Tag Archives: Featured

Native Dependencies in Android Studio 4.0

By Dan Albert, Software Engineer

One thing that NDK users struggle with is managing native dependencies:

  • Library authors need to maintain support for both ndk-build and CMake (and hope that their users are using one of those two options and not something else).
  • Libraries don’t always distribute prebuilt binaries for Android, so users must either build the library themselves or rely on (potentially untrustworthy) prebuilt binaries found elsewhere on the web.
  • Android-specific build scripts are often out of date and no longer work.
  • Libraries are sometimes built by a build system that Android doesn’t support.
  • Libraries may not build on the user’s machine. For example, Unix shell scripts won’t run on Windows.
  • Libraries often depend on other libraries, leaving users to chase them down and start the process again.

With version 4.0 of the Android Gradle Plugin, we’ve addressed these issues by adding support for distributing and exposing native libraries through the same mechanism that you do for Java libraries: Android Archives (AARs).

Here’s how you’d use curl and jsoncpp for example (and automatically pull in the implicit OpenSSL dependency that curl has):

// build.gradle
dependencies {
    implementation 'com.android.ndk.thirdparty:curl:7.68.0-alpha-1'
    implementation 'com.android.ndk.thirdparty:jsoncpp:1.8.4-alpha-1'
}

Note: With AGP 4.0 this is still experimental, so to enable this functionality you must set the following properties in your project's gradle.properties file:

# Enables Prefab
android.enablePrefab=true
# Work around https://issuetracker.google.com/149575364
android.enableParallelJsonGen=false
# 4.0.0 canary 9 defaults to Prefab 1.0.0-alpha3, which is not the latest.
android.prefabVersion=1.0.0-alpha5

Importing packages into your build

Declaring the dependencies in your build.gradle will cause Gradle to download those dependencies from Maven, but you must still instruct CMake or ndk-build how those dependencies should be used. Fortunately, the necessary CMake package config or ndk-build module will be automatically generated on your behalf. All you need to do is import and use them.

Here’s an example with CMake:

    cmake_minimum_required(VERSION 3.6)
    project(app VERSION 1.0.0 LANGUAGES CXX)

    find_package(curl REQUIRED CONFIG)
    find_package(jsoncpp REQUIRED CONFIG)

    add_library(app SHARED app.cpp)
    target_link_libraries(app curl::curl jsoncpp::jsoncpp)

And here’s the same example with ndk-build:

    LOCAL_PATH := $(call my-dir)

    include $(CLEAR_VARS)
    LOCAL_MODULE := libapp
    LOCAL_SRC_FILES := app.cpp
    LOCAL_SHARED_LIBRARIES := jsoncpp curl
    include $(BUILD_SHARED_LIBRARY)

    $(call import-module,prefab/curl)
    $(call import-module,prefab/jsoncpp)

And that’s it. In app.cpp you can now do the following:

#include "curl/curl.h"
#include "json/json.h"

A very common issue that people have is building OpenSSL to use with curl. While not explicitly mentioned in the build scripts above, the curl package itself depends on OpenSSL so this support is available automatically.

For the complete example, see the curl-ssl sample.

Prefab

The tool that facilitates all of this is called Prefab. Each AAR that exposes C++ libraries to its consumers packages their libraries, headers, and a small amount of metadata into the prefab directory in the AAR. If the prefab directory is found in an AAR dependency, the Android Gradle Plugin automatically runs Prefab to generate build system scripts from the contained information.

Each AAR might contain a large number of prebuilts for different configurations, so Prefab will perform a number of compatibility checks to find a suitable library for your build configuration. The selected library will match your build’s ABI, minSdkVersion, STL choice, and be the best fit for the version of the NDK that you’re using.

What libraries are available?

We’ve already published the following libraries:

  • com.android.ndk.thirdparty:curl:7.68.0-alpha-1
  • com.android.ndk.thirdparty:jsoncpp:1.8.4-alpha-1
  • com.android.ndk.thirdparty:openssl:1.1.1d-alpha-1
  • com.google.oboe:oboe:1.3.0

For an up to date list, search https://maven.google.com/web/index.html for “com.android.ndk.thirdparty”.

How can I distribute my own libraries?

For the libraries we currently distribute, we wrote ndkports. This is a good fit if the library you’re building is a typical Linux or cross-platform project that doesn’t fit naturally into a typical Android build. If that’s a fit for the library you want, feel free to use ndkports for it, and consider sending us the patch!

If you’d like to request that Google maintain and publish an open source library in Prefab, use the “Package request” bug template on https://github.com/google/prefab/issues. Please keep in mind that each package does come with an ongoing cost, and we will be adding support on a limited basis so we will not be able to support everything.

Coming next is support for exposing your libraries in AARs using the existing Android Library publishing workflow.

Links

For more information about using native dependencies with the Android Gradle Plugin, see the documentation. For more examples, see the NDK samples.

If you’d like to learn more about Prefab itself, see its documentation on GitHub.

If you encounter any issues, file bugs in our Issue Tracker.

