Tag Archives: Featured

10 things you might be doing wrong when using the SafetyNet Attestation API

Posted by Oscar Rodriguez, Developer Advocate

The SafetyNet Attestation API helps you assess the security and compatibility of the Android environments in which your apps run. Since it was introduced in March 2015, many developers have successfully integrated it into their Android apps to make more informed decisions based on the integrity and compatibility of the devices running their apps.

Throughout the years, the SafetyNet Attestation API has evolved, and its adoption has steadily increased. However, as with any security/anti-abuse related API, there are many common pitfalls that may lead developers into developing unstable systems, or worse, into a false sense of security.

In this post, we provide a list of the most common mistakes we have seen developers make when integrating the SafetyNet Attestation API.

1. Not getting an API key

Just like many other Google APIs, the SafetyNet Attestation API requires an API key in order to run. Furthermore, the SafetyNet Attestation API has a per-key usage quota. Although you can get this quota increased, you need to provide your API key to do so.

Getting an API key is easy and free of charge. There is no reason not to get an API key, so if you haven't already, get an API key now.

2. Not using the latest version of the API

The SafetyNet Attestation API has evolved throughout its history, and with it, there have been some interface changes. Most recently, with the release of Google Play services 11.0.0, we revamped the entire SafetyNet API to offer an interface that is easier and more streamlined to use: the new API uses SafetyNetClient instead of SafetyNetApi, which is now deprecated, so make sure you update your implementation to use the latest version of the API.

Most devices should have the latest version of Google Play services installed, but if a device doesn't have Google Play services installed, or doesn't have it up to date, using the SafetyNet Attestation API may lead to the app becoming unresponsive or crashing. You can prevent this by checking the installed version of Google Play services before using the API.

3. Using nonces incorrectly

The SafetyNet Attestation API lets you set a nonce to uniquely and globally identify each call to the API. Use this feature to prevent a malicious user from reusing a successful attestation result in place of an unsuccessful result (also known as a Replay Attack).

One good way to create a nonce is to create a large (16 bytes or longer) random number on your server using a cryptographically-secure random function. The SafetyNet attestation response includes the nonce you set, so make sure you verify that the returned nonce matches the one you included in the request you made.

4. Not checking the results on your server

SafetyNet can provide useful signals about the state of the device in which your app is running. However, if the logic that acts on these signals is only implemented and enforced directly on the device, an attacker could be able to modify your app and bypass any checks you perform.

To prevent this situation, you should run any logic that verifies the attestation result and enforces any actions based on them on a server that you control and trust.

5. Using the test attestation verification service for production

In order to simplify development and testing of the SafetyNet Attestation API, Google offers an online verification service that checks the digital signature of a SafetyNet Attestation result using a simple HTTPS request.

As useful as this service may seem, it is designed for test purposes only, and it has very strict usage quotas that will not be increased upon request. Instead, you should implement the digital signature verification logic on your server in a way that it doesn't depend on Google's servers. Most JWT libraries offer signature verification functionality, and we have code samples that show how to perform this verification in Java and C#. We plan to provide samples for more languages in the future.

6. Not checking the nonce, timestamp, APK name, and hashes

The SafetyNet Attestation API is most widely known for its integrity and compatibility checks, whose results are returned in ctsProfileMatch and basicIntegrity. Although these two values are indeed very useful, you should check the other values in the response, as they contain important information as well.

Use nonce to match a response to its request, as explained above, and use timestampMs to check how much time has passed since you made the request and you got the response. A delayed response that arrives several hours or days after the request may suggest suspicious activity.

Use apkPackageName to check the name of the APK that made the attestation request, and match apkDigestSha256 and apkCertificateDigestSha256 to those from your app's signed APK in Google Play, to get a signal about the integrity of the installed app.

Remember that the trustworthiness of the response as a whole is tied to the results of ctsProfileMatch and basicIntegrity. It is not unthinkable for a compromised device that fails basicIntegrity to have forged the rest of the values in the response.

7. Not understanding the differences between ctsProfileMatch and basicIntegrity

The SafetyNet Attestation API initially provided a single value called basicIntegrity to help developers determine the integrity of a device. As the API evolved, we introduced a new, stricter check whose results appear in a value called ctsProfileMatch, which allows developers to more finely evaluate the devices on which their app is running.

In broad terms, basicIntegrity gives you a signal about the general integrity of the device and its API. Rooted devices fail basicIntegrity, as do emulators, virtual devices, and devices with signs of tampering, such as API hooks.

On the other hand, ctsProfileMatch gives you a much stricter signal about the compatibility of the device. Only unmodified devices that have been certified by Google can pass ctsProfileMatch. Devices that will fail ctsProfileMatch include the following:

  • Devices that fail basicIntegrity
  • Devices with an unlocked bootloader
  • Devices with a custom system image (custom ROM)
  • Devices for which the manufactured didn't apply for, or pass, Google certification
  • Devices with a system image built directly from the Android Open Source Program source files
  • Devices with a system image distributed as part of a beta or developer preview program (including the Android Beta Program)

8. Not having a strategy for timing attestation checks

The SafetyNet Attestation API gives you a snapshot of the state of a device at the moment when the attestation request was made. A successful attestation doesn't necessarily mean that the device would have passed attestation in the past, or that it will in the future.

Because an attestation is just a spot check, you should plan a sensible strategy for choosing when to make attestation requests. You may choose to require successful attestations before users make in-app purchases, after a certain number of days have passed since the last successful attestation, each time your app is launched, after every reboot, or any other strategy that makes sense for your app.

