A team at Google is today releasing a new product for mobile app developers called verifications that leverages AI technology to identify potential application privacy and compliance issues amid a rapidly changing regulatory and policy landscape. The freemium solution will be offered to Android and iOS app developers of all sizes, who will be able to have their apps analyzed and receive a report with actionable insights on how to resolve the issues encountered.
Checks was co-founded by Fergus Hurley (GM) and Nia Castelly (Legal Lead), who developed the project over the past two years as part of Google’s internal incubator, Area 120. The Checks team had previously created tools like Android Vitals to address developers’ technical challenges and came up with the idea of using AI to now also address privacy compliance challenges.
Today’s app developers need to keep up with a number of the latest regulations and policies, from Europe’s GDPR requirements to new rules implemented by the app stores themselves. Meanwhile, consumers have become more savvy about the tradeoffs involved in using free software – now they often want to know how well an app respects their privacy, how their data is accessed, stored or shared, and more. And even if a developer’s application follows all the rules, an SDK used by the developer might not—or the SDK’s data sharing behavior might change over time—presenting another compliance challenge.
With Checks, the idea is to make getting into compliance an easier process than it is today. To use checks, developers submit their app for a privacy compliance review, which involves an automated review and, at some service levels, also a human review.
The free tier can be used to complete New Google Play Data Security Section, while the paid tiers — Core, Premium, and Enterprise — are designed to meet the needs of professional developers and large enterprises, including those developing on iOS.
There are no technical requirements or prerequisites for using Checks, which performs its analysis on physical and virtual devices.
The $249/month flagship offering adds compliance monitoring for regulations like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and proactive notifications about upcoming compliance requirements. Premium users ($499/month) can automate monitoring of their apps’ data sharing practices and gain an understanding of SDKs, permissions, and where the app’s data sharing is taking place, among other things. Business users (5+ apps and custom pricing) receive more frequent, advanced, and detailed privacy checks, which include access to a compliance review team, plus custom analytics and testing flows, and more.
verifications it says the data and reports generated are not shared with the Google Play team.
The team gathered feedback from hundreds of app developers to create Checks and worked with 40 early adopters to test the product before launch. Testers included Headspace, Sesame Workshop, StoryToys, Carb Manager, Homer, and Lose It, among others.
Cheques is now opening up to a wider audience – interested developers can fill out the online form to register their interest in the checks website.