Turning it up to 11: the first Developer Preview of Android 11

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering



Android 11 Dial logo

Android has led the way towards the future of mobile, with new technologies like 5G to foldable displays to machine learning built into the core. A hallmark of our approach is a strong developer community that provides early and thoughtful feedback, helping us deliver a robust platform for apps and games that delight billions of users around the world. So today, we’re releasing the first Developer Preview of Android 11, and building on a strong feedback cycle last year, we’re making this year’s preview available to you earlier than ever.

With Android 11 we’re keeping our focus on helping users take advantage of the latest innovations, while continuing to keep privacy and security a top priority. We’ve added multiple new features to help users manage access to sensitive data and files, and we’ve hardened critical areas of the platform to keep the OS resilient and secure. For developers, Android 11 has a ton of new capabilities for your apps, like enhancements for foldables and 5G, call-screening APIs, new media and camera capabilities, machine learning, and more.

This is just a first look; like prior years, we’ll continue to share new features and updates over the coming months and into Google I/O as we work through your feedback. The most important thing for you to do right now is this: visit the Android 11 developer site, download a system image for your Pixel 2, 3, 3a, or 4 device, and let us know what you think!

Today’s release is an early baseline build for developers only and not intended for daily or consumer use, so we're making it available by manual download and flash only. Remember, getting early input from you is crucial in helping us evolve the platform to meet your needs. Read on for a taste of what’s new in Android 11, and visit the developer site for details on timeline, how to test, and how to give feedback.

Helpful innovation

5G experiences

5G brings consistently faster speeds and lower latency to more users around the world. With 5G you can extend your Wi-Fi app experiences -- such as streaming 4K video or loading higher-res game assets -- to mobile users, or you can build new experiences designed specifically for 5G. In Android 11 we’re enhancing and updating the existing connectivity APIs so you can take advantage of 5G’s improved speeds.

  • Dynamic meteredness API - with this API you can check whether the connection is unmetered, and if so, offer higher resolution or quality that may use more data. We’ve extended the API to include cellular networks, so that you can identify users whose carriers are offering truly unmetered data while connected to the carrier’s 5G network.
  • Bandwidth estimator API - we’ve updated this API for 5G to make it easier to check the downstream/upstream bandwidth, without needing to poll the network or compute your own estimate. If the modem doesn’t provide support, we make a default estimation based on the current connection.


 Moving beyond the home, 5G can for example let you enhance your “on-the-go” experience by providing seamless interactions with the world around you from friends and family to businesses.

Moving beyond the home, 5G can for example let you enhance your “on-the-go” experience by providing seamless interactions with the world around you from friends and family to businesses.



New screen types

Device makers are continuing to innovate by bringing exciting new form-factors and device screens to market. We’ve extended support for these in the platform, with APIs to let you optimize your apps.

  • Pinhole and waterfall screens - Apps can manage pinhole screens and waterfall screens using the existing display cutout APIs. If you want, a new API lets your app use the entire waterfall screen including the edges, with insets to help you manage interaction near the edges.


People and conversations

Communicating with your friends and colleagues is the most important thing many people do on their phones. In Android 11, we are introducing changes that help developers create deeper conversational experiences, a few of which you’ll see early versions of in DP1:

  • Dedicated conversations section in the notification shade - users can instantly find their ongoing conversations with people in their favorite apps.
  • Bubbles - Bubbles are a way to keep conversations in view and accessible while multi-tasking on their phones. Messaging and chat apps should use the Bubbles API on notifications to enable this in Android 11.
  • Insert images into notification replies - if your app supports image copy/paste, you can now let users insert assets directly into notification inline replies to enable richer communication as well as in the app itself. As part of DP1 - you’ll see image copy support in Chrome and image paste support via Gboard clipboard.
Real-time, bilateral communication apps should use the sharing/conversation shortcuts API to provide People targets that Android will surface throughout the phone as well as Bubble APIs to allow users to carry on conversations while using the device in other capacities.

Neural Networks API 1.3

Neural Networks API (NNAPI) is designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on Android devices. In Android 11, we’re expanding the operations and controls available to developers. In this release, we’ve added new operations and execution controls to help optimize common use cases:

  • Quality of Service APIs support priority and timeout for model execution.
  • Memory Domain APIs reduce memory copying and transformation for consecutive model execution.
  • Expanded quantization support, we’ve added signed integer asymmetric quantization where signed integers are used in place of float numbers to enable smaller models and faster inference.

See the NDK sample code for examples using these new APIs.

Watch for more coming in later preview updates. We’re working with hardware vendors and popular machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow to optimize and roll out support for NNAPI 1.3.

Privacy and security

Privacy

Privacy has always been at the core of Android, and each year we’ve added more ways to keep users secure and increase transparency and control. These changes have been popular with users - for example in Android 10 we added the “While app is in use” permission option to give users more granular control over their location and limit background location access. So far, when given the “While app is in use” option, about half of users select it.

In Android 11 we’re continuing our focus on user privacy with new permission options, updates to scoped storage, and more. Please give these features a try with your apps right away and let us know what you think.

  • One-time permission - For the most sensitive types of data - not just location but also for the device microphone and camera - users can now grant temporary access through a one-time permission. This permission means that apps can access the data until the user moves away from the app, and they must then request permission again for the next access. More information here.


One-time permission dialog in Android 11.

One-time permission dialog in Android 11.



