Tag Archives: Google Play Store

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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The Google Play store’s visual refresh

Boris Valusek, Design Lead, Google Play

The Google Play Store has over two billion monthly active users coming to find the right app, game, and other digital content. To improve the overall store experience, we’re excited to roll out a complete visual redesign. Aligning with Material design language, we’re introducing several user-facing updates to deliver a cleaner, more premium store that improves app discovery and accessibility for our diverse set of users.

Google Play store's visual refresh

To make browsing faster and easier, we’ve introduced a new navigation bar at the bottom of the Play Store on mobile devices and a new left navigation on tablets and Chrome OS. There are now two distinct destinations for games and apps, which helps us better serve users the right kind of content. Once users find the right app or game, the updated store listing page layout surfaces richer app information at the top of each page as well as a more prominent call-to-action button. This makes it easier for users to see the important details and make a decision to install your app. You’ll also notice our new icon system with a uniform shape, helping content to stand out more over UI. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to update your icon following the new icon specifications as soon as possible.

If you’re looking for best practices to make a compelling store listing page, we have several resources to help. To ensure your page resonates well with Android users, use store listing experiments to test for the best app icon, images, video, and descriptions on Google Play. You can also tailor your marketing messages to specific user groups based on their country, install state or even pre-registration by creating custom store listings. For even more, try our free e-learning resource, Academy for App Success.

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Supporting Google Play developers regarding local market withholding tax regulations

Posted by Gloria On, Program Manager, Google Play

Many developers are increasingly focused on growing their businesses globally, and there were more than 94 billion apps downloaded from Google Play in the last year, reaching more than 190 countries. The regulatory environment is frequently changing in local markets, and in some countries local governments have implemented withholding tax requirements on transactions with which Google or our payment processor partners must comply. We strive to help both developers and Google meet local tax requirements in markets where we do business, and where Google or our payment processor partners are required to withhold taxes, we may need to deduct those amounts from our payments to developers.

Due to new requirements in some markets, we'll be rolling out withholding taxes soon to all those doing business in those countries. We wanted to bring this to the attention of Google Play developers to allow you time to prepare for these upcoming changes and take any necessary measures to meet these obligations. We strongly recommend developers consult with a professional tax advisor on your individual tax implications in affected markets and for guidance on the potential impact on your business so that you can make any necessary preparations.

The first countries where we will roll out these changes will be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Myanmar. You can refer to the Google Play help center page to stay informed on future updates and changes.

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Introducing a new Google Play app and game icon specification


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

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


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

What exactly is changing?

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

These updates will help us all provide a more unified and consistent look and feel for Google Play, allowing us to better showcase your apps and games and provide a higher quality user experience.
We will be keeping you up-to-date with these changes in the coming months - so look out for more updates. In the meantime, check out our new icon design specifications.
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Android Security Improvement update: Helping developers harden their apps, one thwarted vulnerability at a time

Posted by Patrick Mutchler and Meghan Kelly, Android Security & Privacy Team

Helping Android app developers build secure apps, free of known vulnerabilities, means helping the overall ecosystem thrive. This is why we launched the Application Security Improvement Program five years ago, and why we're still so invested in its success today.

What the Android Security Improvement Program does

When an app is submitted to the Google Play store, we scan it to determine if a variety of vulnerabilities are present. If we find something concerning, we flag it to the developer and then help them to remedy the situation.

Think of it like a routine physical. If there are no problems, the app runs through our normal tests and continues on the process to being published in the Play Store. If there is a problem, however, we provide a diagnosis and next steps to get back to healthy form.

Over its lifetime, the program has helped more than 300,000 developers to fix more than 1,000,000 apps on Google Play. In 2018 alone, the program helped over 30,000 developers fix over 75,000 apps. The downstream effect means that those 75,000 vulnerable apps are not distributed to users with the same security issues present, which we consider a win.

What vulnerabilities are covered

The App Security Improvement program covers a broad range of security issues in Android apps. These can be as specific as security issues in certain versions of popular libraries (ex: CVE-2015-5256) and as broad as unsafe TLS/SSL certificate validation.

We are continuously improving this program's capabilities by improving the existing checks and launching checks for more classes of security vulnerability. In 2018, we deployed warnings for six additional security vulnerability classes including:

  1. SQL Injection
  2. File-based Cross-Site Scripting
  3. Cross-App Scripting
  4. Leaked Third-Party Credentials
  5. Scheme Hijacking
  6. JavaScript Interface Injection

Ensuring that we're continuing to evolve the program as new exploits emerge is a top priority for us. We are continuing to work on this throughout 2019.

Keeping Android users safe is important to Google. We know that app security is often tricky and that developers can make mistakes. We hope to see this program grow in the years to come, helping developers worldwide build apps users can truly trust.

Expanding target API level requirements in 2019

Posted by Edward Cunningham, Android Security & Privacy Team

In a previous blog we described how API behavior changes advance the security and privacy protections of Android, and include user experience improvements that prevent apps from accidentally overusing resources like battery and memory.

Since November 2018, all app updates on Google Play have been required to target API level 26 (Android 8.0) or higher. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of app developers, Android users now enjoy more apps using modern APIs than ever before, bringing significant security and privacy benefits. For example, during 2018 over 150,000 apps added support for runtime permissions, giving users granular control over the data they share.

Today we're providing more information about the Google Play requirements for 2019, and announcing some changes that affect apps distributed via other stores.

Google Play requirements for 2019

In order to provide users with the best Android experience possible, the Google Play Console will continue to require that apps target a recent API level:

  • August 2019: New apps are required to target API level 28 (Android 9) or higher.
  • November 2019: Updates to existing apps are required to target API level 28 or higher.

Existing apps that are not receiving updates are unaffected and can continue to be downloaded from the Play Store. Apps can still use any minSdkVersion, so there is no change to your ability to build apps for older Android versions.

For a list of changes introduced in Android 9 Pie, check out our page on behavior changes for apps targeting API level 28+.

Apps distributed via other stores

Targeting a recent API level is valuable regardless of how an app is distributed. In China, major app stores from Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent will be requiring that apps target API level 26 (Android 8.0) or higher in 2019. We expect many others to introduce similar requirements – an important step to improve the security of the app ecosystem.

Over 95% of spyware we detect outside of the Play Store intentionally targets API level 22 or lower, avoiding runtime permissions even when installed on recent Android versions. To protect users from malware, and support this ecosystem initiative, Google Play Protect will warn users when they attempt to install APKs from any source that do not target a recent API level:

  • August 2019: New apps will receive warnings during installation if they do not target API level 26 or higher.
  • November 2019: New versions of existing apps will receive warnings during installation if they do not target API level 26 or higher.
  • 2020 onwards: The target API level requirement will advance annually.

These Play Protect warnings will show only if the app's targetSdkVersion is lower than the device API level. For example, a user with a device running Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) will be warned when installing any new APK that targets API level 22 or lower. Users with devices running Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher will be warned when installing any new APK that targets API level 25 or lower.

Prior to August, Play Protect will start showing these warnings on devices with Developer options enabled to give advance notice to developers of apps outside of the Play Store. To ensure compatibility across all Android versions, developers should make sure that new versions of any apps target API level 26+.

Existing apps that have been released (via any distribution channel) and are not receiving updates will be unaffected – users will not be warned when installing them.

Getting started

For advice on how to change your app’s target API level, take a look at the migration guide and this talk from I/O 2018: Migrate your existing app to target Android Oreo and above.

We're extremely grateful to the Android developers worldwide who have already updated their apps to deliver security improvements for their users. We look forward to making great progress together in 2019.