Tag Archives: UX

Expand your app beyond mobile to reach Android users at large

Posted by Sameer Samat, Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems

dark theme graphic illustration with geometric shapes and Android 2019 logo

From day one, we designed Android to be a flexible, adaptive platform.

Most people picture a smartphone when they think of Android, but Android also powers an amazing number of large-screen devices. In fact, there are more than 175 million Android tablets with the Google Play store,1 making Android tablets a vital form factor for Google and our OEM partners today. Android apps also run on Chrome OS laptops, and the number of monthly active users who enabled Android apps grew 250% in just the last year.2

Here at Google, we’re excited to see how you can take advantage of large-screen formats - including Samsung’s new Galaxy Tab S6, the upcoming Lenovo™ Smart Tab M8 with Google Assistant, the upcoming Samsung Fold, and other devices launching this week at IFA. Our OEM partners are building experiences that help users every day:

image of two quotes

From the start, Android was designed as a platform that could handle multiple screen sizes. Over the years, we’ve continued to add functionality for developers to accommodate new devices and form factors.

  • We started with a phone. Developers could write Android apps that would work on phones of all sizes, all over the world. Part of what made this work was Android’s resource and layout system, which enabled applications to smoothly adapt to different screen sizes.
  • In Android 3.0 Honeycomb, we added support for tablets. In particular, capabilities like Fragments allow you to create applications that work across vastly different form factors.
  • Android 7 Nougat brought multi-window and multi-display capabilities, including the ability to drag-and-drop across apps. Meanwhile, Chrome OS added the capability to run Android applications on laptops. With some adjustments to handle different inputs and windowing dynamics, you could now reach app users in a desktop-style environment.
Android’s layout system helps applications smoothly resize and adjust their layout interactively.

Android’s layout system helps applications smoothly resize and adjust their layout interactively.

  • Now, in Android 10, we’ve made even more enhancements for development on large screens. We’ve improved multi-window capabilities, making it easier to use multiple apps in parallel. We also continued improving multi-display support, enabling more multi-monitor use cases. And we made it easy for you to experiment and test new form factors by adding dedicated emulator for foldables as well as publishing a foldables guide.

By optimizing your app to take advantage of different form factors, developers have an opportunity to deliver richer, more engaging experiences to millions of users on larger screens. And if you don’t have access to physical devices, the Android Emulator supports all of the form factors mentioned above, from Chrome OS to phones and tablets.


Developers of apps like Mint, Evernote, and Asphalt are just a few who have seen success from taking their existing APK to larger screens.

image of a single quote from Damien Marchi, VP of Marketing at Gameloft

To learn more about optimizing your Android apps for richer experiences on tablets, Chrome OS laptops, foldables, and more, join us at the Android Developer Summit on October 23-24 — either in person or via the livestream — or check out our recap videos on YouTube.

Sources:

[1] The number of tablets only accounts for devices that have the Google Play Store installed (for example, this excludes tablets in China); the actual number of tablets capable of running Android applications is much larger.

[2] Google Internal Data, March 2018 to March 2019.

New UI tools and a richer creative canvas come to ARCore

Posted by Evan Hardesty Parker, Software Engineer

ARCore and Sceneform give developers simple yet powerful tools for creating augmented reality (AR) experiences. In our last update (version 1.6) we focused on making virtual objects appear more realistic within a scene. In version 1.7, we're focusing on creative elements like AR selfies and animation as well as helping you improve the core user experience in your apps.

Creating AR Selfies

Example of 3D face mesh application

ARCore's new Augmented Faces API (available on the front-facing camera) offers a high quality, 468-point 3D mesh that lets users attach fun effects to their faces. From animated masks, glasses, and virtual hats to skin retouching, the mesh provides coordinates and region specific anchors that make it possible to add these delightful effects.

You can get started in Unity or Sceneform by creating an ARCore session with the "front-facing camera" and Augmented Faces "mesh" mode enabled. Note that other AR features such as plane detection aren't currently available when using the front-facing camera. AugmentedFace extends Trackable, so faces are detected and updated just like planes, Augmented Images, and other trackables.

