Tag Archives: Android

Meet 5 Android developers working to improve lives around the world

Posted by Maxim Mai, Apps Partnerships, Google Play

Last Thursday at Google I/O 2017, we announced the winners of this year's Google Play Awards. Grab some popcorn and watch the award ceremony, we think it's just as fun as The Oscars. This year, we included a category to celebrate the achievements of developers who publish outstanding apps that have positive social impact.

In introducing this awards category, we were inspired by the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. With the ability to reach over 1 billion active Android devices around the world, we think that app developers have a tremendous opportunity to impact Zero Hunger (SDG #2), Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG #3) and Quality Education (SDG #4), and many others. Read on to find out more about how this year's winner and finalists and impacting these goals.

Get in touch about your social impact app or game

Our work in supporting developer success in this area on Android and Google Play is just beginning. We would like to encourage Android developers with a focus on social impact to get in touch with us here at Google Play and to tell us about their app or game. It doesn't matter where you are based, what problems you are solving, or which countries you are targeting, we would like to hear your story and maybe we can help you grow faster and improve your app's quality.

Social impact winner & finalists in the 2017 Google Play Awards

🏆 ShareTheMeal by United Nations 🏆

The Google Play Award category winner, ShareTheMeal, generates large scale, global awareness for "Zero Hunger" and its users' donations pay for school meals, which are provided by the World Food Programme, in regions around the world experiencing food insecurity. Over 13 million meals have been donated via the app since launch!

Charity Miles by Charity Miles

This is a running, cycling and walking tracker app with a social impact twist. Charity Miles earns money for charity on your behalf for every mile you move, via its brand fitness exercise sponsors! Users have already donated $2 million to charity by recording over 40 million miles!

Peek Acuity by Peak Vision

Peek Acuity allows anyone with an Android phone to easily measure visual acuity, which is one of the components of vision. It is designed by eye care professionals to be used to help identify people who need further examination by, for example, an optometrist or ophthalmologist. In developing countries, over XM [confirm number with Peek Vision] struggle with vision impairment and many don't have easy access to an eye care professional.

Prodeaf Translator by ProDeaf Tecnologias Assistivas

This app lets anyone translate phrases and words from Portuguese for Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) or from English to American Sign Language (ASL). This significantly reduces barriers to communication between the millions of people who depend on Libras or ASL as their lingua franca and others who have not had the opportunity to learn this form of communication.

Sea Hero Quest by GLITCHERS

This is not just a game, it's a quest to help scientists fight dementia! It sounds too good to be true but this really is a game, where simply by having loads of fun chasing creatures around magical seas and swamps, you can help to fight a disease that currently affects 45 million people worldwide. In fact playing SEA HERO QUEST for just 2 minutes will generate the equivalent of 5 hours of lab-based research data.

If you're working on an app or game with a positive social impact, don't forget to get in touch via this form and tick the "Social Impact app" checkbox.

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Welcome to your New Home on Android TV

Posted by Paul Saxman, Android Devices and Media Developer Relations Lead

Android TV brings rich app experiences and entertainment to the biggest screen in your house, and with Android O, we’re making it even easier for users to access content from their favorite apps. We’ve built a new, content-centric home screen experience for Android TV, and we're bringing the Google Assistant to the platform as well. These features put content that users want to access a few clicks, or spoken words, away.

The New Android TV Home Screen

The new Android TV home screen organizes video content into channels and programs in a way that’s familiar to TV viewers. Each Android TV app can publish multiple channels, which are represented as rows of programs on the home screen. Apps add relevant programs on each channel, and update these programs and channels as users access content or when new content is available. To help engage users, programs can include a video preview, which is automatically played when a user focuses on a program. Users can configure which channels they wish to see on the home screen, and the ordering of channels, so the themes and shows they’re interested in are quick and easy to access.

