Indie Games Accelerator – Applications open for class of 2019

Posted by Anuj Gulati, Developer Marketing Manager and Sami Kizilbash, Developer Relations Program Manager

Last year we announced the Indie Games Accelerator, a special edition of Launchpad Accelerator, to help top indie game developers from emerging markets achieve their full potential on Google Play. Our team of program mentors had an amazing time coaching some of the best gaming talent from India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. We’re very encouraged by the positive feedback we received for the program and are excited to bring it back in 2019.

Applications for the class of 2019 are now open, and we’re happy to announce that we are expanding the program to developers from select countries* in Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Successful participants will be invited to attend two gaming bootcamps, all-expenses-paid at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Singapore, where they will receive personalized mentorship from Google teams and industry experts. Additional benefits include Google hardware, invites to exclusive Google and industry events and more.

Find out more about the program and apply to be a part of it.

* The competition is open to developers from the following countries: Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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Optimize your subscriptions with new insights in the Play Console

Posted by Daniel Schramm, Product Manager, Google Play

Since launching on Google Play nearly 7 years ago, subscriptions have proven to be an essential element in creating sustainable mobile app businesses; 89 of the top 100 highest grossing apps on Google Play in the US now provide subscription products. As the market matures, it is becoming increasingly important for subscription developers to optimize both subscriber conversion and retention in order to maintain growth. To help you do that, we’re rolling out new insights available directly in the Play Console.

Subscription retention report

Example subscription retention report data in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

The recently updated subscription retention report shows how well you are retaining subscribers, along with how well subscribers convert from free trial, introductory price, and first to second payment.

You can configure two cohorts based on SKU, country, and subscription start date. This is particularly useful for evaluating the success of A/B tests; for example, to determine if changing the duration of a free trial has an impact on free trial conversion.

Example free trial conversion data in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Cancellation survey results

Retaining your existing subscribers is just as important as acquiring new subscribers, so we have updated the subscription cancellations report to give more insight into voluntary and involuntary cancellations.

The launch of the subscriptions center last year introduced a cancellation survey allowing users to give developers feedback as to why they were cancelling, with results available through the Google Play Developer API. To make these results easier to access and monitor, we now surface daily aggregates directly within the Play Console, along with the ability to download written responses in a CSV.

Example cancellation survey responses in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Recover more users

Involuntary cancellations, which occur when a user’s form of payment fails, account for over a third of all cancellations. The new recovery performance cards in the cancellation report helps you understand how effectively you are recovering users with grace period and account hold, and the day the subscriptions were recovered to help you evaluate the effectiveness of recovery messaging.

Example account hold performance recovery card in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

Make sure you’ve set up grace periods and account hold for your apps! We’ve seen that developers who use both grace period and account hold see more than a 3x increase in decline recovery rate from 10% to 33%. Discover more information on grace period and account hold.

You can find the subscription retention and cancellation reports linked from the bottom of the Subscriptions page, in the Financial reports section of the Play Console. If you don’t have access to financial reporting, ask your developer account owner for permission to view financial data.

Example account hold performance recovery card in the Play Console. Source: Google Internal Data.

We hope this new reporting gives you new insights to optimize your subscription business, and we look forward to sharing more with you at Google I/O in May.

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The latest Android App Bundle updates including the additional languages API

Posted by Wojtek Kaliciński, Developer Advocate, Android

Last year, we launched Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery to introduce modular development, reduce app size and streamline the release process. Since then, we’ve seen developers quickly adopt this new app model in over 60,000 production apps. We’ve been excited to see developers experience significant app size savings and reductions in the time needed to manage each release, and have documented these benefits in case studies with Duolingo and redBus.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to give us feedback on our initial launch. We’re always open to new ideas, and today, we’re happy to announce some new improvements based on your suggestions:

  • A new additional languages install API, which supports in-app language pickers
  • A streamlined publishing process for instant-enabled app bundles
  • A new enrollment option for app signing by Google Play
  • The ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app’s initial install

Additional languages API

When you adopt the Android App Bundle as the publishing format for your app, Google Play is able to optimize the installation by delivering only the language resources that match the device’s system locales. If a user changes the system locale after the app is installed, Play automatically downloads the required resources.

