Google Play Requiring 20 Testers
Interesting development on Google Play: As of November 13, 2023, anyone who opens a new indie account must have at least 20 testers before their app has a chance of being published in the store, according to the latest policy change. Alternatively, one can register a business, which then requires a D-U-N-S number.
The requirement of 20 testers is likely quite high, particularly for hobby developers, even though communities are already forming and existing developer forums pledge to support one another.
This approach may work for a while, especially in the beginning. However, it will soon become a nuisance for many people. Not everyone is keen on downloading an app that isn't officially in the store yet and then testing it within the two-week window. Companies like Xojo, which took years to release Android features in an early alpha version, have a development team that is only a third the size of the required testers. Unfortunately, the new Google policy may further decrease the willingness to purchase the product. Who would spend a few hundred dollars without knowing if they have any chance of overcoming the hurdle of being accepted into the store?
Of course, "Android" still has the advantage of allowing you to publish your app without Google Play. However, if you hope to monetize the app or want to provide your users or customers with the assurance of a verified app, there would be no alternative to the official stores. In this context, it is quite amusing that many Android enthusiasts suddenly find Apple's approach, with an annual subscription of around 100 EUR, to be the better option. Tempora mutantur!
Anyone who is fortunate enough to still have an older account remains unaffected. However, it can be assumed that this is merely "grandfathering" by Google, and it is only a matter of time before owners of older accounts must adapt.
In principle, I appreciate that all companies ensure poorly programmed and dangerous apps are removed from the stores. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult (almost impossible) for indie developers to establish a sustainable business through mobile applications.
Of course, there are apps that can only utilize the full performance and capabilities through native development (games, sensors, offline work, etc.). But in my opinion, the rest are likely better off focusing on web development and catering to business customers.
Last but not least: every Google Play account holder should check their account. Everyone (including owners of older accounts) must go through a re-verification process. Currently only time slots are being allocated until Google will force you at the end of 2024. From then on you have another 60 days to complete the verification, otherwise your account and(!) all associated apps will be deleted without replacement.