In addition to channels for you app, the top of the new Android TV home screen includes a quick launch bar for users' favorite apps, and a special Watch Next channel. This channel contains programs based on the viewing habits of the user.

The APIs for creating and maintaining channels and programs are part of the TvProvider APIs, which are distributed as an Android Support Library module with Android O. To get started using these APIs, visit the Android O Developer Preview site for an overview, and try out the Android TV Channels and Programs codelab for a first-hand experience building an Android TV app for Android O.

Later this year, Nexus Players will receive the new Android TV home experience as an OTA update. If you wish build and test apps for the new interface today, however, you can use the Android TV emulator or Nexus Player device images that are part of the latest Android O Developer Preview.

The Google Assistant on Android TV

The Google Assistant on Android TV, coming later this year, will allow users to quickly find and access content using their voice. Because the Assistant is context-aware, it can help users narrow down what content to play. Users will also be able access the Assistant to control playback, even while a video or music is playing. And since the Assistant can control compatible smart home devices, a simple voice request can dim the lights to create an ideal movie viewing environment. When the Google Assistant comes to Android TV, it will launch in the US on Android devices running M, N, and O.

We're looking forward to seeing how developers take advantage of the new Android TV home screen. We welcome feedback, so please visit the Android TV Developer Community on G+ to share you thoughts and ideas!

The Machine Intelligence Behind Gboard



Most people spend a significant amount of time each day using mobile-device keyboards: composing emails, texting, engaging in social media, and more. Yet, mobile keyboards are still cumbersome to handle. The average user is roughly 35% slower typing on a mobile device than on a physical keyboard. To change that, we recently provided many exciting improvements to Gboard for Android, working towards our vision of creating an intelligent mechanism that enables faster input while offering suggestions and correcting mistakes, in any language you choose.

With the realization that the way a mobile keyboard translates touch inputs into text is similar to how a speech recognition system translates voice inputs into text, we leveraged our experience in Speech Recognition to pursue our vision. First, we created robust spatial models that map fuzzy sequences of raw touch points to keys on the keyboard, just like acoustic models map sequences of sound bites to phonetic units. Second, we built a powerful core decoding engine based on finite state transducers (FST) to determine the likeliest word sequence given an input touch sequence. With its mathematical formalism and broad success in speech applications, we knew that an FST decoder would offer the flexibility needed to support a variety of complex keyboard input behaviors as well as language features. In this post, we will detail what went into the development of both of these systems.

Neural Spatial Models
Mobile keyboard input is subject to errors that are generally attributed to “fat finger typing” (or tracing spatially similar words in glide typing, as illustrated below) along with cognitive and motor errors (manifesting in misspellings, character insertions, deletions or swaps, etc). An intelligent keyboard needs to be able to account for these errors and predict the intended words rapidly and accurately. As such, we built a spatial model for Gboard that addresses these errors at the character level, mapping the touch points on the screen to actual keys.
Average glide trails for two spatially-similar words: “Vampire” and “Value”.
Up to recently, Gboard used a Gaussian model to quantify the probability of tapping neighboring keys and a rule-based model to represent cognitive and motor errors. These models were simple and intuitive, but they didn’t allow us to directly optimize metrics that correlate with better typing quality. Drawing on our experience with Voice Search acoustic models we replaced both the Gaussian and rule-based models with a single, highly efficient long short-term memory (LSTM) model trained with a connectionist temporal classification (CTC) criterion.

However, training this model turned out to be a lot more complicated than we had anticipated. While acoustic models are trained from human-transcribed audio data, one cannot easily transcribe millions of touch point sequences and glide traces. So the team exploited user-interaction signals, e.g. reverted auto-corrections and suggestion picks as negative and positive semi-supervised learning signals, to form rich training and test sets.
Raw data points corresponding to the word “could” (left), and normalized sampled trajectory with per-sample variances (right).
A plethora of techniques from the speech recognition literature was used to iterate on the NSM models to make them small and fast enough to be run on any device. The TensorFlow infrastructure was used to train hundreds of models, optimizing various signals surfaced by the keyboard: completions, suggestions, gliding, etc. After more than a year of work, the resulting models were about 6 times faster and 10 times smaller than the initial versions, they also showed about 15% reduction in bad autocorrects and 10% reduction in wrongly decoded gestures on offline datasets.