Some developers choose to decouple the app’s display language from the system locale by adding an in-app language switcher. With the latest release of the Play Core library (version 1.4.0), we’re introducing a new additional languages API that makes it possible to build in-app language pickers while retaining the full benefits of smaller installs provided by using app bundles.

With the additional languages API, apps can now request the Play Store to install resources for a new language configuration on demand and immediately start using it.

Get a list of installed languages

The app can get a list of languages that are already installed using the SplitInstallManager#getInstalledLanguages() method.

val splitInstallManager = SplitInstallManagerFactory.create(context)
val langs: Set<String> = splitInstallManager.installedLanguages

Requesting additional languages

Requesting an additional language is similar to requesting an on demand module. You can do this by specifying a language in the request through SplitInstallRequest.Builder#addLanguage(java.util.Locale).

val installRequestBuilder = SplitInstallRequest.newBuilder()
installRequestBuilder.addLanguage(Locale.forLanguageTag("pl"))
splitInstallManager.startInstall(installRequestBuilder.build())

The app can also monitor install success with callbacks and monitor the download state with a listener, just like when requesting an on demand module.

Remember to handle the SplitInstallSessionStatus.REQUIRES_USER_CONFIRMATION state. Please note that there was an API change in a recent Play Core release, which means you should use the new SplitInstallManager#startConfirmationDialogForResult() together with Activity#onActivityResult(). The previous method of using SplitInstallSessionState#resolutionIntent() with startIntentSender() has been deprecated.

Check out the updated Play Core Library documentation for more information on how to access the newly installed language resources in your activity.

We’ve also updated our dynamic features sample on GitHub with the additional languages API, including how to store the user’s language preference and apply it to your activities at startup.

Please note that while the additional languages API is now available to all developers, on demand modules are in a closed beta for the time being. You can experiment with on demand modules in your internal, open, and closed test tracks, while we work with our partners to make sure this feature is ready for production apps.

Instant-enabled App Bundle

In Android Studio 3.3, we introduced a way to build app bundles that contain both the regular, installed version of your app as well as a Google Play Instant experience for modules marked with the dist:instant="true" attribute in their AndroidManifest.xml:

<manifest ... xmlns:dist="http://schemas.android.com/apk/distribution">
    <dist:module dist:instant="true" />
    ...
</manifest>

Even though you could use a single project to generate the installed and instant versions of your app, up until now, developers were still required to use product flavors in order to build two separate app bundles and upload both to Play.

We’re happy to announce that we have now removed this restriction. It’s now possible to upload a single, unified app bundle artifact, containing modules enabled for the instant experience. This functionality is now available for everyone.

After you build an instant-enabled app bundle, upload it to any track on the Play Console, and you’ll be able to select it when creating a new instant app release. This also means that the installed and instant versions of your app no longer need different version codes, which will simplify the release workflow.

Opt in to app signing by Google Play

You need to enable app signing by Google Play to publish your app using an Android App Bundle and automatically benefit from Dynamic Delivery optimizations. It is also a more secure way to manage your signing key, which we recommend to everyone, even if you want to keep publishing regular APKs for now.

Based on your feedback, we’ve revamped the sign-up flow for new apps to make it easier to initialize the key you want to use for signing your app.

Now developers can explicitly choose to upload their existing key without needing to upload a self-signed artifact first. You can also choose to start with a key generated by Google Play, so that the key used to locally sign your app bundle can become your upload key.

Read more about the new flow.

Permanent uninstallation of install time modules

We have now added the ability to permanently uninstall dynamic feature modules that are included in your app’s initial install.

This is a behavior change, which means you can now call the existing SplitInstallManager#deferredUninstall() API on modules that set onDemand="false". The module will be permanently uninstalled, even when the app is updated.

This opens up new possibilities for developers to further reduce the installed app size. For example, you can now uninstall a heavy sign-up module or any other onboarding content once the user completes it. If the user navigates to a section of your app that has been uninstalled, you can reinstall it using the standard on demand modules install API.

We hope you enjoy these improvements and test them out in your apps. Continue to share your feedback as we work to make these features even more useful for you!

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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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