Guidelines for Apps

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You can now include your educational apps in the recently launched Google Play for Education program, getting it into the hands of participating schools and key influencers in the education technology community. See Get Started to learn how to participate.

The sections below list the guidelines and requirements for apps participating in Google Play for Education.

Before you include your app in Google Play for Education, set up a test environment and make sure your app meets all of the safety, usability, and quality guidelines given here. You can use the linked resources to help you develop a great app for students that offers compelling content and an intuitive user experience on Android tablets.

In addition, ensure that your app complies with the terms of a Google Play for Education Addendum, as well as the standard Google Play Developer Program Policies and Developer Distribution Agreement.

Safety First

To participate, your apps must be designed to be appropriate for the K-12 market. The basic requirements that your apps must meet are:

  1. Apps and the ads they contain must not collect personally identifiable information other than user credentials or data required to operate and improve the app.
  2. Apps must not use student data for purposes unrelated to its educational function.
  3. Apps must have a content rating of "Everyone" or "Low Maturity" (apps with a "Medium Maturity" rating are allowed, if they have that rating solely because they allow communication between students).
  4. App content, including ads displayed by the app, must be consistent with the app's maturity rating. The app must not display any “offensive” content, as described in the Google Play Developer Program Policies and content-rating guidelines.

  5. Apps must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and all other applicable laws and regulations.

Monetizing and Ads

Google Play for Education provides a simple and secure environment for students and teachers. To support that environment, priced or free apps that do not use in-app purchases are preferred, as are apps that do not display ads. Apps that use in-app payments or ads are acceptable, but you must declare those behaviors when opting-in to Google Play for Education. Your app's use of in-app purchases or ads will be disclosed to educators when they are browsing for content.

Follow the guidelines below to help your app receive the highest ratings and offer the best possible user-experience.

If your app is priced or sells in-app products, you must:

  • Sell all content and services through Google Play for Education
  • Allow Google Play to offer teachers limited free trials before purchase (through business terms only, no development work is needed)
  • Disable in-app purchases if possible, or ensure that:
    • Users can access your app's core functionality for a classroom setting without an in-app purchase.
    • In-app purchases are clearly identifiable in your UI.
    • You declare the use of in-app purchases at opt-in.

Note: In-app purchases are blocked on Google Play for Education tablets at this time.

If your app displays ads, you should:

  • Disable the display of ads if possible, or ensure that:
    • Ads are not distracting for students or teachers
    • Ads do not occupy a significant portion of the screen
    • Ads content does not exceed the maturity rating of the app.
    • You declare the use of ads at opt-in.

Educational Value

Apps submitted to Google Play for Education will be evaluated by a third-party educator network, which will review them based on alignment with Common Core Standards and other factors. This will help make your content more discoverable for teachers and administrators as they browse by grade level, subject, core curriculum, and other parameters.

Apps with highest educational value will have these characteristics:

  • Designed for use in K-12 classrooms.
  • Aligned with a common core standard or support common-core learning.
  • Simple, easy to use, and intuitive for the grade levels the app is targeting. App is relatively easy to navigate without teacher guidance. Not distracting or overwhelming to students.
  • Enjoyable and interactive. App is engaging to students and lets them control their experience.
  • Versatile. App has features make the it useful for more than one classroom function or lesson throughout the school year.
  • Supports the "4Cs":
    • Creativity — Allows students to create in order to express understanding of the learning objectives, and try new approaches, innovation and invention to get things done.
    • Critical thinking — Allows students to look at problems in a new way, linking learning across subjects and disciplines.
    • Collaboration — Allows students and (if appropriate) educators to work together to reach a goal.
    • Communication — Allows students to comprehend, critique and share thoughts, questions, ideas and solutions.

As you design and develop your app, make sure it offers high educational value by addressing as many of those characteristics as possible.

App Quality

Google Play for Education brings educational content to students and teachers on Android tablets. Your apps should be designed to perform well and look great on Android tablets, and they should offer the best user experience possible.

High quality apps are engaging, intuitive, and offer compelling content. Google Play for Education will highlight high-quality apps for easy discovery in the store. Here are some recommendations for making your app easy for students and teachers to enjoy.

  • Meet Core app quality guidelines
  • Meet tablet app quality guidelines
  • Strive for simplicity and highest usability for students
    • Design your app so that teachers and students can use all capabilities of your app without having to sign-in to multiple accounts and remember multiple passwords.
    • Every student or teacher using a Google Play for Education tablet will already be signed in with a Google account on the device. You can take advantage of that to provide a simple, seamless sign-in experience in your app. A recommended approach is to use Google OAuth 2 authorization through Google Play Services.

Test Environment

To test your app and assess it against the guidelines in this document, it's recommended that you set up a test environment that replicates the actual environment in which students and teachers will run your app.

In general, you should use the test environment described in Setting Up a Test Environment for Tablets, including a small number of actual hardware devices that replicate the tablet form factors used in the Google Play for Education.

Android tablets

Google Play for Education offers a range of 7-inch through 10-inch tablets, so your testing should focus on those hardware devices. You can purchase the Nexus 7 device from Google Play and other stores. Although testing on Nexus devices is preferred, you can test on other 7-inch or 10-inch tablets or virtual devices if you don't have access to Nexus devices.

Test conditions

Once you've set up a suitable hardware environment, make sure to test your apps under conditions that simulate those of schools. For example, Google Play for Education lets administrators control or disable certain capabilities for students, so it's good to test your app with those capabilities disabled. Below are some conditions to test your app in, to ensure best results in the Google Play for Education environment:

  • Android version — Test the app on devices running Android 4.2. Google Play for Education devices will be running Android 4.2 or higher (API level 17+).
  • Proxy server — Test the app in network environment that uses proxies. Many schools use proxies.
  • No location services — Test the app to make sure it works properly with location services disabled. Many schools will disable location services for student devices.
  • No In-app Billing — Test the app to make sure it works properly without access to In-app Billing. In-app purchases are blocked on Google Play for Education devices at this time.
  • No Bluetooth — Test the app to make sure it works properly when Bluetooth is disabled. Many schools will disable Bluetooth on student devices.
  • No access to network — Test the app to make sure it works properly when the device cannot connect to the internet.