Finite-State Transducers
While the NSM uses spatial information to help determine what was tapped or swiped, there are additional constraints — lexical and grammatical — that can be brought to bear. A lexicon tells us what words occur in a language and a probabilistic grammar tells us what words are likely to follow other words. To encode this information we use finite-state transducers. FSTs have long been a key component of Google’s speech recognition and synthesis systems. They provide a principled way to represent various probabilistic models (lexicons, grammars, normalizers, etc) used in natural language processing together with the mathematical framework needed to manipulate, optimize, combine and search the models*.

In Gboard, a key-to-word transducer compactly represents the keyboard lexicon as shown in the figure below. It encodes the mapping from key sequences to words, allowing for alternative key sequences and optional spaces.
This transducer encodes “I”, “I’ve”, “If” along paths from the start state (the bold circle 1) to final states (the double circle states 0 and 1). Each arc is labeled with an input key (before the “:”) and a corresponding output word (after the “:”) where ε encodes the empty symbol. The apostrophe in “I’ve” can be omitted. The user may skip the space bar sometimes. To account for that, the space key transition between words in the transducer is optional. The ε and space back arcs allow accepting more than one word.
A probabilistic n-gram transducer is used to represent the language model for the keyboard. A state in the model represents an (up to) n-1 word context and an arc leaving that state is labeled with a successor word together with its probability of following that context (estimated from textual data). These, together with the spatial model that gives the likelihoods of sequences of key touches (discrete tap entries or continuous gestures in glide typing), are combined and explored with a beam search.

Generic FST principles, such as streaming, support for dynamic models, etc took us a long way towards building a new keyboard decoder, but several new functionalities also had to be added. When you speak, you don’t need the decoder to complete your words or guess what you will say next to save you a few syllables; but when you type, you appreciate the help of word completions and predictions. Also, we wanted the keyboard to provide seamless multilingual support, as shown below.
Trilingual input typing in Gboard.
It was a complex effort to get our new decoder off the ground, but the principled nature of FSTs has many benefits. For example, supporting transliterations for languages like Hindi is just a simple extension of the generic decoder.

Transliteration Models
In many languages with complex scripts, romanization systems have been developed to map characters into the Latin alphabet, often according to their phonetic pronunciations. For example, the Pinyin “xièxiè” corresponds to the Chinese characters “谢谢” (“thank you”). A Pinyin keyboard allows users to conveniently type words on a QWERTY layout and have them automatically “translated” into the target script. Likewise, a transliterated Hindi keyboard allows users to type “daanth” for “दांत” (teeth). Whereas Pinyin is an agreed-upon romanization system, Hindi transliterations are more fuzzy; for example “daant” would be a valid alternative for “दांत”.
Transliterated glide input for Hindi.
Just as we have a transducer mapping from letter sequences to words (a lexicon) and a weighted language model automaton providing probabilities for word sequences, we built weighted transducer mappings between Latin key sequences and target script symbol sequences for 22 Indic languages. Some languages have multiple writing systems (Bodo for example can be written in the Bengali or Devanagari scripts) so between transliterated and native layouts, we built 57 new input methods in just a few months.

The general nature of the FST decoder let us leverage all the work we had done to support completions, predictions, glide typing and many UI features with no extra effort, allowing us to offer a rich experience to our Indian users right from the start.

A More Intelligent Keyboard
All in all, our recent work cut the decoding latency by 50%, reduced the fraction of words users have to manually correct by more than 10%, allowed us to launch transliteration support for the 22 official languages of India, and enabled many new features you may have noticed.

