Tag Archives: Featured

The latest Android App Bundle updates including the additional languages API

Posted by Wojtek Kaliciński, Developer Advocate, Android

Last year, we launched Android App Bundles and Google Play's Dynamic Delivery to introduce modular development, reduce app size and streamline the release process. Since then, we've seen developers quickly adopt this new app model in over 60,000 production apps. We've been excited to see developers experience significant app size savings and reductions in the time needed to manage each release, and have documented these benefits in case studies with Duolingo and redBus.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to give us feedback on our initial launch. We're always open to new ideas, and today, we're happy to announce some new improvements based on your suggestions:

  • A new additional languages install API, which supports in-app language pickers
  • A streamlined publishing process for instant-enabled app bundles
  • A new enrollment option for app signing by Google Play
  • The ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app's initial install


Additional languages API

When you adopt the Android App Bundle as the publishing format for your app, Google Play is able to optimize the installation by delivering only the language resources that match the device's system locales. If a user changes the system locale after the app is installed, Play automatically downloads the required resources.

Some developers choose to decouple the app's display language from the system locale by adding an in-app language switcher. With the latest release of the Play Core library (version 1.4.0), we're introducing a new additional languages API that makes it possible to build in-app language pickers while retaining the full benefits of smaller installs provided by using app bundles.

With the additional languages API, apps can now request the Play Store to install resources for a new language configuration on demand and immediately start using it.

Get a list of installed languages

The app can get a list of languages that are already installed using the SplitInstallManager#getInstalledLanguages() method.

val splitInstallManager = SplitInstallManagerFactory.create(context)
val langs: Set<String> = splitInstallManager.installedLanguages

Requesting additional languages

Requesting an additional language is similar to requesting an on demand module. You can do this by specifying a language in the request through SplitInstallRequest.Builder#addLanguage(java.util.Locale).

val installRequestBuilder = SplitInstallRequest.newBuilder()
installRequestBuilder.addLanguage(Locale.forLanguageTag("pl"))
splitInstallManager.startInstall(installRequestBuilder.build())

The app can also monitor install success with callbacks and monitor the download state with a listener, just like when requesting an on demand module.

Remember to handle the SplitInstallSessionStatus.REQUIRES_USER_CONFIRMATION state. Please note that there was an API change in a recent Play Core release, which means you should use the new SplitInstallManager#startConfirmationDialogForResult() together with Activity#onActivityResult(). The previous method of using SplitInstallSessionState#resolutionIntent() with startIntentSender() has been deprecated.

Check out the updated Play Core Library documentation for more information on how to access the newly installed language resources in your activity.

We've also updated our dynamic features sample on GitHub with the additional languages API, including how to store the user's language preference and apply it to your activities at startup.

Please note that while the additional languages API is now available to all developers, on demand modules are in a closed beta for the time being. You can experiment with on demand modules in your internal, open, and closed test tracks, while we work with our partners to make sure this feature is ready for production apps.

Instant-enabled App Bundle

In Android Studio 3.3, we introduced a way to build app bundles that contain both the regular, installed version of your app as well as a Google Play Instant experience for modules marked with the dist:instant="true" attribute in their AndroidManifest.xml:

<manifest ... xmlns:dist="http://schemas.android.com/apk/distribution">
    <dist:module dist:instant="true" />
    ...
</manifest>

Even though you could use a single project to generate the installed and instant versions of your app, up until now, developers were still required to use product flavors in order to build two separate app bundles and upload both to Play.

We're happy to announce that we have now removed this restriction. It's now possible to upload a single, unified app bundle artifact, containing modules enabled for the instant experience. This functionality is now available for everyone.

After you build an instant-enabled app bundle, upload it to any track on the Play Console, and you'll be able to select it when creating a new instant app release. This also means that the installed and instant versions of your app no longer need different version codes, which will simplify the release workflow.

Opt in to app signing by Google Play

You need to enable app signing by Google Play to publish your app using an Android App Bundle and automatically benefit from Dynamic Delivery optimizations. It is also a more secure way to manage your signing key, which we recommend to everyone, even if you want to keep publishing regular APKs for now.

Based on your feedback, we've revamped the sign-up flow for new apps to make it easier to initialize the key you want to use for signing your app.

Now developers can explicitly choose to upload their existing key without needing to upload a self-signed artifact first. You can also choose to start with a key generated by Google Play, so that the key used to locally sign your app bundle can become your upload key.

Read more about the new flow.

Permanent uninstallation of install time modules

We have now added the ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app's initial install.

This is a behavior change, which means you can now call the existing SplitInstallManager#deferredUninstall() API on modules that set onDemand="false". The module will be permanently uninstalled, even when the app is updated.

This opens up new possibilities for developers to further reduce the installed app size. For example, you can now uninstall a heavy sign-up module or any other onboarding content once the user completes it. If the user navigates to a section of your app that has been uninstalled, you can reinstall it using the standard on demand modules install API.

We hope you enjoy these improvements and test them out in your apps. Continue to share your feedback as we work to make these features even more useful for you!

