Tag Archives: Google Play

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.

Fight global hunger with your favorite apps and games on 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 percent 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.

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Google Play and Movies Anywhere bring your movies together

Whether you're looking for a Halloween classic or the latest action thriller, we want you to access that movie, no matter what platform or device you're using. You can already find the Google Play Movies & TV app on Android devices, on Apple’s App Store, Roku’s Channel Store, and many top Smart TVs by Samsung, LG and Vizio, not to mention Chromecast and Android TV. And with Family Library, everyone in the family can share purchased movies at no additional fee, even if they’re using a different device.

Today, we’re taking it one step further by adding support for Movies Anywhere, allowing you to bring together your movies from Google Play, Amazon, iTunes and Vudu into a single library that you can access on any of your devices, regardless of where the purchase was originally made. Available first in the US, just connect your accounts using the new Movies Anywhere app or on the Movies Anywhere website, and all the movies you’ve purchased from Disney, Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. will be available for you to watch on Google Play.

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Even better, when you link two or more accounts through Movies Anywhere, you’ll get these blockbuster movies for free:

Done linking your accounts? Now all your movies are together in one place—enjoy the show.

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.

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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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SafetyNet Verify Apps API, Google Play Protect at your fingertips

Posted by William Luh, Software Engineer

Google Play Protect, which includes the Verify Apps security feature, helps keep users safe from harmful apps. Google Play Protect is available on all Android devices with Google Play installed and provides users with peace of mind and insights into the state of their device security.

App developers can get similar security insights into the installed apps landscape on user devices from the SafetyNet Verify Apps API. This new suite of APIs lets developers determine whether a user's device is protected by Google Play Protect, encourage users not already using Google Play Protect to enable it, and identify any known potentially harmful apps (PHAs) that are installed on the device.

These APIs are especially useful for developers of apps that may be impacted by installed PHAs on the same device as their app. Determining that Google Play Protect is enabled with isVerifyAppsEnabled() gives developers additional assurance that a device is more likely to be clean. If a device doesn't have Google Play Protect enabled, developers can request that the user enable Google Play Protect with enableVerifyApps(). With Google Play Protect enabled, developers can use the listHarmfulApps() method to determine whether there are any potentially harmful apps installed on a user's device. This easy-to-use suite of features does not require API keys and requesting quota.

Enterprise-focused apps in particular may benefit from using the Verify Apps API. Enterprise apps are designed to safeguard a company's data from the outside world. These apps often implement strict enforcements, such as ensuring the mobile device is approved by the enterprise and requiring a strong password for lockscreens. If any of the criteria are not satisfied, the enterprise may revoke credentials and remove sensitive data from the device. Having a mechanism to enforce Google Play Protect and scan for PHAs is another tool to help enterprise app developers keep enterprise data and devices safe.

For better protection, developers should use the attestation API along with the new Verify Apps API. Use the attestation API first to establish that the device has not been modified from a known state. Once the Android system can be trusted, the results from the Verify Apps API can be trusted. Existing attestation API users may find additional benefits in using the Verify Apps API as it may be able to detect on-device PHAs. In general, using multiple signals for anti-abuse detection is encouraged.

To learn how to use this API in your app, check out the developer docs.

Helping indie developers get discovered on Google Play

Posted by Adriana Puchianu, Google Play Developer Marketing

There are increasing growth opportunities for indie game developers, but being one can still feel daunting in today's crowded gaming industry. We've been working hard to help indie developers find an audience and to recognize them for their creativity and innovation. We launched the Indie Corner as a destination for exciting new games along with longstanding indie masterpieces. Since launch, more than 380 games have been featured. Earlier this year, we launched Android Excellence which showcases apps and games that deliver incredible user experiences on Android, while providing another opportunity to be discovered on Google Play.

We've also held several indie games contests across the globe, giving indies the chance to showcase their games and find new audiences. In April, we selected the winner of the second Indie Games Festival in South Korea and we recently announced the top 20 finalists of this year's San Francisco event. Come and see the finalists in person on September 23rd, it's free to attend and open to the public. Soon we'll be bringing back the second Indie Games Contest in Europe too.

Watch François Alliot, the developer of Reigns, an indie game showcased in Android Excellence and the winner of last year's Indie Games Contest in Europe, share how he built a successful games business in the video below.

