Tag Archives: android developers

SDK Developers: sign up to stay up to date with latest tips, news and updates

Posted by Parul Soi, Strategic Partner Development Manager, Google Play

Android is fortunate to have an incredibly rich ecosystem of SDKs and libraries to help developers build great apps more efficiently. These SDKs can range from developer tools that simplify complicated feature development to end-to-end services such as analytics, attribution, engagement, etc. All of these tools can help Android developers reduce cost and ship products faster.

For the past few months, various teams at Google have been working together on new initiatives to expand the resources and support we offer for the developers of these tools. Today, SDK developers can sign up and register their SDK with us to receive updates that will keep you informed about Google Play policy changes, updates to the platform, and other useful information.

Our goal is to provide you with whatever you need to better serve your technical and business goals in helping your partners create better apps or games. Going forward we will be sharing further resources to help SDK developers, so stay tuned for more updates.

If you develop an SDK or library for Android, make sure you sign up and register your SDK to receive updates about the latest tools and information to help serve customers better. And, if you're an app developer, share this blogpost with the developers of the SDKs that you use!

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Free training for Android developers – learn how to succeed on Google Play

Dan Lavelle, Head of Learning Operations, Google Play

Having a great idea for an app or game is just the beginning. At Google Play, it's our goal to provide you with the tools and skills to build successful mobile app and games businesses. Training continues to be among the top requested features from Android developers, and we've heard your feedback.

That's why we're launching a brand new, free e-learning platform to help you realize the full potential of your business on Google Play.

Introducing Google Play's Academy for App Success

Whether you're looking to grow your audience, understand performance metrics, or increase revenue, Play Academy is here to help you understand the best practices and Play Console features to succeed on Google Play. We built Play Academy to fit into your busy schedule. Learn from your home or office computer, or take courses on-the-go with your mobile device.

Key features of Play Academy

Learning paths

Choose from 10 collections of bite-sized courses organized around features and best practices, including; Test your app before release, Evaluate your app's technical performance, and Monetize your app.

Interactive lessons

Learn through a rich multimedia and interactive e-learning experience.

Assessments

Test your new knowledge of key Play Console features and mobile app best practices.

Achievements

Get recognition for your new skills. Wear your achievement badges with pride on your Play Academy profile.

Start learning today

It's easy to get started with free e-learning content from Google Play. Head over to g.co/play/academy to sign up and start your developer journey. Also, make sure you keep an eye on upcoming Play Academy news - we'll regularly update our courses to keep pace with the newest features and programs so that you can stay up-to-date with the latest insights you'll need to grow your app or game business.

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Google Play offline peer to peer installs beta

Posted by James Bender, Product Manager, Google Play

In June we started adding security metadata to all apps and app updates to help verify product authenticity from Google Play. We're doing this is to help developers reach a wider audience, particularly in countries where peer-to-peer app sharing is common because of costly data plans and limited connectivity.

Now, when a user shares an app via Play-approved partner peer-to-peer apps, Play will be able to determine shared app authenticity while a device is offline, add those shared apps to a user's Play Library, and manage app updates when the device comes back online. This will give users more confidence when using Play-approved peer-to-peer app beta partners, starting today with SHAREIt. Additional integrations from Files Go by Google and Xender are planned in the coming weeks. Please visit the Play Store to make sure you have the latest versions of these apps.

This also benefits you as a developer as it provides a Play-authorized offline distribution channel and, since the peer-to-peer shared app is added to your user's Play library, your app will now be eligible for app updates from Play.

No action is needed by developers or your users. This is an important step that improves the integrity of Google Play's mobile app ecosystem. Offline Play peer-to-peer sharing presents a new distribution opportunity for developers while helping more people keep their apps up to date.

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Playtime 2018: Helping you build better apps in a smaller bundle

Posted by Matt Henderson, Product Manager, Google Play

Today we are kicking off Playtime, our annual global event series, hosting over 800 attendees in Berlin and San Francisco to share insights from experts around the world and the latest updates on our products. This will be followed by events in Sao Paulo, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, and Tokyo.

