Tag Archives: Featured

The Google Play Awards are returning to Google I/O

Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Apps and Games Business Development, Google Play


Drum roll please! The Google Play Awards are back again this year and will take place Thursday, May 18th at 6:30pm (Pacific Time) during Google I/O, our annual developer festival.

The annual ceremony is a great opportunity for the industry to recognize outstanding developers that continue to set the bar for quality apps and games showing a passion for driving innovation and adoption of new platforms and user experiences.

This year we'll be honoring partners across 12 award categories, some familiar and some new. Nominees were selected much like last year by cross-functional teams throughout Google who work hand-in-hand with the relevant categories and product areas. While category specific criteria can be found below, the common requirements across all categories focused on high star rating, technical performance and freshness, requiring a launch or major update since April 2016. The winners of each category will be announced at Google I/O in May.

The full list of categories and nominees are below and can also be found at g.co/play/GPA2017:

Standout Indie


Games from indie developers that focus on artistic design, gameplay mechanics and overall polish. And the nominees are…… 


Standout Startup


Apps from new developers that offer a unique experience while achieving strong organic install growth. And the nominees are……


Best Android Wear Experience


New wear 2.0 apps offering great design, user delight and functionality. And the nominees are…


Best TV Experience


Apps or games leveraging innovative features for the large-screen format while providing an immersive and intuitive experience. And the nominees are…


Best VR Experience


Highly engaging and immersive experience with optimal use of Daydream UI. And the nominees are…


Best AR Experience


Apps or games harnessing the creative and imaginative technology of AR. And the nominees are…


Best App for Kids


Apps or games with family friendly design that encourage creativity, exploration and education. And the nominees are…


Best Multiplayer Game


Games built to connect gamers in competitive and engaging multiplayer experiences. And the nominees are…



Best App


A true representation of beautiful design, intuitive UX and high user appeal. And the nominees are…


Best Game


Games with strong mechanics, stellar graphics and strong engagement and retention tactics. And the nominees are...


Best Accessibility Experience


Apps or games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serves people with disabilities or special needs. And the nominees are…


Best Social Impact


Apps that creates meaningful social impact for a broad spectrum of people around the world. And the nominees are…


Join us live at the ceremony May 18th at 6:30 pm PDT at Google I/O or via the live stream to see who wins.


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App onboarding for kids: how Budge Studios creates a more engaging experience for families

Posted by Josh Solt (Partner Developer Manager, Kids Apps at Google Play) and Noemie Dupuy (Founder & Co-CEO at Budge Studios)

Developers spend a considerable amount of resources driving users to download their apps, but what happens next is often the most critical part of the user journey. User onboarding is especially nuanced in the kids space since developers must consider two audiences: parents and children. When done correctly, a compelling onboarding experience will meet the needs of both parents and kids while also accounting for unique considerations, such as a child's attention span.

Budge Studios has successfully grown their catalog of children's titles by making onboarding a focal point of their business. Their target demographic is three to eight-year olds, and their portfolio of games include top titles featuring Strawberry Shortcake, Hello Kitty, Crayola, Caillou and The Smurfs.

"First impressions matter, as do users' first experience with your app. In fact, 70%1 of users who delete an app will do so within a day of having downloaded it, leaving little time for second chances. As an expert in kids' content, Budge tapped into our knowledge of kids to improve and optimize the onboarding experience, leading to increased initial game-loop completion and retention." - Noemie, Founder & Co-CEO at Budge Studios

Three key ways Budge Studios designs better onboarding experiences:


1. Make sure your game is tailor-made for kids

When Budge released their app Crayola Colorful Creatures, they looked at data to identify opportunities to create a smoother onboarding flow for kids. At launch, only 25% of first-time users were completing the initial game loop. Budge analyzed data against gameplay and realized the last activity was causing a drastic drop-off. It required kids to use the device's microphone, and that proved too challenging for very young kids. Budge was able to adjust the initial game loop so that all the activities were accessible to the youngest players. These adjustments almost tripled the initial loop completion, resulting in 74% of first-time users progressing to see additional activities.

2. Earn parents trust by providing real value upfront

Budge has a large of portfolio of apps. Earning parents' trust by providing valuable and engaging experiences for kids is important for retaining users in their ecosystem and achieving long term success.

With every new app, Budge identifies what content is playable for free, and what content must be purchased. Early on, Budge greatly limited the amount of free content they offered, but over time has realized providing high quality free content enhances the first-time user experience. Parents are more willing to spend on an app if their child has shown a real interest in a title.

