Tag Archives: Google Play

Indie Games Accelerator – Applications open for class of 2019

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager

Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play. Our team of program mentors had an amazing time coaching some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. We’re very encouraged by the positive feedback we received for the program and are excited to bring it back in 2019.

Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re happy to announce that we are expanding the program to developers from select countries* in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Successful participants will be invited to attend two gaming bootcamps, all-expenses-paid at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.

Find out more about the program and apply to be a part of it.

* The competition is open to developers from the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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Indie Games Accelerator – Applications open for class of 2019

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager

Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play. Our team of program mentors had an amazing time coaching some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. We’re very encouraged by the positive feedback we received for the program and are excited to bring it back in 2019.

Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re happy to announce that we are expanding the program to developers from select countries* in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Successful participants will be invited to attend two gaming bootcamps, all-expenses-paid at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.

Find out more about the program and apply to be a part of it.

* The competition is open to developers from the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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Improving the update process with your feedback

Posted by Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Android & Google Play

Thank you for all the feedback about updates we’ve been making to Android APIs and Play policies. We’ve heard your requests for improvement as well as some frustration. We want to explain how and why we’re making these changes, and how we are using your feedback to improve the way we roll out these updates and communicate with the developer community.

From the outset, we’ve sought to craft Android as a completely open source operating system. We’ve also worked hard to ensure backwards compatibility and API consistency, out of respect and a desire to make the platform as easy to use as possible. This developer-centric approach and openness have been cornerstones of Android’s philosophy from the beginning. These are not changing.

But as the platform grows and evolves, each decision we make comes with trade-offs. Everyday, billions of people around the world use the apps you’ve built to do incredible things like connect with loved ones, manage finances or communicate with doctors. Users want more control and transparency over how their personal information is being used by applications, and expect Android, as the platform, to do more to provide that control and transparency. This responsibility to users is something we have always taken seriously, and that’s why we are taking a comprehensive look at how our platform and policies reflect that commitment.

Taking a closer look at permissions

Earlier this year, we introduced Android Q Beta with dozens of features and improvements that provide users with more transparency and control, further securing their personal data. Along with the system-level changes introduced in Q, we’re also reviewing and refining our Play Developer policies to further enhance user privacy. For years, we’ve required developers to disclose the collection and use of personal data so users can understand how their information is being used, and to only use the permissions that are really needed to deliver the features and services of the app. As part of Project Strobe, which we announced last October, we are rolling out specific guidance for each of the Android runtime permissions, and we are holding apps developed by Google to the same standard.

We started with changes to SMS and Call Log permissions late last year. To better protect sensitive user data available through these permissions, we restricted access to select use cases, such as when an app has been chosen by the user to be their default text message app. We understood that some app features using this data would no longer be allowed -- including features that many users found valuable -- and worked with you on alternatives where possible. As a result, today, the number of apps with access to this sensitive information has decreased by more than 98%. The vast majority of these were able to switch to an alternative or eliminate minor functionality.

Learning from developer feedback

While these changes are critical to help strengthen privacy protections for our users, we’re sensitive that evolving the platform can lead to substantial work for developers. We have a responsibility to make sure you have the details and resources you need to understand and implement changes, and we know there is room for improvement there. For example, when we began enforcing these new SMS and Call Log policies, many of you expressed frustration about the decision making process. There were a number of common themes that we wanted to share:

  • Permission declaration form. Some of you felt that the use case descriptions in our permissions declaration form were unclear and hard to complete correctly.
  • Timeliness in review and appeals process. For some of you, it took too long to get answers on whether apps met policy requirements. Others felt that the process for appealing a decision was too long and cumbersome.
  • Getting information from a ‘real human’ at Google. Some of you came away with the impression that our decisions were automated, without human involvement. And others felt that it was hard to reach a person who could help provide details about our policy decisions and about new use cases proposed by developers.

In response, we are improving and clarifying the process, including:

  • More detailed communication. We are revising the emails we send for policy rejections and appeals to better explain with more details, including why a decision was made, how you can modify your app to comply, and how to appeal.
  • Evaluations and appeals. We will include appeal instructions in all enforcement emails and the appeal form with details can also be found in our Help Center. We will also be reviewing and improving our appeals process.
  • Growing the team. Humans, not bots, already review every sensitive decision but we are improving our communication so responses are more personalized -- and we are expanding our team to help accelerate the appeals process.

