The verification process for apps began in January and ended last week. Apps that have been verified by Google will now have to face a security assessment that costs anything from US$15,000 to US$75,000 each year, Julia Furkulitsa, a member of the team that produces the app Clean Email, told iTWire. This assessment will be needed for any app that stores Gmail data on a third-party server.
Third-party apps have been interacting with Gmail for a long time using the OAuth APIs, seeking permission from users to do so. But with the new changes in place, Google will decide for what uses an app can access Gmail data.
"We believe that this will destroy the development community Google has been building around their APIs," Furkulitsa said.
But later Furkulitsa's tone seemed to change somewhat, possibly because Clean Email was given a discount on the security assessment charges. "We welcome Google's move – they are doing their best to balance between comfort and security of their users and an ecosystem they created," she said.
"It's also obviously conveniently aligned with their business interests. We created Clean Email with the same idea in mind – it was never our intention (nor our business model) to make money off of users' data, the honest 'money for service' transaction always felt right."
Furkulitsa said as far as Google's new policies for third-party apps was concerned, the company was being very flexible and ensuring developers had enough time to undergo the verification and assessment.
"Our experience with the security companies also shows their desire to work with companies and teams of any size – we can't disclose what exactly we're paying for the assessment, but the discount we've received shows that they realise challenges of a small business. All in all, we think that Google is truly making sure that legitimate businesses and products stay on the platform."
Furkulitsa said Google's verification process was very meticulous and consisted of multiple stages.
"There's absolutely no way for a company engaged in collecting user data to pass verification at this stage. The apps that haven't complied with the new policies will no longer work starting 15 July."
A similar change will come in for Google Drive accounts next year.