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Introducing a new Google Play app and game icon specification


Posted by Steve Suppe, Product Manager, Google Play
As part of our focus and dedication to improving the Google Play Store experience for our users, we are introducing new design specifications for your app icons.

Left to right: original icon, new icon (example), original icon in legacy mode


As of early April, you will be able to upload new icons to the Google Play Console and confirm you are compliant with the new specification. Original icons are still accepted in the Google Play Store during this time. As of May 1st, developers will no longer be able to upload icons in the Play Console which do not meet the new specifications, although existing original icons in the Google Play Store during this period can remain unchanged.
By June 24, we require you to:
  1. Update your icon to the new specification.
  2. Upload your icon to Play Console.
  3. Confirm in Play Console that your icon meets the new specification.
We highly recommend that you update your icons and confirm they meet the new specification as soon as possible to ensure that you provide the highest quality experience for users.

What exactly is changing?

  • Icon assets will remain the same size (512 x 512), but transparent backgrounds will no longer be allowed.
  • Google Play on Android and Chrome OS will dynamically apply rounded corners and drop shadows to icons. The corner radius will be 20% of the icon size, to ensure consistency at different sizes.
  • There will be no changes to Google Play on other form factors (TV, Wear, Auto).
  • Note this does not affect your APK launcher icons for Android.
Timelines Changes
Early April You can start uploading your new icons in Play Console and confirm they meet the new specification.
  • Original icons will continue to display correctly in Google Play.
  • New icons will display correctly in Google Play.
May 1st Any new icons uploaded in Play Console must be confirmed as meeting the new specification.
  • Original icons will continue to display correctly in Google Play.
  • New icons will display correctly in Google Play.
June 24th Original icons are converted to "legacy mode." You must confirm that any new icons uploaded in Play Console meet the new specification.
  • Original icons will be automatically converted to "legacy mode" icons.
  • New icons render correctly in the Google Play Store.

These updates will help us all provide a more unified and consistent look and feel for Google Play, allowing us to better showcase your apps and games and provide a higher quality user experience.
We will be keeping you up-to-date with these changes in the coming months - so look out for more updates. In the meantime, check out our new icon design specifications.
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Introducing Android Q Beta

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

In 2019, mobile innovation is stronger than ever, with new technologies from 5G to edge to edge displays and even foldable screens. Android is right at the center of this innovation cycle, and thanks to the broad ecosystem of partners across billions of devices, Android's helping push the boundaries of hardware and software bringing new experiences and capabilities to users.

As the mobile ecosystem evolves, Android is focused on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while making sure users' security and privacy are always a top priority. Building on top of efforts like Google Play Protect and runtime permissions, Android Q brings a number of additional privacy and security features for users, as well as enhancements for foldables, new APIs for connectivity, new media codecs and camera capabilities, NNAPI extensions, Vulkan 1.1 support, faster app startup, and more.

Today we're releasing Beta 1 of Android Q for early adopters and a preview SDK for developers. You can get started with Beta 1 today by enrolling any Pixel device (including the original Pixel and Pixel XL, which we've extended support for by popular demand!) Please let us know what you think! Read on for a taste of what's in Android Q, and we'll see you at Google I/O in May when we'll have even more to share.

Building on top of privacy protections in Android

Android was designed with security and privacy at the center. As Android has matured, we've added a wide range of features to protect users, like file-based encryption, OS controls requiring apps to request permission before accessing sensitive resources, locking down camera/mic background access, lockdown mode, encrypted backups, Google Play Protect (which scans over 50 billion apps a day to identify potentially harmful apps and remove them), and much more. In Android Q, we've made even more enhancements to protect our users. Many of these enhancements are part of our work in Project Strobe.

Giving users more control over location

With Android Q, the OS helps users have more control over when apps can get location. As in prior versions of the OS, apps can only get location once the app has asked you for permission, and you have granted it.

One thing that's particularly sensitive is apps' access to location while the app is not in use (in the background). Android Q enables users to give apps permission to see their location never, only when the app is in use (running), or all the time (when in the background).

For example, an app asking for a user's location for food delivery makes sense and the user may want to grant it the ability to do that. But since the app may not need location outside of when it's currently in use, the user may not want to grant that access. Android Q now offers this greater level of control. Read the developer guide for details on how to adapt your app for this new control. Look for more user-centric improvements to come in upcoming Betas. At the same time, our goal is to be very sensitive to always give developers as much notice and support as possible with these changes.

More privacy protections in Android Q

Beyond changes to location, we're making further updates to ensure transparency, give users control, and secure personal data.

In Android Q, the OS gives users even more control over apps, controlling access to shared files. Users will be able to control apps' access to the Photos and Videos or the Audio collections via new runtime permissions. For Downloads, apps must use the system file picker, which allows the user to decide which Download files the app can access. For developers, there are changes to how your apps can use shared areas on external storage. Make sure to read the Scoped Storage changes for details.

We've also seen that users (and developers!) get upset when an app unexpectedly jumps into the foreground and takes over focus. To reduce these interruptions, Android Q will prevent apps from launching an Activity while in the background. If your app is in the background and needs to get the user's attention quickly -- such as for incoming calls or alarms -- you can use a high-priority notification and provide a full-screen intent. See the documentation for more information.

