Google Android Market to Get Content Ratings

Google will start showing content ratings for all applications on Android Market, in an effort to improve the user experience, which has been lacking compared with Apple's App Store.

Google Nov. 24 said it will start showing content ratings for all applications on Android Market in the next few weeks.

Applications will be categorized according to All, Pre-teen, Teen and Mature, with specific details on the rating levels located at the Android Market Help Center.

For example, according to the ratings guide:

"Apps that include references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco products or their use should be rated Teen or above. Apps that focus on the consumption or sale of drugs, alcohol or tobacco should be rated Mature. Illegal activity or content that is targeted at minors is not allowed in Android Market."

There are no changes to Android Market's content policy, but it's clear Google is taking a page from Apple's book with its own App Store, which has itself been a little inconsistent.

Apple has banned several apps for not adhering to content policies, sometimes erring on the side of caution.

Google Android Developer Ecosystem advocate Eric Chu billed the change as a way to fulfill a top request from users to give them more information about applications on Android Market.

Starting next week, developers submitting new or updated applications will be required to include a rating for all applications and games uploaded onto Android Market.

Moreover, developers will have the next several weeks to add a rating to their existing applications and games. Once content rating is visible to users, any applications or games that do not include a rating will be treated as Mature.

This is the latest of several changes Google has been making to the Android Market to improve the user experience.

The company has added paid app and billing support and several more countries and is working on allowing consumers to have apps they purchase billed directly to their wireless carrier bills rather than through the Market's lacking payment infrastructure.

Google is also supposedly constructing a deal with eBay's PayPal to improve billing options.