Tag Archives: Featured

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

Dan Lavelle, Head of Learning Operations, Google Play

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

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

Introducing Google Play's Academy for App Success

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

Key features of Play Academy

Learning paths

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

Interactive lessons

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

Assessments

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

Achievements

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

Start learning today

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

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Google Play offline peer to peer installs beta

Posted by James Bender, Product Manager, Google Play

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Matt Henderson, Product Manager, Google Play

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

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

Building smaller apps

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

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

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

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

Building a unified instant experience

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

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

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

Extending instant trials

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

Reducing crash rates and improving quality

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

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

Optimizing your app and business

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

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

A new way to learn about Play

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

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

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Exclusive new organic acquisition insights on the Google Play Console

Posted by Tom Grinsted, Product Manager, Google Play

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

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

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

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

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

A new data breakdown

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

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

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


Click through for more insights

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

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

For example, at Fun games for free:

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

While Evernote found that the breakdown:

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

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

Better coverage

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

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

Putting the data to work

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

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

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

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

Final word

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

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Looking forward with Google Play

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

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

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

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

Innovative Distribution

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

Improving App Quality

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

Richer Discovery

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

Expanding Commerce Platform

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

Maintaining a Safe & Secure Ecosystem

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

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

Meet the first Indie Games Accelerator class

Posted by Vineet Tanwar, Business Development Manager, Google Play

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

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

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

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Introducing Android 9 Pie

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

After more than a year of development and months of testing by early adopters, we're ready to launch Android 9 Pie, the latest release of Android, to the world.

Android 9 harnesses the power of machine learning to make your phone smarter, simpler, and tailored to you. Read all about the new consumer features here. For developers, Android 9 includes many new ways to enhance your apps and build new experiences to drive engagement.

You've given us tons of feedback along the way--over a thousand bugs and feature requests--thank you! More than 140,000 of you tried our preview builds through the Android Beta program, and seven of our device maker partners also brought our Beta to their flagship devices, enabling users around the world to give their feedback too.

Today we're pushing the source code to Android Open Source Project (AOSP), and starting the Android 9 rollout to all Pixel users worldwide, with Android 9 coming to many more devices in the coming months.

We continue to move Android forward as the premier open platform for developers worldwide to build their businesses. With Android 9 -- together with the powerful new capabilities in Google Play for apps and games -- we're committed to helping you build great experiences, as well as reach and engage the right users safely and cost-effectively around the world.

What's in Android 9?

A smarter smartphone, with machine learning at the core

Android 9 helps your phone learn as you use it, by picking up on your preferences and adjusting automatically. Everything from helping users get the most out of their battery life to surfacing the best parts of the apps they use all the time, right when they need it most, Android 9 keeps things running smoother, longer.

Adaptive Battery

We partnered with DeepMind on a feature called Adaptive Battery that uses machine learning to prioritize system resources for the apps the user cares about most. If your app is optimized for Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits, Adaptive Battery should work well for you right out of the box. If you haven't yet taken optimized your app, make sure to check out the details in the power documentation to see how it works.

Slices

Slices can help users perform tasks faster by enabling engagement outside of the fullscreen app experience. It does this by using UI templates that can display rich, dynamic, and interactive content from your app from within the Google Search app and later in other places like the Google Assistant. You can learn more about building Slices to enhance your app here.

App Actions

App Actions is a new way to raise the visibility of your app and drive engagement. Actions take advantage of machine learning to surface your app to the user at just the right time, based on your app's semantic intents and the user's context.

We'll be sharing more details in the coming weeks on registering your app to handle one or more user intents, so your apps can be enabled for App Actions and surfaced across multiple Google and Android surfaces in response to user queries.

Text Classifier and Smart Linkify

We've extended the ML models that identify entities in content or text input to support more types like Dates and Flight Numbers through the TextClassifier API. Smart Linkify lets you take advantage of the TextClassifier models through the Linkify API, including enriched options for quick follow-on user actions. Smart Linkify also delivers significant improvements in accuracy of detection as well as performance.

Neural Networks API 1.1

Android 9 adds an updated version of the Neural networks API, to extend Android's support for accelerated on-device machine learning. Neural Networks 1.1 adds support for nine new ops -- Pad, BatchToSpaceND, SpaceToBatchND, Transpose, Strided Slice, Mean, Div, Sub, and Squeeze. A typical way to take advantage of the APIs is through TensorFlow Lite.