We're limiting access to non-resettable device identifiers, including device IMEI, serial number, and similar identifiers. Read the best practices to help you choose the right identifiers for your use case, and see the details here. We're also randomizing the device's MAC address when connected to different Wi-Fi networks by default -- a setting that was optional in Android 9 Pie.

We are bringing these changes to you early, so you can have as much time as possible to prepare. We've also worked hard to provide developers detailed information up front, we recommend reviewing the detailed docs on the privacy changes and getting started with testing right away.

New ways to engage users

In Android Q, we're enabling new ways to bring users into your apps and streamlining the experience as they transition from other apps.

Foldables and innovative new screens

Foldable devices have opened up some innovative experiences and use-cases. To help your apps to take advantage of these and other large-screen devices, we've made a number of improvements in Android Q, including changes to onResume and onPause to support multi-resume and notify your app when it has focus. We've also changed how the resizeableActivity manifest attribute works, to help you manage how your app is displayed on foldable and large screens. To you get started building and testing on these new devices, we've been hard at work updating the Android Emulator to support multiple-display type switching -- more details coming soon!

Sharing shortcuts

When a user wants to share content like a photo with someone in another app, the process should be fast. In Android Q we're making this quicker and easier with Sharing Shortcuts, which let users jump directly into another app to share content. Developers can publish share targets that launch a specific activity in their apps with content attached, and these are shown to users in the share UI. Because they're published in advance, the share UI can load instantly when launched.

The Sharing Shortcuts mechanism is similar to how App Shortcuts works, so we've expanded the ShortcutInfo API to make the integration of both features easier. This new API is also supported in the new ShareTarget AndroidX library. This allows apps to use the new functionality, while allowing pre-Q devices to work using Direct Share. You can find an early sample app with source code here.

Settings Panels

You can now also show key system settings directly in the context of your app, through a new Settings Panel API, which takes advantage of the Slices feature that we introduced in Android 9 Pie.

A settings panel is a floating UI that you invoke from your app to show system settings that users might need, such as internet connectivity, NFC, and audio volume. For example, a browser could display a panel with connectivity settings like Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi (including nearby networks), and Mobile Data. There's no need to leave the app; users can manage settings as needed from the panel. To display a settings panel, just fire an intent with one of the new Settings.Panel actions.

Connectivity

In Android Q, we've extended what your apps can do with Android's connectivity stack and added new connectivity APIs.

Connectivity permissions, privacy, and security

Most of our APIs for scanning networks already require COARSE location permission, but in Android Q, for Bluetooth, Cellular and Wi-Fi, we're increasing the protection around those APIs by requiring the FINE location permission instead. If your app only needs to make peer-to-peer connections or suggest networks, check out the improved Wi-Fi APIs below -- they simplify connections and do not require location permission.

In addition to the randomized MAC addresses that Android Q provides when connected to different Wi-Fi networks, we're adding new Wi-Fi standard support, WP3 and OWE, to improve security for home and work networks as well as open/public networks.

Improved peer-to-peer and internet connectivity

In Android Q we refactored the Wi-Fi stack to improve privacy and performance, but also to improve common use-cases like managing IoT devices and suggesting internet connections -- without requiring the location permission.

The network connection APIs make it easier to manage IoT devices over local Wi-Fi, for peer-to-peer functions like configuring, downloading, or printing. Apps initiate connection requests indirectly by specifying preferred SSIDs & BSSIDs as WiFiNetworkSpecifiers. The platform handles the Wi-Fi scanning itself and displays matching networks in a Wi-Fi Picker. When the user chooses, the platform sets up the connection automatically.

The network suggestion APIs let apps surface preferred Wi-Fi networks to the user for internet connectivity. Apps initiate connections indirectly by providing a ranked list of networks and credentials as WifiNetworkSuggestions. The platform will seamlessly connect based on past performance when in range of those networks.

Wi-Fi performance mode

You can now request adaptive Wi-Fi in Android Q by enabling high performance and low latency modes. These will be of great benefit where low latency is important to the user experience, such as real-time gaming, active voice calls, and similar use-cases.

To use the new performance modes, call WifiManager.WifiLock.createWifiLock() with WIFI_MODE_FULL_LOW_LATENCY or WIFI_MODE_FULL_HIGH_PERF. In these modes, the platform works with the device firmware to meet the requirement with lowest power consumption.

Camera, media, graphics

Dynamic depth format for photos

Many cameras on mobile devices can simulate narrow depth of field by blurring the foreground or background relative to the subject. They capture depth metadata for various points in the image and apply a static blur to the image, after which they discard the depth metadata.

Starting in Android Q, apps can request a Dynamic Depth image which consists of a JPEG, XMP metadata related to depth related elements, and a depth and confidence map embedded in the same file on devices that advertise support.

Requesting a JPEG + Dynamic Depth image makes it possible for you to offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app. You can even use the data to create 3D images or support AR photography use-cases in the future. We're making Dynamic Depth an open format for the ecosystem, and we're working with our device-maker partners to make it available across devices running Android Q and later.