Working with top kids' brands means that Budge can tap into brand loyalty of popular kids characters to provide value. To launch Strawberry Shortcake Dreams, Budge decided to offer Strawberry Shortcake, the most popular character in the series, as a free character. Dress Up Dreams is among the highest converting apps in the Budge portfolio, indicating that giving away the most popular character for free helped conversions rather than hurting it.

3. Test with real users

Budge knows there is no substitute for direct feedback from its end-users, so Budge involves kids every step of the way. Budge Playgroup is a playtesting program that invites families to try out apps at the alpha, beta and first-playable development stages.

The benefits from early testing can be as basic as understanding how the size and coordination of kids' hands affect their ability to complete certain actions or even hold the device, and as specific as pinpointing a less-than-effective button.

In the testing stages of Strawberry Shortcake Holiday Hair, Budge caught an issue with the main menu of the app, which would not have been evident without observing kids using the app.

Prior to Playtesting:

After Playtesting:

In the original design, users were prompted to start gameplay by audio cues. During testing, it was clear that the voiceover was not sufficient in guiding kids to initiate play, and that additional visual clues would significantly improve the experience. A simple design change resulted in a greatly enhanced user experience.

The onboarding experience is just one component of an app, but just like first impressions, it has a disproportionate impact on your users' perception of your app. As Budge has experienced, involving users in testing your app, using data to flag issues and providing real value to your users upfront, creates a smoother, more accessible onboarding experience and leads to better results.

For more best practices on developing family apps and games, please check out The Family Playbook for developers. And visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

1.http://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/mobile-app-retention-5-key-strategies-to-keep-your-customers/

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5 tips for indie game success, from indie game developers

Posted by Sarah Thomson, BD Partnerships Lead, Indies, Google Play Games

Mobile gaming is a fun place to be right now. It's a landscape seeing tremendous success year after year with great potential for additional growth and innovation. It's also a space where developers can express themselves with creative game styles, mechanics, design and more. This is what the indie community does best.

Here are 5 tips for indies by indies, shared by our gaming partners at 505 Games, About Fun, Disruptor Beam, Klei Entertainment, and Schell Games.


1. Embrace being indie


Indies are inherently smaller operations and should embrace their agility and ability to take risks. Petr Vodak, CEO at About Fun, recommends getting your product out there so you can start taking feedback and apply your learnings to future projects. Don't be afraid to fail! Remaining flexible and building in modularity so you can evolve with the business needs is a strategy embraced by Pete Arden, CMO at Disruptor Beam. For instance, with their game Star Trek Timelines, the initial user experience was tailored to avid Star Trek fans. Over time, as user acquisition costs increased, they've changed the new player experience to appeal to their evolving user base of gamers looking for a fun entertainment experience and less the specific Star Trek IP.

2. Find a way to stand out


To help stand out in the ultra competitive mobile space, Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, recommends doing something clever or very different. This strategy has led them to explore the growth areas of new platforms such as AR & VR. While new platforms present a field for opportunity and creativity, they're best to be approached with the long term in mind allowing you to sustain the business until critical mass is reached.

3. Build a community


There are many ways to build communities. If you have an existing fan base on other platforms, cross-promote to drive awareness of your mobile offerings. You can also look at porting titles over, but be aware of the differences in mobile gaming habits and ensure you adapt your game accordingly.

4. Engage after install


Both 505 Games and Klei Entertainment recommend running your premium titles as a service. Through monitoring user reviews you can gain invaluable feedback and trends helping you better understand user pain points and desires. In addition, by releasing regular content updates and in-game events you create reason for users to get back in the game. This not only drives reengagement, but 505 Games also sees strong spikes in new installs aligned with major game updates.

5. Monetize in different ways


Similar strategy to above, dropping regular content refreshes and game updates while offering a variety of monetization options gives users more ways to engage with your game. Keeping your games fresh gives users reason to come back and builds loyalty so you can cross-promote to your users with future game launches.

If you're looking for a fun new game to play, check out the great selection on Indie Corner on Google Play. And if you're working on a new indie game of your own, nominate your title for inclusion.

Watch more sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YouTube channel to learn tips for success. Visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


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5 tips for building communities on mobile

Posted by Dave Geffon, Partnerships Manager, Google Play Games

The most successful games usually have the strongest communities. They are a powerful force in driving additional engagement and increasing awareness for your titles. At GDC 2017, we spoke with a few game developers about best practices for successfully building their own communities. Watch the panel session below to hear advice from Seriously, Social Point, and Super Evil MegaCorp.


