26 Nov 2014

feedAndroid News, Rumours, and Updates

Google Play running Cyber Week deals, discounting a ton of content

Google is in on the shopping fun this week with deals to be had in the Play Store. The Cyber Week deals include discounts on applications, movies, albums, and books as well as highlighting apps that will enhance shopping productivity. There are more than 80 titles listed, so be sure to read through them all […]


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26 Nov 2014 9:59pm GMT

Amazon deals start today, big bundle promised for Thanksgiving Day

Like so many retailers, Amazon is slowly expanding the start of the holiday shopping specials, historically starting on "Black Friday," to span the entire week of Thanksgiving. Amazon has already been selling physical goods this week as part of a week long Black Friday Deals Week promotion. Now the Amazon digital stores are getting into […]


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26 Nov 2014 9:25pm GMT

[Deal] Staples taking 25% off (almost) everything in-store only, includes Moto 360 for $187

The best deal a retailer can offer is a discount on everything in the store. Today only, Staples is doing just that with an in-store coupon that takes 25% off any item; however, "any item" is not exactly eligible. Immediately, everyone is going to want to use the coupon for an electronic because of the […]


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26 Nov 2014 8:54pm GMT

[Deal] Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 for $79 and Kindle Fire HD 7 for $109

Two low-cost tablets from Amazon just became even cheaper. The Kindle Fire HD 6 and Kindle Fire HD 7 normally cost $99 and $139, respectively. Just in time for the holidays, the two now have price tags of $79 and $109. Giving the gift of an Amazon product is valuable due to the core services […]


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26 Nov 2014 8:22pm GMT

[Deal] Expansys selling Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 (2012) bundle for $179

How about a deal that tackles two device categories with one excellent price? That is what Expansys has going on right now. For $179, customers can take home the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 from 2012. The price reflects a discount of 28% (or $70). They are devices from two generations ago, but Android 5.0 […]


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26 Nov 2014 7:55pm GMT

How to set up a slideshow screensaver on Android TV that utilizes your own photos from Google+, Dropbox, and more

One of the advantages of Android TV (Nexus Player and ADT-1) over Chromcast is that you can have a slideshow screensaver that will automatically turn on not only when the device is idle, but it will also come on when playing music. Chromecast only offers Backdrop, which will not display when you're playing music. Backdrop […]


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26 Nov 2014 7:39pm GMT

Amazon finally slashes Fire Phone price to $199 without a contract

The Fire Phone has been on the market for just over four months and commercial (or even critical) reception has been lackluster. Arguably the biggest issue with the handset is its price. Amazon is solving that issue now by lowering the price to $199. The list price prior to the discount is $449; however, the […]


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26 Nov 2014 7:39pm GMT

[Deal] Motorola hosting Cyber Monday sale with Moto X (2014) starting at $359

Looking for some sweet deals out of Motorola? Cyber Monday is the day. The company is discounting its flagship smartphone. The Moto X (2014) will be discounted to $359 and $409 for 16GB and 32GB models, respectively. That is a savings of $140. Verizon customers looking to sign a contract can purchase the Moto X […]


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26 Nov 2014 7:26pm GMT

Motorola releases “The Maker” commercial featuring Moto Maker’s magic

The most unique thing about the Moto X is its customization. The handset is available in various colors and materials to truly make it your own. To promote the Moto Maker production approach, Motorola released a commercial titled "The Maker." A man sits down in front of his computer and gets right to work designing […]


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26 Nov 2014 7:06pm GMT

Bell and Shepard back for a holiday-themed Samsung commercial

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are back in action in a Samsung commercial, this time celebrating the holiday season. When we first saw the couple in a Samsung commercial, it was during warmer weather as they showed off their Samsung Galaxy tablets. For this latest edition of life in the Bell/Shepard household, we see several […]


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26 Nov 2014 6:59pm GMT

24 Nov 2014

feedAndroid Developers Blog

Sky Force 2014 Reimagined for Android TV

By Jamil Moledina, Games Strategic Partnerships Lead, Google Play

In the coming months, we'll be seeing more media players, like the recently released Nexus Player, and TVs from partners with Android TV built-in hit the market. While there's plenty of information available about the technical aspects of adapting your app or game to Android TV, it's also useful to consider design changes to optimize for the living room. That way you can provide lasting engagement for existing fans as well as new players discovering your game in this new setting. Here are three things one developer did, and how you can do them too.