With Dynamic Depth image you can offer specialized blurs and bokeh options in your app.

New audio and video codecs

Android Q introduces support for the open source video codec AV1. This allows media providers to stream high quality video content to Android devices using less bandwidth. In addition, Android Q supports audio encoding using Opus - a codec optimized for speech and music streaming, and HDR10+ for high dynamic range video on devices that support it.

The MediaCodecInfo API introduces an easier way to determine the video rendering capabilities of an Android device. For any given codec, you can obtain a list of supported sizes and frame rates using VideoCodecCapabilities.getSupportedPerformancePoints(). This allows you to pick the best quality video content to render on any given device.

Native MIDI API

For apps that perform their audio processing in C++, Android Q introduces a native MIDI API to communicate with MIDI devices through the NDK. This API allows MIDI data to be retrieved inside an audio callback using a non-blocking read, enabling low latency processing of MIDI messages. Give it a try with the sample app and source code here.

ANGLE on Vulkan

To enable more consistency for game and graphics developers, we are working towards a standard, updateable OpenGL driver for all devices built on Vulkan. In Android Q we're adding experimental support for ANGLE on top of Vulkan on Android devices. ANGLE is a graphics abstraction layer designed for high-performance OpenGL compatibility across implementations. Through ANGLE, the many apps and games using OpenGL ES can take advantage of the performance and stability of Vulkan and benefit from a consistent, vendor-independent implementation of ES on Android devices. In Android Q, we're planning to support OpenGL ES 2.0, with ES 3.0 next on our roadmap.

We'll expand the implementation with more OpenGL functionality, bug fixes, and performance optimizations. See the docs for details on the current ANGLE support in Android, how to use it, and our plans moving forward. You can start testing with our initial support by opting-in through developer options in Settings. Give it a try today!

Vulkan everywhere

We're continuing to expand the impact of Vulkan on Android, our implementation of the low-overhead, cross-platform API for high-performance 3D graphics. Our goal is to make Vulkan on Android a broadly supported and consistent developer API for graphics. We're working together with our device manufacturer partners to make Vulkan 1.1 a requirement on all 64-bit devices running Android Q and higher, and a recommendation for all 32-bit devices. Going forward, this will help provide a uniform high-performance graphics API for apps and games to use.

Neural Networks API 1.2

Since introducing the Neural Networks API (NNAPI) in 2017, we've continued to expand the number of operations supported and improve existing functionality. In Android Q, we've added 60 new ops including ARGMAX, ARGMIN, quantized LSTM, alongside a range of performance optimisations. This lays the foundation for accelerating a much greater range of models -- such as those for object detection and image segmentation. We are working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.2.

Strengthening Android's Foundations

ART performance

Android Q introduces several new improvements to the ART runtime which help apps start faster and consume less memory, without requiring any work from developers.

Since Android Nougat, ART has offered Profile Guided Optimization (PGO), which speeds app startup over time by identifying and precompiling frequently executed parts of your code. To help with initial app startup, Google Play is now delivering cloud-based profiles along with APKs. These are anonymized, aggregate ART profiles that let ART pre-compile parts of your app even before it's run, giving a significant jump-start to the overall optimization process. Cloud-based profiles benefit all apps and they're already available to devices running Android P and higher.

We're also continuing to make improvements in ART itself. For example, in Android Q we've optimized the Zygote process by starting your app's process earlier and moving it to a security container, so it's ready to launch immediately. We're storing more information in the app's heap image, such as classes, and using threading to load the image faster. We're also adding Generational Garbage Collection to ART's Concurrent Copying (CC) Garbage Collector. Generational CC is more efficient as it collects young-generation objects separately, incurring much lower cost as compared to full-heap GC, while still reclaiming a good amount of space. This makes garbage collection overall more efficient in terms of time and CPU, reducing jank and helping apps run better on lower-end devices.

Security for apps

BiometricPrompt is our unified authentication framework to support biometrics at a system level. In Android Q we're extending support for passive authentication methods such as face, and adding implicit and explicit authentication flows. In the explicit flow, the user must explicitly confirm the transaction in the TEE during the authentication. The implicit flow is designed for a lighter-weight alternative for transactions with passive authentication. We've also improved the fallback for device credentials when needed.

Android Q adds support for TLS 1.3, a major revision to the TLS standard that includes performance benefits and enhanced security. Our benchmarks indicate that secure connections can be established as much as 40% faster with TLS 1.3 compared to TLS 1.2. TLS 1.3 is enabled by default for all TLS connections. See the docs for details.

Compatibility through public APIs

Another thing we all care about is ensuring that apps run smoothly as the OS changes and evolves. Apps using non-SDK APIs risk crashes for users and emergency rollouts for developers. In Android Q we're continuing our long-term effort begun in Android P to move apps toward only using public APIs. We know that moving your app away from non-SDK APIs will take time, so we're giving you advance notice.