// Create ARCore session that support Augmented Faces for use in Sceneform.
public Session createAugmentedFacesSession(Activity activity) throws UnavailableException {
// Use the front-facing (selfie) camera.
Session session = new Session(activity, EnumSet.of(Session.Feature.FRONT_CAMERA));
// Enable Augmented Faces.
Config config = session.getConfig();
config.setAugmentedFaceMode(Config.AugmentedFaceMode.MESH3D);
session.configure(config);
return session;
}

Animating characters in your Sceneform AR apps

Another way version 1.7 expands the AR creative canvas is by letting your objects dance, jump, spin and move around with support for animations in Sceneform. To start an animation, initialize a ModelAnimator (an extension of the existing Android animation support) with animation data from your ModelRenderable.

void startDancing(ModelRenderable andyRenderable) {
AnimationData data = andyRenderable.getAnimationData("andy_dancing");
animator = new ModelAnimator(data, andyRenderable);
animator.start();
}

Solving common AR UX challenges in Unity with new UI components

In ARCore version 1.7 we also focused on helping you improve your user experience with a simplified workflow. We've integrated "ARCore Elements" -- a set of common AR UI components that have been validated with user testing -- into the ARCore SDK for Unity. You can use ARCore Elements to insert AR interactive patterns in your apps without having to reinvent the wheel. ARCore Elements also makes it easier to follow Google's recommended AR UX guidelines.

ARCore Elements includes two AR UI components that are especially useful:

  • Plane Finding - streamlining the key steps involved in detecting a surface
  • Object Manipulation - using intuitive gestures to rotate, elevate, move, and resize virtual objects

We plan to add more to ARCore Elements over time. You can download the ARCore Elements app available in the Google Play Store to learn more.

Improving the User Experience with Shared Camera Access

ARCore version 1.7 also includes UX enhancements for the smartphone camera -- specifically, the experience of switching in and out of AR mode. Shared Camera access in the ARCore SDK for Java lets users pause an AR experience, access the camera, and jump back in. This can be particularly helpful if users want to take a picture of the action in your app.

More details are available in the Shared Camera developer documentation and Java sample.

Learn more and get started

For AR experiences to capture users' imaginations they need to be both immersive and easily accessible. With tools for adding AR selfies, animation, and UI enhancements, ARCore version 1.7 can help with both these objectives.

You can learn more about these new updates on our ARCore developer website.

How listening to our users helped us build a better Search Console

The new Search Console beta is up and running. We’ve been flexing our listening muscles and finding new ways to incorporate your feedback into the design. In this new release we've initially focused on building features supporting the users’ main goals and we'll be expanding functionality in the months to come. While some changes have been long expected, like refreshing the UI with Material Design, many changes are a result of continuous work with you, the Search Console users.
We’ve used 3 main communication channels to hear what our users are saying:
  • Help forum Top Contributors - Top Contributors in our help forums have been very helpful in bringing up topics seen in the forums. They communicate regularly with Google’s Search teams, and help the large community of Search Console users.
  • Open feedback - We analyzed open feedback comments about classic Search Console and identified the top requests coming in. Open feedback can be sent via the ‘Submit feedback’ button in Search Console. This open feedback helped us get more context around one of the top requests from the last years: more than 90 days of data in the Search Analytics (Performance) report. We learned of the need to compare to a similar period in the previous year, which confirmed that our decision to include 16 months of data might be on the right track.
  • Search Console panel - Last year we created a new communication channel by enlisting a group of four hundred randomly selected Search Console users, representing websites of all sizes. The panel members took part in almost every design iteration we had throughout the year, from explorations of new concepts through surveys, interviews and usability tests. The Search Console panel members have been providing valuable feedback which helped us test our assumptions and improve designs.
In one of these rounds we tested the new suggested design for the Performance report. Specifically we wanted to see whether it was clear how to use the ‘compare’ and ‘filter’ functionalities. To create an experience that felt as real as possible, we used a high fidelity prototype connected to real data. The prototype allowed study participants to freely interact with the user interface before even one row of production code had been written.
In this study we learned that the ‘compare’ functionality was often overlooked. We consequently changed the design with ‘filter’ and ‘compare’ appearing in a unified dialogue box, triggered when the ‘Add new’ chip is clicked. We continue to test this design and others to optimize its usability and usefulness.
We incorporated user feedback not only in practical design details, but also in architectural decisions. For example, user feedback led us to make major changes in the product’s core information architecture influencing the navigation and product structure of the new Search Console. The error and coverage reports were originally separated which could lead to multiple views of the same error. As a result of user feedback we united the error and coverage reporting offering one holistic view.
As the launch date grew closer, we performed several larger scale experiments. We A/B tested some of the new Search Console reports against the existing reports with 30,000 users. We tracked issue fix rates to verify new Search Console drives better results and sent out follow-up surveys to learn about their experience. This most recent feedback confirmed that export functionality was not a nice-to-have, but rather a requirement for many users and helped us tune detailed help pages in the initial release.
We are happy to announce that the new Search Console is now available to all sites. Whether it is through Search Console’s feedback button or through the user panel, we truly value a collaborative design process, where all of our users can help us build the best product.
Try out the new search console.
We're not finished yet! Which feature would you love to see in the next iteration of Search Console? Let us know below.