Getting the most from your phone -- more easily

We're excited about making your smartphone more intelligent. But it's also important that the technology fades to the back for users. In Android 9, we've evolved Android's UI to be simpler and more approachable -- for developers, these changes help improve the way users find, use, and manage your apps.

New system navigation

Android 9 introduces a new system navigation that we've been working on for more than a year. The new design helps make Android's multitasking more approachable and makes discovering apps much easier. You can swipe up from anywhere to see full-screen previews of recently used apps and simply tap to jump back into one of them.

Display cutout

Now your app can take full advantage of the latest edge-to-edge screens through display cutout support in Android 9. For most apps, supporting display cutout is seamless, with the system managing status bar height to separate your content from the cutout. If you have immersive content, you can use the display cutout APIs to check the position and shape of the cutout and request full-screen layout around it. To help with development and testing, we've added a Developer Option that simulates several cutout shapes on any device.

Apps with immersive content can display content fullscreen on devices with a display cutout.

Notifications and smart reply

Android 9 makes notifications even more useful and more actionable. Messaging apps can take advantage of the new MessagingStyle APIs to show conversations, attach photos and stickers, and even suggest smart replies. You'll soon be able to use ML Kit to generate smart reply suggestions for your app.

MessagingStyle notifications with conversations and smart replies [left], images and stickers [right].

Text Magnifier

In Android 9 we've added a Magnifier widget to improve the user experience of selecting text. The Magnifier widget lets users precisely position the cursor or the text selection handles by viewing zoomed text through a draggable pane. You can attach it to any view that is attached to a window, so you can use it in custom widgets or during custom text-rendering. The Magnifier widget can also provide a zoomed-in version of any view or surface, not just text.

Check out our recent blog post for more about this and other Text features, such as PrecomputedText and line height and baseline text alignment.

Security and privacy for users

Biometric prompt

With a range of biometric sensors in use for authentication, we've made the experience more consistent across sensor types and apps. Android 9 introduces a system-managed dialog to prompt the user for any supported type of biometric authentication. Apps no longer need to build their own dialog--instead they use the BiometricPrompt API to show the standard system dialog. In addition to Fingerprint (including in-display sensors), the API supports Face and Iris authentication.

If your app is drawing its own fingerprint auth dialogs, you should switch to using the BiometricPrompt API as soon as possible. See this post for more information.

Protected Confirmation

Android 9 introduces Android Protected Confirmation, which uses the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) to guarantee that a given prompt string is shown and confirmed by the user. Only after successful user confirmation will the TEE then sign the prompt string, which the app can verify.

Stronger protection for private keys

We've added StrongBox as a new KeyStore type, providing API support for devices that provide key storage in tamper-resistant hardware with isolated CPU, RAM, and secure flash. You can set whether your keys should be protected by a StrongBox security chip in your KeyGenParameterSpec.

DNS over TLS

Android 9 adds built-in support for DNS over TLS, automatically upgrading DNS queries to TLS if a network's DNS server supports it. Users can manage DNS over TLS behavior in a new Private DNS Mode in Network & internet settings. Apps that perform their own DNS queries can use a new API, LinkProperties.isPrivateDnsActive(), to check the DNS mode. More in this post.

HTTPS by default

As part of a larger effort to move all network traffic away from cleartext (unencrypted HTTP) to websites secured with TLS (HTTPS), we're changing the defaults for Network Security Configuration to block all cleartext traffic. You'll now need to make connections over TLS, unless you explicitly opt-in to cleartext for specific domains. See the details here.

Compiler-based security mitigations

In Android 9 we've expanded our use of compiler-level mitigations to harden the platform through run-time detection of dangerous behavior. Control Flow Integrity (CFI) techniques help to prevent code-reuse attacks and arbitrary code execution. In Android 9 we've greatly expanded CFI usage within the media framework and other security-critical components, such as NFC and Bluetooth. We've also introduced CFI kernel support into the Android common kernel when building with LLVM.

