Posted by Michael Siliski, Product Management Director, Google Play
Google Play now reaches more than 1 billion people on Android devices in more than 190 countries, helping a growing number of developers like you build successful global businesses. In fact, in the past year, we paid more than $7 billion to developers distributing apps and games on Google Play. We remain as committed as ever to making Google Play the best place to find great apps, games and other entertainment.
App discovery plays a critical role in driving your continued success, and over the past year Google has provided best practices to enhance app discovery and engagement, as well as app promotion tools to get the most out of search and display advertising for developers. We are always looking for new ways to help you get your apps in front of potential new users. That’s why, in the next few weeks, we will begin piloting sponsored search results on Google Play, bringing our unique expertise in search ads to the store.
With more than 100 billion searches every month on Google.com, we’ve seen how search ads shown next to organic search results on Google.com can significantly improve content discovery for users and advertisers, both large and small. Search ads on Google Play will enable developers to drive more awareness of their apps and provide consumers new ways to discover apps that they otherwise might have missed.
In the coming weeks, a limited set of users will begin to see ads from a pilot group of advertisers who are already running Google search ads for their apps. We’ll have more to share in the coming months about the expansion of this program as we look at the results and feedback. We believe search ads will be a useful addition to Google Play for users and developers alike, and we hope this will bring even more success to our developer community.
Posted by Matt Goodridge, Google Play team
Work doesn’t just happen in an office from 9 to 5 anymore. Today’s workers are mobile workers, and they need to be able to get things done as efficiently and collaboratively as possible, at any time. That’s why the Android for Work initiative is bringing together partners across the ecosystem, from device and app makers to networking and management solutions, to provide businesses with a secure, flexible and reliable mobility platform that users already know and love.
Google Play for Work allows businesses to securely deploy and manage enterprise-grade apps, across all of their users running Android for Work. Google Play for Work simplifies the process of distributing apps to employees and ensures that IT approves every deployed app. For developers, this is an opportunity to reach a new audience at scale through bulk installs or purchasing, which enables easy installation of your app across enterprises.
How to join Google Play for Work
Free apps will be available on Google Play for Work at launch with no action needed on your part. If you have a paid app, you’ll soon be able to opt-in to make your app available for bulk purchase on Google Play for Work in the Developer Console during the app publishing process. Find out more about publishing in the Google Play Developer Help Center.
Designing great apps for Android for Work
Apps that are installed from Google Play for Work will function without code changes. However, please note that some of the controls that Android for Work offers IT admins could affect how your app works. To ensure the best possible experience for your users, watch the first in our series of Android for Work DevBytes below to understand the best practices you should be following in developing your app.
Posted by Greg Hartrell, Senior Product Manager of Google Play Games
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is less than one week away in San Francisco. This year we will host our annual Developer Day at West Hall and be on the Expo floor in booth #502. We’re excited to give you a glimpse into how we are helping mobile game developers build successful businesses and improve user experiences.
Our Developer Day will take place in Room 2006 of the West Hall of Moscone Center on Monday, March 2. We’re keeping the content action-oriented with a few presentations and lightning talks, followed by a full afternoon of hands on hacking with Google engineers. Here’s a look at the schedule:
Opening Keynote || 10AM: We’ll kick off the day by sharing to make your games more successful with Google. You’ll hear about new platforms, new tools to make development easier, and ways to measure your mobile games and monetize them.
Running A Successful Games Business with Google || 10:30AM: Next we’ll hear from Bob Meese, the Global Head of Games Business Development from Google Play, who’ll offer some key pointers on how to make sure you’re best taking advantage of unique tools on Google Play to grow your business effectively.
Lightning Talks || 11:15AM: Ready to absorb all the opportunities Google has to offer your game business? These quick, 5-minute talks will cover everything from FlatBuffers to Google Cast to data interpolation. To keep us on track, a gong may be involved.
Code Labs || 1:30PM: After lunch, we’ll turn the room into a classroom setting where you can participate in a number of self-guided code labs focused on leveraging Analytics, Google Play game services, Firebase and VR with Cardboard. These Code Labs are completely self-paced and will be available throughout the afternoon. If you want admission to the code labs earlier, sign up for Priority Access here!
Also, be sure to check out the Google booth on the Expo floor to get hands on experiences with Project Tango, Niantic Labs and Cardboard starting on Wednesday, March 4. Our teams from AdMob, AdWords, Analytics, Cloud Platform and Firebase will also be available to answer any of your product questions.
For more information on our presence at GDC, including a full list of our talks and speaker details, please visit g.co/dev/gdc2015. Please note that these events are part of the official Game Developer’s Conference, so you will need a pass to attend. If you can’t attend GDC in person, you can still check out our morning talks on our livestream at g.co/dev/gdc-livestream.
