods and content.

In addition to helping developers distribute their apps to billions of Android users, Google Play helps them create revenue streams by launching paid apps, offering digital content, or subscriptions.

Google Play’s global commerce platform allows developers to quickly and safely collect payments from users in over 150 countries. Depending on the market, Google Play provides people with a variety of payment methods, which may include gift cards, direct carrier billing, credit cards, and digital services like PayPal. With a safe and reliable payment system in place, developers can focus on building user experiences people will love.

Learn more about monetization options and best practices for developers or get started with Google Play's billing system.

The Google Play Academy is free to developers, business people, and marketers of Google Play apps and games.

Google Play shares best practices to build a successful app or game business and keep developers updated on changes in our tools. The Google Play Academy is a free-of-charge e-learning platform for developers, business people, and marketers of Google Play apps and games. The courses are offered in 13 languages to anyone with a Google Account.

Over 100 courses are currently offered and are updated regularly with new information. Topics include:

  • How to use Google Play Console features and distribute an app or game
  • Best practices for achieving success in an app or game business
  • Guidance for staying on the right side of Google Play policies

Developers can also follow us via the Android developer blog, Google Play Medium, Android Developer YouTube, and Twitter for news and updates.

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