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Google Play Best of 2019 Winners

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2019 took us to distant worlds and brought us together with new apps, games, movies and books. We grooved to the rhythms of Andhadhun, answered the Call of Duty, and read books of hope – it was an amazing year from beginning to Endgame. Now, we’re celebrating the year’s top content across Google Play.


You rocked the vote to crown your favorites… and the votes are in: Your 2019 Users’ Choice winners are Spotify, Call of Duty: Mobile, Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame, and Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope


Explore the lists below to see what the Google Play editors loved and what topped the charts in Indian entertainment this year. And check out the full lists in the Best of 2019 section of the Play Store.



Mobile Magic 

Screen Time


Literary Legends 

Top-Selling Ebooks of 2019


Top-Selling Audiobooks of 2019


Posted by Brett Bouchard, Global Head of Editorial, Google Play

Google Play’s Best of 2019

2019 took us to distant worlds and brought us together with new apps, games, movies and books. We answered the Call of Duty, made photos move, and went back to Gilead—it was an amazing year from beginning to Endgame. Now, we’re celebrating the year’s top content across Google Play.

You rocked the vote to crown your favorites … and the votes are in: Your 2019 Users’ Choice winners are Call of Duty: Mobile, Video Editor - Glitch Video Effects, Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Explore the lists below to see what the Google Play editors loved and what topped the charts in U.S. entertainment this year. And check out the full lists in the Best of 2019 section of the Play Store.

Creating stargazing apps and the perfect loaf

Editor’s note: Maurizio Leo is a software engineer-turned baker, and co-founder and developer of SkyView, a stargazing app that uses your camera to identify objects in the sky. As a part of our I Make Apps series, we talk to him about developing his app, as well as his baking side hustle. 

1. Tell us about SkyView. How is it useful to people? 

SkyView is an augmented reality app we created to educate and inspire others to explore the universe no matter their location, night and day. There's a magical and exciting universe out there to explore, and SkyView's aim has always been to make exploring the sky as effortless and approachable as possible. Just point your device up to the sky and discover a new star, find a new planet, or spot the International Space Station streaking across the sky.

2. How did you get into baking?  

I grew up in an Italian household that always emphasized food made by hand. And while I went into computer science because of my curiosity surrounding computers and software, I think cooking and baking has always been a big part of my life. About ten years ago, when I was given a book on baking sourdough as a gift, I was immediately taken by the marriage of craft and science needed to bake a loaf of bread. The precision behind baking bread spoke to me, and the science behind fermentation piqued my logical side. After creating my first sourdough starter from scratch and baking my first loaf, I became obsessed.

3. How do you juggle baking and making apps in your daily life as a developer?

Working from my home office on our app SkyView allows me time between writing lines of code to hop into the kitchen and weigh, mix, or shape a batch of bread dough. It gives me an opportunity to relax my mind for a few moments or perhaps explore a possible solution, much like taking a walk would offer. Sometimes some of my best code breakthroughs were achieved when I was in the kitchen with my hands covered in flour and water! In the end, being an app developer who works at home has allowed me to simultaneously work on software I'm passionate about and explore my dedication to the craft of baking bread.

4. What are the similarities and differences between baking bread and making apps? 

At first glance, writing apps and baking sourdough bread seem a world apart—but they have more in common than one might initially think. Both pursuits benefit from a sound plan, precision, adjustment to changing inputs, and iterative improvement. Software certainly is a more analytical and tactical pursuit, while working with something tangible like bread dough satisfies more of my artistic side. For me, these two offer a delicate balance, where software lets me build imaginative structures and baking bread fulfills my desire to slow down and work with my hands. With naturally leavened bread, time is the best ingredient.

5. What has been your experience creating apps on Android & distributing them through Google Play?

We've been working with Android since the beginning (that's over ten years!), and it has always provided us with the right set of tools to help bring our ideas to reality. With modern language constructs, good editing, debugging and reporting tools, and a thoughtful testing framework, we've been able to update and release SkyView with more functionality to delight our users. And, Google Play allows us to quickly deploy our app, reaching millions of people, and keep with our mission to get as many excited about space as we are.

Source: Android


Finalists from our Design Challenge are Changing the Game

Research shows that while half of all mobile game players are women, only 23 percent of them think there’s equal treatment and opportunity in the industry. In order to promote women as players and creators, Change The Game empowers the next generation of game makers so all players can feel represented and engaged. 