At Google Play, we continue to invest in tools that make it easier for you to develop and distribute your apps to a global audience. Below are some of the exciting updates we are announcing today:

Building smaller apps

The Android App Bundle is Android's new publishing format, with which you can more easily deliver a great experience in a smaller app size. Smaller apps have higher conversion rates and our user research shows that app size is a leading motivator in driving uninstalls. With the Android App Bundle's modularization, you can also deliver features on demand, instead of at install time, further reducing the size of your app.

Thousands of app bundles are already in production, with an average size reduction of 35%. Today, we are announcing updates that offer additional reasons for you to switch to the bundle.

  • More size savings: app bundles will now be on average 8% smaller on download and 16% smaller on device on M+ devices with no additional developer work. These new savings come from supporting uncompressed native libraries, which eliminates the need to store multiple copies on the device.
  • Easier to switch: you can now build app bundles in the Android Studio 3.2 stable release and in Unity 2018.3 beta.
  • Improved support for large apps: you can now upload large app bundles with installed APK sizes of up to 500MB without needing to use expansion files. This feature is in early access and we will roll it out to all developers in the future.

To learn more about the Android App Bundle, dynamic features, and all the benefits you receive from building a smaller, modular app, read our Medium post.

Building a unified instant experience

We've been listening to your feedback to make it easier to build instant apps, and we recently increased the size limit to 10MB to enable TRY NOW on the Play Store and removed the URL requirement. For game developers, we've partnered with Unity on a Google Play Instant plug-in and have built instant directly into the new Cocos Creator.

We’re now using the Android App Bundle to solve one of the primary pain points of building instant apps. Previously, you needed to publish both an instant app and an installable app. With Android Studio 3.2, you could publish instant-enabled bundles but you were still required to publish a primary app bundle.

Now, you don't have to maintain separate code. With the Android Studio 3.3 beta release, a developer can publish a single app bundle and classify it or a particular module to be instant enabled. The unified app bundle is the future of instant app experiences and we hope you will try it out.

Extending instant trials

Google Play Instant is now available for premium titles and pre-registration campaigns, so people can try your game before it launches and generate additional buzz. New apps and games join Google Play Instant every day, and we're excited to welcome Umiro, by Devolver Digital, and Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, by Scopely, as some of the first to take advantage of these new features.

Reducing crash rates and improving quality

The Play Console offers two tools to help you monitor performance and improve the quality of your apps. The pre-launch report runs your apps on real devices situated in the Firebase Test Lab and generates useful metadata to help you identify and fix issues before pushing your apps to production. Android vitals helps you track the performance and quality of your app on users' devices in the real world.

Now, we're linking them together to provide more actionable insights. Whenever a real-world crash in Android vitals is also seen during a pre-launch report execution, you'll get all the extra metadata from the pre-launch report available to you in the Android vitals dashboard so you can debug more effectively. This is also linked in both directions, so that if a crash occurs in pre-launch reports that is already happening in the real world, you'll be able to see the current impact in Android vitals which will help you better prioritize the issues highlighted by pre-launch reports.

Optimizing your app and business

We've made several updates to make it easier to manage your app and business with Play.

  • Tools for retaining subscribers: at I/O we introduced the cancellation survey, where you can get insights into why your subscribers are canceling. Now we're testing the ability for users to temporarily pause their subscriptions instead of outright canceling, and giving you the ability to deliver promotions to win back canceled subscribers.
  • More flexible subscription pricing: you can now change the price of an existing subscription without needing to create a new SKU in Play Billing Library version 1.2. You can also offer a plan change and make the change effective at the existing renewal date.
  • More powerful metrics: we've added new tools in the Play Console to help you evaluate your core metrics. Additions include cumulative data, 30-day rolling average metrics, and roll-ups for different time periods to better match the cadence of your business. You can also download any configured reports as a CSV file.
  • Easier app updates: you can now prompt users to update without leaving your app with a new API called In-App Updates. Developers can either show a full screen experience that takes the user from download to restart, or help the user download and install in the background with graceful state monitoring. This program is currently in early access and will roll out in the next few months.