We've also expanded our use of Integer overflow sanitizers to mitigate memory-corruption and information-disclosure vulnerabilities. We've prioritized sanitizers in libraries with past vulnerabilities or where complex untrusted input is processed, such as libui, libnl, libmediaplayerservice and others. See this post for details.

Privacy for users

Android 9 safeguards privacy in a number of new ways. The system now restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle. While your app's UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps.

Android 9 also gives the user control over access to the platform's build.serial identifier by putting it behind the READ_PHONE_STATE permission. To access the build.serial identifier, you should use the Build.getSerial() method.

Read more about all of the privacy changes here.

New experiences in camera, audio, and graphics

Multi-camera API and other camera updates

With Android 9 you can now open streams from two or more physical cameras simultaneously on devices that support the multi-camera API. On devices with either dual-front or dual-back cameras, you can create innovative features not possible with just a single camera, such as seamless zoom, bokeh, and stereo vision. The API also lets you call a logical or fused camera stream that automatically switches between two or more cameras.

Other improvements in camera include new Session parameters that help to reduce delays during initial capture, and Surface sharing that lets camera clients handle various use-cases without the need to stop and start camera streaming. We've also added APIs for display-based flash support and access to OIS timestamps for app-level image stabilization and special effects.

HDR VP9 Video and HEIF image compression

Android 9 adds built-in support for HDR VP9 Profile 2, so you can now deliver HDR-enabled movies to your users on HDR-capable devices.

We're excited to add HEIF (heic) image encoding to the platform. HEIF is a popular format for photos that improves compression to save on storage and network data. With platform support on Android 9 devices, it's easy to send and utilize HEIF images from your backend server. Once you've made sure that your app is compatible with this data format for sharing and display, give HEIF a try as an image storage format in your app. You can do a jpeg-to-heic conversion using ImageDecoder or BitmapFactory to obtain a bitmap from jpeg, and you can use HeifWriter in the AndroidX library to write HEIF still images from YUV byte buffer, Surface, or Bitmap.

Enhanced audio with Dynamics Processing

The Dynamics Processing API lets you use a new audio effect to isolate specific frequencies and lower loud or increase soft sounds to enhance the acoustic quality of your app. For example, you can improve the sound of someone who speaks quietly in a loud, distant or otherwise acoustically challenging environment. The API gives you access to a multi-stage, multi-band dynamics processing effect that includes a pre-equalizer, a multi-band compressor, a post-equalizer and a linked limiter.

ImageDecoder for bitmaps and drawables

An ImageDecoder API gives you an easier way to decode images to bitmaps or drawables. You can create a bitmap or drawable from a byte buffer, file, or URI. The API offers several advantages over BitmapFactory, including support for exact scaling, single-step decoding to hardware memory, support for post-processing in decode, and decoding of animated images. You can read more here.

Connectivity and location

Wi-Fi RTT for indoor positioning

Android 9 lets you build indoor positioning features into your apps through platform support for the IEEE 802.11mc Wi-Fi protocol -- also known as Wi-Fi Round-Trip-Time (RTT). On Android 9 devices with hardware support, location permission, and location enabled, your apps can use RTT APIs to measure the distance to nearby Wi-Fi Access Points (APs). The device doesn't need to connect to the APs to use RTT, and to maintain privacy, only the phone is able to determine the distance, not the APs.

Knowing the distance to 3 or more APs, you can calculate the device position with an accuracy of 1 to 2 meters. With this accuracy you can support use-cases like in-building navigation; fine-grained location-based services such as disambiguated voice control (e.g. 'Turn on this light'); and location-based information (e.g. 'Are there special offers for this product?').

Data cost sensitivity in JobScheduler

JobScheduler is Android's central service to help you manage scheduled tasks or work across Doze, App Standby, and Background Limits. In Android 9, JobScheduler handles network-related jobs better for the user, coordinating with network status signals provided separately by carriers. Jobs can now declare their estimated data size, signal prefetching, and specify detailed network requirements—carriers can report networks as being congested or unmetered. JobScheduler then manages work according to the network status. For example, when a network is congested, JobScheduler might defer large network requests. When unmetered, it can run prefetch jobs to improve the user experience, such as prefetching headlines.