1. Be authentic

Community is a mindset; be honest, transparent & patient with your communications. Loyal users are extremely valuable, thus the folks at Super Evil Megacorp say that you should act like you have to earn every player.

2. Start small

Build a plan and start today. Launch your social media channels, look into influencers, and create a strategy. Whether it's sharing one piece of fan art a week across your network, or running a closed beta to gather feedback from your most valued users, take action and learn what works best for you and your users.

3. Play match-maker

When finding influencers to support your game, ensure they're a genuine match. Make sure the influencer's audience is a good fit with your game and existing community.

4. Seek feedback 

Communities are passionate. Use feedback to understand what kind of game and features your users want. Be flexible and iterative so you can react and evolve your game with the needs and desires of your community. However, don't be afraid to stay true to what you stand for as sometimes you'll need to agree to disagree with some players.

5. Build for the long-term

The lifespan of games is continuing to grow. Plan your business strategy, update cycles and community efforts to roll out over time and expand with your growing experiences and user-base.
Watch more sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YT channel to learn tips for success. Also, visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

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5 Tips for launching successful apps and games on Google Play

Posted by Adam Gutterman, Go-To-Market Strategic Lead, Google Play Games

Last month at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), we held a developer panel focused on sharing best practices for building successful app and game businesses. Check out 5 tips for developers, both large and small, as shared by our gaming partners at Electronic Arts (EA), Hutch Games, Nix Hydra, Space Ape Games and Omnidrone.



1. Test, test, test

The best time to test, is before you launch; so test boldly and test a lot! Nix Hydra recommends testing creative, including art style and messaging, as well as gameplay mechanics, onboarding flows and anything else you're not sure about. Gathering feedback from real users in advance of launching can highlight what's working and what can be improved to ensure your game's in the best shape possible at launch.

2. Store listing experiments

Run experiments on all of your store listing page assets. Taking bold risks instead of making assumptions allows you to see the impact of different variables with your actual user base on Google Play. Test in different regions to ensure your store listing page is optimized for each major market, as they often perform differently.

3. Early Access program

Space Ape Games recently used Early Access to test different onboarding experiences and gameplay control methods in their game. Finding the right combination led them to double-digit growth in D1 retention. Gathering these results in advance of launch helped the team fine tune and polish the game, minimizing risk before releasing to the masses.

"Early Access is cool because you can ask the big questions and get real answers from real players," Joe Raeburn, Founding Product Guy at Space Ape Games.

Watch the Android Developer Story below to hear how Omnidrone benefits from Early Access using strong user feedback to improve retention, engagement and monetization in their game.


Mobile game developer Omnidrone benefits from Early Access.

4. Pre-registration

Electronic Arts has run more than 5 pre-registration campaigns on Google Play. Pre-registration allows them to start marketing and build awareness for titles with a clear call-to-action before launch. This gives them a running start on launch day having built a group of users to activate upon the game's release resulting in a jump in D1 installs.

5. Seek feedback

All partners strongly recommended seeking feedback early and often. Feedback tells both sides of the story, by pointing out what's broken as well as what you're doing right. Find the right time and channels to request feedback, whether they be in-game, social, email, or even through reading and responding to reviews within the Google Play store.

If you're a startup who has an upcoming launch on Google Play or has launched an app or game recently and you're interested in opportunities like Early Access and pre-registration, get in touch with us so we can work with you.

Watch sessions from Google Developer Day at GDC17 on the Android Developers YT channel to learn tips for success. Also, visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


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O-MG, the Developer Preview of Android O is here!

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Since the first launch in 2008, the Android project has thrived on the incredible feedback from our vibrant ecosystems of app developers and device makers, as well as of course our users. More recently, we've been pushing hard on improving our engineering processes so we can share our work earlier and more openly with our partners.

So, today, I'm excited to share a first developer preview of the next version of the OS: Android O. The usual caveats apply: it's early days, there are more features coming, and there's still plenty of stabilization and performance work ahead of us. But it's booting :).

Over the course of the next several months, we'll be releasing updated developer previews, and we'll be doing a deep dive on all things Android at Google I/O in May. In the meantime, we'd love your feedback on trying out new features, and of course testing your apps on the new OS.

What's new in O?

Android O introduces a number of new features and APIs to use in your apps. Here's are just a few new things for you to start trying in this first Developer Preview:

Background limits: Building on the work we began in Nougat, Android O puts a big priority on improving a user's battery life and the device's interactive performance. To make this possible, we've put additional automatic limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates. These changes will make it easier to create apps that have minimal impact on a user's device and battery. Background limits represent a significant change in Android, so we want every developer to get familiar with them. Check out the documentation on background execution limits and background location limits for details.