A new way to learn about Play

We're equally excited to launch the Academy for App Success with new interactive courses to help developers get the most out of the Play Console, understand Play policies, and utilize best practices to improve quality and increase business performance. This free new program allows you to track your learning progress with quizzes and achievements to demonstrate your expertise. Available in English today, new content and translated courses will be added soon.

We continue to be inspired by what you build and the impact you have on people around the world. Check our #IMakeApps collection which celebrate some amazing people who create apps and games and share your #IMakeApps story.

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Staged releases allow you to bring new features to your users quickly, safely and regularly.

Posted by Peter Armitage, Software Engineer, Google Play

Releasing a new version of your app is an exciting moment when your team's hard work finally gets into the hands of your users. However, releasing can also be challenging - you want to keep your existing users happy without introducing performance regressions or bugs. At Google I/O this year, we talked about staged releases as an essential part of how Google does app releases, allowing you to manage the inherent risks of a new release by making a new version of your app available to just a fraction of your users. You can then increase this fraction as you gain confidence that your new version works as expected. We are excited that starting today staged releases will be possible on testing tracks, as well as the production track.

We will take a closer look at how staged releases work, and how you can use them as part of your release process.

Advantages of a staged release

The first benefit of a staged release is that it only exposes a fraction of your users to the new version. If the new version contains a bug, only a small number of people will be inconvenienced by it. This is much safer than releasing a new version to all of your users at once.

Another benefit is that if you discover a bug, you can halt the rollout, preventing any new users from downloading that version. Instead, they will receive the previous version.

These capabilities should relieve a lot of the uncertainty of rolling out a new version. And that will allow you to do it more often. We encourage releasing versions of a server more often because it reduces the number of changes between each release, allowing you to more easily test and troubleshoot. The same principle applies to apps, though there will be a delay before most of your users upgrade to the latest version.

Staged releases as part of your normal release process

Let's look at a typical release process for an app with 100,000 users.

  1. Every Monday the developer builds a new version of the app from the latest version of the code that passes the automatic tests. They push the new release to Google Play's internal test track, and their QA team immediately starts testing it manually. Any bugs they find can be fixed and a new version can be built and pushed for them to re-check.
  2. On Tuesday, if the QA team have approved the latest release, it can be promoted to the app's alpha track. All the employees at the company have opted in to testing. Once the new release is pushed to the alpha track, the employees can download the new version. They can do this manually, or they may have auto-updates enabled, in which case they will probably update within a few hours.
  3. On Wednesday, if there are no reported issues with the release, they can promote the release to the production track and start a rollout at 10%. This means 10,000 users will have the opportunity to upgrade. Some will upgrade immediately, others will wait. The 10% of users that receive the app first are randomly selected, and the users will be randomly chosen each week.
  4. On Thursday, the developer checks the Play Console to see their crash reports, Android vitals, and feedback. If these all look good they can increase the rollout to 100%. All users will be able to upgrade to the new version.
  5. On Friday, the developer doesn't change anything, to ensure a stress-free weekend!

For big apps and small apps

Some apps are just starting out, and although there's no QA team, it's still worth testing the app on a few different devices before releasing it. Instead of having a track for employees, the developer has added their friends and family, who can contact them if they see an issue.

When an app gets larger and uses the open testing track, it may have 5,000 testers. These testers won't give public feedback on the Play store, but will be able to give feedback to the developer directly. If this app has 1 million users, they may first release to 1%, before going to 10%, then 100%.

Once an app becomes very popular, it could have over 100,000 testers. In that case the developer is now able to do a staged release on their testing track.

How to bounce back from issues

Bugs happen, and if you discover a problem with your new version you may want to halt the release. This will stop users from getting the new version, either by upgrading or installing for the first time. However, those who have already got the new version will not downgrade.

If the issue was not in the app itself, but on a server that the app communicates with, it may be best to fix the issue in the server, then resume the release. Resuming it allows some fraction of your users to access the new version again. This is the same set of users that were able to download the release before it was halted.

If the issue was in the app, you will have to fix it and release a new version. Or alternatively, you may choose to rebuild the previous version with a higher version code. Then you can start a staged release to the same set of users that the previous release went to.