Evaluating developer accounts

We have also heard concerns from some developers whose accounts have been blocked from distributing apps through Google Play. While the vast majority of developers on Android are well-meaning, some accounts are suspended for serious, repeated violation of policies that protect our shared users. Bad-faith developers often try to get around this by opening new accounts or using other developers’ existing accounts to publish unsafe apps. While we strive for openness wherever possible, in order to prevent bad-faith developers from gaming our systems and putting our users at risk in the process, we can’t always share the reasons we’ve concluded that one account is related to another.

While 99%+ of these suspension decisions are correct, we are also very sensitive to how impactful it can be if your account has been disabled in error. You can immediately appeal any enforcement, and each appeal is carefully reviewed by a person on our team. During the appeals process, we will reinstate your account if we discover that an error has been made.

Separately, we will soon be taking more time (days, not weeks) to review apps by developers that don’t yet have a track record with us. This will allow us to do more thorough checks before approving apps to go live in the store and will help us make even fewer inaccurate decisions on developer accounts.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership and for continuing to make Android an incredibly helpful platform for billions of people around the world.

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Want to Change the Game? Design your own with Google Play

Calling all future game creators and designers! We’re looking for teens to share their game idea and vision for the future of gaming for a chance to see their game come to life on Google Play.

Today, we’re opening up our second annual Change the Game Design Challenge with Girls Make Games to inspire teens to consider a career in gaming—and celebrate women as players and creators. The Grand Prize Winner will win a $15,000 college scholarship and $15,000 for their school or community center’s technology program.

The top five finalists will serve as the creative directors for their game, teaming up with Girls Make Games and game industry veterans to develop and launch their game on Google Play. They’ll also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to showcase their game design and meet the mentors who will be helping to build their game. The finalists will join a celebration of women in gaming, get a VIP tour of Google Los Angeles, a scholarship to attend Girls Make Games Summer Camp and more.

The contest is open to U.S. residents only. For more information, including submission guidelines and how to enter, please visit g.co/ctgdesignchallenge. Looking for inspiration on what kind of game to create? Check out what last year’s finalists dreamed up.

Optimize your subscriptions with new insights in the Play Console

Posted by Daniel Schramm, Product Manager, Google Play

Since launching on Google Play nearly 7 years ago, subscriptions have proven to be an essential element in creating sustainable mobile app businesses; 89 of the top 100 highest grossing apps on Google Play in the US now provide subscription products. As the market matures, it is becoming increasingly important for subscription developers to optimize both subscriber conversion and retention in order to maintain growth. To help you do that, we're rolling out new insights available directly in the Play Console.

Subscription retention report

Example subscription retention report data in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

The recently updated subscription retention report shows how well you are retaining subscribers, along with how well subscribers convert from free trial, introductory price, and first to second payment.

You can configure two cohorts based on SKU, country, and subscription start date. This is particularly useful for evaluating the success of A/B tests; for example, to determine if changing the duration of a free trial has an impact on free trial conversion.

Example free trial conversion data in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Cancellation survey results

Retaining your existing subscribers is just as important as acquiring new subscribers, so we have updated the subscription cancellations report to give more insight into voluntary and involuntary cancellations.

The launch of the subscriptions center last year introduced a cancellation survey allowing users to give developers feedback as to why they were cancelling, with results available through the Google Play Developer API. To make these results easier to access and monitor, we now surface daily aggregates directly within the Play Console, along with the ability to download written responses in a CSV.

Example cancellation survey responses in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Recover more users

Involuntary cancellations, which occur when a user's form of payment fails, account for over a third of all cancellations. The new recovery performance cards in the cancellation report helps you understand how effectively you are recovering users with grace period and account hold, and the day the subscriptions were recovered to help you evaluate the effectiveness of recovery messaging.

Example account hold performance recovery card in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Make sure you've set up grace periods and account hold for your apps! We've seen that developers who use both grace period and account hold see more than a 3x increase in decline recovery rate from 10% to 33%. Discover more information on grace period and account hold.

You can find the subscription retention and cancellation reports linked from the bottom of the Subscriptions page, in the Financial reports section of the Play Console. If you don't have access to financial reporting, ask your developer account owner for permission to view financial data.

Example account hold performance recovery card in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

We hope this new reporting gives you new insights to optimize your subscription business, and we look forward to sharing more with you at Google I/O in May.