Notification channels: Android O also introduces notification channels, which are new app-defined categories for notification content. Channels let developers give users fine-grained control over different kinds of notifications — users can block or change the behavior of each channel individually, rather than managing all of the app's notifications together.

Notification channels let users control your app's notification categories

Android O also adds new visuals and grouping to notifications that make it easier for users to see what's going on when they have an incoming message or are glancing at the notification shade.

Autofill APIs: Android users already depend on a range of password managers to autofill login details and repetitive information, which makes setting up new apps or placing transactions easier. Now we are making this work more easily across the ecosystem by adding platform support for autofill. Users can select an autofill app, similar to the way they select a keyboard app. The autofill app stores and secures user data, such as addresses, user names, and even passwords. For apps that want to handle autofill, we're adding new APIs to implement an Autofill service.

PIP for handsets and new windowing features: Picture in Picture (PIP) display is now available on phones and tablets, so users can continue watching a video while they're answering a chat or hailing a car. Apps can put themselves in PiP mode from the resumed or a pausing state where the system supports it - and you can specify the aspect ratio and a set of custom interactions (such as play/pause). Other new windowing features include a new app overlay window for apps to use instead of system alert window, and multi-display support for launching an activity on a remote display.

Font resources in XML: Fonts are now a fully supported resource type in Android O. Apps can now use fonts in XML layouts as well as define font families in XML — declaring the font style and weight along with the font files.

Adaptive icons: To help you integrate better with the device UI, you can now create adaptive icons that the system displays in different shapes, based on a mask selected by the device. The system also animates interactions with the icons, and them in the launcher, shortcuts, Settings, sharing dialogs, and in the overview screen.

Adaptive icons display in a variety of shapes across different device models.

Wide-gamut color for apps: Android developers of imaging apps can now take advantage of new devices that have a wide-gamut color capable display. To display wide gamut images, apps will need to enable a flag in their manifest (per activity) and load bitmaps with an embedded wide color profile (AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, DCI-P3, etc.).

Connectivity: For the ultimate in audio fidelity, Android O now also supports high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs such as LDAC codec. We're also adding new Wi-Fi features as well, like Wi-Fi Aware, previously known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN). On devices with the appropriate hardware, apps and nearby devices can discover and communicate over Wi-Fi without an Internet access point. We're working with our hardware partners to bring Wi-Fi Aware technology to devices as soon as possible.

The Telecom framework is extending ConnectionService APIs to enable third party calling apps integrate with System UI and operate seamlessly with other audio apps. For instance, apps can have their calls displayed and controlled in different kinds of UIs such as car head units.

Keyboard navigation: With the advent of Google Play apps on Chrome OS and other large form factors, we're seeing a resurgence of keyboard navigation use within these apps. In Android O we focused on building a more reliable, predictable model for "arrow" and "tab" navigation that aids both developers and end users.

AAudio API for Pro Audio: AAudio is a new native API that's designed specifically for apps that require high-performance, low-latency audio. Apps using AAudio read and write data via streams. In the Developer Preview we're releasing an early version of this new API to get your feedback.

WebView enhancements: In Android Nougat we introduced an optional multiprocess mode for WebView that moved the handling of web content into an isolated process. In Android O, we're enabling multiprocess mode by default and adding an API to let your app handle errors and crashes, for enhanced security and improved app stability. As a further security measure, you can now opt in your app's WebView objects to verify URLs through Google Safe Browsing.

Java 8 Language APIs and runtime optimizations: Android now supports several new Java Language APIs, including the new java.time API. In addition, the Android Runtime is faster than ever before, with improvements of up to 2x on some application benchmarks.

Partner platform contributions: Hardware manufacturers and silicon partners have accelerated fixes and enhancements to the Android platform in the O release. For example, Sony has contributed more than 30 feature enhancements including the LDAC codec and 250 bug fixes to Android O.

Get started in a few simple steps

First, make your app compatible to give your users a seamless transition to Android O. Just download a device system image or emulator system image, install your current app, and test -- the app should run and look great, and handle behavior changes properly. After you've made any necessary updates, we recommend publishing to Google Play right away without changing the app's platform targeting.

Building with Android O

When you're ready, dive in to O in depth to learn about everything you can take advantage of for your app. Visit the O Developer Preview site for details on the preview timeline, behavior changes, new APIs, and support resources.