  • Scoped storage - We’ve continued our work to better protect app and user data on external storage, and made further improvements to help developers migrate more easily. We want to take a moment to acknowledge everyone in the Android community who gave us such helpful feedback - thank you so much for helping us make the platform better! This preview release includes several enhancements, such as opt-in raw file path access for media, updated DocumentsUI, and batch edit operations in MediaStore. Along with these technical changes, based on your input, we are also giving you more time to make the migration and the changes will apply to your apps when they target Android 11. Read more here and watch for more enhancements in subsequent updates.

In addition to these platform changes, users tell us that they want more protection on earlier versions of Android and more transparency around how apps will use this data, so we are updating Google Play Policy to ensure that apps only request location permissions when truly necessary. Read more

Security

We focus on raising the bar for security with each version of Android -- from reaching more devices with monthly security updates to building more protections into the latest platform. In Android 11, we’ve extended Android’s defense-in-depth strategies to more areas of the platform and added new features and APIs for apps.

  • Biometrics - We’ve expanded our biometrics support to meet the needs of a wider range of devices. BiometricPrompt now supports three authenticator types with different levels of granularity -- strong, weak, and device credential. We’ve also decoupled the BiometricPrompt flow from the app’s Activity lifecycle to make it easier to integrate with various app architectures, and to improve the transaction UI. All apps using biometric auth should move to the BiometricPrompt APIs, which are also available in AndroidX for compatibility with earlier versions of Android.
  • Platform hardening - We’ve expanded use of compiler-based sanitizers in security-critical components, including BoundSan, IntSan, CFI, and Shadow-Call Stack. We’re also enabling heap pointer tagging for apps targeting Android 11 or higher, to help apps catch memory issues in production. These hardening improvements may surface more repeatable/reproducible app crashes in your code, so please test your apps. We've used HWAsan to find and fix many memory errors in the system, and we now offer HWAsan-enabled system images to help you find such issues in your apps.
  • Secure storage and sharing of data - Apps can now share data blobs easily and more safely with other apps through a BlobstoreManager. The Blob store is ideal for use-cases like sharing ML models among multiple apps for the same user.
  • Identity credentials - Android 11 adds platform support for secure storage and retrieval of verifiable identification documents, such as ISO 18013-5 compliant Mobile Driving Licenses. We’ll have more details to share on this soon!


Updates and compatibility

Google Play System Updates

Since Android 10, we’ve been scaling up our investment in Google Play System Updates (Project Mainline) to improve security, privacy, and consistency across the ecosystem. Thanks to strong collaboration with device makers, we’ve made significant progress towards this goal and have expanded our infrastructure to reach a wider range of devices more safely and quickly.

In Android 11, we’ve added 12 new updatable modules, for a total of 22 modules. Highlights include a permissions module that standardizes user and developer access to critical privacy controls on Android devices, a media provider module that’s integral to our privacy efforts around Scoped Storage, and an NNAPI (Neural Networks API) module that optimizes performance and guarantees consistent APIs across devices. To learn more about Google Play System Updates, check out the Project Mainline blog post.

App compatibility

We’re also working to make updates faster and smoother by prioritizing app compatibility as we roll out new platform versions. In Android 11 we’ve added new processes, developer tools, and release milestones to minimize the impact of platform updates.

  • Minimizing the impact of behavior changes - While changes we make to Android can make the OS more helpful, secure, and better performing, some of these changes can affect developers’ apps. As we built Android 11, we made a conscious effort to minimize behavioral changes that could affect apps by closely reviewing their impact and by making them opt-in, wherever possible, until you set targetSdkVersion to 'R' in your app. We hope this gives developers more control, and leads to more apps working out-of-the-box on Android 11.
  • Easier testing and debugging - To help you test for compatibility, we’ve made many of the breaking changes toggleable - meaning that you can force-enable or disable the changes individually from Developer options or adb. With this change, there’s no longer a need to change targetSdkVersion or recompile your app for basic testing. Check out the details here.


App compatibility toggles in Developer Options.

App compatibility toggles in Developer Options.



  • Updated greylists - We’ve updated the lists of restricted non-SDK interfaces, and as always your feedback and requests for public API equivalents are welcome.
  • Dynamic resource loader - As part of their migration away from non-SDK interfaces, developers asked us for a public API to load resources and assets dynamically at runtime. We’ve now added a Resource Loader framework in Android 11, and thank you to the developers who gave us this input!
  • New platform stability milestone - Developers also told us that preparing for early app compatibility was a challenge without a clear date for final changes. So in Android 11 we’re adding a new release milestone called “Platform Stability”, which we expect to reach in early June. This milestone includes not only final SDK/NDK APIs, but also final internal APIs and system behaviors that may affect apps. We hope you can use this new milestone to plan your final development and testing. More on the release timeline is here.


Polish and quality

Connectivity

  • Call screening service improvements - call-screening apps can now do more to help users. Apps can get the incoming call’s STIR/SHAKEN verification status as part of the call details, and they can customize a system-provided post call screen to let users perform actions such as marking a call as spam or adding to contacts.
  • Wi-Fi suggestion API enhancements - We’ve extended the Wi-Fi suggestion API to give connectivity management apps greater ability to manage their own networks. For example, they can force a disconnection by removing a network suggestion, manage Passpoint networks, receive more information about the quality of connected networks, and other management changes.
  • Passpoint enhancements - Android now enforces and notifies about expiration date of a Passpoint profile, supports Common Name specification in the profile, and allows self-signed private CAs for Passpoint R1 profiles. Connectivity apps can now use the Wi-Fi suggestion API to manage Passpoint networks.