Keep in mind that an attestation request is computationally expensive, consumes battery and bandwidth, and uses your quota. We recommend you plan a strategy to use the least amount of attestations required to satisfy your use case.

9. Using the SafetyNet Attestation API results as the only signal to attack abuse

It may be tempting to think that the SafetyNet Attestation API provides all the necessary signals for protecting an app against abusers, and use it as the only signal for building an anti-abuse system.

The SafetyNet Attestation API can only give signals about the state of a device, not the intent of a user, which is what an anti-abuse system should be designed to detect. Therefore, you might want to consider including other signals, such as access logs and behavioral patterns, to more accurately detect abusive users, and consider not blocking users solely on a failed attestation. Furthermore, there are many other conditions that cause an attestation to fail, such as network connection problems, quota issues, and other transient problems.

In other words, not all users who fail attestation are necessarily abusers, and not all abusers will necessarily fail attestation. By blocking users solely on their attestation results, you might be missing abusive users that don't fail attestations. Furthermore, you might also be blocking legitimate, loyal customers who fail attestations for reasons other than abuse.

10. Not monitoring and managing your usage quota

As mentioned before, the SafetyNet Attestation API is rate limited, and there is a default quota of 10,000 requests per day for each API key. Although this quota might be enough for most development, testing, and initial app launches, your app might reach the default limit as it increases in popularity.

To prevent inadvertently reaching your quota and getting attestation errors, you should build a system that monitors your usage of the API and warns you well before you reach your quota so you can get it increased. You should also be prepared to handle attestation failures because of an exceeded quota and avoid blocking all your users in this situation.

If you are close to reaching your quota, or expect a short-term spike that may lead you to exceed your quota, you can submit this form to request short or long-term increases to the quota for your API key. This process, as well as the additional quota, is free of charge.

Android 8.1 Developer Preview

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Today we're giving you an early look at Android 8.1. This update to Android Oreo includes a set of targeted enhancements including optimizations for Android Go (for devices with 1GB or less of memory) and a new Neural Networks API to accelerate on-device machine intelligence. We've also included a few smaller enhancements to Oreo in response to user and developer feedback.

We're bringing you this Developer Preview so you can get your apps ready; we've already been helping device makers prepare for this new version. We recommend starting soon -- we're expecting the final public version in December.

It's easy to get Android 8.1 Developer Preview on your Pixel or Nexus device. Just enroll in the Android Beta Program -- you'll soon receive an over-the-air update to Android 8.1 beta. If you enrolled previously, you're all set, there's no need to re-enroll. The Developer Preview will be available for Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL devices, as well as for Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and the Android emulator.

What's in Android 8.1?

Android 8.1 includes select new features and developer APIs (API level 27), along with the latest optimizations, bug fixes, and security patches. Some of the new APIs include:

  • Android Go memory optimizations and targeting -- Android 8.1 includes a set of memory optimizations for Android Go configurations (1GB or less of memory). We've added new hardware feature constants so you can now target the distribution of your apps and APK splits to normal or low-RAM devices running Android 8.1 and later.
  • Neural Networks API -- as part of our efforts to bring machine intelligence to Android, we've added a Neural Networks API via the NDK. It enables hardware-accelerated inference operations on supported devices. We designed the Neural Networks API as a foundational layer for ML frameworks like TensorFlow Lite -- Google's upcoming cross-platform ML framework for mobile -- as well as Caffe2 and others. Stay tuned for TensorFlow Lite announcements.
  • Autofill enhancements -- we've made it easier for password managers and other Autofill services to use the Autofill framework. For example, we've added support for more UI customization of the Save dialog, as well as setAutofillOptions() for users to set credit card expiration using a spinner.
  • Shared memory API -- this new API lets apps allocate shared memory for faster access to common data. Apps can map anonymous shared memory and manage protection controls using the SharedMemory API. The API is parcelable, AIDL friendly, and exposes useful features like removing write permissions.

Take a look at Android 8.1 site for more information, including the diff report and updated API reference docs.

Test your apps on Android 8.1

With the consumer launch coming in December, it's important to test your current app now. This gives users a seamless transition to Android 8.1 when it arrives on their devices.

Just enroll your eligible device in Android Beta to get the latest update, then install your app from Google Play and test. If you don't have a Pixel or Nexus device, you can set up an Android 8.1 emulator for testing instead. If you notice any issues, fix them and update your app in Google Play right away -- without changing the app's platform targeting.

Build with new features and APIs

When you're ready, take advantage of the new features and APIs in Android 8.1, which we've already finalized as API Level 27. For an overview of what's new, take a look at Android 8.1 for Developers. You can also extend your apps with established Android Oreo features as well, see the Android Oreo site for details.

If your app uses forms, make sure to test them with autofill so that users can take advantage of this convenient feature. Enable "Autofill with Google" or a similar service in Settings and test the form fills to make sure they work as expected. We strongly recommend providing explicit hints about your fields, and also associating your website and mobile app, so that logins can be shared between them.

If your app uses the Camera2 API and you have a Pixel 2 device, you can try an early version of Pixel Visual Core, Google's first custom-designed co-processor for image processing and machine learning on consumer products. To begin testing HDR+ through Pixel Visual Core, just enable the new developer option "Camera HAL HDR+" (and make sure that CONTROL_ENABLE_ZSL is "true").

Speed your development with Android Studio

To build with Android 8.1, we recommend updating to Android Studio 3.0, which is now available from the stable channel. On top of the new app performance profiling tools, support for the Kotlin programming language, and Gradle build optimizations, Android Studio 3.0 makes it easier to develop with Android Oreo features like Instant Apps, XML Fonts, downloadable fonts, and adaptive icons.