Plan how your app will support background limits and other changes. Try out some of the great new features in your app -- notification channels, PIP, adaptive icons, font resources in XML, autosizing TextView, and many others. To make it easier to explore the new APIs in Android O, we've brought the API diff report online, along with the Android O API reference.

The latest canary version of Android Studio 2.4 includes new features to help you get started with Android O. You can download and set up the O preview SDK from inside Android Studio, then use Android O's XML font resources and autosizing TextView in the Layout Editor. Watch for more Android O support coming in the weeks ahead.

We're also releasing an alpha version of the 26.0.0 support library for you to try. This version adds new APIs and bug fixes and increases the minSdkversion to 14.

Preview updates

The O Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with system images for testing on the official Android Emulator and on Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL and Pixel C devices. If you're building for wearables, there's also an emulator for testing Android Wear 2.0 on Android O.

We plan to update the preview system images and SDK regularly throughout the O Developer Preview. This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily or consumer use, so we're making it available by manual download and flash only. Downloads and instructions are here.

As we get closer to a final product, we'll be inviting consumers to try it out as well, and we'll open up enrollments through Android Beta at that time. Stay tuned for details, but for now please note that Android Beta is not currently available for Android O.

Give us your feedback

As always, your feedback is crucial, 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've moved to a more robust tool, Issue Tracker, which is also used internally at Google to track bugs and feature requests during product development. We hope you'll find it easier to use.

Detecting and eliminating Chamois, a fraud botnet on Android

Posted by Security Software Engineers—Bernhard Grill, Megan Ruthven, and Xin Zhao



Google works hard to protect users across a variety of devices and environments. Part of this work involves defending users against Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs), an effort that gives us the opportunity to observe various types of threats targeting our ecosystem. For example, our security teams recently discovered and defended users of our ads and Android systems against a new PHA family we've named Chamois.

Chamois is an Android PHA family capable of:
  • Generating invalid traffic through ad pop ups having deceptive graphics inside the ad
  • Performing artificial app promotion by automatically installing apps in the background
  • Performing telephony fraud by sending premium text messages
  • Downloading and executing additional plugins

Interference with the ads ecosystem

We detected Chamois during a routine ad traffic quality evaluation. We analyzed malicious apps based on Chamois, and found that they employed several methods to avoid detection and tried to trick users into clicking ads by displaying deceptive graphics. This sometimes resulted in downloading of other apps that commit SMS fraud. So we blocked the Chamois app family using Verify Apps and also kicked out bad actors who were trying to game our ad systems.
Our previous experience with ad fraud apps like this one enabled our teams to swiftly take action to protect both our advertisers and Android users. Because the malicious app didn't appear in the device's app list, most users wouldn't have seen or known to uninstall the unwanted app. This is why Google's Verify Apps is so valuable, as it helps users discover PHAs and delete them.

Under Chamois's hood

Chamois was one of the largest PHA families seen on Android to date and distributed through multiple channels. To the best of our knowledge Google is the first to publicly identify and track Chamois.
Chamois had a number of features that made it unusual, including:
  • Multi-staged payload: Its code is executed in 4 distinct stages using different file formats, as outlined in this diagram.

This multi-stage process makes it more complicated to immediately identify apps in this family as a PHA because the layers have to be peeled first to reach the malicious part. However, Google's pipelines weren't tricked as they are designed to tackle these scenarios properly.
  • Self-protection: Chamois tried to evade detection using obfuscation and anti-analysis techniques, but our systems were able to counter them and detect the apps accordingly.
  • Custom encrypted storage: The family uses a custom, encrypted file storage for its configuration files and additional code that required deeper analysis to understand the PHA.
  • Size: Our security teams sifted through more than 100K lines of sophisticated code written by seemingly professional developers. Due to the sheer size of the APK, it took some time to understand Chamois in detail.

Google's approach to fighting PHAs

Verify Apps protects users from known PHAs by warning them when they are downloading an app that is determined to be a PHA, and it also enables users to uninstall the app if it has already been installed. Additionally, Verify Apps monitors the state of the Android ecosystem for anomalies and investigates the ones that it finds. It also helps finding unknown PHAs through behavior analysis on devices. For example, many apps downloaded by Chamois were highly ranked by the DOI scorer. We have implemented rules in Verify Apps to protect users against Herole.
Google continues to significantly invest in its counter-abuse technologies for Android and its ad systems, and we're proud of the work that many teams do behind the scenes to fight PHAs like Chamois.

We hope this summary provides insight into the growing complexity of Android botnets. To learn more about Google's anti-PHA efforts and further ameliorate the risks they pose to users, devices, and ad systems. For more details, keep an eye open for the upcoming "Android Security 2016 Year In Review" report.