Image and camera improvements

  • HEIF animated drawables - The ImageDecoder API now lets you decode and render image sequence animations stored in HEIF files, so you can make use of high-quality assets while minimizing impact on network data and apk size. HEIF image sequences can offer drastic file-size reductions for image sequences when compared to animated GIFs. Developers can display HEIF image sequences in their apps by calling decodeDrawable with an HEIF source. If the source contains a sequence of images an AnimatedImageDrawable is returned.
  • Native image decoder - New NDK APIs let apps decode and encode images (such as JPEG, PNG, WebP) from native code for graphics or post processing, while retaining a smaller APK size since you don’t need to bundle an external library. The native decoder also takes advantage of Android’s process for ongoing platform security updates. See the NDK sample code for examples.
  • Muting during camera capture - apps can use new APIs to mute vibration from ringtones, alarms or notifications while the session is active.
  • Bokeh modes - Apps can use metadata tags to enable bokeh modes on camera capture requests in devices that support it. A still image mode offers highest quality capture, while a continuous mode ensures that capture keeps up with sensor output, such as for video capture.

Low latency

  • Low-latency video decoding in MediaCodec -- Low latency video is critical for real-time video streaming apps and services like Stadia. Video codecs that support low latency playback return the first frame of the stream as quickly as possible after decoding starts. Apps can use new APIs to check and configure low-latency playback for a specific codec.
  • HDMI low-latency mode - Apps can use new APIs to check for and request auto low latency mode (also known as game mode) on external displays and TVs. In this mode, the display or TV disables graphics post-processing in order to minimize latency.


Get started with Android 11

The Developer Preview has everything you need to try the Android 11 features, test your apps, and give us feedback. To get started, download and flash a device system image to a Pixel 2 / 2 XL, Pixel 3 / 3 XL, Pixel 3a / 3a XL, or Pixel 4 / 4 XL device. Additionally, you can set up the Android Emulator through Android Studio. The Android Emulator running Android 11 system images includes experimental support to run ARM 32-bit & 64-bit binary app code directly on 64-bit x86 Android Emulator system images. Lastly, for broader testing, GSI images are also available.

Next, update your Android Studio environment with the Android 11 Preview SDK and tools - you can do this from inside Android Studio. See the setup guide for complete details. To take advantage of the latest Android Studio features, we recommend installing the latest version of Android Studio from the canary channel.

When you’re set up, here are some of the things you can do:

  • Try the new features and APIs - your feedback is critical during the early part of the developer preview. We’re actively looking for your input on our new APIs, while there’s still time for use to make changes. For more on what’s new, check out the API overview, API reference, and diff report. Please let us know your feedback and requests as soon as possible!
  • Test your current app for compatibility - the goal here is to learn whether your app is affected by default behavior changes in Android 11. Just install your current published app onto a device or emulator and test all of the app flows. If you find issues, we recommend updating your app soon.
  • Test your app with opt-in changes - Like in previous releases, Android 11 has opt-in behavior changes that only affect your app when it’s targeting the new platform. It’s extremely important to understand and assess these changes early. To make it easier to assess the impact, you can now toggle the changes on and off individually. As you test, please make sure to let us know how these changes are working for your app.

For more information, visit the Android 11 developer site. You’ll find an overview of what’s new in this release, details on behavior changes, setup and migration guides, release notes, feedback channels, and more.

Preview updates

We plan to update the preview system images and SDK regularly throughout the Android 11 release cycle. This initial preview release is for developers only and not intended for daily or consumer use, so we're making it available by manual download and flash only. Downloads are here and instructions are here.

As we get closer to a final product, we'll be inviting consumers to try it out as well, and we'll open up enrollments through Android Beta at that time. Stay tuned for details, but for now please note that Android Beta is not currently available for Android 11.

Give us your feedback!

As always, your feedback is crucial, so please let us know what you think — the sooner we hear from you, the more of your feedback we can integrate, and because of timelines, we’re giving priority to input we receive in the next several weeks. When you find issues, please report them here.

Safer and More Transparent Access to User Location

Posted by Krish Vitaldevara, Director of Product Management Trust & Safety, Google Play

Last year, we made several changes to our platform and policies to increase user trust and safety. We’re proud of the work we’ve done to improve family safety, limit use of sensitive permissions, and catch bad actors before they ever reach the Play Store.

We realize that changes can lead to work for developers. Last year, you told us that you wanted more detailed communications about impactful updates, why we’re making them, and how to take action. You also asked for as much time as possible to make any changes required.

With that feedback in mind, today, we’re previewing Android and Google Play policy changes that will impact how developers access location in the background.

Giving users more control over their location data

Users consistently tell us that they want more control over their location data and that we should take every precaution to prevent misuse. Since the beginning of Android, users have needed to grant explicit permission to any app that wants access to their location data.