We also recommend updating to the Android Support Library 27.0.0, which is available from Google's Maven repository. New in this version are: a ContentPager library for efficiently loading "paged" data on a background thread; ViewCompat wrappers for Autofill methods; an AmbientMode headless fragment that improves Wear ambient mode support, fullscreen Trusted Web Activities, and more. See the version notes for more information.

You can update your project's compileSdkVersion to API 27 to compile against the official Android 8.1 APIs. We also recommend updating your app's targetSdkVersion to API 27 to test with compatibility behaviors disabled. See the this guide for details on how to set up your environment to build with Android 8.1.

Publish your updates to Google Play

The Android 8.1 APIs are already final, so we've opened Google Play for apps compiled against or targeting API level 27. When you're ready, you can publish your APK updates in your alpha, beta, or production channels. Make sure that your updated app runs well on Android 8.1 as well as older versions. We recommend using Google Play's beta testing feature to run an alpha test on small group of users, then run a much larger open beta test. When you're ready to launch your update, you can use a staged rollout. We're looking forward to seeing your app updates!

Give us your feedback!

As always, your feedback is crucial, so please let us know what you think. We've set up different hotlists where you report Android platform and tools issues, app compatibility issues, and third-party SDKs and tools issues. We also have a new hotlist for Neural Networks API issues.

You can also give us feedback through the Android Developer community or Android Beta community as we work towards the consumer release in December.

Android Studio 3.0

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android Studio 3.0 is ready to download today. Announced at Google I/O 2017, Android Studio 3.0 is a large update focused on accelerating your app development on Android.

This release of Android Studio is packed with many new updates, but there are three major feature areas you do not want to miss, including: a new suite of app profiling tools to quickly diagnose performance issues, support for the Kotlin programming language, and a new set of tools and wizards to accelerate your development on the latest Android Oreo APIs.

We also invested time in improving stability and performance across many areas of Android Studio. Thanks to your feedback during the preview versions of Android Studio 3.0! If you are looking for high stability, want to build high quality apps for Android Oreo, develop with the Kotlin language, or use the latest in Android app performance tools, then you should download Android Studio 3.0 today.

Check out the the list of new features in Android Studio 3.0 below, organized by key developer flows.

What’s new in Android Studio 3.0

Develop

  • Kotlin Programming Language - As announced at Google I/O 2017, the Kotlin programming language is now officially supported for Android development. Kotlin is an expressive and concise language that is interoperable with existing Android languages and runtimes, which means you can use as little or as much of the language in your app as you want. Kotlin is a production-ready language used by many popular Android apps on Google Play today.

    This release of Android Studio is the first milestone of bundles the Kotlin language support inside the IDE. Many of your favorite features such as code completion and syntax highlighting work well this release and we will continue to improve the remaining editor features in upcoming release. You can choose to add Kotlin to your project using the built-in conversion tool found under CodeConvert Java File to Kotlin File, or create a Kotlin enabled project with the New Project Wizard. Lean more about Kotlin language support in Android Studio.

Kotlin Language Conversion in Android Studio

  • Java 8 Language features - In Android Studio 3.0, we are continuing to improve the support for Java 8 language features. With the migration to a javac based toolchain, using Java 8 language features in your project is even easier. To update your project to support the new Java 8 Language toolchain, simply update your Source and Target compatibility levels to 1.8 in the Project Structure dialog. Learn more.
  • Layout Editor - The component tree in the Layout Editor has with better drag-and-drop view insertions, and a new error panel. Learn more.
  • Adaptive Icon Wizard - The new wizard creates a set of launcher icon assets and provides previews of how your adaptive icon will look with different launcher screen icon masks. Support for VectorDrawable layers is new for this release. Learn more.
  • XML Fonts & Downloadable Fonts - If you target Android Oreo (API Level 26 and higher) for your Android app, you can now add custom fonts & downloadable fonts using XML with Android Studio 3.0.
  • Android Things Support - Android Studio 3.0 includes a new set of templates in the New Project wizard and the New Module wizard to develop for the Android Things platform. Learn more.
  • IntelliJ Platform Update: Android Studio 3.0 includes the IntelliJ 2017.1 release, which has features such as Java 8 language refactoring, parameter hints, semantic highlighting, draggable breakpoints, enhanced version control search, and more. Learn more.

Build

  • Build Speed Improvements - To further improve the speed of Gradle for larger scale projects with many modules, we introduced a rare breaking API change in the Android Gradle Plugin to improve scalability and build times. This change is one of reasons we jumped version numbers from Android Studio 2.4 to 3.0. If you depend on APIs provided by the previous Gradle plugin you should validate compatibility with the new plugin and migrate to the new APIs. To test, update the plugin version in your build.gradle file. Learn more.
  • Google's Maven Repository - To facilitate smaller and faster updates, Android Studio 3.0 utilizes Google's Maven Repository by default instead of using the Android SDK Manager to find updates to Android Support Library, Google Play Services, and Firebase Maven dependencies. Used in combination with the latest command line SDK Manager tool and Gradle, Continuous Integration builds should migrate to Google's Maven Repository for future Maven repository updates. Learn more.