Open Mobile API for NFC payments and secure transactions

Android 9 adds an implementation of the GlobalPlatform Open Mobile API to Android. On supported devices, apps can use the OMAPI API to access secure elements (SE) to enable smart-card payments and other secure services. A hardware abstraction layer (HAL) provides the underlying API for enumerating the variety of Secure Elements (eSE, UICC, and others) available.

Performance for apps

ART performance

Android 9 brings performance and efficiency improvements to all apps through the ART runtime. We've expanded ART's use of execution profiles to optimize apps and reduce the in-memory footprint of compiled app code. ART now uses profile information for on-device rewriting of DEX files, with reductions up to 11% across a range of popular apps. We expect these to correlate closely with reductions in system DEX memory usage and faster startup times for your apps.

Optimized for Kotlin

Kotlin is a first-class language on Android, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should! We've made an enduring commitment to Kotlin in Android and continue to expand support including optimizing the performance of Kotlin code. In Android 9, you'll see the first results of this work--we've improved several compiler optimizations, especially those that target loops, to extract better performance. We're also continuing to work in partnership with JetBrains to optimize Kotlin's generated code. You can get all of the latest Kotlin performance improvements just by keeping Android Studio's Kotlin plugin up-to-date.

Today, we are also releasing an update to the Android 9 - API 28 SDK (rev. 6), which contains nullability annotations in some of the most frequently used APIs. We'll provide more details about this in an upcoming post.

Modern Android

As part of Android 9 we are modernizing the foundations of Android and the apps that run on it, as part of our deep, sustained investments in security, performance, and stability.

As we announced last year, Google Play will require all app updates to target Android Oreo (targetSdkVersion 26 or higher) by November 2018. In line with that, if your app targets a platform earlier than Android 4.2 (API level 17), users installing it will see a warning dialog after that day. Here's a checklist of resources for help and support as you migrate -- we're looking forward to seeing your apps getting the most from modern Android.

Get your apps ready for Android 9!

With Android 9 coming to Pixel users starting today, and to other devices in the months ahead, it's important to test your app for compatibility as soon as possible. Just install your current app from Google Play on a device or or emulator running Android 9. As you work through the flows, make sure your app runs and looks great, and that it handles the Android 9 behavior changes properly.

Also watch for uses of non-SDK interfaces in your app. Android 9 restricts access to selected non-SDK interfaces, so you should reduce your reliance on them. See our recent post for details.

After you've made any necessary updates, we recommend publishing to Google Play right away. without changing the app's platform targeting. This lets you ensure a great experience for Android 9 users while you work on enhancing your app with Android 9 APIs and targeting.

Enhance your app with Android 9 features and APIs

When you're ready, dive into Android 9 and build with the new features and APIs in Android 9.

To get started, just download the official API 28 SDK and the latest tools and emulator images into Android Studio 3.1, or use the latest version of Android Studio 3.2. Then update your project's compileSdkVersion and targetSdkVersion to API 28. When you change your targeting, make sure your app supports all of the applicable behavior changes.

As soon as you're ready, publish your APK updates to Google Play. A common strategy is to use Google Play's beta testing feature to get early feedback from a small group of users and then do a staged rollout to production.

Visit the Android 9 site for details and developer documentation. Also check out this video and the Google I/O Android Playlist for more on what's new in Android 9 for developers.

Coming to a device near you

Starting today, an over-the-air update to Android 9 will begin rolling out to Pixel phones. And devices that participated in the Beta program from Sony Mobile, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Essential, as well as all qualifying Android One devices, will receive this update by the end of this fall! We are also working with a number of other partners to launch or upgrade devices to Android 9 this year.

As always, the system images for Pixel devices are available here for manual flash and download. If you're looking for the Android 9 source, you'll find it here in the Android Open Source Project repository under the Android 9 branches.

What's next?

Now that we've reached the official release, we're bringing the Developer Preview to a close. We'll soon be closing the Developer Preview issue tracker to new issues, so if you have feedback, feel free to file a new issue against Android 9 in the AOSP issue tracker.

Thanks again to the many developers and early adopters who participated in the Android 9 Developer Preview and public beta. Your contributions have been critical to making the Android 9 platform a great one for developers and consumers.