Our annual Design Challenge encouraged teenagers nationwide to design an original game. We received over 1,500 entries and selected five finalists, who worked with Girls Make Games. These winning games are now available for download on Google Play.

Read more about our finalists, their vision, and the inspiration behind their games below:

Grand prize winner: Anna, 18 years old, from New York.

Anna was inspired to create Brightlove when she noticed a lack of active intervention by her peers in situations when someone was being bullied or hurt. Brightlove encourages players to be kind and to take action, rather than being mere bystanders. A refreshing contrast to the violence that often permeates mobile games, Brightlove encourages positive actions and rewards kindness.
Bright Love

Bridgette, 16 years old, from Washington.

Bridgette had been toying with the idea ofLune for quite some time, but Change The Game “gave her the push she needed to bring her thoughts to life.” She wanted to create a game that combined both entertaining mechanics while also telling a powerful narrative. Lune takes place in a distant future where humanity has achieved deep space travel and created sentient AI. The player is prompted to make choices that will dictate her performance, battle options, and ultimately decide her fate.

Lune

Grace, 15 years old, from Texas.

Grace’s interest in game design comes from an unorthodox place. She wasn’t a big gamer growing up. But when she discovered YouTube, she also discovered creators who worked on game development. This inspired her to create games of her own. This particular game idea came to her when she was walking her dog, a miniature poodle named Lucy. Good Dogs Bring Joy flips the virtual pet game idea on its head. The user plays as a dog named Alex who wants to help their owner to collect information about the world. What will they sniff up together?
Good Dogs

Krista, 18 years old, from New Hampshire.

Krista has always been fascinated by games that have a relatable and personable story to follow. With Spectrum, Krista wanted to capture a feeling of love and belonging, as well as the ability to do something about the various situations life throws at you. Fun fact: Spectrum evolved from doodles and sketches, with little notes in the margins. Spectrum is a 2D platformer fantasy game in which “sprites” small pixie-like creatures, are taking over the bodies of other creatures on Earth, controlling their actions and powers.
Spectrum

Neha, 15 years old, from California.

Neha was watching a show about the vastness of the universe at a planetarium when she was struck with the idea of YuMe. Living in a society caught up with differences and judgement, Neha was inspired to focus on similarities and how we can all belong as one. The word “yume” in Japanese means dream, and the game name, YuMe, is a play on the word which combines the English words “You” and “Me.” The title expresses that the character’s dream is for “you and me” to meet.
Yume

Inspired to learn more about game making? Interested in empowering the next generation of game-makers? Learn more about Change The Game today.

Still Using InstallBroadcast? Switch to the Play Referrer API by March 1, 2020

Posted by Marcus Leal, Product Manager, Google Play Ads

How do people find your app? It’s the million-dollar question for any developer, and the answer can help you make the right choices about your marketing strategy and budget. Accurate install referral data is crucial for understanding which traffic sources send users to download your app from the Google Play Store, as well as identifying fraudulent attempts to claim install attributions.

That’s why in 2017, we launched the Play Install Referrer API, which provides a reliable and robust mechanism for apps to retrieve referral information directly from the Play Store. It was a big step forward from the old install_referrer intent broadcast, so many developers made the switch right away, including App Attribution Program partners like Adjust, AppsFlyer, and Kochava. Now, because it’s been replaced by the new API, we’ve decided to deprecate the install_referrer intent broadcast mechanism on March 1, 2020. After this date, new versions of the Play Store app will no longer broadcast the install_referrer intent after app installs.

We are asking developers who still rely on the install_referrer to use the Play Install Referrer API instead. Among other advantages, the Install Referrer API offers better performance, uses a secure communication channel between your app and the Play Store, and offers a more robust solution against spoof and attribution fraud.

If you still use the Broadcast API and the install_referrer intent to track your referrals, be sure to make the switch by March 1, 2020. Migration is easy, and the cost of adoption is low. Learn how to use the Play Install Referrer API to track your app installs today.

Google Play fans, vote for your favorite content of 2019

We want to hear from you—what was your favorite content on Google Play in 2019? 

Select from a shortlist of the year’s most-loved and trending titles across apps, games, movies, and books, including Enlight Pixaloop, Mario Kart Tour, Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame, and The Mister. To cast your vote, head to this page before the polls close on November 25.

And the fun doesn’t stop there: The Users’ Choice winners, along with the rest of the Best of 2019 picks from our Google Play editors, will be announced on December 3. Stay tuned.