API support

Staged releases are supported in v3 of the Play Console API on all tracks. Mark a release as "inProgress" and set a fraction of the population to target. For instance, to start a staged release to 5%:

{
  "releases": [{
      "versionCodes": ["99"],
      "userFraction": 0.05,
      "status": "inProgress"
  }]
}

Alternatively, if you release using the UI, it will suggest a fraction.

What next?

We hope you find these features useful and take advantage of them for successful updates with Google Play. If you're interested in some of the other great tools for distributing your apps, check out the I/O 2018 sessions, and learn more about test tracks and staged updates.

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Exclusive new organic acquisition insights on the Google Play Console

Posted by Tom Grinsted, Product Manager, Google Play

We've updated the Play Console acquisition reports to give new insights into what users do on the Play Store to discover your app. It's a great way to super-charge your App Store Optimization (ASO) and onboarding experience.

One of the things every developer wants to know is how people discover their app or game. User acquisition reports in the Google Play Console are a great way to understand this. For many apps and games, a stand-out source is Organic traffic — it's usually the largest or second largest source of store listing visits and installs.

Organic traffic is made up of people who come to your store listing while exporting or searching the Play Store. These visitors might find your app in a seasonal collection, from featuring, or while searching for a specific use case or term.

Until recently, this traffic has been bundled together with no breakdown of data into user behavior. With our latest updates we have changed this by introducing new and exclusive acquisition insights to the Google Play Console. These enable you to understand what people in the Play Store do to discover your app or game. They reveal how many people discover your app through exploring the store, and how many search to find your app, and even the search terms they use!

App Store Optimization (ASO) is vital to driving your organic traffic and this update enables you to do this with more data and better understanding.

A new data breakdown

When you visit the user acquisition report, the first change you'll notice is that organic traffic is broken down. This breakdown means you can see how people arrive at your store listing by searching or exploring (actions that aren't search like browsing the homepage, visiting a category list, or viewing related apps).

This change has been of immediate benefit to developers, enabling their growth teams to optimize acquisition strategies. For example, Scopely found that:

"Isolating [explore] from search and then a deeper dive into search gives the whole organic picture. It allows us to focus on acquisition areas that really matter." Dorothee Pinlet, VP Partnerships, Scopely


Click through for more insights

From the new search row, you can click-through to see the aggregate number of people using different search terms to find your store listing, and which of those lead to the most installs. This breakdown is a view into the Play Store that has not been available before.

Our pilot partners, who helped us refine the feature ahead of launch, were very happy with how this data has helped them make more informed decisions.

For example, at Fun games for free:

"We were impressed by the relevance of the long tail searches."
Guilherme Major, Head of Organic Distribution and Business Development, Fun Games for Free

While Evernote found that the breakdown:

"... offers surprising and actionable insights about the effectiveness of search terms in driving installs and retained users."
May Allen, Product Manager, Evernote

Some partners changed their in-app onboarding experience to highlight features that reflected the search terms that were driving installs, to better meet user expectations. While others evaluated if their influencer marketing was having an impact by looking for their advocates' names in the search results after adding them to descriptions.

Better coverage

The new organic data also includes information about when people visiting the Play Store saw previews of your listings, not just when they visited your full page. People see these previews when they make certain searches, such as searching directly for a brand or app name. As well as more generally in some markets. This new information gives you more visibility into where people see your assets. It helps you decide how to optimize these assets, for instance by ensuring that your screenshots are impactful. And when you come to do that, you've got Store Listing Experiments.

This change means that your total reported visits and installs are likely to increase as of July 30, 2018. This increase is because previews will be counted as listing views, previously they were included in the category "Installs without store listing visits".

Putting the data to work

The developers who had the opportunity to test Organic breakdowns have given feedback that they loved them. They've also been kind enough to share some insights into how they plan to use the data. Perhaps these thoughts on how to use the data will spark some ideas for your business.

Some developers will be using this new data to evaluate their acquisition strategies by looking at the breakdown between explore and search. They will use this breakdown to evaluate the impact of exploring behaviors, especially around times when the app has been featured on the Play Store.