Infinite Dreams is an indie studio out of Poland, co-founded by hardcore game fans Tomasz Kostrzewski and Marek Wyszyński. With Sky Force 2014 TV, they brought their hit arcade style game to Android TV in a particularly clever way. The mobile-based version of Sky Force 2014 reimaged the 2004 classic by introducing stunning 3D visuals, and a free-to-download business model using in-app purchasing and competitive tournaments to increase engagement. In bringing Sky Force 2014 to TV, they found ways to factor in the play style, play sessions, and real-world social context of the living room, while paying homage to the title's classic arcade heritage. As Wyszyński puts it, "We decided not to take any shortcuts, we wanted to make the game feel like it was designed to be played on TV."

Orientation

For starters, Sky Force 2014 is played vertically on a smartphone or tablet, also known as portrait mode. In the game, you're piloting a powerful fighter plane flying up the screen over a scrolling landscape, targeting waves of steampunk enemies coming down at you. You can see far enough up the screen, enabling you to plan your attacks and dodge enemies in advance. Vertical play on the mobile version When bringing the game to TV, the quickest approach would have been to preserve that vertical orientation of the gameplay, by pillarboxing the field of play.

With Sky Force 2014, Infinite Dreams considered their options, and decided to scale the gameplay horizontally, in landscape mode, and recompose the view and combat elements. You're still aiming up the screen, but the world below and the enemies coming at you are filling out a much wider field of view. They also completely reworked the UI to be comfortably operated with a gamepad or simple remote. From Wyszyński's point of view, "We really didn't want to just add support for remote and gamepad on top of what we had because we felt it would not work very well." This approach gives the play experience a much more immersive field of view, putting you right there in the middle of the action. More information on designing for landscape orientation can be found here.

Multiplayer

Like all mobile game developers building for the TV, Infinite Dreams had to figure out how to adapt touch input onto a controller. Sky Force 2014 TV accepts both remote control and gamepad controller input. Both are well-tuned, and fighter handling is natural and responsive, but Infinite Dreams didn't stop there. They took the opportunity to add cooperative multiplayer functionality to take advantage of the wider field of view from a TV. In this way, they not only scaled the visuals of the game to the living room, but also factored in that it's a living room where people play together. Given the extended lateral patterns of advancing enemies, multiplayer strategies emerge, like "divide and conquer," or "I got your back" for players of different skill levels. More information about adding controller support to your Android game can be found here, handling controller actions here, and mapping each player's paired controllers here.
Players battle side by side in the Android TV version

Business Model

Infinite Dreams is also experimenting with monetization and extending play session length. The TV version replaces several $1.99 in-app purchases and timers with a try-before-you-buy model which charges $4.99 after playing the first 2 levels for free. We've seen this single purchase model prove successful with other arcade action games like Mediocre's Smash Hit for smartphones and tablets, in which the purchase unlocks checkpoint saves. We're also seeing strong arcade action games like Vector Unit's Beach Buggy Racing and Ubisoft's Hungry Shark Evolution retain their existing in-app purchase models for Android TV. More information on setting up your games for these varied business models can be found here. We'll be tracking and sharing these variations in business models on Android TV, including variations in premium, as the Android TV platform grows.

Reflecting on the work involved in making these changes, Wyszyński says, "From a technical point of view the process was not really so difficult - it took us about a month of work to incorporate all of the features and we are very happy with the results." Take a moment to check out Sky Force 2014 TV on a Nexus Player and the other games in the Android TV collection on Google Play, most of which made no design changes and still play well on a TV. Consider your own starting point, take a look at the Android TV section on our developer blog, and build the version of your game that would be most satisfying to players on the couch.

