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Mobile app ratings system introduced

Posted: 01 Dec 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smartphone apps  mobile apps rating system 

CTIA-The Wireless Association, in conjunction with Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), has announced a mobile application rating system that will rate mobile applications based on their appropriateness for various audiences.

The ESRB's rating system—with seven classifications, from "Early Childhood" to "Adults Only"—will be implemented first by AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless, and other storefronts have indicated their interest in joining, CTIA stated. However, Apple and Google skipped the launch event organised by CTIA-ESRB.

The rating system will utilise the age rating icons that ESRB assigns to computer and video games to provide parents and consumers reliable information about the age-appropriateness of applications.

CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent commented, "CTIA is proud to have worked with the six founding storefronts, ESRB and developers to create this user-friendly and reliable mobile application rating system that will provide parents and consumers with information so they can determine what's appropriate for children."

When developers submit their applications to a participating storefront they will be able to complete a detailed yet quick multiple choice questionnaire that is designed to assess an application's content and context with respect to its age-appropriateness. This includes violence or sexual content, language, substances, etc., as well as other elements such as a minimum age requirement, the exchange of user-generated content, the sharing of a user's location with other users of the application and the sharing of user-provided personal information with third parties. Once developers complete all answers to these questions, their applications are rated within seconds. Each rated app is issued a certificate and a unique identifying code that may be subsequently submitted to other storefronts during their respective onboarding processes, avoiding the need for developers to repeat the rating process. This means consistent ratings across participating storefronts and a convenient, cost-free process for app developers.

"To ensure content disclosures were complete and the ratings assigned were appropriate, ESRB will routinely test the most popular applications and closely monitor consumer complaints. If an inappropriate rating is found to have been assigned ESRB will promptly adjust the rating and will notify the developer and the storefront(s) that have the application to ensure consumers have reliable information," explained CTIA.

There is no expiration date associated with app rating assignments and no renewal requirement. However, if subsequent updates to an app modify its content in a way that may affect its rating, it should be resubmitted.

In addition, each storefront may make its own announcement on when the rating system will be available for their customers.





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