Posted by Letitia Lago, Google Play team
It’s not often that a developer is born from a summer holiday joke and a parent’s love of furniture making. But this is exactly how Vincenzo Colucci started GinLemon, a successful app business on Google Play.
The choice of Android was an obvious one to Vincenzo, although he didn’t have experience with Android development at the start — he learned it by downloading the tools and playing with the examples.
From his original scratch card app, to the global success of Smart Launcher, Vincenzo is proof that great apps can come from personal passion and the willingness to do something a little different.
Find out more about Vincenzo’s journey in this video.
Vincenzo and the team he has built around Smart Launcher are working on a major update, which will be free and they hope to release in March. They also have Smart Locker, a series of lock screens with some unique features, in development and other projects in the pipeline.
To learn about creating apps for Google Play and building your own app business, check out The Secrets to App Success on Google Play [ebook], a detailed playbook on the best practices and tools you can use to maximize the reach, retention, and revenue of your new app.
Posted by Timothy Jordan, Developer Advocate
With so many recent updates and improvements to Android Wear, it’s high time to share an updated overview of the platform. We’re certainly not done—there’s a lot more to come—but this is the picture today as you start or continue developing your groundbreaking Android Wear user experiences.
The Android Wear platform emphasizes depth and flexibility. Built on Android, it allows developers to use familiar APIs to create useful, performant, and imaginative apps that run directly on the watch. In the spirit of Android, you have the freedom to make substantial changes to the user experience, including the creation of custom watch faces. There are three main categories of experiences you can build: apps, custom watch faces, and notifications.
Apps that are built for Android Wear run directly on the watch and can do nearly anything a phone can, from tracking your run to giving you a little entertainment while waiting for the bus. Some even work without a connection to the phone, such as fitness and music apps. There are libraries to help you move data between the phone and the wearable, as well as create stunning and adaptable UIs. Here’s a list of some of the great features you have access to:
|Full screen activities with touch events||Creating Custom UIs for Wear Devices|
|Notifications and custom actions||UI Patterns for Android Wear|
|Custom Watch faces||Creating Watch Faces|
|Layouts for round and square devices||Creating Custom UIs for Wear Devices|
|OpenGL||Displaying Graphics with OpenGL ES|
|Voice actions||Adding Voice Capabilities|
|GPS||Detecting Location on Android Wear|
|Offline storing of data / music||Transferring Assets|
|Media playback controls||MediaSession, MediaController|
|Framework based on Android 5.0 API 21||Android 5.0 APIs|
|Standalone or synchronized apps||Sending and Syncing Data|
The ability to create custom watch faces gives you direct access to the most prominent UI element on a user’s most personal device. The API is simple enough to build watch faces quickly and flexible enough to allow personalization. Again, given the depth and flexibility of the Android platform, you can create something for the user that’s both beautiful and packed with unique features.
The development journey starts with the simplicity of bringing your design to the wrist. At the core of the watch face API is the onDraw method that allows you to draw whatever design you can think of to the canvas at a high enough frame rate to deliver fluid animation. This will come through at full fidelity while the watch is in interactive mode.
At other times, when the watch is in ambient mode, you’re able to draw a more discreet version of the watch face. Additional preferences can be set to arrange the system UI elements appropriately for your design. Once those basics are covered, the limits are your imagination! You can go further with additions like the moon phase, current weather, or fitness stats. Watchmakers call these items “complications” — but with Android they’re hardly complicated. Once you have the data, just draw it on the canvas as you did the time.
Of course, Android Wear Notifications are the easiest way to get started in the world of wearables. If you’ve got an Android app with notifications — they already work on a Wear watch. If you’ve already enhanced your notification with actions, this is even better and also automatically already works. You can take things further with Wear-specific functionality like Stacks, Pages, and Voice Replies that make your notifications richer experiences on the wrist.
The user experiences you build for Wear get to take advantage of the power and flexibility of the Android platform. It’s easy to get started and possible to create truly groundbreaking UI for your users. Together, we can create an ecosystem of user experiences as diverse as the watches they run on and the people who wear them.
Check out the developer videos and documentation for more, and share your thoughts on the Android Wear Developers community. We can’t wait to see the innovative user experiences you will build on Android Wear.
Posted by Richard Coles, Software Engineer, Google London
Many Android apps use a WebView for displaying HTML content. In Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google has the ability to update WebView independently of the Android platform. Beginning today, developers can use a new beta channel to test the latest version of WebView and provide feedback.
WebView updates bring numerous bug fixes, new web platform APIs and updates from Chromium. If you’re making use of the WebView in your app, becoming a beta channel tester will give you an early start with new APIs as well as the chance to test your app before the WebView rolls out to your users.
