30 January 2017

Get a sneak peek at Android Nougat 7.1.2

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

The next maintenance release for Android Nougat -- 7.1.2 -- is just around the corner! To get the recipe just right, starting today, we're rolling out a public beta to eligible devices that are enrolled in the Android Beta Program, including Pixel and Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player, and Pixel C devices. We're also preparing an update for Nexus 6P that we expect to release soon.

Android 7.1.2 is an incremental maintenance release focused on refinements, so it includes a number of bugfixes and optimizations, along with a small number of enhancements for carriers and users.

If you'd like to try the public beta for Android 7.1.2, the easiest way is through the Android Beta Program. If you have an eligible device that's already enrolled, you're all set -- your device will get the public beta update in the next few days and no action is needed on your part. If your device isn't enrolled, it only takes a moment to visit android.com/beta and opt-in your eligible Android phone or tablet -- you'll soon receive the public beta update over-the-air. As always, you can also download and flash this update manually.

We're expecting to launch the final release of the Android 7.1.2 in just a couple of months, Like the beta, it will be available for Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, and Pixel C devices. Meanwhile we welcome your feedback or requests in the Android Beta community as we work towards the final over-the-air update. Thanks for being part of the public beta!

26 January 2017

Engaging users during major events: How The Guardian used innovative notifications

Posted By Tamzin Taylor, Partner Development at Google Play

Major sporting, cultural, political events present an opportunity to re-engage users if you can find a relevant and unique way to serve them information. For example, The Guardian was able to substantially increase user engagement with its mobile app during the recent US election by using new notifications functionality in Android 7.0 Nougat. While notifications themselves are nothing new, The Guardian used innovative techniques and design elements to give their users a rich, real time update on the election results as they happened.
How The Guardian innovated with notifications

Users who opted-in received a single, continuously updating notification which was persistent on their lock screen as results came in on election night. The notification used avatars of the candidates and a progress bar to bring the information to life.




The notification showed the most up-to-date numbers of electoral votes won and states called, an indication of which swing states have been called, and the breakdown of the popular vote between the two leading candidates.

"Having the ability to have a constantly updating notification on screen, allowed us to keep our users engaged throughout election night".
– Rob Phillips from The Guardian

Another important feature was the ability to notify users of major updates with a link to detailed information and analysis. In order to do this, the Guardian allowed the newsroom teams to push notifications of major events, such as when the 270 vote mark was passed.

"Our newsroom could let our readers know in real time when there was a serious milestone, and we were able to deliver 101 unique notifications during the course of the evening. The clear menu options acted as key drivers to our journalism as the news unfolded, and meant we could get our readers connected with our content when they were most receptive".
– Rob Phillips from The Guardian
Results and next steps
The engagement results were impressive:
  • 170K people signed up to see the alert, with 122K users interacting with the alert
  • The average number of interactions was around 620K, or 5.1 per user
  • 74% of users who saw the notification tapped through to the main live blog
  • 25% of users who saw the notification tapped through to our full results content
Finally, perhaps the most impressive statistic is that promoting live updates (via the notification) resulted in 103% increase in daily installs during election week.

"By providing our users with the ability to quickly and easily check information, to highlight major moments and to direct people to where to find more information, we can deliver value to our readers, helping them make sense of the events wherever they are, quickly and succinctly. After all, that's what we're here to do as a news company, and we're delighted that the new functionality on Nougat lets us do that"
– Rob Phillips from The Guardian

On the back of the success of using Android N capabilities for live notifications, the Guardian plans to test the same approach with sports content, and explore how it could be applied more extensively to other major events like The Oscars and the Super Bowl.


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24 January 2017

Discover and celebrate the best local games at Indonesia Games Contest


Posted by David Yin, Business Development Manager, Indonesia, Google Play.

It is a great time to be a mobile game developer on Android with the opportunity reaching more than a billion global users on Google Play. At the same time, developers in fast growing mobile markets like Indonesia have an additional opportunity in the form of a huge local audience that is hungry for local content. We have already seen thousands of Indonesian developers launch high quality, locally relevant games for this new audience, such as "Tahu Bulat" & "Tebak Gambar".