Modern app and game distribution on Google Play

Posted by Kobi Glick, Product Lead, Google Play

Today we’re kicking off Playtime, our annual event series where we host developers from all over the world to discuss features and best practices to help you grow your apps and games businesses. Last month’s Android Dev Summit focused on modern Android development. Here on the Google Play team, we’re focusing on modern app and game distribution — our set of powerful and customizable distribution features and tools that work together to power your success on Google Play.

The future of Android distribution

The Android App Bundle is foundational to modern app and game distribution, replacing the monolithic APK. Since it launched 18 months ago, over 270K apps and games have made the switch, representing over 25% of active installs. Those that switched have seen an average size savings of 20% compared to a universal APK and more efficient releases as a result.

A recent internal analysis revealed that users with storage-constrained devices are much more likely to uninstall apps, so optimizing how much space your app needs is important. Our new metrics on the app size report in the Play Console can show you how many of your active users have little free storage on their devices and if they’re uninstalling more than other users.

New tools to speed up your workflows and engineering velocity

Testing app bundles is now much easier with internal app sharing. Make anyone in your company an uploader without giving them access to the Play Console and they’ll be able to share test builds of your app as easily as they used to share APKs. With internal app sharing, you can be sure that each device is receiving exactly what Play would deliver in the wild. You don’t need to use version codes or the prod signing key, you can upload debuggable artifacts, and you’ll soon be able to get install links for old versions of your app, too.

The app bundle also lets you modularize your app with dynamic feature modules. Modularization speeds up build times and engineering velocity, since different teams can design, build, test, and debug features in parallel rather than working on the same complex code for a monolithic app. Based on your feedback, we’ve made it easier to develop modular apps with tools such as the new Dynamic Feature Navigator library and FakeSplitInstallManager, which lets you test on-demand delivery while offline instead of waiting for the Play Store.

Get more users on your latest release with improved in-app updates

In-app updates let you prompt users to update to the latest version of your app, without them having to leave your app. More than 10% of the top apps and games are already using in-app updates with an average acceptance rate of 24%. Based on your feedback, we’re also giving you more control over how and when you show update prompts:

  • Set an update priority per release to determine whether the user is interrupted with an immediate or flexible update flow or no prompt at all.
  • Get app staleness, the number of days the app on this device has had an update available without upgrading. You can use both priority and staleness as you’d like when determining which update flow to trigger.
  • You can check the download progress of a flexible update so that you can display your own progress bar in your app.
  • Finally, you can now test your in-app update flows using internal app sharing.

Modern game distribution

For some games with rich content, the 150MB app bundle size limit is not enough. Using expansion files or content delivery networks can get around this but could introduce complexity when you’re building and releasing your game, and can result in a poor user experience. That’s why we’re extending the app bundle format to support asset delivery with a new delivery construct called asset packs which can go up to multiple gigabytes.

Asset packs are packaged in the app bundle alongside your binary, so you can publish a single artifact to Play that contains everything your game needs, giving you full control of your asset delivery. Play’s asset delivery will also enable texture compression targeting, so that your users only get the assets suitable for their device with no wasted space or bandwidth. And you can rely on Play to keep your assets up to date, just as it does with your game binary. We’re currently testing this with some early partners and hope to make it more widely available soon.

Here’s to another successful Playtime

Look out for the sessions from this year’s Playtime, which will be added to the Android Developers YouTube channel. We look forward to sharing more tools and services for your apps and games, made possible by the app bundle and our new dynamic framework. And as always, please give us your feedback and let us know what you think.

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Privacy protections for physical activity in Android 10

Since Google Fit was released in 2015, apps with an abundance of features for health and fitness tracking have integrated with the Google Fit APIs. Over the years, the number of users using Google Fit as a central repository for their fitness and wellness data has grown significantly.

With Android 10, we're making further updates to give users even more control over this personal data. One key change concerns how Android apps can monitor a user’s physical activity and retrieve data from Android sensor APIs and the Google Fit platform.

In Android 10: Activity recognition permission

Android 10 introduces a new runtime permission for activity recognition for apps that make use of the user's step and calorie count or classify the user's physical activity, such as walking, biking, or moving in a vehicle through one of the following APIs:

If your app relies only on raw data from other built-in sensors on the device, such as the accelerometer and gyroscope, you don't need to declare this new permission in your app.