In Android 10, people were given additional control to only grant access when the app is in use, which makes location access more intentional. Users clearly appreciated this option as over half of users select “While app is in use.”

Now in Android 11, we’re giving users even more control with the ability to grant a temporary “one-time” permission to sensitive data like location. When users select this option, apps can only access the data until the user moves away from the app, and they must then request permission again for the next access. Please visit the Android 11 developer preview to learn more.

Preventing unnecessary access to background location

Users tell us they also want more protection on earlier versions of Android - as well as more transparency around how apps use this data.

As we took a closer look at background location usage, we found that many of the apps that requested background location didn’t actually need it. In fact, many of these apps could provide the same user experience by only accessing location when the app is visible to the user. We want to make it easier for users to choose when to share their location and they shouldn't be asked for a permission that the app doesn't need.

Later this year, we will be updating Google Play policy to require that developers get approval if they want to access location data in the background. Factors that will be looked at include:

  • Does the feature deliver clear value to the user?
  • Would users expect the app to access their location in the background?
  • Is the feature important to the primary purpose of the app?
  • Can you deliver the same experience without accessing location in the background?

All apps will be evaluated against the same factors, including apps made by Google, and all submissions will be reviewed by people on our team. Let’s take a look at three examples:

An app that sends emergency or safety alerts as part of its core functionality - and clearly communicates why access is needed to the user - would have a strong case to request background location.

A social networking app that allows users to elect to continuously share their location with friends would also have a strong case to access location in the background.

An app with a store locator feature would work just fine by only accessing location when the app is visible to the user. In this scenario, the app would not have a strong case to request background location under the new policy.

When we spoke to developers for feedback, the vast majority understood user concerns over their information falling into the wrong hands and were willing to change their location usage to be safer and more transparent.

Getting approval for background access

We know that when we update our policies, you want to get actionable feedback and have ample time to make changes. Before we implement this policy change, you will be able to submit your use case via the Play Console and receive feedback on whether it will be allowed under the new policy.

We anticipate the following timeline for this policy rollout; however, it is subject to change.

  • April: official Google Play policy update with background location
  • May: developers can request feedback on their use case via the Play Console with an estimated reply time of 2 weeks, depending on volume
  • August 3rd: all new apps submitted to Google Play that access background location will need to be approved
  • November 2nd: all existing apps that request background location will need to be approved or will be removed from Google Play

Review and evaluate your location access

We encourage all developers to review the following best practices for accessing location data in their apps:

  • Review the background location access checklist to identify any potential access in your code. Remember you are also responsible for ensuring all third party SDKs or libraries that you use comply with our policies, including access to background location.
  • Minimize your use of location by using the minimum scope necessary to provide a feature (i.e., coarse instead of fine, foreground instead of background).
  • Review privacy best practices and ensure you have the proper disclosure and privacy policies in place.

We hope you found this policy preview useful in planning your roadmap for the year and we appreciate your efforts to build privacy-friendly apps. Together, we can keep the Android ecosystem safe and secure for everyone.

Get ready for the Game Developers Conference

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Games Developer Marketing, Google

Cross-posting from the Google Developers Blog.

Google For Games at GDC March 16-20, 2020

Join us online or live* at the Google Developer Summits during the Game Developers Conference on March 16 and 17 to learn about the latest tools and updates to build great games, reach more players, and improve discovery of your game.

Google has lots to share with the game development community at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March. Check out our plans and sign up to keep up to date with the latest GDC news and announcements from Android, Google Play, Firebase, and more.

For one week, tens of thousands of creators from the gaming community come together at GDC to hear the latest industry innovations and network with peers to enable better gaming experiences for players around the world.

Below is a preview of what to expect from Google, and remember, it’s just the beginning. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as we reveal more leading up to the event, or you can check out our website, Google for Games at GDC.

Google for Games Keynote

We will start the week with the Google for Games Keynote on Monday, March 16 at 9:30 am PST. Join the livestream and learn about the latest tools and solutions to help game developers create great games, connect with players, and scale their businesses.

GDC 2019 Keynote picture

Google Developer Keynote photo at GDC 2019

Google Developer Summit

We have two days of in-depth sessions where you can uplevel your skills across Google products and solutions. Topics range from new tools to optimize game development, how to reach more devices and players, using new Firebase features to alleviate infrastructure management challenges, and much more.

Learn more about the Google Developer Summit we’ll be hosting on March 16 -17 and how you can join in person with an official GDC ticket or via livestream.

We’ll be sharing more details about everything we have planned at GDC in the coming weeks so be sure to sign up to be among the first to hear the latest updates, and save the date to watch the keynote and other Developer Summit sessions at g.co/gdc2020.

More to come soon!

The Google for Games team

*On-site events are part of the official Game Developers Conference and require a pass to attend.

Enter the Indie Games Festival from Google Play

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Developer Marketing

Indie Games Festival banner

The indie developer community released several fantastic titles on Google Play during 2019, showing the technical skill and innovative design that makes them an essential part of the gaming landscape.

To continue helping indie developers thrive, today we’re announcing the 2020 edition of our annual Google Play Indie Games Festival. This year we will host three competitions for developers from several European countries*, Japan, and South Korea.