Android Studio 2.3

By Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android Studio 2.3 is available to download today. The focus for this release is quality improvements across the IDE. We are grateful for all your feedback so far. We are committed to continuing to invest in making Android Studio fast & seamless for the millions of Android app developers across the world.

We are most excited about the quality improvements in Android Studio 2.3 but you will find a small set of new features in this release that integrate into each phase of your development flow. When designing your app, take advantage of the updated WebP support for your app images plus check out the updated ConstraintLayout library support and widget palette in the Layout Editor. As you are developing, Android Studio has a new App Link Assistant which helps you build and have a consolidated view of your URIs in your app. While building and deploying your app, use the updated run buttons for a more intuitive and reliable Instant Run experience. Lastly, while testing your app with the Android Emulator, you now have proper copy & paste text support.

What's new in Android Studio 2.3

For more detail about the features we added on top of the quality improvements Android Studio 2.3, check out the list of the new features below:
Build
  • Instant Run Improvements and UI Changes: As a part of our focus on quality, we have made some significant changes to Instant Run in Android Studio 2.3 to make the feature more reliable. The Run action will now always cause an application restart to reflect changes in your code that may require a restart, and the new Apply Changes action will attempt to swap the code while your app keeps running. The underlying implementation has changed significantly to improve on reliability, and we have also eliminated the startup lag for Instant Run enabled apps. Learn more.
New Instant Run Button Actions
  • Build Cache: Introduced but disabled by default in Android Studio 2.2, Build Cache is an underlying build optimization for faster builds in Android Studio. By caching exploded AARs and pre-dexed external libraries, the new build cached leads to faster clean builds. This is a user-wide build cache that is now turned on by default with Android Studio 2.3. Learn more.
Design
  • Chains and Ratios support in Constraint Layout: Android Studio 2.3 includes the stable release of ConstraintLayout With this release of ConstraintLayout, you can now chain two or more Android views bi-directionally together to form a group on one dimension. This is helpful when you want when you want to place two views close together but want to spread them across empty space. Learn more.
Constraint Layout Chains

ConstraintLayout also supports ratios, which is helpful when you want to maintain the aspect ratio of widget as the containing layout expands and contracts. Learn more about ratios. Additionally, both Chains and Ratios in ConstraintLayout can support programmatic creating with ConstraintSet APIs.

Constraint Layout Ratios

  • Layout Editor Palette: The updated widget palette in the Layout Editor allows you to search, sort and filter to find widgets for your layouts, plus gives you a preview of the widget before dragging on to the design surface. Learn more.

Layout Editor Widget Palette

  • Layout Favorites: You can now save your favorite attributes per widget in the updated Layout Editor properties panel. Simply star an attribute in the advanced panel and it will appear under the Favorites section. Learn more.

Favorites Attributes on Layout Editor Properties Panel
  • WebP Support: To help you save space in your APK, Android Studio can now generate WebP images from PNG assets in your project. The WebP lossless format is up to 25% smaller than a PNG. With Android Studio 2.3, you have a new wizard that converts PNG to lossless WebP and also allows you to inspect lossy WebP encoding as well. Right-click on any non-launcher PNG file to convert to WebP. And if you need to edit the image, you can also right-click on any WebP file in your project to convert back to PNG. Learn more.
WebP Image Conversion Wizard

  • Material Icon Wizard Update: The updated vector asset wizard supports search and filtering, plus it includes labels for each icon asset. Learn more.
Vector Asset Wizard

Develop
  • Lint Baseline: With Android Studio 2.3, you can set unresolved lint warnings as a baseline in your project. From that point forward, Lint will report only new issues. This is helpful if you have many legacy lint issues in your app, but just want to focus on fixing new issues. Learn more about Lint baseline and the new Lint checks & annotations added in this release.
Lint Baseline Support
  • App Links Assistant: Supporting Android App Links in your app is now easier with Android Studio. The new App Links Assistant allows you to easily create new intent filters for your URLs, declare your app's website association through a Digital Asset Links file, and test your Android App Links support. To access the App Link Assistant go to the following menu location: ToolsApp Link Assistant. Learn more.
App Links Assistant
  • Template Updates: By default, all templates in Android Studio 2.3 which use to contain RelativeLayout, now use ConstraintLayout. Learn more about templates and Constraint Layout. We have also added a new Bottom Navigation Activity template, which implements the Bottom Navigation Material Design guideline.