Using the information about popular search terms, several developers plan to change their app or game's Google Play listing to reflect user interests better. This change involves adjusting the descriptions and screenshots to tie more directly into the top search terms.

Others plan to use the insight provided by search term information to optimize their in-app onboarding. Here they plan to make sure that the onboarding talks about the features related to the most popular searches people made when discovering their app or game, highlighting and reinforcing the benefits.

Final word

Our team is always thinking about the tools we can build to help you optimize the discovery and installation of your app or game from the Play Store. Organic breakdowns is just one of these tools, a new way to help drive your success. Ultimately, your success is what we work towards. Organic breakdowns give you a more comprehensive picture of how people discover you on the Play Store so you can optimize your store presence, turning more visits into installs, and more installs into engaged users.

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Looking forward with Google Play

Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Google Play, Apps & Games

On Monday we released Android 9 Pie. As we continue to push the Android platform forward, we're always looking to provide new ways to distribute your apps efficiently, help people discover and engage with your work, and improve the overall security of our ecosystem. Google Play has had a busy year so far with some big milestones around helping you reach more users, including:

  • Shrinking download size: Android App Bundle & Dynamic Delivery has helped reduce app sizes by up to 65%, leading to increased downloads and fewer uninstalls.
  • Helpling improve quality: New tools in the Play Console have helped you reduce crash rates by up to 70%.
  • Improving discovery: Improvements to the discovery experience has increased Google Play Store visits by 30% over the last 12 months.
  • Keeping users safe: Google Play Protect scans more than 50 billion apps a day and Android API level 26 adoption requirements improve app security and performance.

Google Play is dedicated to helping you build and grow quality app businesses, reach the more than 2 billion Android devices globally and provide your users with better experiences. Here are some of the important areas we're prioritizing this year:

Innovative Distribution

We've added more testing tools to the popular Play Console to help developers de-risk app launches with internal and external test tracks and staged rollouts to get valuable early feedback. This year we've expanded the Start on Android program globally that provides developers new to Android additional guidance to optimize their apps before launch. Google Play Instant remains a huge bet to transform app discovery and improve conversions by letting users engage without the friction of installing. We're seeing great results from early adopters and are working on new places to surface instant experience, including ads, and making them easier to build throughout the year.

Improving App Quality

Google Play plays an important role helping developers understand and fix quality and performance issues. At I/O, we showcased how we expanded the battery, stability and rendering of Android vitals reporting to include app start time & permission denials, enabling developers to cut application not responding errors by up to 95%. We also expanded the functionality of automated device testing with the pre-launch report to enable games testing. Recently, we increased the importance of app quality in our search and discovery recommendations that has resulted in higher engagement and satisfaction with downloaded games.

Richer Discovery

Over the last year we've rolled out more editorial content and improved our machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations for apps and games that engage users. Since most game downloads come from browsing (as opposed to searching or deep linking into) the store, we've put particular focus on games discovery, with a new games home page, special sections for premium and new games, immersive video trailers and screenshots, and the ability to try games instantly. We've also introduced new programs to help drive app downloads through richer discovery. For example, since launching our app pre-registration program in 2016, we've seen nearly 250 million app pre-registrations. Going forward, we'll be expanding on these programs and others like LiveOps cards to help developers engage more deeply with their audience.

Expanding Commerce Platform

Google Play now collects payments in 150 markets via credit card, direct carrier billing (DCB), Paypal, and gift cards. Direct carrier billing is now enabled across 167 carriers in 64 markets. In 2018, we have focused on expanding our footprint in Africa and Latam with launches in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Peru & Colombia. And users can now buy Google Play credit via gift cards or other means in more 800,000 retail locations around the world. This year, we also launched seller support in 18 new markets bringing the total markets with seller support to 98. Our subscription offering continues to improve with ML-powered fraud detection and even more control for subscribers and developers. Google Play's risk modeling automatically helps detect fraudulent transactions and purchase APIs help you better analyze your refund data to identify suspicious activity.