Prizes:

Prizes are designed to help you grow your business, including:

  • The chance to exhibit at the final events in Warsaw, Tokyo or Seoul
  • Promotions on the Google Play Store
  • Promotions on our consumer and developer-facing channels
  • Access to exclusive developer-focused Google events
  • Personalized consultation sessions with Google team members
  • And more!

Eligibility:

The contests are open to developers from selected countries, with no more than 50 employees. The submitted game must be new, released at least in open beta between May 7, 2019 and March 2, 2020. See other requirements in the terms and conditions for each of the contests.

Process:

process banner for Indie Games Festival

Simply fill out the relevant form by clicking here. Submissions are open until March 2, 2020, at 3pm CET.

The Top 20 entries in each region will be announced in March and invited to showcase at the Festival events where the field will be narrowed to 10 by the event audience, industry experts and the Google team. The Top 10 will present their games on stage and the 3 winners will be selected.

Not submitting a game? Come and take part:

Even if you’re not submitting a game to the competitions, we’d love to see you at one of the Festival events on the 25th of April 2020.

Learn more and sign up on g.co/play/indiefestival

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

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Kotlin/Everywhere – it’s a wrap!

Posted by Florina Muntenescu, Developer Advocate (@FMuntenescu)

At Google I/O 2019 we announced that Android development will become increasingly Kotlin-first. Together with JetBrains, we also launched Kotlin/Everywhere - a global series of community led events focusing on the potential of using Kotlin everywhere; on Android, servers, web front-end and other platforms.

Kotlin/Everywhere events took place from May through December and we want to thank everyone for getting involved

?‍??‍?30,000+ developers participated in-person at Kotlin/Everywhere events

??200,000 views of live-streams and event recordings like Kotlin/Everywhere Bengaluru, Minsk, Chicago, Buenos Aires and more.

? 500+ events: from short evening meetups, half-day sessions, and full day events, to Kotlin/Everywhere tracks at larger events like DevFests, or even StudyJams that spanned several weeks.

?~30 speakers from Google and JetBrains gave ~70 talks at events around the world.

? 85+ countries: from United States to Chile, Kenya, Greece, Taiwan, New Zealand and so many more, with some countries hosting 1-2 events to some hosting dozens: Nigeria - 38, China - 27, India - 25 just to name a few.

? Many of the resources used or created for Kotlin/Everywhere by Google and JetBrains are available online:

General Kotlin:

Kotlin in Android:

Kotlin in Google Cloud Platform:

Multi-platform Kotlin:

We’re grateful for this engagement with Kotlin from communities around the world, as well as for all the organisers, speakers and attendees who made these events possible! To participate in more Kotlin events, check out JetBrains’ KotlinConf’19 Global initiative, happening through March 2020.

With all of the resources available, there’s never been a better time to adopt Kotlin… Everywhere!

Our highlights from Android & Google Play in 2019 – building for the next decade

Posted by Patricia Correa, P&E Developer Marketing Director

The last 12 months have seen Google Play continue to grow, with over 116 billion downloads of the apps and games that you created.

We’ve been working hard to build the latest technology and tools for modern Android development and distribution, improving Google Play and the Play Console to offer you new and better ways for your app to be discovered, promoted, and monetized.

A key focus has been addressing the challenge of keeping users safe and maintaining trust in Google Play.

Modern Android development

We are focused on building great tools and services and your feedback is crucial in helping us do so. You have told us that you love Android’s openness, but we have also heard that you would like us to marry it with an opinion about the right way to do things. We call this approach modern Android development: opinionated and powerful, for fast, easy development, taking away everything that slows you down so you can focus on building incredible experiences. You can see modern Android development come to life in a number of investments we made this year:

  • We previewed Jetpack Compose, a modern declarative UI toolkit built for the next 10 years. Inspired by Kotlin, Compose makes it easy to build beautiful, native apps with code that is more intuitive and concise. Check out the Compose tutorial to learn more.
  • This year, Android Jetpack saw many stable library releases from background scheduling with WorkManager, in-app navigation with Navigation to app performance measurement with Benchmark . In 2019 , we also gave you early versions of more building blocks for your production apps with Jetpack CameraX library, BiometricPrompt and encryption & security. Check them all out here.
  • For everyone who wants to get started with Kotlin there are a range of courses available on Udacity. We’ve added the Advanced Android course with Kotlin to help every developer grow their skills and get the most from Kotlin. For those who are already experts, we’re launching a new Android Developer Certification in Kotlin, which is available at a discount until early 2020.
  • We recently released the first canary version of Android Studio 4.0 with powerful, integrated tooling support for Compose. It also has a new Motion Editor, Java 8 Language library desugaring, full support for KTS files, Kotlin live templates, and more.

Android 10

Android 10, released earlier this year, is built around three important themes. First, Android 10 is shaping the leading edge of mobile innovation with advanced machine-learning and support for emerging devices like foldables and 5G enabled phones. Next, Android 10 has a central focus on privacy and security, with almost 50 features that give users greater protection, transparency, and control. Finally, Android 10 expands users' digital wellbeing controls so individuals and families can find a better balance with technology.