While we hope that these recent changes improve your typing experience, we recognize that on-device typing is by no means solved. Gboard can still make suggestions that seem nonintuitive or of low utility and gestures can still be decoded to words a human would never pick. However, our shift towards powerful machine intelligence algorithms has opened new spaces that we’re actively exploring to make more useful tools and products for our users worldwide.

Acknowledgments
This work was done by Cyril Allauzen, Ouais Alsharif, Lars Hellsten, Tom Ouyang, Brian Roark and David Rybach, with help from Speech Data Operation team. Special thanks go to Johan Schalkwyk and Corinna Cortes for their support.


* The toolbox of relevant algorithms is available in the OpenFst open-source library.

Request a professional app translation from the Google Play Console and reach new users

Posted by Rahim Nathwani, Product Manager, Google Play
Localizing your app or game is an important step in allowing you to reach the widest possible audience. It helps you increase downloads and provide better experiences for your audience.
To help do this, Google Play offers an app translation service. The service, by professional linguists, can translate app user interface strings, Play Store text, in-app products and universal app campaign ads. We've made the app translation service available directly from inside the Google Play Console, making it easy and quick to get started.
  • Choose from a selection of professional translation vendors.
  • Order, receive and apply translations, without leaving the Play Console.
  • Pay online with Google Wallet.
  • Translations from your previous orders (if any) are reused, so you never pay for the same translation twice. Great if you release new versions frequently.
Using the app translation service to translate a typical app and store description into one language may cost around US$50. (cost depends on the amount of text and languages).
Find out more and get started with the app translation service.

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Group Messaging in Android Auto

Posted by David Nelloms, Software Engineer
Communicating with a group of people is a common use case for many messaging apps. However, it may be difficult to know how the Android Auto messaging API applies to group conversations. Here are some tips for getting started with group messaging in Android Auto:

Conversation Name

When constructing the UnreadConversation builder, you are required to pass in a name. This is the name of the conversation that is displayed to the user when messages arrive.

UnreadConversation.Builder unreadConvBuilder =
    new UnreadConversation.Builder(conversationName)
        .setReadPendingIntent(msgHeardPendingIntent)
        .setReplyAction(msgReplyPendingIntent, remoteInput);

For one-on-one conversations, this is simply the name of the other participant. For group conversations, it is best to choose one of two options for the name:

  1. Conversation title: If your app supports adding a title to group conversations, use the title for the name parameter to be consistent with your in-app experience. This field is similar to NotificationCompat.MessagingStyle#setConversationTitle.
  2. A list of participants: Build a comma-separated list of participants for the name parameter to identify the group. Note that this is read aloud by the text-to-speech system, so you may need to abbreviate the list for large groups. You should balance allowing users to uniquely identify the group with the time taken to listen to messages.

Text to Speech Formatting

Getting text to sound natural using a TTS system is a challenging problem. There are teams working hard to improve this, but there are steps you can take to create a better user experience with the current capabilities. The Android Auto messaging API does not yet have an option for pairing participants with individual messages in a group conversation. This is problematic for drivers when there are multiple unread messages from multiple participants in a group conversation, as the drivers cannot see which group member sent which message. One solution is to prepend the sender's name to the message whenever the sender changes so that the names are read aloud to the driver.

CharSequence currentSender = null;
for (Message message : myMessages) {
    StringBuilder messageText = new StringBuilder();
    CharSequence sender = message.getSender();
    // Maybe append sender to indicate who is speaking.
    if (!TextUtils.isEmpty(sender) && !sender.equals(currentSender)) {
        if (currentSender != null) {
            // Punctuation will briefly pause TTS readout between senders.
            messageText.append(". ");
        }
        currentSender = sender;
        messageText.append(sender.toString().toLowerCase(Locale.getDefault()));
        // Punctuation will separate sender from message in TTS readout.
        messageText.append(": ");
    }
    messageText.append(message.getText());
    unreadConvBuilder.addMessage(messageText.toString());
}

Some things to note about the above sample code:

  • Adding punctuation is not strictly necessary, but it can produce a more natural sounding result.
  • The sender names are converted to lowercase. This is workaround for a quirk where the TTS implementation vocalizes ". " as "dot" when preceding a capital letter on some devices.