The first version offered in the beta channel will be based on Chrome 40 and you can find a full list of changes on the chromium blog entry.
To become a beta tester, join the community which will enable you to sign up for the Beta program; you’ll then be able to install the beta version of the WebView via the Play Store. If you find any bugs, please file them on the Chromium issue tracker.
Posted by Leticia Lago, Google Play team
The Guardian is a global news organization with one of the world’s largest quality English-speaking news websites, theguardian.com. It has more than 100 million monthly unique browsers and app users, two thirds of which come from outside the UK. With a longstanding reputation for agenda-setting journalism, the publication is most recently renowned for its Pulitzer Prize and Emmy-winning coverage of the disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Guardian’s early adoption of a digital-first policy and continued digital innovation means it has also become a respected name among developers and tech audiences. In the last year, it has launched a redesigned app and new website and been among a handful of publishers to develop its own Glassware.
The Guardian app is taking advantage of unique Google Play and Android features to drive user engagement. Their mobile app readers are now 10 to 20 times more engaged than their average web users. Improving engagement has also helped them lift the rating for their app from 4.0 to 4.4 on Google Play.
Anthony Sullivan, Director of Product, and Tom Grinsted, Product Manager, share some best practices for increasing app engagement in this video.
To learn more, be sure to check out these resources to better engage your users:
- Convert installs to active users — hear from Matteo Vallone, Partner Development Manager for Google Play, about the best practices for engaging and retaining users through intents, identity, context, and rich notifications as well as delivering a cross-platform user experience.
- Adding Wearable Features to Notifications [tutorial] — learn how to add notifications to Android Wear devices, including how to make use of the Wear notification features: voice commands, stacks, and pages.
- Beta testing [help] — discover how to make use of the alpha and beta testing features offered by Google Play, and get feedback from real users.
- Build your community (of testers) [guide] — get advice on how to build communities on G+ or other social networks, then tap into their skills and enthusiasm to help with testing your app.
We’ve put together a new Best Practices guide, Better Together: AdWords and Google Analytics, to help you get deep insight into your performance. When you analyze performance with the combination of GA and AdWords you can find all sorts of actionable info:
- Which parts of your account drive actual on-site engagement
- Which keywords attract new users to your site
- What messaging and landing pages connect with the different users on your site
- How your business compares across your entire industry
To whet your appetite, here’s a rundown of ten useful GA reports included in the guide (with links that lead you directly to these reports in your own GA account). Like what you see here? Download the full version and the condensed one-page checklist to view our complete coverage of GA + AW goodness.
Love Analytics and AdWords being paired together? Please take our survey about your past success and what else we can do to improve the experience.
Posted by Matt Lawson, Director, Performance Ads Marketing
Posted by Laura Della Torre, Google Play team
Trulia’s mission is to make it as easy as possible for home buyers, sellers, owners and renters to navigate the real estate market. Originally a website-based company, Trulia is keenly aware that its users are migrating to mobile. Today, more than 50 percent of Trulia’s business comes from mobile and growth shows no sign of slowing, so they know that’s where they need to innovate.
In the following video, Jonathan McNulty, VP of Consumer Product, and Lauren Hirashima, Mobile Product Manager, at Trulia, talked about how the company successfully leveraged notifications on Android to increase app engagement by 30 percent and has seen 2x the amount of engagement on Android relative to other platforms:
Trulia continues to focus on improving their mobile experience, using Google’s geo-fencing technology to create Nearby Home Alerts, which lets users know when they walk near a new listing. Combined with Android Wear, Trulia now makes it possible for users to see details and photos about a property and call or email the agent, all directly from their watch.
Find out more about using rich notifications on Android and developing for Android Wear. And check out The Secrets to App Success on Google Play (ebook) which contains a chapter dedicated to the best practices and tools you can use to increase user engagement and retention in your app.
To help make it easier for advertisers to reach their most qualified customers, we’ve enabled remarketing with a single toggle. Instead of manually updating all of your site tags, simply use Instant Activation and get started with remarketing in four easy steps.
Identifying quality visitors and maximizing conversions
GlobalTechLED.com is a producer of LED lighting. Thanks to Instant Activation, John Burns, Director of Marketing, was able to start remarketing quickly. Without waiting for IT to re-tag his site, John successfully launched Global Tech LED’s first remarketing campaign and saw fast results by reaching their highest potential customers.
After enabling remarketing, Global Tech LED leveraged Google’s powerful machine-learning technology in two ways for their online campaigns: Smart Lists for remarketing automatically created lists of visitors who were most likely to engage in a subsequent session on GlobalTechLED.com. Then, Conversion Optimizer instantly adjusted the campaigns’ bids get more conversions at a lower cost, eventually freeing up more time and resources for the company.