Test & Debug

  • Google Play System Images - We also updated the emulator system images for Android Oreo to now include the Google Play Store. Bundling in the Google Play store allows you to do end-to-end testing of apps with Google Play, and provides a convenient way to keep Google Play services up-to-date in your Android Virtual Device (AVD). Just as Google Play services updates on physical devices, you can trigger the same updates on your AVDs.
    Google Play Store in Android Emulator

    To ensure app security and a consistent experience with physical devices, the emulator system images with the Google Play store included are signed with a release key. This means you will not be able to get elevated privileges. If you require elevated privileges (root) to aid with your app troubleshooting, you can use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) emulator system images that do not include Google apps or services. Learn more.

  • OpenGL ES 3.0 Support in Android Emulator - The latest version of the Android Emulator has OpenGL ES 3.0 support for Android Oreo system images along with significant improvements in OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics performance for older emulator system images. Learn more.
  • App Bug Reporter in Android Emulator - To help in documenting bugs in your app, we have added an easier way to generate a bug report with the Android Emulator with all the necessary configuration settings and space to capture your repro steps. Learn more.
  • Proxy Support in Android - If you use a proxy to access the Internet, we have added a user interface to manage the HTTP proxy settings used by the emulator. Lean more.
  • Android Emulator Quick Boot (Canary) - One of the most common pain points we hear is that the emulator takes too long to boot. To address this concern, we are excited to preview a new feature to solve this called Quick Boot, which significantly speeds up your emulator start time. Once enabled, the first time you start an AVD a cold boot will occur (just like powering on a device), but all subsequent starts are fast and the system is restored to the state at which you closed the emulator (similar to waking a device). If you want to try it out, ensure you are on the canary update release channel and then you will find v26.2.0 of the Android Emulator in the SDK Manager. Learn more.
  • APK Debugging - Android Studio 3.0 allows you to debug an arbitrary APK. This functionally is especially helpful for those who develop your Android C++ code in another IDE, but want to debug and analyze the APK in the context of Android Studio. As long as you have a debuggable version of your APK, you can use the new APK Debugging features to analyze, profile & debug the APK. Moreover, if you have access to the sources of your APK, you can link the source to the APK debugging flow for a higher fidelity debugging process. Get started by simply selecting Profile or debug APK from the Android Studio Welcome Screen or File → Profile or debug APK. Learn More.
APK Debugging
  • Layout Inspector - In this release we have added a few additional enhancements for the Layout Inspector including better grouping of properties into common categories, as well as search functionality in both the View Tree and Properties Panels. Learn more.
  • Device File Explorer - The new Device File Explorer in Android Studio 3.0 allows you to view the file and directory structure of your Android device or emulator. As you are testing your app, you can now quickly preview and modify app data files directly in Android Studio. Learn more.
  • Android Test Orchestrator Support - When used with AndroidJUnitRunner 1.0 or higher, the Android Gradle plugin 3.0 supports the use of the Android Test Orchestrator. The Android Test Orchestrator allows each of your app's tests to run within its own Instrumentation. Learn more.

Optimize

  • Android Profiler - Android Studio 3.0 includes a brand new suite of tools to help debug performance problems in your app. We completely rewrote the previous set of Android Monitor tools, and replaced them with the Android Profiler. Once you deploy your app to a running device or emulator, click on the Android Profiler tab and you will now have access to a real-time & unified view of the CPU, Memory, & Network activity for your app. Each of the performance events are mapped to the UI event timeline which highlights touch events, key presses, and activity changes so that you have more context on when and why a certain event happened. Click on each timeline to dig into each performance aspect of your app. Learn more.
Android Profiler - Combined timeline view.

CPU Profiler
Memory Profiler
Network Profiler
  • APK Analyzer Improvements - We also updated APK Analyzer with additional enhancements to help you further optimize the size of your APK. Learn more.

To recap, Android Studio 3.0 includes these new major features:

If you are using a previous version of Android Studio, you can upgrade to Android Studio 3.0 today or you can download the update from the official Android Studio Preview download page. As mentioned in this blog, there are some breaking Gradle Plugin API changes to support new features in the IDE. Therefore, you should also update your Android Gradle plugin version to 3.0.0 in your current project to test and validate your app project setup.

We appreciate any feedback on things you like, issues or features you would like to see. If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team ‐ on our Google+ page or on Twitter

Playtime 2017: Find success on Google Play and grow your business with new Play Console features


Posted by Vineet Buch, Director of Product Management, Google Play Apps & Games
Today we kicked off our annual global Playtime series with back-to-back events in Berlin and San Francisco. Over the next month, we’ll be hearing from many app and game developers in cities around the world. It has been an amazing 2017 for developers on Google Play, there are now more than 8 billion new installs per month globally.

To help you continue to take advantage of this opportunity, we're announcing innovations on Google Play and new features in the Play Console. Follow us on Medium where presenters will be posting their strategies, best practices, and examples to help you achieve your business objectives. As Google Play continues to grow rapidly, we want to help people understand our business. That's why we're also publishing the State of Play 2017 report that will be updated annually to help you stay informed about our progress and how we’re helping developers succeed.

Apps and games on Google Play bring your devices to life, whether they're phones and tablets, Wear devices, TVs, Daydream, or Chromebooks like the new Google Pixelbook. We're making it even easier for people to discover and re-engage with great content on the Play Store.



Recognizing the best

We're investing in curation and editorial to showcase the highest quality apps and games we love. The revamped Editors' Choice is now live in 17 countries and Android Excellence recently welcomed new apps and games. We also continue to celebrate and support indie games, recently announcing winners of the Indie Games Festival in San Francisco and opening the second Indie Games Contest in Europe for nominations.