In Android Q we're restricting access to more non-SDK interfaces and asking you to use the public equivalents instead. To help you make the transition and prevent your apps from breaking, we're enabling the restrictions only when your app is targeting Android Q. We'll continue adding public alternative APIs based on your requests; in cases where there is no public API that meets your use case, please let us know.

It's important to test your apps for uses of non-SDK interfaces. We recommend using the StrictMode method detectNonSdkApiUsage() to warn when your app accesses non-SDK APIs via reflection or JNI. Even if the APIs are exempted (grey-listed) at this time, it's best to plan for the future and eliminate their use to reduce compatibility issues. For more details on the restrictions in Android Q, see the developer guide.

Modern Android

We're expanding our efforts to have all apps take full advantage of the security and performance features in the latest version of Android. Later this year, Google Play will require you to set your app's targetSdkVersion to 28 (Android 9 Pie) in new apps and updates. In line with these changes, Android Q will warn users with a dialog when they first run an app that targets a platform earlier than API level 23 (Android Marshmallow). Here's a checklist of resources to help you migrate your app.

We're also moving the ecosystem toward readiness for 64-bit devices. Later this year, Google Play will require 64-bit support in all apps. If your app uses native SDKs or libraries, keep in mind that you'll need to provide 64-bit compliant versions of those SDKs or libraries. See the developer guide for details on how to get ready.

Get started with Android Q Beta

With important privacy features that are likely to affect your apps, we recommend getting started with testing right away. In particular, you'll want to enable and test with Android Q storage changes, new location permission states, restrictions on background app launch, and restrictions on device identifiers. See the privacy documentation for details.

To get started, just install your current app from Google Play onto a device or Android Virtual Device running Android Q Beta and work through the user flows. The app should run and look great, and handle the Android Q behavior changes for all apps properly. If you find issues, we recommend fixing them in the current app, without changing your targeting level. Take a look at the migration guide for steps and a recommended timeline.

Next, update your app's targetSdkVersion to 'Q' as soon as possible. This lets you test your app with all of the privacy and security features in Android Q, as well as any other behavior changes for apps targeting Q.

Explore the new features and APIs

When you're ready, dive into Android Q and learn about the new features and APIs you can use in your apps. Take a look at the API diff report, the Android Q Beta API reference, and developer guides as a starting point. Also, on the Android Q Beta developer site, you'll find release notes and support resources for reporting issues.

To build with Android Q, download the Android Q Beta SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.3 or higher, and follow these instructions to configure your environment. If you want the latest fixes for Android Q related changes, we recommend you use Android Studio 3.5 or higher.

How do I get Android Q Beta?

It's easy - you can enroll here to get Android Q Beta updates over-the-air, on any Pixel device (and this year we're supporting all three generations of Pixel -- Pixel 3, Pixel 2, and even the original Pixel!). Downloadable system images for those devices are also available. If you don't have a Pixel device, you can use the Android Emulator, and download the latest emulator system images via the SDK Manager in Android Studio.

We plan to update the preview system images and SDK regularly throughout the preview. We'll have more features to share as the Beta program moves forward.

As always, your feedback is critical, so please let us know what you think — the sooner we hear from you, the more of your feedback we can integrate. When you find issues, please report them here. We have separate hotlists for filing platform issues, app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues.

Grow your indie game with Google Play

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Platforms & Ecosystems Developer Marketing

Google Play empowers game developers of all sizes to engage and delight people everywhere, and build successful businesses too. We are inspired by the passion and creativity we see from the indie games community, and, over the past few years, we've invested in and nurtured indie games developers around the world, helping them express their unique voice and bring ideas to life.

This year, we've put together several initiatives to help the indie community.

Indie Games Showcase

For indie developers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of storytelling, visual excellence, and creativity in mobile we are announcing today the Indie Games Showcase, an international competition for games studios from Europe*, South Korea and Japan. Those of you who meet the eligibility criteria (as outlined below) can enter your game for a chance to win several prizes, including:

  • A paid trip and accommodation to the final event in your region to showcase your game.
  • Promotion on the Google Play Store.
  • Promotion on Android and Google Play marketing channels.
  • Dedicated consultations with the Google Play team.
  • Google hardware.
  • And more...

How to enter the competition

If you're over 18 years old, based in one of the eligible countries, have 30 or less full time employees, and have published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2018, you can enter your game. If you're planning on publishing a new game soon, you can also enter by submitting a private beta. Submissions close on May 6 2019. Check out all the details in the terms and conditions for each region. Enter now!

Indie Games Accelerator

Last year we launched our first games accelerator for developers in Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan and saw great results. We are happy to announce that we are expanding the format to accept developers from select countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, with applications for the 2019 cohort opening soon. The Indie Games Accelerator is a 6 month intensive program for top games startups, powered by mentors from the gaming industry as well as Google experts, offering a comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of building a great game and company.

Mobile Developer Day at GDC

We will be hosting our annual Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday, March 18th. Join us for a full day of sessions covering tools and best practices to help build a successful mobile games business. We'll focus on game quality, effective monetization and growth strategies, and how to create, connect, and scale with Google. Sign up to stay up to date or join us via livestream.