Supporting display cutouts on edge-to-edge screens

Posted By Megan Potoski, Product Manager, Android System UI

Smartphones are quickly moving towards smaller bezels and larger aspect ratios. On these devices, display cutouts are a popular way to achieve an edge-to-edge experience while providing space for important sensors on the front of the device. There are currently 16 cutout devices from 11 OEMs already released, including several Android P beta devices, with more on the way.

These striking displays present a great opportunity for you to showcase your app. They also mean it's more important than ever to make sure your app provides a consistently great experience across devices with one or two display cutouts, as well as devices with 18:9 and larger aspect ratios.

Examples of cutout devices: Essential PH-1 (left) and Huawei P20 (right).

Make your app compatible with display cutouts

With many popular and upcoming devices featuring display cutouts, what can you do to make sure your app is cutout-ready?

The good news is, for the most part your app should work as intended even on a cutout device. By default, in portrait mode with no special flags set, the status bar will be resized to be at least as tall as the cutout and your content will display in the window below. In landscape or fullscreen mode, your app window will be letterboxed so that none of your content is displayed in the cutout area.

However, there are a few areas where your app could have issues on cutout devices.

  • Watch out for any sort of hard-coding of status bar height -- this will likely cause problems. If possible, use WindowInsetsCompat to get status bar height.
  • In fullscreen, be careful to consider when to use window vs. screen coordinates, as your app will not take up the whole screen when letterboxed. For example, if you use MotionEvent.getRawX/Y() to get screen coordinates for touch events, make sure to transform them to the view's coordinates using getLocationOnScreen().
  • Pay special attention to transitions in and out of fullscreen mode.

Here are a few guidelines describing what issues to look out for and how to fix them.

Take advantage of the cutout area

Rendering your app content in the cutout area can be a great way to provide a more immersive, edge-to-edge experience for users, especially for content like videos, photos, maps, and games.

An example of an app that has requested layout in the display cutout.

In Android P we added APIs to let you manage how your app uses the display cutout area, as well as to check for the presence of cutouts and get their positions.

You can use layoutInDisplayCutoutMode, a new window layout mode, to control how your content is displayed relative to the cutout. By default, the app's window is allowed to extend into the cutout area if the cutout is fully contained within a system bar. Otherwise, the window is laid out such that it does not overlap with the cutout. You can also set layoutInDisplayCutoutMode to always or never render into the cutout. Using SHORT_EDGES mode to always render into the cutout is a great option if you want to take advantage of the full display and don't mind if a bit of content gets obscured by the cutout.

If you are rendering into the cutout, you can use getDisplayCutout() to retrieve a DisplayCutout that has the cutout's safe insets and bounding box(es). These let you check whether your content overlaps the cutout and reposition things if needed.

<style name="ActivityTheme">
  <item name="android:windowLayoutInDisplayCutoutMode">
    default/shortEdges/never
  </item>
</style>

Attribute for setting layoutInDisplayCutoutMode from the Activity's theme.

For devices running Android 8.1 (API 27), we've also back-ported the layoutInDisplayCutoutMode activity theme attribute so you can control the display of your content in the cutout area. Note that support on devices running Android 8.1 or lower is up to the device manufacturer, however.

To make it easier to manage your cutout implementation across API levels, we've also added DisplayCutoutCompat in the AndroidX library, which is now available through the SDK manager.

For more about the display cutout APIs, take a look at the documentation.

Test your app with cutout

We strongly recommend testing all screens and experiences of your app to make sure that they work well on cutout devices. We recommend using one of the Android P Beta Devices that features a cutout, such as the Essential PH-1.

If you don't have a device, you can also test using a simulated cutout on any device running Android P or in the Android Emulator. This should help you uncover any issues that your app may run into on devices with cutouts, whether they are running Android 8.1 or Android P.

What to expect on devices with display cutouts

Android P introduces official platform support for display cutouts, with APIs that you can use to show your content inside or outside of the cutout. To ensure consistency and app compatibility, we're working with our device manufacturer partners to mandate a few requirements.

First, devices must ensure that their cutouts do not negatively affect apps. There are two key requirements:

  • In portrait orientation, with no special flags set, the status bar must extend to at least the height of the cutout.
  • In fullscreen or landscape orientation, the entire cutout area must be letterboxed.