And, finally, check out our recent Q&A with Spry Fox, makers of the popular game Alphabear, to learn more about what it’s like to be an indie game developer.

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Optimize your Android apps for Chromebooks

Posted by Cheryl Lindo Jones, Mobile App Solutions Consultant, Google Play

As more Chromebooks are enabled with Google Play, now is a great time to optimize your Android app for Chromebooks to reach a larger audience. The changes made to optimize for large screens will benefit mobile devices that are able to project to desktop monitors, like the Samsung Galaxy S8. The current list of Chromebooks that can access the Play Store continues to grow.

There are several differences to consider when optimizing your Android app or game for Chromebooks:

  • Larger screen sizes and higher resolutions
  • Multi-window and resizable-window support
  • Different hardware input methods: keyboard, trackpad, mouse, stylus
  • Convertible Chromebooks enabling use in laptop and tablet modes

Chromebook users can change screen resolutions, switch between various input methods, and convert from laptop to tablet mode at any time, so Android apps and games should handle all of these situations gracefully.

Discoverability on Google Play

If Android apps or games require hardware not available in a Chromebook (like cellular capability or GPS), those titles will not show up on Google Play for Chromebook users, similar to Play on Android tablets. Developers should maximize discoverability on Google Play by doing the following:

Set requested permissions and uses-features in the manifest to ensure compatibility with Chromebooks. Not all Chromebooks will have touchscreens, GPS, or rear-facing cameras which are typical for smartphones. Update the manifest so that sensors and hardware not commonly found on Chromebooks are not required. Example:

<uses-feature android:name="android.hardware.touchscreen"
    android:required="false" />

Additionally, to educate Chromebook users on any Chrome OS-specific features that have been implemented, for example supporting additional input methods like keyboard, trackpad, and stylus, or supporting large, high-resolution screens with a responsive layout, developers should update the app description on Google Play. It would also be useful to provide screenshots showcasing how well the app or game works on the larger screen, or how the title works on a Chromebook specifically.

Optimizing functionality

While most apps and games already work fairly well on Chromebooks without any changes, it is still a good idea to explore how to provide an optimized, consistent experience for Chromebook users.

Large screens and resizable windows

Chromebook users will be more inclined to multitask, opening multiple apps and/or games at once, taking advantage of the screen size, and operating in a manner consistent with a desktop or laptop form factor. Unlike on Android phones, they can also change the screen resolution to fit more onto the screen, or enlarge the fonts, UI, and graphics, if needed. Multi-window support and fully resizable window support are key for this usage. Graphics, fonts, layout, and touch targets should be adjusted accordingly as the screen resolution and orientation changes.

It is also important to note that just because an app or game window is not in focus, it does not mean that it is not visible. For example, if a video app is open in an inactive window, it should continue to play content "in the background" because it could still be visible along side another app window. To fully support multi-window usage in this case, pause video in onStop(), and resume in onStart().

Targeting Android N (API level 24 and higher) will signal to the Chrome OS window manager that compatibility restrictions should not be used. This allows for more flexibility and control on the developer's part for supporting window resizing.

The system will handle window management best if Android N is targeted, but for pre-N API support, windows can be toggled between either a default size selected at app launch, or a full-screen mode with either the window bar visible, or with window UI hidden in immersive full-screen mode.

When handling different windowing modes, it is important to know that the window area for an app or game will be offset by the presence or absence of the window control bar. The app should not assume that the activity will always be at (0,0) in the window. Adjust the layout and touch targets accordingly. It is somewhat common to see apps or games become unresponsive after a window resize or orientation change because it did not gracefully handle the presence of the window control bar, or the higher resolution settings of a Chromebook screen.

Orientation support

Because of the laptop form-factor, Chromebook users expect landscape to be the default orientation for apps on Chromebooks. However, Android apps often assume that portrait is the default orientation to support, due to the typical way users interact with their smartphones. To offer flexibility to users, it is highly recommended to support both portrait and landscape orientations. Some Chromebooks are convertible, so users can change between laptop and tablet modes at will, switching between portrait and landscape orientation, according to what feels comfortable for a given use case.