Discovering great games

We've launched an improved home for games with trailers and screenshots of gameplay and two new browse destinations are coming soon, 'New' (for upcoming and trending games) and 'Premium' (for paid games).



Going beyond installs

We’re showing reminders to try games you’ve recently installed and we’re expanding our successful ‘live operations’ banners on the Play Store, telling you about major in-game events in popular games you’ve got on your device. We're also excited to integrate Android Instant Apps with a 'Try it Now' button on store listings. With a single tap, people can jump right into the app experience without installing.

The new games experience on Google Play

The Google Play Console offers tools which help you and your team members at every step of an app’s lifecycle. Use the Play Console to improve app quality, manage releases with confidence, and increase business performance.



Focus on quality

Android vitals were introduced at I/O 2017 and already 65% of top developers are using the dashboard to understand their app's performance. We're adding five new Android vitals and increasing device coverage to help you address issues relating to battery consumption, crashes, and render time. Better performing apps are favored by Google Play's search and discovery algorithms.
We're improving pre-launch reports and enabling them for all developers with no need to opt-in. When you upload an alpha or beta APK, we'll automatically install and test your app on physical, popular devices powered by Firebase Test Lab. The report will tell you about crashes, display issues, security vulnerabilities, and now, performance issues encountered.
When you install a new app, you expect it to open and perform normally. To ensure people installing apps and games from Google Play have a positive experience and developers benefit from being part of a trusted ecosystem, we are introducing a policy to disallow apps which consistently exhibit broken experiences on the majority of devices such as​ crashing,​ closing,​ ​freezing,​ ​or​ ​otherwise​ ​functioning​ ​abnormally. Learn more in the policy center.



Release with confidence

Beta testing lets trusted users try your app or game before it goes to production so you can iterate on your ideas and gather feedback. You can now target alpha and beta tests to specific countries. This allows you to, for example, beta test in a country you're about to launch in, while people in other countries receive your production app. We'll be bringing country-targeting to staged rollouts soon.
We've also made improvements to the device catalog. Over 66% of top developers are using the catalog to ensure they provide a great user experience on the widest range of devices. You can now save device searches and see why a specific device doesn't support your app. Navigate to the device catalog and review the terms of service to get started.



Grow your subscriptions business

At I/O 2017 we announced that both the number of subscribers on Play and the subscriptions business revenue doubled in the preceding year. We're making it easier to setup and manage your subscription service with the Play Billing Library and, soon, new test instruments to simplify testing your flows for successful and unsuccessful payments.
We're helping you acquire and retain more subscribers. You can offer shorter free trials, at a minimum of three days, and we will now enforce one free trial at the app level to reduce the potential for abuse. You can opt-in to receive notifications when someone cancels their subscription and we're making it easier for people to restore a canceled subscription. Account hold is now generally available, where you can block access to your service while we get a user to fix a renewal payment issue. Finally, from January 2018 we're also updating our transaction fee for subscribers who are retained for more than 12 months.



Announcing the Google Play Security Reward Program

At Google, we have long enjoyed a close relationship with the security research community. Today we're introducing the Google Play Security Reward Program to incentivize security research into popular Android apps, including Google's own apps. The program will help us find vulnerabilities and notify developers via security recommendations on how to fix them. We hope to bring the success we have with our other reward programs, and we invite developers and the research community to work together with us on proactively improving Google Play ecosystem's security.



Stay up to date with Google Play news and tips





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Google Play’s Indie Games Contest is back in Europe. Enter now

Posted by Adriana Puchianu, Developer Marketing Google Play

Following last year's success, today we're announcing the second annual Google Play Indie Games Contest in Europe, expanding to more countries and bigger prizes. The contest rewards your passion, creativity and innovation, and provides support to help bring your game to more people.

Prizes for the finalists and winners

  • A trip to London to showcase your game at the Saatchi Gallery
  • Paid digital marketing campaigns worth up to 100,000 EUR
  • Influencer campaigns worth up to 50,000 EUR
  • Premium placements on Google Play
  • Promotion on Android and Google Play marketing channels
  • Tickets to Google I/O 2018 and other top industry events
  • Latest Google hardware
  • Special prizes for the best Unity games


How to enter the contest

If you're based in one of the 28 eligible countries, have 30 or less full time employees, and published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2017, you may now be eligible to enter the contest. If you're planning on publishing a new game soon, you can also enter by submitting a private beta. Check out all the details in the terms and conditions. Submissions close on 31 December 2017.

Up to 20 finalists will showcase their games at an open event at the Saatchi Gallery in London on the 13th February 2018. At the event, the top 10 will be selected by the event attendees and the Google Play team. The top 10 will then pitch to the jury of industry experts, from which the final winner and runners up will be selected.

Come along to the final event

Anyone can register to attend the final showcase event at the Saatchi Gallery in London on 13 February 2018. Play some great indie games and have fun with indie developers,industry experts, and the Google Play team.

Enter now

Visit the contest site to find out more and enter the Indie Games Contest now.

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Fight global hunger with your favorite apps and games on Google Play

Editor's Note: Cross-post from The Keyword. If you’re a developer interested in supporting a fundraising cause within your title, or if you have a social impact app let us know

Posted by Maxim Mai, Partner Development Manager, Google Play

We grow enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Yet 815 million people–one in nine—still go to bed on an empty stomach every day.

On October 16, people from around the world come together for World Food Day, with the goal to promote awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and to advocate for food security and nutritious diets for all.

To raise funds and awareness for this cause, Google Play has joined forces with 12 popular apps and games to create the Apps and Games Against Hunger collection available in North and Latin America.