Modern app and game distribution

We introduced Android App Bundles last year as a mechanism to simplify and streamline app distribution, overcome the constraints of APK publishing, and introduce advanced distribution features such as dynamic delivery. There are now over 300K app bundle apps and games in production, covering nearly 30% of all active installs. If this doesn’t include your app or game, check out 16 reasons to publish your apps and games with the Android App Bundle.

This year we’ve made it much easier to test and implement app bundles and dynamic delivery. Internal app sharing makes it easy to share test builds with others. You can easily grant anyone on your team the ability to upload a test build to Play and get a download link to share with your testers. 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, and can even upload debuggable artifacts.You can also get download links for old versions of your app from the Play Console, whether they’re app bundles or APKs.

Protecting the ecosystem

In 2019, you helped us make Google Play even safer, building user trust in your apps and Google Play as a whole. Thanks to your hard work, we have:

  • Made Google Play safer for children and families by helping ensure apps and games for children have appropriate content, show suitable ads, and handle personally identifiable information correctly.
  • Reduced access to sensitive data by restricting SMS and call log permissions to apps whose core functionality needs them, resulting in 98% fewer apps accessing this sensitive data.

To help you protect your apps, we’ve improved our ability to detect impersonators, repackaging, bad content, and other forms of abuse. Additionally, we’re investing in resources like policy-focused Play Academy courses to help you better understand and navigate our policy changes.

Because the threats are always changing, it’ll take all of us working together to keep users safe and our platform secure. Thank you for continuing to work with us on this.

Building better app businesses

During 2019 we continued to look for new ways to help you market and monetize your apps and games:

  • Google Play got a visual refresh which improves app discovery and accessibility for the wide diversity of store visitors.
  • App tags improve discoverability, enabling you to describe the content and functionality of your game with up to five tags.
  • Your app’s rating is now weighted towards your most recent ratings, instead of a lifetime cumulative average, so that it better reflects your app’s current state.
  • Improved and more granular benchmarks in the Google Play Console’s User Acquisition-, Ratings-, and Android Vitals-reports; and new benchmarks for core statistics against 200 curated peer-sets; with period-on-period growth rates, including user and device acquisitions, churn, actives, and more.
  • If you’re using subscriptions, the pause subscription report offers you new insights including the length users paused for and whether they returned or churned at the end of their pause period.
  • We expanded our buyer support so you can now sell apps and games to people in Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Iraq, and Turks and Caicos. We also welcomed many new developers to the Google Play Store’s family with Seller Support, with more than 35 additional countries launched this year. Find out more.

And that’s a wrap

With such scale comes responsibility. We’re committed to ensuring our users’ safety for the future, to making development easier and distribution faster, and to offering you more effective ways for your app to be discovered and monetized.

On this note, we hope we can all continue working together to make Android and Google Play better for billions of people around the world, in 2020, and the years to come. From everyone on our team, we wish you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

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Android 10 on Android TV

Posted by Paul Lammertsma, Developer Advocate

Technology has changed the way media and entertainment is accessed and consumed in the home. While the living room experience is evolving with the addition of smart devices, TVs still remain the largest and most frequently used screen for watching content.

When Android TV was first introduced in 2014, we set out to bring the best of Android into the connected home on the TV. We worked closely with the developer community to grow our content and app ecosystem and bring users the content they want. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous momentum with OEM and operator partners as well as consumer adoption worldwide.

Today, we are bringing Android API level 29 with the recent performance and security updates made with Android 10 to Android TV. We’re excited to provide faster updates through Project Treble and more secure storage with encrypted user data. TLS 1.3 by default also brings better performance benefits and is up to date with the TLS standard. In addition, Android 10 includes hardening for several security-critical areas of the platform.

ADT-3

To make sure developers have the ability to build and test Android TV app implementations on Android 10 prior to rollout, we’re introducing a new, developer-focused streaming media device called ADT-3.

With a quad-core A53, 2GB of DDR3 memory and 4Kp60 HDR HDMI 2.1 output, we’ve designed this pre-certified TV dongle with updates and security patches to help developers design for the next generation of Android TV devices. By providing a way to test on physical and up to date hardware, developers can better validate their Android TV app’s compatibility.

Android TV box and remote

ADT-3 will be made available to developers in the coming months for purchase online through an OEM partner.

Android’s commitment to Kotlin

Posted by David Winer, Kotlin Product Manager

Android and Kotlin banner

When we announced Kotlin as a supported language for Android, there was a tremendous amount of excitement among developers. Since then, there has been a steady increase in the number of developers using Kotlin. Today, we’re proud to say nearly 60% of the top 1,000 Android apps contain Kotlin code, with more and more Android developers introducing safer and more concise code using Kotlin.

During this year’s I/O, we announced that Android development will be Kotlin-first, and we’ve stood by that commitment. This is one of the reasons why Android is the gold partner for this year’s KotlinConf.

Seamless Kotlin on Android

In 2019, we focused on making programming in Kotlin on Android a seamless experience, with modern Kotlin-first APIs across the Android platform. Earlier this year, we launched a developer preview of Jetpack Compose, a modern UI toolkit for Android built using a Kotlin domain-specific language (DSL). We also incorporated coroutines into several of the flagship Jetpack libraries, including Room and Lifecycle. Finally, we brought Kotlin extensions (KTX) to even more major Google libraries, including Firebase and Play Core.