Developer Days

We also want to engage with you in person with a series of events. We will be announcing them shortly, so please make sure to sign up to our newsletter to get notified about events and programs for indie developers.

Academy for App Success

Looking for tips on how to use various developer tools in the Play Console? Get free training through our e-learning program, the Academy for App Success. We even have a custom Play Console for game developers course to get a jump start on Google Play.

We look forward to seeing your amazing work and sharing your creativity with other developers, gamers and industry experts around the world. And don't forget to submit your game for a chance to get featured on Indie Corner on Google Play.

* The competition is open to developers from the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).


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Supplement your earnings with rewarded products

Posted by Patrick Davis, Product Manager, Google Play

Developers are increasingly using multiple methods to monetize their apps and games. One trend has been to reward users for a monetizable action, like watching a video, with in-game currency or other benefits. This gives users more choice in how they experience the app or game, and has been an effective way to monetize non-paying users.

To support this monetization method, Google Play is excited to announce rewarded products, a new product type now available in open beta in the Play Console.

Rewarded products make it easy for Google Play developers to increase their monetized user base. Our first rewarded product offering will be in a video format. Users can elect to watch a video advertisement and upon completion be rewarded with virtual goods or in-game currency. In the example below, the user selects "watch ad", views the video, and then is granted 100 coins.

Rewarded products can be added to any app using the Google Play Billing Library or AIDL interface with only a few additional API calls. No extra SDK integration is required. This significantly reduces the work required to implement compared to other offerings. Rewarded products are powered by AdMob technology to give access to the broad range of content from advertisers currently working with Google.

Get started with rewarded products.

For developers interested in best practices on how to diversify revenue and how rewarded products fit in, please visit us at Google's Mobile Developer day at GDC or watch via the livestream.

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Google Mobile Developer Day is coming to GDC 2019

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

We're excited to be part of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 in San Francisco. Join us on Monday, March 18th at the Google Mobile Developer Day, either in person or over live stream, for a full day of sessions covering tools and best practices to help build a successful mobile games business on Google Play. We'll focus on game quality, effective monetization and growth strategies, and how to create, connect, and scale with Google.

This year's sessions are focused on tips and tools to help your mobile game business succeed. Come hear our latest announcements and industry trends, as well as learnings from industry peers. We will hold a more technical session in the second half of the day, where we'll share ways to optimize your mobile game's performance for the best possible player experience.

Also, make sure to visit the Google booth from Wednesday March 20th until Friday March 22nd. Here, you will be able to interact with hands-on demos, attend talks in the theater, and get your questions answered by Google experts. We're bringing a big team and hope to see you there.

Learn more about Google's activities throughout the week of GDC and sign up to stay informed. For those who can't make it in person, join the live stream starting at 10am PST on Monday, March 18th. These events are part of the official Game Developers Conference and require a pass to attend.

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Grow your app business internationally through localization on Google Play

Posted by Chris Yang, Program Manager, Translation Service

It is not uncommon for developers to have the following concerns and thoughts when considering whether to localize their apps: "I just don't have the time!" "Translation is too expensive." "High-quality translation is just hard to find.'' Does this sound familiar?

At Google, we consider translation a key component of making the world's information universally accessible and useful. This commitment extends not only to localizing our own products, but also to providing tools to help developers and translators more easily localize their apps.

Introducing the Google Play App Translation Service

Available in the Google Play Console, the Google Play App Translation Service simplifies localization of your app user interface strings, store listing, in-app product names, and universal apps campaign ads. Thousands of developers have already used this service to reach hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

Here is an overview of some of the ways it can help:

1. Quick and easy - Order in minutes and receive your translation in as little as two days.

  • Small translation orders can be completed in only two days. All orders are completed in eight days or less.
  • Apply translations directly in the Play Console or download to build with your app.

2. Professional and human - Get high-quality translations by real human translators.

  • All translations are carefully crafted by professional translators just for you.
  • Translation providers are selected by Google based on quality and speed.

3. Value for money - Translate your app for as little as $0.07 per word.

  • Pricing is upfront and simple. You only pay per word for each language you translate.
  • For example, translating 200 words into one language at $0.07 per word would cost only $14.

Ordering a Translation

Find the Translation Service in the Google Play Console:

When you're ready to translate, just select the languages to use for translation, choose a vendor, and place your order.

Select languages to translate into.

Choose what type of content you want to translate.

Easily complete purchase of the service.

Language recommendations

You can also expand your global footprint with translation recommendations that can help increase installs. The recommendations can be found in the Google Play Console.

The language recommendation feature is developed using machine learning and is based on your app's install history and market data.

Did you know that you can reach almost 80% of internet users worldwide with only 10 languages. In particular, the Google Play opportunity in Russia and the Middle East continues to grow. Let us know once you have localized for these markets so we can consider featuring your app or game in the Now in Russian and Now in Arabic collections on the Play Store.

Launching the translation

Once you download the translation, you'll be ready to publish your newly translated app update on Google Play.

Get started with the App Translation Service today and let us know what you think!