From now until October 21, 100% of revenue from designated in-app purchases made in Google Play's Apps and Games Against Hunger collection will be donated to World Food Program USA.

World Food Program USA supports the mission of the UN World Food Programme, the leading agency fighting hunger, by mobilizing individuals, lawmakers and businesses in the U.S. to advance the global movement to end hunger, feeding families in need around the world.

These are the 12 global leading apps and games taking part in this special fundraising collection on Google Play:

ShareTheMeal–Help children,

Peak–Brain Games & Training,

Dragon City

Cooking Fever

Animation Throwdown: TQFC

Legendary: Game of Heroes

My Cafe: Recipes & Stories - World Cooking Game

TRANSFORMERS: Forged to Fight

Rodeo Stampede: Sky Zoo Safari

Jurassic World™: The Game

MARVEL Contest of Champions

Sling Kong

Thank you to all our users and developers for supporting World Food Day.

Video Playback with the Google Assistant on Android TV

Posted by Benjamin Baxter, Developer Programs Engineer

How to integrate the Google Assistant in a TV app

Earlier this year, we announced that the Google Assistant will be coming to Android TV and it has arrived. The Google Assistant on Android TV will allow users to discover, launch and control media content, control smart devices like light bulbs, and much more. Your Assistant also understands that you're interacting on a TV, so you'll get the best experience possible while watching your favorite movies and TV shows.

The Google Assistant has a built-in capability to understand commands like "Watch The Incredibles", and media controls, like pause, fast forward, etc. This article will walk through how to integrate the Google Assistant into your application.

There are no new APIs needed to integrate with the Google Assistant. You just need to follow the pattern that the Google Assistant expects from your app. If you want to experiment and play with the APIs and the Assistant, you can download this sample from github.

Discovery

The Google Assistant has made some changes to improve finding information on Android TV.

There are a few ways to expose your content to users through the Google Assisant.

Server side integration. (Requires registration and onboarding)

You need to provide your content catalog to Google. This data is ingested and available to the Google Assistant outside of your app.

This is not specific for Google Assistant. It will also enable other Google services such as search and discovery on Google Search, Google Play, Google Home App, and Android TV.

Client side integration. (Available to all apps)

If your app is already searchable, then you only need to handle the EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK flag, which we go into more detail later. Content will auto-play if the app name is explicitly specified in the search results or if the user is already in your app.

Once your app is searchable, you can test by asking the Assistant or, if you are in a loud area, test quietly by running the following adb command:

adb shell am start -a "android.search.action.GLOBAL_SEARCH" --es query \"The Incredibles\" 

Each app that responds to the search query will have a row displaying their search results. Notice that YouTube and the sample app, Assistant Playback, each receive their own rows for content that match the search query.

For specific searches such as "Play Big Buck Bunny", the Assistant will present a card with a button for each app that exactly matched the search query. In the screenshot below, you can see the sample app, Assistant Playback, shows up as an option to watch Big Buck Bunny.

There are times when the Google Assistant will launch an app directly to start playing content. An example of when this occurs is when content is exclusive to the app; "Play the Netflix original House of Cards".

Launching

When the user selects a video from search results, an intent is sent to your app. The priority order for the intent actions are as follows:

  1. Intent specified in the cursor returned from the search (SUGGEST_COLUMN_INTENT_ACTION).
  2. Intent specific in the searchable.xml file with the searchSuggestIntentAction value.
  3. Defaults to ACTION_VIEW.

In addition, the Assistant will also pass an extra to signal if playback should begin immediately. You app should be able to handle the intent and expect a boolean extra called EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK.

import static android.support.v4.content.IntentCompat.EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK;

public class SearchableActivity extends Activity {

   @Override
   protected void onCreate(@Nullable Bundle savedInstanceState) {
       super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
       if (getIntent() != null) {
           // Retrieve video from getIntent().getData().

           boolean startPlayback = getIntent().getBooleanExtra(EXTRA_START_PLAYBACK, false);
           Log.d(TAG, "Should start playback? " + (startPlayback ? "yes" : "no"));

           if (startPlayback) {
               // Start playback.
               startActivity(...);
           } else {
               // Show details for movie.
               startActivity(...);
           }
       }
       finish();
   }
}

You can test this by modifying and running the following adb command. If your app has a custom action, then replace android.intent.action.VIEW with the custom action. Replace the value of the -d argument with the URI you return from the Assistant's query.

adb shell 'am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW --ez
android.intent.extra.START_PLAYBACK true -d <URI> -f 0x14000000'

The -f argument is the logical OR value from FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK | FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP. This will force your activity to be freshly launched.

For example, in the sample app, you can run the following command to launch playback of "Big Buck Bunny" as if the assistant had launched it.

adb shell 'am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW --ez
android.intent.extra.START_PLAYBACK true -d 
content://com.example.android.assistantplayback/video/2 -n
com.example.android.assistantplayback/.SearchableActivity -f 0x14000000'

The URI above is defined by the value of android:searchSuggestIntentData in searchable.xml (content://com.example.android.assistantplayback/video/) in addition to the value of SearchManager.SUGGEST_COLUMN_INTENT_DATA_ID (2) returned from the query.

Note that intents may be cached by the Google Assistant up to 7 days. Your app could receive a request to play content that is no longer available. The intent handler should be designed to be stateless and not rely on any previously knowledge to handle the deep link. Your app should gracefully handle this situation. One solution would be to show an error message and let the user land on your main activity or another relevant activity.

Playback

If your app implements MediaSession correctly, then your app should work right away with no changes.