Get your ads ready for iPhone X

Every interaction a user has with your app matters. That’s why we’re constantly evolving our advertising recommendations and policies to ensure that no matter where and on what device users are engaging with your apps, they have good experiences.

With the launch of the iPhone X, app developers now need to plan for new design considerations as the rounded corners, notch, and home screen indicator on the extended screen can obscure content and lead to poor ad experiences for users when ads are placed in these areas.

Example of ad appearing outside of “safe area” on iPhone X
That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you adapt your ad strategy for iPhone X. This includes guidance for how you can shift placement of banner or native ads to designated “safe areas” for this new device.

We’ve also updated our policies to indicate that ads must not be placed where objects may interfere with the user's typical interaction with the ad or app, such as under the home screen indicator on the iPhone X.

Please review these policy updates and our suggested implementation guide to ensure you’re compliant by November 20th.

If you have any questions, visit the AdMob Help Center or contact your Google account team.

Posted by Pablo Alvarez, Product Manager, AdMob

Source: Inside AdMob


User experience tips to help you design your app to engage users and drive conversions

By Jenny Gove, Senior Staff UX Researcher, Google Play

We know you work hard to acquire users and grow your customer base, which can be challenging in a crowded market. That's why we've heard from many of you that you find tools like store listing experiments and universal app campaigns are valuable. It's equally important to keep customers engaged from the beginning. Great design and delightful user experiences are fundamental to doing just that.

We partnered with AnswerLab to conduct comprehensive user experience research across a variety of verticals; including e-commerce, insurance, travel, food ordering, ticket sales and services, and financial management. The resulting insights may help you increase engagement and conversion by providing guidance on useful and usable functionality.

The best app experiences seamlessly guide users through their tasks with efficient navigation, search, forms, registration and purchasing. They provide great e-commerce facilities and integrate effective ordering and payment systems. Ultimately, an engaging app begins with attention to usability in all of these areas. Learn tips on:

  • Navigation & Exploration
  • In-App Search
  • Commerce & Conversions
  • Registration
  • Form Entry
  • Usability and Comprehension

You can read the full article, design your app to drive conversions, on the Android Developers website, complete with links to developer resources. Also get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

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Three ways AdMob make UX a priority with Rewarded video

At AdMob, we know how important user experience is to creating a great app. Non-intrusive ads make for happy users and higher ad engagement rates, and we think rewarded videos are the next step in meeting and exceeding a users expectations for a great experience. Here are three ways AdMob can help improve your user experience with rewarded video ads.

1. Consistency

With reliable UX patterns, you’ll form clear breaks in your apps where users are expecting to see engaging ads. And when it comes to rewarded video, ads that appear at just the right moment will provide a mutual benefit to both user and publisher. For example, in a gaming app, you might want to reward your user with extra lives in exchange for watching a video at a moment when the game would otherwise end. Your users will thank you for it!

2. No tricks

A rewarded video is still an ad, so it is important to make the value exchange between user and publisher transparent. Users are presented with a clear description of the action required from them and what they will get in return, before choosing whether to opt-in to view the rewarded video. And while advertisers pay for an install, the option to install an app as a result of watching a rewarded video is not incentivized: the user is rewarded for viewing the message and the action to install is optional.

3. Optimum engagement

We use Firebase Analytics to help you understand your audience better. With Firebase, A/B testing is simple and can ensure you are getting the most out of your exchange with the user. Optimizing reward value, frequency of ads, and ad placement in app all contribute to a successful rewarded strategy that results in happy users.

Until next time, be sure to stay connected on all things AdMob by following our Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.