Second, devices may only have up to one cutout on each short edge of the device. This means that:

  • You won't see multiple cutouts on a single edge, or more than two cutouts on a device.
  • You won't see a cutout on the left or right long edge of the device.

Within these constraints, devices can place cutouts wherever they want.

Special mode

Some devices running Android 8.1 (API level 27) or earlier may optionally support a "special mode" that lets users extend a letterboxed fullscreen or landscape app into the cutout area. Devices would typically offer this mode through a toggle in the navigation bar, which would then bring up a confirmation dialog before extending the screen.

Devices that offer "special mode" allow users to optionally extend apps into the cutout area if supported by the app.

If your app's targetSdkVersion is 27 or higher, you can set the layoutInDisplayCutoutMode activity theme attribute to opt-out of special mode if needed.

Don't forget: larger aspect ratios too!

While you are working on cutout support, it's also a great time to make sure your app works well on devices with 18:9 or larger aspect ratios, especially since these devices are becoming increasingly common and can feature display cutouts.

We highly encourage you to support flexible aspect ratios so that your app can leverage the full display area, no matter what device it's on. You should test your app on different display ratios to make sure it functions properly and looks good.

Here are some guidelines on screens support to keep in mind as you are developing, also refer to our earlier post on larger aspect ratios for tips on optimizing. If your app can't adapt to the aspect ratios on long screens, you can choose to declare a max aspect ratio to request letterboxing on those screens.

Thanks for reading, and we hope this helps you deliver a delightful experience to all your users, whatever display they may have!

Final preview update, official Android P coming soon!

Posted By Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Android P is almost here! As we put the finishing touches on the new platform, today we're bringing you Android P Beta 4.

Beta 4 is the last preview milestone before we launch the official Android P platform later this summer. Take this opportunity to test your apps and publish updates, to make sure you offer a great experience for users transitioning to Android P!

What's in this update?

Today's Beta 4 update includes a release candidate build with final system behaviors and the official Android P APIs (API level 28), available since Beta 2. It includes everything you need to wrap up your testing in time for the upcoming official Android P release.

Get your apps ready for Android P

With the consumer launch coming soon, it's important to test your app for compatibility with Android P. Just install your current app from Google Play on an Android P Beta device or emulator. As you work through the flows, make sure your app runs and looks great, and that it handles the Android P behavior changes properly.

Also watch for uses of non-SDK interfaces in your app. Android P restricts access to selected non-SDK interfaces, so you should reduce your reliance on them. See our recent post for details..

After you've made any necessary updates, we recommend publishing to Google Play right away without changing the app's platform targeting. This lets you ensure a great experience for Android P users while you work on enhancing your app with Android P APIs and targeting.

Enhance your app with Android P features and APIs

When you're ready, dive into Android P and learn about the new features and APIs that you can use in your apps, like multi-camera support, display cutout, enhanced notifications, ImageDecoder, TextClassifier, and others.

To build with the new APIs, just download the official API 28 SDK and tools into Android Studio 3.1, or use the latest version of Android Studio 3.2. Then update your project's compileSdkVersion and targetSdkVersion to API 28. When you change your targeting, make sure your app supports all of the applicable behavior changes.

As soon as you're ready, publish your APK updates that are compiled against, or optionally targeting, API 28. A common strategy is to use Google Play's beta testing feature to get early feedback from a small group of users and then do a staged rollout to production.

Visit the Developer Preview site for details and documentation. Also check out this video and the Google I/O Android playlist for more on what's new in Android P for developers.

How do I get Beta 4?

It's easy - you can get Android P Beta 4 on Pixel devices by enrolling here. If you're already enrolled in our Android Beta program, you'll automatically get the Beta 4 update soon. As always, downloadable system images for Pixel devices are also available. Partners who are participating in the Android P Beta program will also be updating their devices to Beta 4 over the coming weeks.

What's next?

Stay tuned for the official Android P launch coming soon! You can continue to share your feedback or requests in the meantime, and feel free to use our hotlists for platform issues, app compatibility issues, and third-party SDK issues.

Thanks for your feedback so far, and thank you to everyone who participated in our recent Reddit AMA on r/androiddev!

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

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

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

Winning apps image

Check out a few of our highlighted apps.

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

Test your skills with these highlighted games.

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

See the full list of Android Excellence apps and games.

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

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

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