On the tooling side, we strengthened our commitment to Kotlin in Android Studio and the Android build pipeline. Significant updates to R8 (the code shrinker for Android) brought the ability to detect and handle Kotlin-specific bytecode patterns. Support was added for .kts Gradle build scripts in Android Studio, along with improved Kotlin support in Dagger. We worked closely with the JetBrains team to optimize support for the Kotlin plugin, and make the Kotlin editing experience in Android Studio fluid and fast.

Better Kotlin learning

This year we’ve also invested in quality Kotlin on Android learning content.

We released two free video learning courses in partnership with Udacity: Developing Android Apps in Kotlin and Advanced Android in Kotlin. This content was also released as the Codelab courses Android Kotlin Fundamentals and Advanced Android in Kotlin, for those who prefer text-based learning. The popular Kotlin Bootcamp for Programmers Udacity course was also published as a Codelabs course, helping provide a Kotlin foundation for non-Kotlin developers. Kotlin-based instructional Codelabs were also created for topics including Material Design, Kotlin coroutines, location, refactoring to Kotlin, billing in Kotlin, and Google Pay in Kotlin. It hasn’t been just about new content: we've updated Kotlin Codelab favorites to take advantage of important features such as coroutines.

Looking ahead

In 2020, Android development will continue to be Kotlin-first. We’ve been listening to your feedback, and will continue partnering with JetBrains to improve your experience with Kotlin.

This includes working with JetBrains to improve the Kotlin compiler over the next year. Our teams are making the compiler more extensible with a new backend, and making your builds faster with a significantly faster frontend. We’re also working with many of the largest annotation processors to make compilation faster for Kotlin code. You can also expect more Kotlin-first updates to Android, including more Jetpack libraries that make use of Kotlin features such as coroutines.

Thank you for letting us be part of your app development journey this year. We look forward to continuing the journey with you in 2020.

Android Game SDK

Posted by Dan Galpin, Developer Advocate

With over 2.5 billion monthly active devices, the Android Platform gives incredible reach for game developers. Taking advantage of that opportunity can be a challenge, particularly if your game really tries to push the limits of what mobile can do. We've spent years working with game developers to try to both capture and address the biggest issues, and we're just beginning to see the fruits of that effort with the launch of the Android Game SDK. The Android Game SDK is a set of libraries that you can use to enhance your Android game.

The first library we are launching in the Android Game SDK helps developers with frame pacing, the synchronization of a game's rendering loop with the OS display subsystem and underlying display hardware. Android's display subsystem is designed to avoid tearing that occurs when the display hardware switches to a new frame in the middle of an update. To this end, it buffers past frames, detects late frame submissions, and repeats the display of past frames when late frames are detected. When a game render loop renders at a different rate than the native display hardware, such as a game running at 30 frames-per-second attempting to render on a device that natively supports 60 FPS, the optimal display flow involves synchronization between the game render loop, the system compositor, and the display hardware.

Optimal Display Flow

Optimal Display Flow

Any mismatch in synchronization can create substantial inconsistencies in frame times. If a frame takes substantially less time to render, it can shorten the presentation of the previous frame, causing something like a 33ms, 16ms, and a 50ms sequence.

Synchronization Mismatch: Rendering too Fast

Synchronization Mismatch: Rendering too Fast

If a frame takes too long to render, a similar problem occurs. The frame will be presented for an extra frame, causing something like a 50ms, 16ms, and 33ms sequence.

Synchronization Mismatch: Slow Frame

Synchronization Mismatch: Slow Frame

In either of these two scenarios, the game player will experience inconsistent delays between game input and screen updates. Visually, things will look less smooth and polished. Both visuals and game play can be impacted.

The Frame Pacing library uses Android's Choreographer API for synchronization with the display subsystem, using presentation timestamp extensions on both OpenGL and Vulkan APIs to make sure frames are presented at the proper time, and sync fences to avoid buffer stuffing. Multiple refresh rates are handled if supported by the device, giving a game more flexibility in presenting a frame. For a device that supports a 60 Hz refresh rate as well as 90 Hz, a game that cannot produce 60 frames per second can drop to 45 FPS instead of 30 FPS to remain smooth. The library detects the expected game frame rate and auto-adjusts frame presentation times accordingly. The Frame Pacing library allows games to take advantage of higher refresh rate 90 and 120 Hz displays, while also making it easy to lock the refresh rate to a desired value, regardless of the underlying display refresh rate.

The Frame Pacing library is built into Unity versions 2019.2 and beyond. Just select the optimized Frame Pacing checkbox under Android Settings to enable smoother frame rates for your game. If you have source to your game engine, it's straightforward to integrate the library into your OpenGL or Vulkan renderer. We've just added library binaries for download at developer.android.com/games/sdk/, or you can download the source code from the Android Open Source Project.

To learn more about Frame Pacing, check out the documentation at developer.android.com, along with the Frame Pacing section of the Optimizing Android Games Performance talk from Google I/O 2019. Be sure to subscribe to our Twitter channel and stay tuned for our announcements at GDC 2020 for more on how we're working to make Android game development better, so you can bring the best game experience to billions of devices.