Source: Inside AdMob


Closing down for a day

Even in today's "always-on" world, sometimes businesses want to take a break. There are times when even their online presence needs to be paused. This blog post covers some of the available options so that a site's search presence isn't affected.

Option: Block cart functionality

If a site only needs to block users from buying things, the simplest approach is to disable that specific functionality. In most cases, shopping cart pages can either be blocked from crawling through the robots.txt file, or blocked from indexing with a robots meta tag. Since search engines either won't see or index that content, you can communicate this to users in an appropriate way. For example, you may disable the link to the cart, add a relevant message, or display an informational page instead of the cart.

Option: Always show interstitial or pop-up

If you need to block the whole site from users, be it with a "temporarily unavailable" message, informational page, or popup, the server should return a 503 HTTP result code ("Service Unavailable"). The 503 result code makes sure that Google doesn't index the temporary content that's shown to users. Without the 503 result code, the interstitial would be indexed as your website's content.

Googlebot will retry pages that return 503 for up to about a week, before treating it as a permanent error that can result in those pages being dropped from the search results. You can also include a "Retry after" header to indicate how long the site will be unavailable. Blocking a site for longer than a week can have negative effects on the site's search results regardless of the method that you use.

Option: Switch whole website off

Turning the server off completely is another option. You might also do this if you're physically moving your server to a different data center. For this, have a temporary server available to serve a 503 HTTP result code for all URLs (with an appropriate informational page for users), and switch your DNS to point to that server during that time.

  1. Set your DNS TTL to a low time (such as 5 minutes) a few days in advance.
  2. Change the DNS to the temporary server's IP address.
  3. Take your main server offline once all requests go to the temporary server.
  4. … your server is now offline ...
  5. When ready, bring your main server online again.
  6. Switch DNS back to the main server's IP address.
  7. Change the DNS TTL back to normal.

We hope these options cover the common situations where you'd need to disable your website temporarily. If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums!

PS If your business is active locally, make sure to reflect these closures in the opening hours for your local listings too!


The Native Way: 4 Ways to Make UX a Priority with Native Ads

At AdMob, we know how important user experience is to creating a great app. Consistent patterns, refreshing simplicity and polished, thoughtful design make for happy users and potentially higher ad engagement rates. Native advertising is the next step in meeting user’s UX expectations. Native ads are less jarring than traditional ads and fit in with app content more naturally, providing a better user experience. Now, that’s smart business.

Here are four ways you can make UX a priority both within your app and ad experience.

1. Consistency

Sometimes it’s good to be predictable. By sticking to consistent UX patterns in your app, you can help users focus less on navigating and more on your app’s content and value. Don’t surprise your user with new elements – stick to a steady user flow like swiping left on a news app to exit an article or navigate the headline feed. Use consistent design elements like dedicated font sizes, colors, buttons, and screen sizes.

Same goes for your users’ ad experience. With reliable UX patterns, you’ll form clear breaks in your apps where users are expecting to see engaging ads. In the example of the news app, you might also want to use that swipe left feature to allow users to seamlessly dismiss ads. This also applies to ad styling. For example, if you use 14px, Lato, bold, dark grey for prominent text, then use that font for your ad’s headline, as well. The result? Users will expect that styling is dedicated to important text.

2. Clarity

Nobody likes clutter. Simplicity in your app says you’re not wasting your user’s time by throwing every possible option at them, without thinking about what they really need. Simplify your app by uncluttering your screen, writing concise copy, keeping design legible and well-spaced and providing single call-to-action buttons where possible. Likewise, clean, beautiful, single call-to-action ads will communicate that you understand your users and help gain their trust.

3. No tricks

Let’s be clear, a native ad is still an ad. Don’t try to distort or overlap ad components (there’s no quicker way to offend a user!). At Google, we care about building trust in the app advertising ecosystem. For instance, we have extended our accidental click protections to native ad formats (including fast clicks and edge clicks) in order to prevent users from a slip of the finger and deliver greater value to advertisers.

4. Thoughtful design

Thoughtful details in your app are important to let your users know you care. That means sharp imagery, curated fonts, specced margins and quick loading times. It’s important to use the same level of care and polish for small details in your native ads design. Simple, intuitive and well-designed native ads can help you say; ‘thanks’ to your valuable user base.

Until next time, be sure to stay connected on all things AdMob by following our Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ pages.

Posted by Chris Jones, Social Team, AdMob.