The Google Assistant assumes that your app handles transport controls. The Assistant uses the TransportControls to send media commands to your app's MediaSession. Video apps must support the following controls wherever possible:

  • Play/Pause/Stop
  • Previous/Next
  • Rewind/Fast Forward (implemented with seekTo())

You can easily get a hook for these controls by implementing a MediaSession.Callback. If you play videos using PlaybackTransportControlGlue, then all your callback needs to do it sync the glue and the MediaSession. Otherwise use this callback to sync your player.

public class MyMediaSessionCallback extends MediaSessionCompat.Callback {

   private final PlaybackTransportControlGlue<?> mGlue;

   public MediaSessionCallback(PlaybackTransportControlGlue<?> glue) {
       mGlue = glue;
   }

   @Override
   public void onPlay() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onPlay()");
       mGlue.play();
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onPause() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onPause()");
       mGlue.pause();
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onSeekTo(long position) {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSeekTo()");
       mGlue.seekTo(position);
       updateMediaSessionState(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onStop() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onStop()");
       // Handle differently based on your use case.
   }

   @Override
   public void onSkipToNext() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSkipToNext()");
       playAndUpdateMediaSession(...);
   }

   @Override
   public void onSkipToPrevious() {
       Log.d(TAG, "MediaSessionCallback: onSkipToPrevious()");
       playAndUpdateMediaSession(...);
   }
}

Continue learning

Check out the following articles and training documents to continue learning about MediaSession and Video apps.

To play around with the Google Assistant on Android TV, download the sample app and run it on Nvidia Shield running Android M or above.

If you would like to continue the discussion, leave a response or talk to me on Twitter.

Android Excellence: congratulations to the new apps and games for Fall 2017

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Android Excellence recognizes some of the highest quality apps and games on Google Play. With a strong focus on great design, an engaging user experience, and strong app performance, this set of apps and games show the diversity of content on Google Play. Whether you're trying to better manage personal finances with Money Lover or want to experience the thrill of stunt-racing with stunning graphics and real-time challenges in Asphalt 8, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

One new awardee is Bring!, a simple-to-use app that helps manage your grocery lists. Use the existing catalog of items or add your own product photos, then share your lists and message in-app to let others know when it's time to shop. If you're looking for a new game to play, Karma. Incarnation 1. is a "wonderfully weird, puzzle-filled indie adventure game." With beautiful hand-drawn art, you guide the story's hero through moments of humor and challenge to be reunited with his love.

Congratulations to the new Android Excellence apps and games for Fall 2017.

New Android Excellence apps New Android Excellence games
Agoda Asphalt 8
AlarmMon Bubble Witch 3 Saga
Bring! Castle Creeps
CastBox Crab War
Email by Edison Crash of Cars
Eve Dan the Man
Fotor Dawn of Titans
Mint Dream Defense
Money Lover Iron Marines
Onefootball Karma. Incarnation 1.
Robinhood Postknight
Viki Sky Force Reloaded
Zombie Age 3

Explore other great apps and games in the Editors’ Choice section on Google Play.

How useful did you find this blogpost?

Announcing the Winners from the Indie Games Festival in San Francisco

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

At the Google Play Indie Games Festival over the weekend, we welcomed hundreds of attendees to try out and enjoy a diverse range of amazing games from the indie community. The competition was very tough, and in the end, we recognized three winners:

We'd also like to congratulate the rest of the Top 10 developers and all of the finalists who shared their games to make for such a fun and exciting event. Check out the great collection of games on Google Play.

Here are the other seven games that rounded out the Top 10:

The day started with time for attendees to play the 20 finalists' games. They experienced different genres and styles of gameplay and were encouraged to talk with the developers about their work and what it's like to make mobile games for a living. The event brought together kids, adults, gaming enthusiasts and non-gamers, and was a great representation of the fun experiences mobile games create.

In the afternoon, attendees voted for their favorites and the Top 10 moved on to the presentation round. These developers had three minutes to deliver their best pitch to the panel of judges. After the judges voted, results were in and the three winners and seven runners up were named.

If you like indie games and want to keep up with our favorite indie picks, visit the Indie Corner on Google Play.

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Google Play Billing Library 1.0 released

Posted by Neto Marin, Developer Advocate

In June we announced the developer preview for a new Google Play Billing Library. Today, we are pleased to announce the official release of the Play Billing Library 1.0. This library simplifies the development process for Google Play Billing, allowing you to focus your efforts on your app.

Thank you for your valuable feedback and suggestions that helped us reach the 1.0 release. Watch the video below for a quick overview of the library's features.

Before you start

With Play Billing, you can receive payments from users around the world via a payment system they trust and you can take advantage of features and reports in the Play Console to manage and earn more revenue.

If you have never implemented in-app billing in your apps, or you want to know what you can offer using Play Billing Library, read the In-app Billing Overview to familiarize yourself with concepts and terminology that make it easier for you to implement In-app Billing using the Play Billing Library.

Getting started

Play Billing Library is available through Maven repository, and adding Play Billing Library to your project is simple as adding the following dependency into your app's build.gradle file:

dependencies {
    ...
    compile 'com.android.billingclient:billing:1.0'
}

The Play Billing Library 1.0 automatically adds the com.android.vending.BILLING permission to your APK. This means you no longer need to manually include it in your application module's manifest.

BillingClient and PurchasesUpdatedListener

These classes are the most important pieces when integrating the library into your Android app. The BillingClient is the bridge between your app and Google Play. You will use it for listing available products, starting the billing flow for in-app products or subscriptions (i.e. opening the payment interface), getting user purchases, and creating or modifying subscriptions.