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Get your apps ready for the 64-bit requirement

Posted by Vlad Radu, Product Manager, Play and Diana Wong, Product Manager, Android

64-bit CPUs deliver faster, richer experiences for your users. Adding a 64-bit version of your app provides performance improvements, makes way for future innovation, and sets you up for devices with 64-bit only hardware.

We want to help you get ready and know you need time to plan. We’ve supported 64-bit CPUs since Android 5.0 Lollipop and in 2017 we first announced that apps using native code must provide a 64-bit version (in addition to the 32-bit version). Today we’re providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019.

The 64-bit requirement: what it means for developers

Starting August 1, 2019:

  • All new apps and app updates that include native code are required to provide 64-bit versions in addition to 32-bit versions when publishing to Google Play.
  • Extension: Google Play will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games that use Unity 5.6 or older until August 2021.

Starting August 1, 2021:

  • Google Play will stop serving apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit capable devices, meaning they will no longer be available in the Play Store on those devices.
  • This will include games built with Unity 5.6 or older.

The requirement does not apply to:

  • APKs or app bundles explicitly targeting Wear OS or Android TV, which are form factors that do not currently support 64-bit code.
  • APKs or app bundles that are not distributed to devices running Android 9 Pie or later.

We are not making changes to our policy on 32-bit support. Play will continue to deliver apps to 32-bit devices. This requirement means that apps with 32-bit native code will need to have an additional 64-bit version as well.

Preparing for the 64-bit requirement

We anticipate that for most developers, the move to 64-bit should be straightforward. Many apps are written entirely in non-native code (e.g. the Java programming language or Kotlin) and do not need code changes.

All developers: Here is an overview of the steps you will need to take in order to become 64-bit compliant. For a more detailed outline of this process refer to our in-depth documentation.

Inspect your APK or app bundle for native code. You can check for .so files using APK Analyzer. Identify whether they are built from your own code or are imported by an SDK or library that you are using. If you do not have any .so files in your APK, you are already 64-bit compliant.

Enable 64-bit architectures and rebuild native code (.so files) imported by your own code. See the documentation for more details.

  • Upgrade any SDKs and libraries to 64-bit compliant versions, if needed. Reach out to the SDK or library owner if one is not available. We’re working with top library owners on their 64-bit compatibility.
  • Test for issues locally once you’ve rebuilt your app.
  • Rollout to your testers using testing tracks for thorough testing.

Game developers: The three most used engines all currently support 64-bit (Unreal & Cocos2d since 2015, Unity since 2018). We understand that migrating a 3rd party game engine is an intensive process with long lead times.

Since Unity only recently began providing 64-bit support in versions 2017.4 and 2018.2, we are granting an automatic extension to existing games using versions 5.6 or older until August 2021. Unity provides guides that can help you through the process of upgrading to a 64-bit compliant version.

SDK and library owners: Update for 64-bit compliance as soon as possible to give app developers time to adapt, and let your developers know. Sign up and register your SDK to receive updates about the latest tools and information that can help you serve your customers.

Going forward

For those that already support 64-bit - thank you and great work! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to begin any work for the 64-bit requirement as soon as possible. As we move closer to the deadline, we’ll be updating our developer documentation with more information on how to check if your app is compliant.

We’re excited about the future that 64-bit CPUs bring in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and immersive mobile. Supporting 64-bit prepares the ecosystem for the innovation enabled by the advanced compute capabilities of 64-bit devices, and for future Android devices that only support 64-bit code.

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Wrapping up for 2018 with Google Play and Android

Posted by Patricia Correa, Platforms & Ecosystems

Earlier this year we highlighted some of Google Play's milestones and commitments in supporting the 1M+ developers on the Play Store, as well as those of you working on Android apps and games and looking to launch and grow your business on our platforms. We have been inspired and humbled by the achievements of app and game developers, building experiences that delight and help people everywhere, as some stories highlighted in #IMakeApps.

We continue to focus on helping you grow thriving businesses and building tools and resources to help you reach and engage more users in more places, whilst ensuring a safe and secure ecosystem. Looking to 2019, we are excited about all the things to come and seeing more developers adopt new features and update to Android P.

In the meantime let's share some of the 2018 highlights on Google Play and Android:

Building for the future

Along with Android P we have continued to help the Android developer ecosystem, launching Android Jetpack, the latest Android Studio, and Kotlin support. Developers are also now able to add rich and dynamic UI templates with Slices in places such as Google Search and Assistant, APIs for new screens support, and much more. Discover the latest from Android 9, API Level 28.

Smaller apps have higher conversion rates and our research shows that a large app size is a key driver of uninstalls. At I/O we launched a new publishing format, the Android App Bundle, helping developers to deliver smaller and more efficient apps with a simplified release process, and with features on demand - saving on average 35% in download size! On devices using Android M and above, app bundles can reduce app size even further, by automatically supporting uncompressed native libraries, thereby eliminating duplication on devices.

You can build app bundles in the Android Studio 3.2 stable release and in Unity 2018.3 beta, and upload larger bundles with installed APK sizes of up to 500MB without using expansion files, through an early access feature soon to be available to all developers.

