Google Play App Approval Process Facing Longer Delays

October 28th, 2020

Google Play App Approval Process Facing Longer Delays
David Quinn

by David Quinn

VP of Strategy & Partnerships at Gummicube, Inc.

Google Play app developers may be in for a long wait, as recent reports from developers indicate that the app review process has been taking an extended amount of time. With some reviews reportedly taking as long as a month, this can delay important updates for unprepared developers. Bug fixes, app launches and seasonal updates alike are experiencing delays, to the concern of the developers.

App Review Delays

Google has stated in the past that, due to adjusted work schedules, the app review times could take about a week or more. The “more” appears to be accurate for many developers, who have been reporting wait times of over three weeks in a Google Play Help thread.

According to one developer on the thread:

“Our first update took 20 days to be reviewed. Our second update is still in review after 19 days. We've contacted Google multiple times but there's no transparency and we are told to just wait. This is seriously hurting our business since we can't release any content updates and bugfixes for a game that's been out for 3 years with 300.000 monthly users.”

The delays are occurring across all app categories, for new app launches and updates alike. It should be noted that Google has been updating its Play Store policies recently, particularly for improved app privacy and security, so apps may be under greater scrutiny to ensure they’re compliant with the changes.

How This Can Impact ASO

The delayed updates can have significant consequences for app developers and their App Store Optimization, whether they’re launching a new app or an update.

In the case of new apps, delayed launches can be a major setback. Missing an announced launch date means missing out on potential users and disappointing potential users who were waiting for the app, while competitors continue to get ahead.

If the update is a bug fix, time spent waiting for the update to get approved can result in more users getting frustrated with the bug and uninstalling the app or leaving negative reviews. When the update gets approved, the delay may have already cost the app users and reputation it will be unable to recover.

Delayed updates can also cause apps to miss important events. In the case of seasonal updates, like Halloween or Black Friday, a delayed update can come out after the event has already passed and be rendered irrelevant. Seasonal ASO updates also need to be launched early in order to begin the indexation process and build up keyword rankings in time for the event; a delay can set the app behind schedule.

Without an approved update, developers can’t run experiments either. If an experiment is successful, developers may also have to wait before launching the winning variant. This can set back their App Store Optimization by preventing timely updates.

What Developers Can Do

With unpredictable approval times, the best thing app developers can do is expect delays and prepare accordingly. Apps and updates can be submitted in advance and scheduled to go live at a certain date upon approval, so even seasonal updates can be planned out in advance - just be sure to plan far in advance.

In the case of bug fixes, developers will need to focus on reputation management while waiting for the fix to launch. Letting users know you are aware of the issue and are working to fix it can go a long way to maintain user trust, as it assures them that the bug is being addressed. Once it’s fixed, they may even amend their reviews thanks to the developer’s responsiveness.

If a developer has an update awaiting review, they should not submit another update for the same app until the current one is approved. Doing so could send the app to the back of the line and extend the wait time.

Hopefully Google will address these delays soon and developers will be able to have apps and updates approved within days, as they were in the past. In the meantime, it’s important to plan for the worst while hoping for the best and schedule updates with enough time to go through an extended approval process.

Want to learn more about App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we’ll help get your strategy started.

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