In our continuous quest to discover, nurture growth, and showcase the best games from Indonesia, we are really happy to announce Indonesia Games Contest. This contest celebrates the passion and great potential of local game developers, and provides an opportunity to raise awareness of your game with global and local industry experts, together with gamers, from across Indonesia. It's also a chance to showcase your creativity and win cool prizes.
Entering the contest

The contest is only open to developers based in Indonesia who have published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2016. Make sure to visit our contest website for the full list of eligibility criteria and terms. A quick summary of the process is below:
  1. If you are eligible, submit your game by 19 March 2017.
  2. Entries will be reviewed by Google Play team and industry experts, and up to 15 finalists will be announced in early April 2017.
  3. The finalists will get to showcase their games at the final event in Jakarta on 26 April 2017.
  4. Winner and runners up will be announced at final event.
To get started

Visit our contest website to find out more about the contest and submit your game.
Terima Kasih!


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Final Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview: iOS support. Time to upload your apps to the Play Store!

Posted by Hoi Lam, Developer Advocate 

Cross platform support by Telegram Messenger

Today, we are releasing the fifth and final developer preview for Android Wear 2.0. In this release, we have added iOS support and included a number of bug fixes and enhancements. Apps compiled with this preview are now ready for final submission to the Google Play Store, so it's time to publish your apps. As Android Wear 2.0 approaches its final release in early February, we would like to thank you for your continued feedback during the developer preview program. Your input has helped us uncover bugs as well as drive critical product decisions. Thank you!

iOS Support


Since 2015, you've been able to pair Android Wear watches with iPhones, and now you can distribute your apps to iPhone-paired watches as well. To do so, just set the standalone=true flag in your watch app manifest. This lets the Play Store know that your watch app doesn't require an Android phone app, and therefore can appear in the Play Store on watches paired to iPhones. To pair your watch to an iPhone and test, just follow these steps.

<application …>
   <meta-data android:name="com.google.android.wearable.standalone" android:value="true"/>
    …
</application>

The available network bandwidth for standalone apps can be lower than expected, as the platform balances battery savings vs network bandwidth. Make sure to check out these guidelines for accessing the network, including accessing Wi-Fi and cellular networks on watches paired with iPhones.

Also with this developer preview release, Android Wear apps running on watches paired with iOS devices will be able to perform phone hand-off flows such as OAuth and RemoteIntent for launching a web page on a paired iOS device.

Uploading Your App to the Google Play Store


The final developer preview includes an update to the Wearable Support Library. Apps compiled with API level 25 and this support library are considered ready for deployment in the Google Play Store. Please note that there are no updates to the preview watch image or emulator in this developer preview release.

Other Enhancement and Bug Fixes


  • Navigation Drawer: Flip a flag to toggle to the single-page, icon-only navigation drawer, which provides faster, more streamlined navigation to different views in your app.
  • NFC HCE support: NFC Host Card Emulation FEATURE_NFC_HOST_CARD_EMULATION is now supported.
  • ProGuard and Complication API: New ProGuard configuration means complication data container classes will no longer be obfuscated. This fixes a ClassNotFoundException when watch faces are trying to access data supplied by a complication data provider.

Countdown to Launch


Thank you for the fantastic level of feedback we have gotten from you as developers. Check out g.co/wearpreview for the latest builds and documentation, and be sure to publish your apps before the Android Wear 2.0 consumer launch in early February. As we work towards the consumer launch and beyond, please continue filing bugs or posting comments in our Android Wear Developers community. We can't wait to see your Android Wear 2.0 apps!

23 January 2017

Android Instant Apps starts initial live testing

Posted by Aurash Mahbod, Software Engineer, Google Play

Android Instant Apps was previewed at Google I/O last year as a new way to run Android apps without requiring installation. Instant Apps is an important part of our effort to help users discover and run apps with minimal friction.

We’ve been working with a small number of developers to refine the user and developer experiences. Today, a few of these Instant Apps will be available to Android users for the first time in a limited test, including apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope, and Viki. By collecting user feedback and iterating on the product, we’ll be able to expand the experience to more apps and more users.

To develop an instant app, you’ll need to update your existing Android app to take advantage of Instant Apps functionality and then modularize your app so part of it can be downloaded and run on-the-fly. You’ll use the same Android APIs and Android Studio project. Today, you can also take some important steps to be ready for Instant Apps development. The full SDK will be available in the coming months.

There has already been a tremendous amount of interest in Instant Apps from thousands of developers. We can’t wait to hear your feedback and share more awesome experiences later this year. Stay tuned!


