Google is tightening supervision of its freewheeling Play store, forming a special team to screen new apps for malware and sexually explicit material, and strengthening its age-based rating system.
The change brings Google Play, a bazaar for digital games, social media apps and entertainment software, closer to Apple’s tightly controlled App Store with Google launching a new rating system that will spell out which apps and games are appropriate for certain age groups.
The change underscores the growing importance of apps in the success of the companies' rival mobile gadgets.
Google said that its expert team will screen each app submitted by developers to spot earlier anything that runs afoul of its rules. Google had previously only used automated technology for screening at the time of submission.
The new process will not create bottlenecks, Google said in a blog post, promising that approved apps will become available on Google Play within "a matter of hours" after submission.
Apple does not disclose specifics of its app review period but puts the average wait time at seven days for Apple's App Store.
Developers must answer special questionnaires about their apps to help independent ratings organizations assign age-based ratings, Google said.
"We know that people in different countries have different ideas about what content is appropriate for kids, teens and adults, so today's announcement will help developers better label their apps for the right audience," Google said in the blog post.
As of May, apps submitted without the questionnaire will not be published in Google Play, and existing apps that do not seek a rating could be blocked in certain markets or for certain users, Google said. Until now, Google has let developers rate their own apps using a system created by Google.