Most importantly, if possible, do not require a restart if the orientation or window size changes. If a user is in the process of filling out a form, creating or editing some content, or in the middle of a level in a game and loses progress because of an window change -- intentional or not -- it would be a poor user experience.

Developers can monitor window configuration changes using onConfigurationChanged() and dynamically handle those changes by adding this line to the activity's manifest:

android:configChanges="screenSize|smallestScreenSize|orientation|screenLayout".

If it is absolutely necessary to require a restart upon changes to the window, at least restore state by using the onSaveInstanceState() method so that work or state is not lost.

Additionally, it is important to be consistent with the app's orientation as the user is navigating through activities. Currently, the system forces Android apps to follow the orientation of the root activity to help maintain consistency. However, this may result in a situation where, perhaps an app starts out in landscape orientation, and a login screen normally laid out for portrait orientation pops up, and now does not look optimized due to an unresponsive layout. Also, it is still possible to have a case where a springboard activity starts out in an orientation that is different from the primary orientation of the app. Please keep these possible scenarios in mind when designing the layout for activities.

Finally, developers should be aware of the differences in handling cameras and orientation on Chromebooks. Obviously, Android phones have front-facing and rear-facing cameras that are situated at the top of a portrait-oriented screen. The front-facing cameras on Chromebooks are situated at the top of a landscape-oriented screen. Many Chromebooks do not have rear-facing cameras. If an app requires a camera, it would be best to use android.hardware.camera.any to access the front-facing camera, if a rear-facing one is not available. Again, developers should target Android N and, if possible allow the app to be resizable so that the system can take care of properly orienting the camera previews.

Supporting multiple input methods

Chromebook users are used to interacting with webpages and apps using a keyboard and trackpad. Effectively supporting these two input methods for an Android app means:

  • Supporting hotkeys for commands that a desktop app user may be familiar with
  • Using arrow and tab keys and a trackpad to navigate an activity
  • Allowing hover and opening context menus
  • Supporting other trackpad gestures to enhance productivity in desktop/laptop mode

Something as simple as hitting return to send text in a messaging app, or allowing a user to navigate fields by hitting the tab key will make an app feel more efficient and cohesive on a Chromebook.

While there is a compatibility mode for Chrome OS to emulate touchscreen scrolling and other touch events, it would be best to optimize an Android app by declaring

<uses-feature
    android:name="android.hardware.type.pc"
    android:required="false" />

in the manifest to disable compatibility mode in order to further define custom support for keyboard and trackpad.

Similarly, the system can guess at giving focus to the right views when navigating via the tab or arrow keys on a keyboard. But for best performance, specify how keyboard navigation should be handled in the activity manifest using the android:nextFocusForward attribute for tab navigation, and android:nextFocusUp, android:nextFocusDown, android:nextFocusLeft, android:nextFocusRight attributes for arrow key navigation.

On a related note, some Chromebooks do not have touchscreens, therefore well-optimized Android apps on Chrome should not assume the user can perform typical swipe and multi-touch tap gestures to navigate through an app or game. If primary functionality cannot be performed using only a keyboard or trackpad, the user experience will be severely impacted on non-touchscreen Chromebooks. Try to "translate" existing touchscreen tap and swipe gestures into something that can be easily done on a trackpad or using the keyboard.

Newer Chromebooks are gaining stylus support, allowing for richer interactions for sketchbook and note-taking apps, photo editors, games, and more. Developers are encouraged to use available APIs to support pressure-sensitivity, tilt, and eraser inputs. To enable users to comfortably rest their hands on the screen while writing, drawing, or playing games with the stylus, support palm rejection. The system will attempt to ignore input from a user's resting palm, but in case such erroneous touch events are registered, Android apps should gracefully handle ACTION_CANCEL events to erase the erroneous inputs.

By supporting all of these additional input methods, users will be able to take full advantage of the laptop mode for Chromebooks to work more efficiently, or to be more creative.

Learn more

While a lot was covered in this article, we have additional resources for you to learn more about optimizing their apps and games for Chromebooks. Read our Medium post with tips to get your app running great on Chromebooks and watch our session at Google I/O 2017, Android Apps for Chromebooks and Large Screen Devices. There is also training material on the Android developers website for building apps for Chrome OS. If you have any questions, reach out to the Android developer community and post with the hashtag #AndroidAppsOnChromeOS.

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