19 January 2017

App Security Improvements: Looking back at 2016

Posted by Rahul Mishra, Android Security Program Manager
In April 2016, the Android Security team described how the Google Play App Security Improvement (ASI) program has helped developers fix security issues in 100,000 applications. Since then, we have detected and notified developers of 11 new security issues and provided developers with resources and guidance to update their apps. Because of this, over 90,000 developers have updated over 275,000 apps!
ASI now notifies developers of 26 potential security issues. To make this process more transparent, we introduced a new page where developers can find information about all these security issues in one place. This page includes links to help center articles containing instructions and additional support contacts. Developers can use this page as a resource to learn about new issues and keep track of all past issues.

Make sure to check out our new Security for Android Developers page, which highlights the latest security posts, security best practices documents and security checklist. These resources are all aimed at improving your understanding of general security concepts and giving you examples that can help you address app-specific issues.

How you can help:
For feedback or questions, please reach out to us through the Google PlayDeveloper Help Center.
To report potential security issues in apps, email us at security+asi@android.com.

Android Developer Story: Wallapop improves user conversions with store listing experiments on Google Play

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Developer Marketing, Google Play
Wallapop is a mobile app developer based in Barcelona, Spain. The app provides a platform to users for selling and buying things to others nearby in a virtual flea market by using geolocalization. Wallapop now has over 70% of their user base on Android.

Watch Agus Gomez, Co-Founder & CEO, and Marta Gui, Growth Hacking Manager, explain how using store listing experiments has increased their conversion rate by 17%, and has allowed them to optimize organic installs.


Learn more about store listing experiments. Get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


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Tips from developers Peak and Soundcloud on how to grow your startup on Google Play


Posted by Francesca Di Felice, Developer Marketing at Google Play

At Playtime 2016, Google Play's series of developer events, we met with top app and game developers from around the world to share learnings on how to build successful businesses on Google Play. Several startups, including game developer Peaklabs and audio platform SoundCloud, presented on stage their own best practices for growth, which you might find helpful.

Testing for growth, by Peak

Hear from Kevin Shanahan, Product Manager from Peak, a brain training app, on how to grow sustainably.



  • Test lots of ideas: You can't be sure of what will work and what won't, so you need to test lots of ideas. Peak ran four different tests to try to increase conversions to Pro (their subscriber offering):
  1. Made the ability to replay games a Pro feature
  2. Reduced price of Pro by 25% in top 2 markets
  3. Bundled add-on modules from partners into Pro
  4. Showed a preview of Pro-only content
          One of these tests resulted in a 50% increase in conversions.

  • Get the basics right: Start with a great product and have a data-informed culture. Don't only test app features, experimenting your store listing using store listing experiments is also important.
  • Build a robust A/B testing process: Having a well-defined A/B testing process and a system for tracking your experiments is key to testing quickly and effectively.

Improving user retention, by SoundCloud

Andy Carvell, former Product Manager at SoundCloud, an online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds, explains how they focus on retention to improve growth.

 

  • Design your retention strategy: Apps with poor retention grow slowly. To increase your retention you should:
    • Convert new users to repeat visitors by providing a strong onboarding experience for new users and taking a high-touch approach during the first days and weeks.
    • Increase visit frequency within this group by providing frequent, timely, and relevant messaging about content or activity on the platform.
    • Target returning users who were not seen over the last period, who are 'at risk of churn' users, by giving them reasons to come back for another session before losing them.
    • Re-activate lapsed (long-term churned) users with campaigns to remind them about your app and offer an incentive to return.
  • Build 'growth machines': Create repeatable processes that testing has proven to positively impact retention, retaining users, and preventing churn.
  • Use activity notifications in a personalised and effective way: At SoundCloud there are plenty of things that happen when users are not in the app that might be relevant to them, for example new content releases or social interactions. They tested 5 new notification types, always keeping a control group to better keep track of the impact, and managed to increase retention in a 5%. Watch the video above for more of Andy's tips on making better use of notifications.

Other speakers, such as Silicon Valley VC Greylock, have also shared their tips for startup growth. Watch more sessions from this year's Playtime events to learn best practices from other apps and game partners, and the Google Play team. Get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up to date with news and tips to help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

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18 January 2017

Southeast Asian indie game developers find success on Google Play

Posted by Vineet Tanwar, Business Development Manager, Google Play

Indie game developers bring high quality, artistic, and innovative content to Google Play and raise the bar for all developers in the process. In fact, they also make up a large portion of our 'Editor's Choice' recommended titles.
Southeast Asia, in particular, has a vibrant indie game developer ecosystem, and we've been working closely with them to provide tools that help them build successful businesses on Google Play. Today, we're sharing stories from three Indie developers based in Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia, who joined us at our 'Indie Game Developers Day' workshops in May 2016 and all of whom have experienced significant growth since.