Activity Recognition Permission Enforcement

  • Starting December 2019, data will be restricted from apps not including the Google Play Services legacy activity recognition permission in the manifest. If your app doesn’t currently request this permission, you should add it today to ensure no loss of service for your users.
  • When a user upgrades to Android 10, the system auto-grants this permission to your app if it previously requested the legacy permission.
  • As you begin targeting Android 10, you should register the ACTIVITY_RECOGNITION permission and adopt the new permission model to adhere to the new policy.

Google Fit physical activity APIs

This new permission affects a subset of data types available in the Google Fit APIs on Android. If your app accesses these types from Google Fit today, then you need to update your app inline with the new permissions.

The activity recognition runtime permission is required for accessing the following APIs / data types:

  • RecordingAPI - recording the following data types:
    • com.google.step_count.delta
    • com.google.step_count.cadence
    • com.google.activity.segment
    • com.google.calories.expended
  • HistoryAPI - reading the following data types:
    • com.google.step_count.delta
    • com.google.step_count.cadence
    • com.google.activity.segment
    • com.google.activity.exercise
    • com.google.activity.summary

With Android 10 now launched and SDK 29 becoming your primary development target, now is the time to make sure your apps are compatible with the new runtime permission.

Introducing Google Play Points in the U.S.

Posted by Paul Feng, Product Manager, Google Play

three mobile displays with apps At Google Play, we continue to build new experiences to delight users and help developers succeed. Today, we’re excited to announce that the Google Play Points rewards program is expanding to the United States following successful launches in Japan and Korea, where millions of people have already enrolled. The program is designed to show appreciation to our users and help increase engagement with your games and apps.

Google Play Points rewards users for any purchase they make on Play — including apps, games, in-app items, music, movies, books, and subscriptions - and for downloading select apps and games. For all developers, if you’re on Play billing, users will earn points on your apps and games immediately.

Play Points can then be redeemed for unique rewards like special items and discounts in Candy Crush, Homescapes, Lords Mobile and many others. We’re fortunate to be working with a select group of developers to offer these rewards for the U.S. launch — including Niantic, King, Electronic Arts, Playrix, Jam City, Kabam, Ludia, Kongregate, and others. Users can also redeem their points for Google Play Credit, and spend it on your app or game just as they do today.

Users are finding value in our initial Play Points markets, Japan and Korea, and developers there are incredibly happy with the results. In the future, we look forward to working with additional partners to deliver more unique rewards to users as Google Play Points evolves.

Google Play Points is rolling out in the US over the next few days. If you’d like to enroll as a user in the program, open the Play Store app on your Android device, tap menu, then tap Play Points to get started.

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Google Play Points: a rewards program for all the ways you Play

Since 2012, Google Play has been your place to find and enjoy apps, games, movies, TV shows, and books. More than 2 billion people in 190 countries use Google Play to discover blockbuster movies, apps that help you be more productive, and books that inspire imagination.

To show our appreciation, we created a new rewards program called Google Play Points that lets you earn points and rewards for the ways you already use Google Play. Over the past year, millions of people in Japan and South Korea have joined the program, and starting today, Google Play Points is launching in the United States.

It’s free to join, and you can earn Play Points to use for special items and discounts in top games like Candy Crush Saga and Pokémon GO, or for Google Play Credit to use on movies, books, games, and apps.

Play your way and earn points

With Google Play Points, you’ll earn points on everything you buy with Google Play, including in-app items, movies, books, subscriptions and more. You can also earn Play Points by downloading featured free apps and games. Weekly points events can boost your earning rate on movies, books, and select games. 

Google Play Points has four levels, from Bronze to Platinum. Your level depends on how many points you’ve collected, and higher levels have perks like weekly prizes.

Redeem your Play Points how you’d like

We’re partnering with developers of some of the top apps and games on Google Play so that you can redeem points for special in-app items like characters, gems and more. You can also use Play Points for Google Play Credit and rent an award-winning movie or buy a best-selling audiobook. 

We’ve been inspired by the Play community’s generosity and participation in Play Store giving. You can use your points to help support a great cause—or causes—of your choice from a rotating list of nonprofits, starting with Doctors Without Borders USA, Save the Children and the World Food Program USA. 

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Join for free

Google Play Points will be available over the next week. It’s free to join, there is no recurring or monthly fee, and you’ll earn three times the Play Points on everything you buy your first week. To get started, open the Play Store app on your Android device. Tap menu, then Play Points. Learn more about Play Points--and get ready to earn points and rewards.