Get participants

In searching for how to handle group messaging, you may have noticed UnreadConversation#getParticipants. This can be confusing as there is no mechanism to add multiple participants in the builder. The builder implementation populates the array with the conversation name passed to its constructor. Internally, Android Auto uses the singular UnreadConversation#getParticipant, which returns the first element of the participants array, to populate the title in the notification view.

Stay tuned

The Android Auto team is working on ways to make messaging with drivers simpler and more intuitive for app developers. Stay tuned for future updates so that you can continue to deliver a great user experience!

Android Pay says “Привет” to Russia

Stepping out for groceries or an afternoon coffee? You’ll no longer need to bring anything more than your phone. Starting today, Android Pay is available in Russia – which means you’ll be able to enjoy a simpler and more secure way to pay across all 11 time zones.

Android Pay lets you check out quickly and easily in some of your favorite stores and apps – gone are the days of fumbling for credit cards and counting cash. Get the Android Pay app from Google Play and add your eligible card to get started. When you’re ready to pay, just hold your phone near the payment terminal and wait for the checkmark to appear. You can also add all your loyalty cards to Android Pay so they’re easily accessible.

Where can I use Android Pay?

Whether you’re fueling your car, grabbing coffee with breakfast, buying groceries, or going to the cinema, you can use Android Pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments –just look for either of these logos when you’re ready to pay.

Android Pay NFC

Thousands of your favorite places already accept Android Pay, including Magnit, Perekrestok, Starbucks, KFC and Rosneft. And with your loyalty cards saved in the Android Pay app, there’s no need to carry them around anymore.

Select Merchants that accept Android Pay

Shopping in apps like Lamoda, OneTwoTrip, or Rambler-Kassa? Breeze through checkout with Android Pay. You’ll no longer have to enter your payment details every time –look for the Android Pay button and you can pay with a single tap. Here some of the apps that accept Android Pay now, with more coming soon!

RU_in app

And if you’re an online merchant, we've teamed up with several processors to make it even easier for you to accept Android Pay in your apps and sites. Visit the Android Pay API developer site to learn more.

Russian Processors

Getting started

To start using Android Pay, download the Android Pay app from Google Play. You’ll need to have Android KitKat 4.4 or higher on your phone. Then, add an eligible Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card from a supported bank, such as AK BARS, Alfa-Bank, B&N Bank, MTS Bank, Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Raiffeisen Bank, Rocketbank, Russian Standard Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sberbank, Tinkoff Bank, Tochka, VTB24 or Yandex.Money. Don’t see your bank on the list? Don’t worry. We’re always adding new partners, and we’ll let you know as soon as new banks come on board.

Android Pay Russian Featured Banks

If you already have the Raiffeisen Bank, Sberbank, or Tinkoff Bank mobile apps, you can enable Android Pay from those banking apps without having to download Android Pay. Just tap the “Add to Android Pay” button to enable your card in Android Pay without entering your card information.

Because Android Pay doesn’t share your actual credit or debit card number with stores, it’s safer than using a plastic card. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use Find My Device to instantly lock your phone from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or wipe it clean of your personal information.

Ready to use Android Pay in stores? You’ll need to make sure your phone supports NFC. Thousands of phones do – and we’ve created a guide to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
Russia OEMs

We’re thrilled to name Russia as our 11th country to adopt Android Pay, and we hope it’ll make your everyday purchases faster, easier, and a little more fun. Get the app now to enjoy the benefits of effortless checkout in apps, online, and at all your favorite places.