Inzen Studio from Singapore learned how to use store listing experiments and has improved the conversion rate of their newly launched game Dark Dot by 25%. Indonesia based studio, Niji Games, creator of Cute Munchies, implemented 'Saved Games' and 'Events and Quests' from Google Play games services to significantly improve user retention, and also earned an 'Editor's Choice' badge in the process. Ho Chi Minh City based developer, VGames, optimized monetization and introduced new paid products for their game Gungun online, and grew revenue by over 100%.


Indie game developers who are interested in meeting members of Google Play and who would like to work closer with us are invited to join our next round of SEA workshops in March 2017. To apply for these events, just fill in this form and we will reach out to you.


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17 January 2017

Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

Posted by Megan Ruthven, Software Engineer

In Android Security, we're constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team's research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.
Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.
With these factors in mind, we then focus on 'retention'. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn't, it's considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app's retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem's retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app's retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app's retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidentally correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.
This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.

Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device.


Results in the wild
Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.
The DOI scorer and all of Android's anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android's security and transparency efforts, check out our page.


16 January 2017

Meet the 20 finalists of the Google Play Indie Games Contest in Europe

Posted by Matteo Vallone, Google Play Games Business Development

Back in November, we launched the Google Play Indie Games Contest for developers from 15 European countries, to celebrate the passion and innovation of the indie community in the region. The contest will reward the winners with exposure to industry experts and players worldwide, as well as other prizes that will showcase their art and help them grow their business on Android and Google Play.

Thank you to the nearly 1000 of you who submitted high quality games in all types of genres! Your creativity, enthusiasm and dedication have once again impressed us and inspired us. We had a very fun time testing and judging the games based on fun, innovation, design excellence and technical and production quality, and it was challenging to select only 20 finalists:

Meet the 20 finalists
(In alphabetical order)

Blind Drive
(coming soon)

Lo-Fi People
Israel
Causality
(coming soon)

Loju
United Kingdom

Crap! I'm Broke: Out of Pocket
Arcane Circus Netherlands

Egz

Lonely Woof
France

Ellipsis

Salmi GmbH Germany


Gladiabots


GFX47
France

Happy Hop: Kawaii Jump

Platonic Games
Spain

Hidden Folks (coming soon)

Adriaan de Jongh Netherlands
Lichtspeer
(coming soon)

Lichthund
Poland
Lost in Harmony
Digixart

Entertainment France


Mr Future Ninja (coming soon)

Huijaus Studios
Finland
Paper Wings


Fil Games
Turkey
PinOut


Mediocre
Sweden

Power Hover


Oddrok
Finland

Reigns

Nerial
United Kingdom

Rusty Lake: Roots

Rusty Lake Netherlands

Samorost 3

Amanita Design Czech Republic

The Battle of Polytopia
Midjiwan AB Sweden


twofold inc.

Grapefrukt games Sweden

Unworded (coming soon)

Bento Studio France


Check out the prizes

All the 20 finalists are getting:
  • The opportunity to exhibit and showcase their game at the final event held at the Saatchi Gallery in London, on 16th February 2017.
  • Promotion of their game on a London billboard for one month.
  • Two tickets to attend a 2017 Playtime event. This is an invitation-only event for top apps and games developers on Google Play.
  • One Pixel XL smartphone.
At the event at Saatchi, the finalists will also have a chance to make it to the next rounds and win additional prizes, including:
  • YouTube influencer campaigns worth up to 100,000 EUR.
  • Premium placements on Google Play.
  • Tickets to Google I/O 2017 and other top industry events.
  • Promotions on our channels.
  • Special prizes for the best Unity game.
  • And more!

Come support them at the final event

At the final event attendees will have a say on which 10 of these finalists will get to pitch their games to the jury, who will decide on the final contest winners who will receive the top prizes.

Register now to join us in London, meet the developers, check out their great games, vote for your favourites, and have fun with various industry experts and indie developers.



A big thank you again to everyone who entered and congratulations to the finalists. We look forward to seeing you at the Saatchi Gallery in London on 16th February.