Update: My problem has now been resolved. I've added details at the bottom of this post.
I wrote a little Android app (Stack Flower) that allows customized searches of Stack Overflow. If the user clicks on one of the results, the app then displays the relevant post in a WebView. I thought that this was fine, especially since there are several other apps that do the same thing, but now the Google Play Store is demanding "verifiable documentation" indicating my rights to use the content in my app.
As I understand it, Stack Exchange welcomes projects that link to its content (hence the Stack Exchange API and this Stack Apps subsite). However, I can't seem to find an official statement saying that it's okay to link to Stack Overflow from within apps, even though the answers to questions like this and this strongly suggest so.
So I'm asking for explicit clarification that it's permissible to link to individual question/answer posts from within an app.
I realize that my position here is precarious, since there's now an official Stack Overflow app for Android (which was announced here about a week after I released my little app). If the official app offered better search customization, it would make my own app obsolete, and I'd willingly delete it from the store myself. But until then, I think there's a niche for an app that provides better search customization, and I'd like to keep my app alive.
All I ever wanted to do was provide a useful little tool. Please help me if possible!
The app now displays individual Stack Overflow webpages in the user's browser, rather than in WebViews. I made this design change because I needed to update the app immediately, in order to make it comply with the rules. I would have preferred to fix the problem in a different way, but I didn't feel like I had enough time to test the other solution to my satisfaction. So I did what was necessary to get the app back into the Play Store.
The sudden design change messed with my previous (tentative) plans for future development of Stack Flower, but perhaps that's for the best. The app is basically done now, and I'm no longer planning to make any major enhancements to it. (I may eventually add more customizable search options, but nothing much fancier than that.)
Basic advice for other developers who want to write a Stack App for Android:
- Don't display Stack Exchange content in a WebView! Instead, if you want to display a specific Stack webpage, use an implicit intent and open it in the user's browser.
- Don't include screenshots of Stack webpages in your store listing!
- If your app uses data from the Stack Exchange API, include an attribution. (Mine is linked via an "about" menu option.)
- Don't use "Stack Overflow" or "Stack Exchange" in the name of your app. Follow the trademark guidelines!
- In your Play Store listing, be sure to state that it's not an official app.
Caution: At the time of this writing, there are multiple other Stack apps in the Google Play Store that seem to violate these guidelines. That's unfortunate, since it gives newer Android developers a false impression of what's permissible. Be cautious! Google seems to be tightening its rules, and I'm guessing that recent apps from newer developers are likely to be targeted first.