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Google Play Instant feature plugin deprecation

Posted by Miguel Montemayor and Diana García Ríos

As of Android Gradle plugin 3.4.0 (included in Android Studio 3.4), we are starting the deprecation process of the feature plugin (com.android.feature) and instant app plugin (com.android.instantapp) as a way to build your instant app. When building your app, you will receive a warning flagging com.android.feature as deprecated. If you have an existing instant app built with the feature plugin, migrate your existing app to an instant-enabled app bundle as soon as possible.

What is changing?

Last year, we introduced Android App Bundles—a new way to build and publish your Android apps. App bundles simplify delivering optimized APKs, including instant delivery, by unifying uploads into a single artifact. Google Play handles distribution by serving the correct APKs to your instant and installed app users—this is called Dynamic Delivery. To learn more about app bundles, visit the documentation site.

Dynamic Delivery is based on the idea of shipping dynamic features (com.android.dynamic-feature) to app users when they need them and only if they need them. There are currently three delivery types, based on the different values you will give the dist:module tag attributes on the dynamic feature module’s manifest file:

    <dist:module
       dist:instant="..."
       dist:onDemand="..."
       ...
    </dist:module>
dist:instant="false" dist:instant="true"
dist:onDemand="false" Dynamic feature delivered at install time Dynamic feature delivered instantly and at install time
dist:onDemand="true" Dynamic feature delivered on demand (beta) N/A

By migrating your instant app to an instant-enabled app bundle with dynamic features, you will be ready to leverage the full power of this new paradigm and you will be able to simplify your app’s modular design.

The migration

Previously, instant apps required creating a feature module that acted as the base module for your app. This base feature module contained the shared code and resources for both your instant and installed application. The rest of your codebase was comprised of:

  • multiple non-base feature modules, which contained the instant app entry points,
  • an application module, which contained the code and activities required only for your main installed application, and
  • an instant app module, which represented the instant app and mapped its dependencies.

With the new app bundle implementation, your base feature module takes the role as your app module (com.android.application), hosting the code and resources common to all features (instant and installed). You organize additional, modular features as one of three types of dynamic feature modules, based on when you want to deliver them to the user. The instant app module disappears, since the dist:instant attributes in the manifest are enough to identify which features will be included as part of the instant experience.

If you don’t have an instant experience added to your app and you’d like to create one, use Android Studio 3.3+ to create an instant-enabled app bundle.

Changes to the Google Play Developer API

Posted by Vlad Radu, Product Manager and Nicholas Lativy, Software Engineer

The Google Play Developer API allows you to automate your in-app billing and app distribution workflows. At Google I/O '18, we introduced version 3 of the API, which allows you to transactionally start, manage, and halt staged releases on all tracks, through production, open testing, closed testing (including the new additional testing tracks), and internal testing.

Updating from versions 1 and 2 to the latest version 3

In addition to these new features, version 3 also supports all the functionality of previous versions, improving and simplifying how you manage workflows. Starting December 1, 2019, versions 1 and 2 of the Google Play Developer API will no longer be available so you need to update to version 3 ahead of this date.

Migrating to version 3

If you use the Google Play API client libraries (available for Java, Python, and other popular languages), we recommend upgrading to their latest versions, which already support version 3 of the API. In many cases, changing the version of the client library should be all that is necessary. However, you may also need to update specific code references to the version of the API in use - see examples in our samples repository.

Many third-party plugins are already using version 3 of the API. If you use a plugin that does not support version 3 you will need to contact the maintainer. You will start seeing warnings in the Google Play Console in mid-May if we detect that your app is still using version 1 and version 2 endpoints.

For version 1 users

If you currently use version 1 of the API, you may also need to link your API project to the Google Console before converting to version 3. Learn more about this process.

Going forward

We hope you benefit from the new features of the Google Play Developer Publishing API and are looking forward to your continued feedback to help us improve the publishing experience on Google Play.

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The latest Android App Bundle updates including the additional languages API

Posted by Wojtek Kaliciński, Developer Advocate, Android

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

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

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


Additional languages API

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

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

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

Get a list of installed languages

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

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

Requesting additional languages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instant-enabled App Bundle

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

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

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

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

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

Opt in to app signing by Google Play

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

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

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

Read more about the new flow.

Permanent uninstallation of install time modules

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

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

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

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

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Introducing a new Google Play app and game icon specification


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

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


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

What exactly is changing?

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

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

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

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

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

Indie Games Showcase

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

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

How to enter the competition

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

Indie Games Accelerator

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

Mobile Developer Day at GDC

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

Developer Days

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

Academy for App Success

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

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

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


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