New Project Wizard Templates
  • IntelliJ Platform Update: Android Studio 2.3 includes the IntelliJ 2016.2 release, which has enhancements such as an updated inspection window and a notifications system. Learn more.
Test
  • Android Emulator Copy & Paste: Back by popular demand, we added back the Copy & Paste feature to the latest Emulator (v25.3.1). We have a shared clipboard between the Android Emulator and host operating system, which will allow you to copy text between both environments. Copy & Paste works with x86 Google API Emulator system images API Level 19 (Android 4.4 - Kitkat) and higher.

Copy & Paste support in Android Emulator

  • Android Emulator Command Line Tools: Starting with Android SDK Tools 25.3, we have moved the emulator from the SDK Tools folder into a separate emulator directory, and also deprecated and replaced the "android avd" command with a standalone avdmanager command. The previous command line parameters for emulator and "android avd" will work with the updated tools. We have also added location redirects for the emulator command. However, if you create Android Virtual Devices (AVDs) directly through the command line you should update any corresponding scripts. If you are using the Android Emulator through Android Studio 2.3, these change will not impact your workflow. Learn more.

To recap, Android Studio 2.3 includes these new features and more:

Develop
Build
Design
Test

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If you are using a previous version of Android Studio, you can check for updates on the Stable channel from the navigation menu (Help → Check for Update [Windows/Linux] , Android Studio → Check for Updates [OS X]). You can also download Android Studio 2.3 from the official download page. To take advantage of all the new features and improvements in Android Studio, you should also update to the Android Gradle plugin version to 2.3.0 in your current app project.
We appreciate any feedback on things you like, issues or features you would like to see. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team -- on our Google+ page or on Twitter.

Welcome to Google Developer Day at Game Developer Conference 2017

Posted by Paul Bankhead, Director, Product Management, Google Play 

Mobile gaming is more popular than ever. Over the past year, we saw breakout hits, including Pokemon GO, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Clash Royale and Reigns introduce new, high quality gaming experiences on Google Play. Gamers around the world were also able to access Google Play more easily than ever before, helping developers reach a larger audience and grow their businesses. In 2016, nearly 300 million new (30 day active) users adopted Android devices from emerging markets such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia. And last year, more than 100 million new users were able to access locally relevant forms of payments (such as direct carrier billing or gift cards) helping more people globally access and buy their favorite apps and games on Google Play.

We've also focused heavily on polishing our software and hardware offerings to improve the overall gaming experience on Android. The release of Nougat delivered high-performance realtime 3D graphics with the Vulkan API and the launch of Pixel phones provided the first Daydream-ready devices tailored for immersive mobile VR. Elsewhere, the expansion of Firebase provided the tools and infrastructure to support developers throughout the lifecycle of their game with features like real-time analytics, push notifications, storage, and ads. To streamline the integration, Firebase is now completely available for C++ and Unity developers.
NEW FEATURES TO HELP YOU SUCCEED ON GOOGLE PLAY

Today, during our annual Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference, we introduced new tools to improve the overall discovery on Google Play, especially supporting developers who build high quality and engaging games.

  • Promoting high quality experiences based on engagement, not just installs: With the enormous variety of games available on Google Play, there are many instances when great games don't get the visibility and attention they deserve. Recently, we've begun tuning our algorithms to optimize for user engagement, not just downloads. This is one of our ways to reward quality, which for games means promoting titles with stickiness (strong engagement and retention metrics) as well as a more traditional measure like a high star rating.

  • Offer sales and increase purchases of premium games with strikethrough pricing: Available in the Google Play Developer Console starting today, strikethrough pricing allows developers to run their own price promotions on paid apps and games leading to greater awareness and conversion. During our pilot phase, developers not only saw a 3x–20x lift in installs during their promotions, they also maintained a nice lift once the sales ended.


  • More curation of high quality games through editorial pages: One more way we'll highlight quality games is through new editorial pages on the Play store launching later this month. These pages allow our editors to hand-select games exemplifying optimal gaming experiences on Android. They allow users to explore different game styles and genres with editorial reviews on themes such as epic RPGs and top racing games.

UPCOMING GAMES ON GOOGLE PLAY

At our Developer Day, we also gave attendees a sneak peek at some high-fidelity games coming to Google Play later this year. Including titles from major studios to indies, and even two new VR titles, there's something for every gamer!