Android Pay says “Привет” to Russia

Stepping out for groceries or an afternoon coffee? You’ll no longer need to bring anything more than your phone. Starting today, Android Pay is available in Russia – which means you’ll be able to enjoy a simpler and more secure way to pay across all 11 time zones.

Android Pay lets you check out quickly and easily in some of your favorite stores and apps – gone are the days of fumbling for credit cards and counting cash. Get the Android Pay app from Google Play and add your eligible card to get started. When you’re ready to pay, just hold your phone near the payment terminal and wait for the checkmark to appear. You can also add all your loyalty cards to Android Pay so they’re easily accessible.

Where can I use Android Pay?

Whether you’re fueling your car, grabbing coffee with breakfast, buying groceries, or going to the cinema, you can use Android Pay anywhere that accepts contactless payments –just look for either of these logos when you’re ready to pay.

Android Pay NFC

Thousands of your favorite places already accept Android Pay, including Magnit, Perekrestok, Starbucks, KFC and Rosneft. And with your loyalty cards saved in the Android Pay app, there’s no need to carry them around anymore.

Select Merchants that accept Android Pay

Shopping in apps like Lamoda, OneTwoTrip, or Rambler-Kassa? Breeze through checkout with Android Pay. You’ll no longer have to enter your payment details every time –look for the Android Pay button and you can pay with a single tap. Here some of the apps that accept Android Pay now, with more coming soon!

RU_in app

And if you’re an online merchant, we've teamed up with several processors to make it even easier for you to accept Android Pay in your apps and sites. Visit the Android Pay API developer site to learn more.

Russian Processors

Getting started

To start using Android Pay, download the Android Pay app from Google Play. You’ll need to have Android KitKat 4.4 or higher on your phone. Then, add an eligible Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card from a supported bank, such as AK BARS, Alfa-Bank, B&N Bank, MTS Bank, Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Raiffeisen Bank, Rocketbank, Russian Standard Bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, Sberbank, Tinkoff Bank, Tochka, VTB24 or Yandex.Money. Don’t see your bank on the list? Don’t worry. We’re always adding new partners, and we’ll let you know as soon as new banks come on board.

Android Pay Russian Featured Banks

If you already have the Raiffeisen Bank, Sberbank, or Tinkoff Bank mobile apps, you can enable Android Pay from those banking apps without having to download Android Pay. Just tap the “Add to Android Pay” button to enable your card in Android Pay without entering your card information.

Because Android Pay doesn’t share your actual credit or debit card number with stores, it’s safer than using a plastic card. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use Find My Device to instantly lock your phone from anywhere, secure it with a new password, or wipe it clean of your personal information.

Ready to use Android Pay in stores? You’ll need to make sure your phone supports NFC. Thousands of phones do – and we’ve created a guide to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
Russia OEMs

We’re thrilled to name Russia as our 11th country to adopt Android Pay, and we hope it’ll make your everyday purchases faster, easier, and a little more fun. Get the app now to enjoy the benefits of effortless checkout in apps, online, and at all your favorite places.

Make more money with subscriptions on Google Play

Posted by George Audi, Tom Grinsted and Larry Yang, Google Play

The subscription business model is one of the best ways to make more regular, reliable, and recurring revenue on Android and Google Play. In fact, both developers and users love subscription apps so much that we’ve seen a 10X growth in consumer spend over the past three years and double the number of active subscribers in the past year. Thousands of developers are offering subscriptions through Google Play and are already seeing success with our billing platform. That’s why we’ve been working hard to help you take advantage of this opportunity and give you greater insights into your business and Android users.

New features to help your subscriptions business thrive

You've got a high-performing product with fantastic features and compelling content, but your business can't succeed without acquiring new users. In addition to free trials, intro pricing, flexible billing periods, and more, we recently launched the ability to pay for subscriptions with Google Play balance. Although people have already been using gift cards to pay for Play content in over 20 countries, the use of gift cards to pay for subscriptions in regions where cash is a popular form of payment, such as Latin America, has resulted in as high as a 15% increase in subscription spend.