Richer experiences and discovery

Discovery of your apps and games is important, so we launched Google Play Instant and increased the size limit to 10MB to enable TRY NOW on the Play Store, and removed the URL requirement for Instant apps. Android Studio 3.3 beta release, lets you publish a single app bundle and classify it or a particular module to be instant enabled (without maintaining separate code).

For game developers, Unity introduced the Google Play Instant plug-in and instant app support is built into the new Cocos Creator. Our app pre-registration program, has seen nearly 250 million app pre-registrations, helping drive app downloads through richer discovery.

Optimizing for quality and performance

Android vitals are now more actionable, with a dashboard highlighting core vitals, peer benchmarks, start-up time and permission denials vitals, anomaly detection and alerts, and linking pre-launch reports - all so that you can better optimize and prioritize issues for improved quality and performance.

There are more opportunities to get feedback and fix issues before launch. The Google Play Console expanded the functionality of automated device testing with a pre-launch report for games, and the launch of the internal and closed test tracks lets you push your app to up to 100 internal testers, before releasing them to production.

Insights for your business, now and in the long term

Metrics are critical to optimize your business and we've added new customizable tools in the Play Console, with downloadable reports to help you evaluate core metrics. Including cumulative data, 30-day rolling averages, and roll-ups for different time periods to better match the cadence of your business.

You can now configure the statistics report to show how your instant apps are performing, analyze different dimensions and identify how many install the final app on their device. The acquisition report shows users discovery journey through to conversion - with average revenue per user and retention benchmarks against similar apps. You can also find the best performing search terms for your store listing with organic breakdown - helping to optimize efforts to grow and retain a valuable audience.

Increasingly developers are adopting subscriptions as their core monetization model. The dedicated new subscriptions center means you can easily change subscription prices, offer partial refunds for in-app products and subscriptions, and also make plan changes in Play Billing Library version 1.2. Learn how to keep subscribers engaged; users can pause plans, giving you more control with order management and the cancellation survey.

Discover how to use all the new features and best practices on the Academy for App Success, our interactive free e-learning platform, offering bite-sized courses that help you make the most of Play Console and improve your app quality.

Make sure you follow @googleplaydev and sign up to our newsletter to stay ahead of all our updates in 2019! We hope these features and tools will enable us to continue a successful partnership with you in the New Year - follow our countdown for a daily highlight. From all of us at Google Play - happy holidays.

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In reviews we trust — Making Google Play ratings and reviews more trustworthy

Posted by Fei Ye, Software Engineer and Kazushi Nagayama, Ninja Spamologist

Google Play ratings and reviews are extremely important in helping users decide which apps to install. Unfortunately, fake and misleading reviews can undermine users' trust in those ratings. User trust is a top priority for us at Google Play, and we are continuously working to make sure that the ratings and reviews shown in our store are not being manipulated.

There are various ways in which ratings and reviews may violate our developer guidelines:

  • Bad content: Reviews that are profane, hateful, or off-topic.
  • Fake ratings: Ratings and reviews meant to manipulate an app's average rating or top reviews. We've seen different approaches to manipulate the average rating; from 5-star attacks to positively boost an app's average rating, to 1-star attacks to influence it negatively.
  • Incentivized ratings: Ratings and reviews given by real humans in exchange for money or valuable items.

When we see these, we take action on the app itself, as well as the review or rating in question.

In 2018, the Google Play Trust & Safety teams deployed a system that combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews. A team of engineers and analysts closely monitor and study suspicious activities in Play's ratings and reviews, and improve the model's precision and recall on a regular basis. We also regularly ask skilled reviewers to check the decisions made by our models for quality assurance.

It's a big job. To give you a sense of the volume we manage, here are some numbers from a recent week:

  • Millions of reviews and ratings detected and removed from the Play Store.
  • Thousands of bad apps identified due to suspicious reviews and rating activities on them.

Our team can do a lot, but we need your help to keep Google Play a safe and trusted place for apps and games.

If you're a developer, you can help us by doing the following:

  • Don't buy fake or incentivized ratings.
  • Don't run campaigns, in-app or otherwise, like "Give us 5 stars and we'll give you this in-app item!" That counts as incentivized ratings, and it's prohibited by policy.
  • Do read the Google Play Developer Policy to make sure you are not inadvertently making violations.

Example of a violation: incentivized ratings is not allowed

If you're a user, you can follow these simple guidelines as well:

  • Don't accept or receive money or goods (even virtual ones) in exchange for reviews and ratings.
  • Don't use profanity to criticize an app or game; keep your feedback constructive.
  • Don't post gibberish, hateful, sexual, profane or off-topic reviews; they simply aren't allowed.
  • Do read the comment posting policy. It's pretty concise and talks about all the things you should consider when posting a review to the public.

Finally, if you find bad ratings and reviews on Google Play, help us improve by sending your feedback! Users can mark the review as "Spam" and developers can submit feedback through the Play Console.

Tooltip to flag the review as Spam.

Thanks for helping us keep Google Play a safe and trusted place to discover some of the world's best apps and games.

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