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24 Nov 2014 5:31pm GMT

20 Nov 2014

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musiXmatch drives user engagement through innovation

Posted by Leticia Lago, Google Play team

musiXmatch is an app that offers Android users the unique and powerful feature FloatingLyrics. FloatingLyrics pops up a floating window showing synched lyrics as users listen to tracks on their favorite player and music services. It's achieved through a seamless integration with intents on the platform, something that's technically possible only on Android.

As a result musiXmatch has seen "a dramatic increase in terms of engagement', says founder Max Ciociola, "which has been two times more active users and even two times more the average time they spend in the app."

The ability to deliver lyrics to a range of different devices - such as Chromecast, Android TV, and Android Wear - is creating opportunities for musiXmatch. It's helping them turn their app into a smart companion for their users and getting them closer to their goal of reaching 100 million people.

In the following video, Max and Android engineer Sebastiano Gottardo talk about the unique capabilities that Android offers to musiXmatch:

To learn about achieving great user engagement and retention and reaching more users through different form factors, be sure to check out these resources:

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20 Nov 2014 2:50pm GMT

Chinese Developers Can Now Offer Paid Applications to Google Play Users in More Than 130 countries

By Ellie Powers, product manager for Google Play

Google Play is the largest digital store for Android users to discover and purchase their favorite mobile app and games, and the ecosystem is continuing to grow globally. Over the past year, we've expanded the list of countries where app developers can sign up to be merchants on Google Play, totaling 60 countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Qatar and Venezuela most recently.

As part of that continued effort, we're excited to announce merchant support in China, enabling local developers to export and sell their apps to Google Play users in more than 130 countries. Chinese developers can now offer both free and paid applications through various monetization models, including in-app purchasing and subscriptions. For revenue generated on Google Play, developers will receive payment to their Chinese bank accounts via USD wire transfers.

If you develop Android apps in China and want to start distributing your apps to a global audience through Google Play, visit play.google.com/apps/publish and register as a developer. If you want to sell apps and in-app products, you'll need to also sign up for a Google Wallet merchant account, which is available on the "Revenue" page in the Google Play Developer Console. After you've uploaded your apps, you can set prices in the Developer Console and later receive reports on your revenue. You'll receive your developer payouts via wire transfer. For more details, please visit our developer help center.

We look forward to continuing to roll out Google Play support to developers in many more countries around the world.

中国开发者可以向全球130个国家的Google Play用户提供付费应用啦

发表者:Ellie Powers, Google Play产品经理

Google Play是一个可让Android用户发现和购买他们喜爱的移动应用程序和游戏的全球最大的应用商店,这个生态系统在全球迅速成长。过去一年中,我们已经扩展到60个国家,让应用程序开发人员可以注册成为 Google Play的商家,其中新近支持的国家包括黎巴嫩、约旦、阿曼、巴基斯坦、波多黎各、卡塔尔和委内瑞拉。

作为持续改进 Google Play努力的一部分,我们很高兴地宣布在中国增加了对商家的支持,让中国的开发者能售卖应用程序到130个国家的 Google Play 用户。中国的开发者现在可以提供通过各种盈利模式的免费和付费应用,包括应用内购买和订阅。在 Google Play 产生的营收将通过美元电汇的方式支付给开发者的中国的银行账户。

如果你在中国开发Android应用程序,并希望通过 Google Play 把应用程序推广到全球,请登录play.google.com/apps/publish 并建立你的 Google Play 开发者账户。如果你想售卖付费的应用程序和应用程序内的产品,则需要再注册一个Google 电子钱包商家帐户,通过Google Play开发者控制台里的"营收"页面进行设置。上传应用程序后,你可以通过开发者控制台设定价格,之后就可以收到营收报告,你将会通过电汇的方式获得收入。

