19 January 2017

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 studios 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

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.

12 January 2017

Manage paid orders and payments settings from the Google Play Developer Console

Posted by Suzanne van Tienen, Product Manager, Google Play

Today we are simplifying and improving the merchant experience for developers who have paid apps, in-app purchases, or subscriptions based on the feedback we've heard from the community.

First, we're moving order management from the Google Payments Center to the Google Play Developer Console and adding some improved features. Second, payments settings will now be accessible from the Developer Console in addition to continuing to be available on payments.google.com. The new features come with appropriate access control settings so you can be sure users only have access to the tools they need.



The new order management tab in the Google Play Developer Console

You can perform the same tasks in the Developer Console which you previously would have performed in the Google Payments Center. We've also made some improvements:
  • Bulk refunds: You can now select multiple orders for simultaneous refund, instead of issuing them individually.
  • Subscription cancellations: You can now refund and revoke subscriptions directly from the order management tab (without going to a separate UI).
  • Permissions: We've added a new user access permission to the Developer Console called "Manage orders". This permission will allow a user to find orders, issue refunds, and cancel subscriptions. Other features will be read-only for these users and financial reports will be hidden (only users with "View financial reports" can see financial data). Payments settings are restricted to the account owner when accessed from Developer Console.

Order management migration to the Developer Console

Order management is now available in the Developer Console. Starting January 23, order management will cease being available in Payments Center. User permissions are not automatically carried over from the Payments Center so, as the account owner, you will need to add all users who need access to refunds and any other order management features to your Developer Console account with the new 'Manage orders' permission by January 22 for them to have continued access.
Here's how you can add new users to your Developer Console account:
  1. Log on to Google Payments Center and review all existing users.
  2. Sign in to your Developer Console and add one or both of the following permissions for all users that need access to Order Management in the Developer Console.
    1. View financial reports: Gives the right to access and view financial reports.
    2. Manage orders: Gives the right to view and refund orders but not to view aggregate financial statistics or download sales & payout reports.
  3. Let your users know about the new location for order management.

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21 December 2016

Introducing the ExifInterface Support Library

Posted by Ian Lake, Developer Advocate

With the release of the 25.1.0 Support Library, there's a new entry in the family: the ExifInterface Support Library. With significant improvements introduced in Android 7.1 to the framework's ExifInterface, it only made sense to make those available to all API 9+ devices via the Support Library's ExifInterface.

The basics are still the same: the ability to read and write Exif tags embedded within image files: now with 140 different attributes (almost 100 of them new to Android 7.1/this Support Library!) including information about the camera itself, the camera settings, orientation, and GPS coordinates.

Camera Apps: Writing Exif Attributes

For Camera apps, the writing is probably the most important - writing attributes is still limited to JPEG image files. Now, normally you wouldn't need to use this during the actual camera capturing itself - you'd instead be calling the Camera2 API CaptureRequest.Builder.set() with JPEG_ORIENTATION, JPEG_GPS_LOCATION or the equivalents in the Camera1 Camera.Parameters. However, using ExifInterface allows you to make changes to the file after the fact (say, removing the location information on the user's request).

Reading Exif Attributes

For the rest of us though, reading those attributes is going to be our bread-and-butter; this is where we see the biggest improvements.

Firstly, you can read Exif data from JPEG and raw images (specifically, DNG, CR2, NEF, NRW, ARW, RW2, ORF, PEF, SRW and RAF files). Under the hood, this was a major restructuring, removing all native dependencies and building an extensive test suite to ensure that everything actually works.

For apps that receive images from other apps with a content:// URI (such as those sent by apps that target API 24 or higher), ExifInterface now works directly off of an InputStream; this allows you to easily extract Exif information directly out of content:// URIs you receive without having to create a temporary file.

Uri uri; // the URI you've received from the other app
InputStream in;
try {
  in = getContentResolver().openInputStream(uri);
  ExifInterface exifInterface = new ExifInterface(in);
  // Now you can extract any Exif tag you want
  // Assuming the image is a JPEG or supported raw format
} catch (IOException e) {
  // Handle any errors
} finally {
  if (in != null) {
    try {
      in.close();
    } catch (IOException ignored) {}
  }
}

Note: ExifInterface will not work with remote InputStreams, such as those returned from a HttpURLConnection. It is strongly recommended to only use them with content:// or file:// URIs.

For most attributes, you'd simply use the getAttributeInt(), getAttributeDouble(), or getAttribute() (for Strings) methods as appropriate.

One of the most important attributes when it comes to displaying images is the image orientation, stored in the aptly-named TAG_ORIENTATION, which returns one of the ORIENTATION_ constants. To convert this to a rotation angle, you can post-process the value.

int rotation = 0;
int orientation = exifInterface.getAttributeInt(
    ExifInterface.TAG_ORIENTATION,
    ExifInterface.ORIENTATION_NORMAL);
switch (orientation) {
  case ExifInterface.ORIENTATION_ROTATE_90:
    rotation = 90;
    break;
  case ExifInterface.ORIENTATION_ROTATE_180:
    rotation = 180;
    break;
  case ExifInterface.ORIENTATION_ROTATE_270:
    rotation = 270;
    break;
}

There are some helper methods to extract values from specific Exif tags. For location data, the getLatLong() method gives you the latitude and longitude as floats and getAltitude() will give you the altitude in meters. Some images also embed a small thumbnail. You can check for its existence with hasThumbnail() and then extract the byte[] representation of the thumbnail with getThumbnail() - perfect to pass to BitmapFactory.decodeByteArray().

Working with Exif: Everything is optional

One thing that is important to understand with Exif data is that there are no required tags: each and every tag is optional - some services even specifically strip Exif data. Therefore throughout your code, you should always handle cases where there is no Exif data, either due to no data for a specific attribute or an image format that doesn't support Exif data at all (say, the ubiquitous PNGs or WebP images).

Add the ExifInterface Support Library to your project with the following dependency:

compile "com.android.support:exifinterface:25.1.0"

But when an Exif attribute is exactly what you need to prevent a mis-rotated image in your app, the ExifInterface Support Library is just what you need to #BuildBetterApps