Source: Inside AdMob


Test your site with Google and see how it works across devices

Did you know that nine out of ten people will leave a mobile website if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away?1 Now, think about your business’s site. Does it perform quickly on both laptops and smartphones? If not, you’re probably losing customers while the pages slowly load. But if you’re not sure how to make it run more smoothly, don’t worry – we’re here to help.

Today we’re introducing an easy way to measure your site’s performance across devices—from mobile to desktop—and give you a list of specific fixes that can help your business connect more quickly with people online.

You don’t need a lot of technical knowledge to understand your site’s performance. Just type in your web address and within moments you’ll see how your site scores. You can also get a detailed report to give you an idea of what to do next, and where to go for help at no charge. We recommend sharing it with your webmaster to help you plan your next steps and implement our suggested fixes.

Why you should test your site

Your customers live online. When they need information or want to find a nearby store or product, they grab the nearest device. On average, people check their phones more than 150 times a day,2 and more searches occur on mobile phones than computers.3 But if a potential customer is on a phone, and a site isn’t easy to use, they’re five times more likely to leave.4

To avoid losing out in these crucial moments, you need a site that loads quickly and is easy to use on mobile screens. The first step is seeing how your site is performing. We can help by scoring your site for mobile-friendliness, mobile speed, and desktop speed. Plus, it’s easy to share these scores. (By the way, if you’re a site guru, you may also want to visit PageSpeed Insights, which is the power behind the scores.)

What your scores say about your site
  • Mobile-friendliness: This is the quality of the experience customers have when they’re browsing your site on their phones. To be mobile-friendly, your site should have tappable buttons, be easy to navigate from a small screen, and have the most important information up front and center.
  • Mobile speed: This is how long it takes your site to load on mobile devices. If customers are kept waiting for too long, they’ll move on to the next site.
  • Desktop speed: This is how long it takes your site to load on desktop computers. It’s not just the strength of your customers’ web connection that determines speed, but also the elements of your website.
Test your site and find out what’s working, what’s not, and which fixes to consider.

The world’s gone mobile. Now, it’s your turn.




1. Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3, Google/Ipsos, U.S., August 2015, n=1291 online smartphone users 18+
2. Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, “Internet Trends D11 Conference.” May 2013
3. Google internal data, for 10 countries including the U.S. and Japan, April 2015
4. Google, Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, “What Users Want Most From Mobile Sites Today.” July 2012

Google+: A case study on App Download Interstitials

Many mobile sites use promotional app interstitials to encourage users to download their native mobile apps. For some apps, native can provide richer user experiences, and use features of the device that are currently not easy to access on a browser. Because of this, many app owners believe that they should encourage users to install the native version of their online property or service. It’s not clear how aggressively to promote the apps, and a full page interstitial can interrupt the user from reaching their desired content.

On Google+ mobile web, we decided to take a closer look at our own use of interstitials. Internal user experience studies identified them as poor experiences, and Jennifer Gove gave a great talk at IO last year which highlights this user frustration.

Despite our intuition that we should remove the interstitial, we prefer to let data guide our decisions, so we set out to learn how the interstitial affected our users. Our analysis found that:
  • 9% of the visits to our interstitial page resulted in the ‘Get App’ button being pressed. (Note that some percentage of these users already have the app installed or may never follow through with the app store download.)
  • 69% of the visits abandoned our page. These users neither went to the app store nor continued to our mobile website.
While 9% sounds like a great CTR for any campaign, we were much more focused on the number of users who had abandoned our product due to the friction in their experience. With this data in hand, in July 2014, we decided to run an experiment and see how removing the interstitial would affect actual product usage. We added a Smart App Banner to continue promoting the native app in a less intrusive way, as recommended in the Avoid common mistakes section of our Mobile SEO Guide. The results were surprising:
  • 1-day active users on our mobile website increased by 17%.
  • G+ iOS native app installs were mostly unaffected (-2%). (We’re not reporting install numbers from Android devices since most come with Google+ installed.)
Based on these results, we decided to permanently retire the interstitial. We believe that the increase in users on our product makes this a net positive change, and we are sharing this with the hope that you will reconsider the use of promotional interstitials. Let’s remove friction and make the mobile web more useful and usable!

(Since this study, we launched a better mobile web experience that is currently without an app banner. The banner can still be seen on iOS 6 and below.)

Posted by David Morell, Software Engineer, Google+