Maintaining a Safe & Secure Ecosystem

Google Play Protect and our other systems scan and analyze more than 50 billion apps a day to keep our ecosystem safe for users and developers. In fact, people who only download apps from Google Play are nine times less likely to download a potentially harmful app than those who download from other sources. We've made significant improvements in our ability to detect abuse—such as impersonation, inappropriate content, fraud, or malware—through new machine learning models and techniques. The result is that 99% of apps with abusive content are identified and rejected before anyone can install them. We're also continuing to run the Google Play Security Rewards Program through a collaboration with Hacker One to discover other vulnerabilities.

We are continually inspired by what developers build—check out #IMakeApps for incredible examples—and want every developer to have the tools needed to succeed. We can't wait to see what you do next!

Meet the first Indie Games Accelerator class

Posted by Vineet Tanwar, Business Development Manager, Google Play

In June, we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a new four month program to help indie game startups from India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia supercharge their growth on Android. We have been truly impressed by the overwhelming responses we have received, and the creativity that indie game developers from these regions have to offer.

We had a great time going through the applications and playing the games which were submitted for review. Now, it's finally time to announce the inaugural class of startups selected for the program who we will mentor and coach over the next few months. Here they are:

Congratulations to the selected participants and a huge thanks to everyone that applied! Find out more about the program or express your interest in joining next class of Indie Games Accelerator.

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Congrats to the new Android Excellence apps and games on Google Play

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Join us in congratulating the latest apps and games entering the Android Excellence program on Google Play. This diverse group of apps and games is recognized for their high quality, great user experience, and strong technical performance. Whether you're interested in learning meditation or a new language, or are looking for a game about butterflies or warships, we're excited to dive in to these new collections.

Winning apps image

Check out a few of our highlighted apps.

  • Beelinguapp: Learn a new language with this unique app. Read and listen to stories with side by side text of the language you're learning, while following along with your language as a reference.
  • Fortune City: If you're looking for a fun app to help manage your personal finances, learn how Fortune City teaches good budgeting habits as you build a prospering metropolis.
  • ShareTheMeal: Feed a child in need with one tap on your phone, or create a team to fight hunger together with your friends, using this app by the World Food Programme.

Test your skills with these highlighted games.

  • Animal Crossing™: Pocket Camp: Take on the role of campsite manager as you collect items to decorate and build your ultimate dream campsite. Meet animals, build friendships and invite your favorite animals over for a fun time.
  • Cash, Inc.: Be the big boss of your business empire in this fun game. Work your way up to join a community of business elites and become the most famous money tycoon.
  • Shadowgun Legends: Save humanity from an alien invader in an epic Story Campaign spanning over 200+ mission on 4 diverse planets. Along the way, customize your character, team up with friends, and become a celebrity of the Shadowgun Universe.

See the full list of Android Excellence apps and games.

New Android Excellence apps New Android Excellence games
Beelinguapp
BTFIT
Fortune City
Letras.mus.br
LingoDeer
Memrise
PicsArt
Pocket Casts
ShareTheMeal
The Mindfulness App
Tokopedia
Trello
VivaReal
Wynk Music
Animal Crossing™: Pocket Camp
Cash, Inc.
Flutter: Starlight
Shadow Fight 3
Shadowgun Legends
War Heroes
World of Warships Blitz

Explore other great apps and games in the Editors' Choice section on Google Play and discover best practices to help you build quality apps and games.

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Launching the Indie Games Accelerator in Asia – helping gaming startups find success on Google Play

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager, Google Play and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager, Google

Emerging markets now account for more than 40% of game installs on Google Play. Rapid smartphone adoption in these regions presents a new base of engaged gamers that are looking for high quality mobile gaming experiences. At Google Play, we are focused on helping local game developers from these markets achieve their full potential and make the most of this opportunity.

Indie Games Accelerator is a new initiative to support top indie game startups from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam who are looking to supercharge their growth on Android. This four month program is a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, designed in close collaboration with Google Play, featuring a comprehensive gaming curriculum and mentorship from top mobile gaming experts.

Successful participants will be invited to attend two all-expense-paid gaming bootcamps at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google Cloud Platform credits, invites to exclusive Google and industry events, and more.

Visit the program website to find out more and apply now.