But it's not just about acquiring new customers, it's about retaining the ones you have. That's why we are introducing account hold, where we work with you to block access to your content or service if a user's form of payment fails. This directly links a payment failure to the user losing access to your content and/or premium features, which is enough to get them to go and choose a new form of payment. When Keepsafe–the developer of Keepsafe Photo Vault, a photo locker for private pictures and videos with over 50M downloads–integrated account hold, their renewal rate on Android increased by 25%. We have over a dozen developers in early access today, and we will be announcing public availability at the end of June.

We know data is vital to running your business, so we're excited to announce a new subscriptions dashboard in the Play Console, and a new report on Android app subscribers.

The dashboard brings together subscription data like new subscribers, cancellations, and total subscribers. It also displays daily and 30-day rolling revenue data, and highlights your top-performing products. This will give visibility into your subscription products and users and will help guide your business decisions.

Insights to help you grow your subscriptions business

In addition to products and features, understanding people's needs is core to building a successful subscription business. We talked to 2,000 Android app subscribers in the US and UK and asked them how and why they use the apps they do. The results shared in 'Subscription apps on Google Play: User insights to help developers win' report highlight some of the opportunities for you to grow your subscriptions user base, set pricing strategies and learn to keep your users engaged, including:

  • Use free trials to acquire users. 78% of users start with a free version of an app, and many cite a discount or end of a free trial as a reason to pay.
  • Keep your content appealing and updated to get and keep users paying. It's the most important driver in converting users from free to paid users, as well as keeping users engaged and retained.
  • There is a huge opportunity to make money from subscriptions. While pricing elasticity varies by category, few users cite price as a reason to churn from a paid subscription and 64% either budget on a per app basis or not at all (as opposed to budgeting across all app subscriptions).
To find out more about your growing your subscription business with Google Play, watch our I/O session, download the research report (PDF), and get started with subscriptions with Google Play In-app Billing.

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Android Wear: New complications tools and watch friendly UI library

Posted by Hoi Lam, Lead Developer Advocate, Android Wear
Android Wear 2.0 gives users more informative watch faces and provides developers with new ways to build useful apps. These new opportunities have been well received by users and developers alike. To help developers take advantage of these new features, we have released a suite of complication API tools, to make it easier for developers to add complication support to their watch faces, and a new Wear UI library, to help developers build watch friendly user interfaces.

New Complications API tools for Watch Face developers

Complications are bite-sized pieces of information displayed directly on the watch face. They can also be great shortcuts into your favorite apps. We introduced the Complications API last year to enable watch faces to receive data from any app that the user selects, and display the data to the user in a way that is stylistically coherent. Today, we are introducing four new tools to make it easier for watch face developers to integrate with the Complications API:

  • TextRenderer - Auto-sizes text to fit in bounds defined by watch face makers.
  • ComplicationDrawable - A full rendering solution for complications, that handles all the styling for you, and adjusts the layout to fit the space you specify
  • Easy watch face settings sample - Adoptable sample code that makes it easier to build complication settings with a rich and usable experience.
  • Complication test suite - A sample data provider to help check that your watch face can handle all the combinations of fields that can make up complication data.

It's never been easier to integrate complications into your watch faces.