When creating your BillingClient instance, you'll need to set a PurchasesUpdatedListener. This allows your app to receive updates from the In-app Billing API, including transaction results after the billing flow, as well as purchases completed outside of your app, e.g. user redeemed a Promo Code or bought a product on another device.

The following code demonstrates how you could override the )">onPurchasesUpdated() method of your PurchasesUpdatedListener:

@Override
void onPurchasesUpdated(@BillingResponse int responseCode,
        List<Purchase> purchases) {
    if (responseCode == BillingResponse.OK
            && purchases != null) {
        for (Purchase purchase : purchases) {
            handlePurchase(purchase);
        }
    } else if (responseCode == BillingResponse.USER_CANCELED) {
        // Handle an error caused by a user canceling the purchase flow.
    } else {
        // Handle any other error codes.
    }
}

You can implement the PurchasesUpdatedListener in your Activity or in any other class you want, according to your app's architecture. And here's the code for creating the BillingClient instance, and setting the PurchasesUpdatedListener:

mBillingClient = BillingClient.newBuilder(mContext)
                              .setListener(mPurchasesUpdatedListener)
                              .build();

Listing and selling products

To sell products in your app, first, you need to add them using the Play Console. For more details about how to add in-app products see the page Administering In-app Billing.

Attention: If this is a brand new app, before adding the products you must publish it to the alpha or beta distribution channel. For more information, see Draft Apps are No Longer Supported.

To get a list of product details with prices for current user, call , com.android.billingclient.api.SkuDetailsResponseListener)">querySkuDetailsAsync(). You must also specify a listener which implements the SkuDetailsResponseListener interface. You can then override the onSkuDetailsResponse() method which notifies the listener when the query finishes, as illustrated by the following sample code:

List<String> skuList = new ArrayList<> ();
skuList.add("premiumUpgrade");
skuList.add("gas");
mBillingClient.querySkuDetailsAsync(SkuType.INAPP , skuList,
    new SkuDetailsResponseListener() {
        @Override
        public void onSkuDetailsResponse(SkuDetailsResult result) {
            // Process the result.
        }
    })

After the user chooses a product to buy, you'll need to start the billing flow and handle the transaction result. To start a purchase request from your app, call the launchBillingFlow() method on the Play Billing Library client. You must call the launchBillingFlow() method (and all the other methods from BillingClient) from the UI thread.

The launchBillingFlow() method needs BillingFlowParams object that contains relevant data for completing the purchase, such as the product ID of the item to purchase and the product type (in this case, SkuType.INAPP). To get an instance of BillingFlowParams, construct it with newBuilder() method:

BillingFlowParams.Builder builder = BillingFlowParams
                                       .newBuilder()
                                       .setSku(skuId).setType(SkuType.INAPP);
int responseCode = mBillingClient.launchBillingFlow(builder.build());

As we mentioned earlier, the transaction result will be sent to the )">onPurchasesUpdated() method. For details how to process the data received on )">onPurchasesUpdated() and how to handle a purchase, check the section Purchase an item in our training guide.

Consuming products

By default, all in-app products are managed. It means that Google Play tracks the product ownership and doesn't allow to buy multiple times. To be able to buy a product again, you must consume the product before it becomes available again.

It's common to implement consumption for in-app products which users may want to purchase multiple times, such as in-game currency or equipment. You typically don't want to implement consumption for in-app products that user purchases once and provide a permanent effect, such as a premium upgrade.

To consume a product, call the consumeAsync() method on the Play Billing Library client and pass in the purchaseToken String value returned when you made the purchase. The consumption result is returned via onConsumeResponse() method of the ConsumeResponseListener interface, that you must override to handle the consumption result.

The following example illustrates consuming a product using the associated purchaseToken:

ConsumeResponseListener listener = new ConsumeResponseListener() {
    @Override
    public void onConsumeResponse(@BillingResponse int responseCode, 
                                  String outToken) {
        if (responseCode == BillingResponse.OK) {
            // Handle the success of the consume operation.
            // For example, increase the number of player's coins,
            // that provide temporary benefits
        }
    }
};
mBillingClient.consumeAsync(purchaseToken, listener);

Sample updated: Trivial Drive V2

With a new library comes a refreshed sample! To help you to understand how to implement in-app billing in your app using the new Play Billing Library, we've rewritten the Trivial Drive sample from the ground up.

Since we released Trivial Drive back in 2013, many new features, devices, and platforms have been added to the Android ecosystem. To reflect this evolution, the Trivial Drive v2 sample now runs on Android TV and Android Wear.

What's next?

Before integrating within your app, you can try the Play Billing Library with the codelab published during Google I/O 2017: Buy and Subscribe: Monetize your app on Google Play.

In this codelab, you will start with a simplified version of Trivial Drive V2 that lets users to "drive" and then you will add in-app billing to it. You'll learn how to integrate purchases and subscriptions as well as the best practices for developing reliable apps that handle purchases.

Get more info on the Play Billing Library and the official reference for classes and methods documentation on the Android Developers website. For a step-by-step guide to implementing the Play Billing Library in your project, visit the library's training class.

We still want your feedback

If you have issues or questions, file a bug report on the Google Issue Tracker, and for issues and suggestions on the sample (like a bug or a new feature), contact us on the Trivial Drive issues page.

For technical questions on implementation, library usage, and best practices, you can use the tags google-play and play-billing-library on StackOverflow or visit the communities on our Google+ page.