As a result, GlobalTechLED.com is currently reaching their performance and outreach goals. To date they’ve doubled their display campaigns’ CTRs and have almost five times more clicks on their remarketing campaign compared to their other campaigns. Website traffic increased by over 100% in the first 30 days of the campaign, and international traffic skyrocketed. They’ve also seen a 75% decrease in CPA for their campaigns.
These kind of results were exactly what the company was looking for. According to John, “We’ve been trying to hit these specific numbers in the account for a couple of months, and Google Analytics Remarketing helped us achieve these in only a couple of days.” Read the full case study here.
Four easy steps to get started
Ready to get started with remarketing? You can, with just four steps.
1. In your Google Analytics Property’s settings, choose ‘Audiences’ under the ‘Remarketing’ section.
2. Choose the AdWords account where you’d like to share your Audience and click ‘Next Step’.
3. Click “Enable” to create your first audience of All Users. You can also come back later and create more complex audiences, like ‘visitors who have spent more than six minutes on site’, ‘visitors who visited more than five pages’, or ‘abandoned cart’.
This step automatically activates Advertiser Features if you haven’t done so already, which also enables Audience Demographics and Interests Reporting. You can manage this setting at any time in the Admin tab, under the ‘Advertiser Features’ section in your Property Settings.
4. Click ‘Create Campaign’ and complete the remarketing campaign creation process in AdWords. Congratulations, you are now a Remarketer!
We’re really excited to make Advertiser Features in Google Analytics simpler and enable all Google Analytics users to be more successful across all their marketing channels. Stay tuned for future improvements!
Posted by Avi Mehta and Rosanne Borja, Google Analytics Team
Posted by Hoi Lam, Developer Advocate
Rushing onto a train, entering a concert, or simply ordering a coffee, we have all seen users (or ourselves) rummaging through their wallets or mobile app trying to get the right boarding pass, ticket or loyalty card. With Android Wear and a few lines of code in your mobile app, this can all work like magic.
What’s new in the Android Support Library
While QR Code images could be attached to a notification since the first release of the Android Wear platform, developers have asked about two situations which they would like to see improve:
- With circular displays, it is hard for developer to know if the QR code is displayed in it’s entirety and not cropped.
- To conserve battery, Android Wear switches off the screen after five seconds of inactivity. However, this makes it hard for the user to ensure that the QR code is still displayed on their wrist when they reach the front of the queue.
With the latest support library, we have added two additional methods to
WearableExtender to give developers more control over how background images are displayed in notifications. These new APIs can be used in a number of scenarios, we will focus on the QR code use case in this post:
- Ensure the image is not cropped –
- Ensure the QR code is still displayed when the user gets to the front of the queue –
With this new method, developers can ensure that the entire QR code is always visible.
This new method enables developers to set a timeout that makes sense for their specific use case.
Design Best Practices
We have experimented with a number of customization options with QR codes and here are some of the lessons learnt:
- Do test with your equipment – Before deploying, test with your QR code readers to ensure that the QR code displayed on the wearable works with your equipment.
- Do use black and white QR codes – This ensures maximum contrasts and makes it easier for the reader to read the information.
- Do display only the core information in the text notification – Remember that less is more. Glanceability is important for wearables.
- Do test with both round and square watches – The amount of text can be displayed on the notification varies especially dependent on the form factor (square and circular).
- Do brand with icon – On the main notification in the Android Wear stream, developers can set a full color icon using setLargeIcon to brand your notification.
- Do convey additional information using background – To achieve an even better result, consider setting context sensitive backgrounds through setBackground, such as a photo of the destination for the train or a picture of the stadium.
- Do use QR codes which are 400×400 pixels or larger – In line with other background images, the recommended minimum size for QR code is 400×400 pixels.
- Do not brand the QR code – The screen real estate is limited on Android Wear and using some of this for branding may result in the QR code not working correctly.
- Do not use anything other than grey or default theme color for notification text – Although Android Wear notifications support basic text formatting such as setting text color, this should be used in moderation with the color set to default or grey. The reason is that the Holo theme for Android 4.x has a default background of black whereas Material Design theme for Android 5+ including Android Wear has a white background. This makes it hard for the colour to work for both themes. Bold and Italic are fine formatting choices.
Android Wear is for people on the move
Using QR codes on Android Wear is a very delightful experience. The information that the user needs is right on their wrist at the right time in the right place. With the new APIs, you can now unlock more doors than ever before and give users an easier time with check in on the go.
Sample code can be downloaded from this repository.
Announcing Exploding Kittens – a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats
I helped created a new card game and it’s called Exploding Kittens.