New Wear UI Library for Wear developers

We have provided Android view components for building watch friendly user interfaces since the launch of Android Wear 1.0. Developers have told us that they would like to see these components open sourced. So, starting at Google I/O, we are open sourcing some components and providing some Android Wear UI components in the Android Support Library. This brings a number of advantages, including more consistent APIs with the rest of the Support Library, more frequent releases, and better responsiveness to developer feedback. We will:

  • Migrate Wearable Support classes - Migrate and update Android Wear specific view components, such as WearableRecyclerView, from android.support.wearable.view in Wearable Support to android.support.wear.widget in the Android Support Library. This new package is available as open source. In terms of developer impact, we expect the migration process to be simple, with minor API name changes to bring consistency with the existing Android Support Library.
  • Merge some Android Wear functionality to Android - Some Android Wear components have a lot of overlap with Android, e.g. CircledImageView and DelayedConfirmationView. We will merge the Android Wear specific functionality with the Android counterparts under android.support.v4.widget.
  • Deprecate outdated user interface patterns - Two user interface patterns are deprecated with Android Wear 2.0: the Card pattern and the Multi-directional layout. As a result, we have deprecated all supporting classes, such as GridViewPager and CardFragment. Please refer to the class reference docs for their replacements.

In the first wave of these changes, we migrated the WearableRecyclerView, BoxInsetLayout and SwipeDismissFrameLayout classes to the new Android Wear UI Library. We expect the migration process to continue during 2017, and developers will have until mid-2018 to migrate to the new UI components. For additional information, see Using the Wear UI Library.

Get started and give us feedback!

To get started with these new tools, simply update the Android Support Library in Android Studio and update your gradle build files to import the new support libraries. In addition to the documentation links above, check out the Google I/O session - Android Wear UI development best practice - where lead engineers for these tools will be on-hand to explain the technical details.

We will continue to update these tools over the next few months, based on your feedback. The sooner we hear from you, the more we can include, so don't be shy! Let us do some of the heavy lifting for your Android Wear apps and watch faces.

What’s next for Google payment and loyalty experiences

Thousands of apps and millions of stores accept Android Pay, a simpler and more secure mobile payment experience. Android Pay is now available in 10 markets, with more coming soon, including Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain and Taiwan. And in addition to our already announced Visa and Mastercard partnerships, we’ll soon enable a streamlined mobile checkout experience for PayPal users.

The newest ways to pay with Google

Yesterday, we announced the Google Payment API, which lets people pay in app or online with any verified credit or debit card saved to their Google Account, via products like Google Play, Chrome and YouTube.

Wish Pay with Google

For users, the option to pay with Google means breezing through checkout without needing to remember and type multiple lines of payment details. You simply choose your preferred card, enter a security code or authenticate with your Android device, and check out.

Developers who adopt this API can enable an easy-to-use checkout experience for their customers. Sign up for early access to the new Google Payment API.

In the upcoming months, we’ll also enable people in the U.S. to send or receive payments via the Google Assistant. On your Google Home or Android device, it’s as simple as saying “Ok Google, send $10 to Jane for pizza.” All you need is a debit card linked to your Google account.

P2P Assistant

Connect with customers before, during and after purchase

We’re also announcing new ways for merchants to engage and reward customers before they walk into the store and after they’ve left.

The Card Linked Offers API drives customer loyalty by providing a new channel to deliver targeted offers, and Panera Bread is one of the first merchants who will roll out this new capability nationally. MyPanera members who save their loyalty card to Android Pay can discover offers and learn about new menu items, surfaced by Android Pay when they are at the store. The offer is redeemed when you use your MyPanera account at checkout.

Card Linked Offers with Panera

We’re also making it easier for Android Pay users to add loyalty programs. For example, Walgreens Balance Rewards® members who manually apply their loyalty account with a phone number and use Android Pay will receive a notification on their phone that easily enables them to link that loyalty card to Android Pay for future visits. This experience is powered by our smart tap technology, which Walgreens has fully deployed across their 8,000+ U.S. stores.

There’s more—we’re collaborating with Clover, a First Data company, to expand our smart tap technology beyond national retailers to businesses of all sizes. With the upcoming integration of smart tap in Clover’s developer APIs, you’ll be able to build Android apps for loyalty, coupon and gift card redemption and new features, such as order ahead and tap for pick up. 

Visit developers.google.com/payments for the latest on all of our Google Payment, Loyalty and Offers APIs.

Source: Android