Available for pre-registration on Google Play
  • TRANSFORMERS: Forged to Fight by Kabam is a new high-definition, action-fighting mobile game set in an immersive world. The game will feature authentic Transformers "more than meets the eye" action, allowing players to engage with Optimus Prime, Megatron and many other popular Autobots and Decepticons in a stunning 3D environment. The game will be available worldwide on April 5, 2017.
  • Battle Breakers is a new frenetic tactical role-playing game from Epic Games, powered by Unreal Engine 4. A vibrant fantasy sci-fi cartoon adventure, Battle Breakers lets you recruit and build a dream team from hundreds of unique heroes to battle monsters as you take back the Kingdom, one break at a time!
  • Injustice 2 lets you guide your stable of Super Heroes and Villains to victory. Expanding on the hit game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 delivers brand new characters, tons of exciting new modes and the look and fighting style that NetherRealm Studios is known for. Injustice 2 will be available on Google Play for Android devices in May.
Coming soon
  • Virtual Rabbids is the first VR Rabbids experience on mobile developed by Ubisoft Montpellier in collaboration with Bucharest. Available this spring on Daydream, players will find themselves in some of the most precarious situations as they race to save the planet.
  • Beartopia is a cooperative multiplayer village game by Spry Fox. Make friends, work together and grow a thriving community.
Later this afternoon, we'll host a series of lightning talks to share what it takes to launch successful VR and AR games, build with Firebase, implement machine learning in your game, and so much more. Visit our site for more info and the Google Developer Day schedule. For those who can't make it in person, watch the live stream!

This is just the start of what we have planned for 2017. We hope you can make use of these tools to improve your games, engage your audience, and grow your business and revenue.


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Announcing TensorFlow 1.0

Posted By: Amy McDonald Sandjideh, Technical Program Manager, TensorFlow

In just its first year, TensorFlow has helped researchers, engineers, artists, students, and many others make progress with everything from language translation to early detection of skin cancer and preventing blindness in diabetics. We're excited to see people using TensorFlow in over 6000 open-source repositories online.


Today, as part of the first annual TensorFlow Developer Summit, hosted in Mountain View and livestreamed around the world, we're announcing TensorFlow 1.0:


It's faster: TensorFlow 1.0 is incredibly fast! XLA lays the groundwork for even more performance improvements in the future, and tensorflow.org now includes tips & tricksfor tuning your models to achieve maximum speed. We'll soon publish updated implementations of several popular models to show how to take full advantage of TensorFlow 1.0 - including a 7.3x speedup on 8 GPUs for Inception v3 and 58x speedup for distributed Inception v3 training on 64 GPUs!


It's more flexible: TensorFlow 1.0 introduces a high-level API for TensorFlow, with tf.layers, tf.metrics, and tf.losses modules. We've also announced the inclusion of a new tf.keras module that provides full compatibility with Keras, another popular high-level neural networks library.


It's more production-ready than ever: TensorFlow 1.0 promises Python API stability (details here), making it easier to pick up new features without worrying about breaking your existing code.

Other highlights from TensorFlow 1.0:

  • Python APIs have been changed to resemble NumPy more closely. For this and other backwards-incompatible changes made to support API stability going forward, please use our handy migration guide and conversion script.
  • Experimental APIs for Javaand Go
  • Higher-level API modules tf.layers, tf.metrics, and tf.losses - brought over from tf.contrib.learnafter incorporating skflowand TF Slim
  • Experimental release of XLA, a domain-specific compiler for TensorFlow graphs, that targets CPUs and GPUs. XLA is rapidly evolving - expect to see more progress in upcoming releases.
  • Introduction of the TensorFlow Debugger (tfdbg), a command-line interface and API for debugging live TensorFlow programs.
  • New Android demos for object detection and localization, and camera-based image stylization.
  • Installation improvements: Python 3 docker images have been added, and TensorFlow's pip packages are now PyPI compliant. This means TensorFlow can now be installed with a simple invocation of pip install tensorflow.

We're thrilled to see the pace of development in the TensorFlow community around the world. To hear more about TensorFlow 1.0 and how it's being used, you can watch the TensorFlow Developer Summit talks on YouTube, covering recent updates from higher-level APIs to TensorFlow on mobile to our new XLA compiler, as well as the exciting ways that TensorFlow is being used:





Click herefor a link to the livestream and video playlist (individual talks will be posted online later in the day).


The TensorFlow ecosystem continues to grow with new techniques like Foldfor dynamic batching and tools like the Embedding Projector along with updates to our existing tools like TensorFlow Serving. We're incredibly grateful to the community of contributors, educators, and researchers who have made advances in deep learning available to everyone. We look forward to working with you on forums like GitHub issues, Stack Overflow, @TensorFlow, the discuss@tensorflow.orggroup, and at future events.