我们将继续增加更多 Google Play 商家支持的国家,敬请关注。

更多详情,请访问我们的开发者帮助中心

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20 Nov 2014 1:56am GMT

19 Nov 2014

feedAndroid Developers Blog

Coding Android TV games is easy as pie

Posted by Alex Ames, Fun Propulsion Labs at Google*

We're pleased to announce Pie Noon, a simple game created to demonstrate multi-player support on the Nexus Player, an Android TV device. Pie Noon is an open source, cross-platform game written in C++ which supports:

Pie Noon serves as a demonstration of how to use the SDL library in Android games as well as Google technologies like Flatbuffers, Mathfu, fplutil, and WebP.


You can download the game in the Play Store and the latest open source release from our GitHub page. We invite you to learn from the code to see how you can implement these libraries and utilities in your own Android games. Take advantage of our discussion list if you have any questions, and don't forget to throw a few pies while you're at it!

* Fun Propulsion Labs is a team within Google that's dedicated to advancing gaming on Android and other platforms.

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19 Nov 2014 6:23pm GMT

18 Nov 2014

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Begin developing with Android Auto

Posted by Daniel Holle, Product Manager

At Google I/O back in June, we provided a preview of Android Auto. Today, we're excited to announce the availability of our first APIs for building Auto-enabled apps for audio and messaging. Android apps can now be extended to the car in a way that is optimized for the driving experience.

For users, this means they simply connect their Android handheld to a compatible vehicle and begin utilizing a car-optimized Android experience that works with the car's head unit display, steering wheel buttons, and more. For developers, the APIs and UX guidelines make it easy to provide a simple way for users to get the information they need while on the road. As an added bonus, the Android Auto APIs let developers easily extend their existing apps targeting Android 5.0 (API level 21) or higher to work in the car without having to worry about vehicle-specific hardware differences. This gives developers wide reach across manufacturers, model and regions, by just developing with one set of APIs and UX standards.

There are two use cases that Android Auto supports today:

To help you get started with Android Auto, check out our Getting Started guide. It's important to note that while the APIs are available today, apps extended with Android Auto cannot be published quite yet. More app categories will be supported in the future, providing more opportunities for developers and drivers of Android Auto. We encourage you to join the Android Auto Developers Google+ community to stay up-to-date on the latest news and timelines.

We've already started working with partners to develop experiences for Android Auto: iHeartRadio, Joyride, Kik, MLB.com, NPR, Pandora, PocketCasts, Songza, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, TextMe, textPlus, TuneIn, Umano, and WhatsApp. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, stop by the LA Auto Show through November 30 and visit us in the Hyundai booth to take Android Auto and an app or two for a test drive.

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18 Nov 2014 6:02pm GMT

Keeping Your Saved Games in the Cloud

Posted by Todd Kerpelman, Developer Advocate

Saved Games Are the Future!

I think most of us have at least one or two games we play obsessively. Me? I'm a Sky Force 2014 guy. But maybe you're into matching colorful objects, battling monsters, or helping avians with their rage management issues. Either way, there's probably some game where you've spent hours upon hours upgrading your squad, reaching higher and higher levels, or unlocking every piece of bonus content in the game.

Now imagine losing all of that progress when you decide to get a new phone. Or reinstall your game. Yikes!

That's why, when Google Play Games launched, one of the very first features we included was the ability for users to save their game to the cloud using a service called the AppState API. For developers who didn't need an entire server-based infrastructure to run their game, but didn't want to lose players when they upgraded their devices, this feature was a real life-saver.

But many developers wanted even more. With AppState, you were limited to 4 slots of 256k of data each, and for some games, this just wasn't enough. So this past year at Google I/O, we launched an entirely new Saved Games feature, powered by Google Drive. This gave you huge amounts of space (up to 3MB per saved game with unlimited save slots), the ability to save a screenshot and metadata with your saved games, and some nice features like showing your player's saved games directly in the Google Play app.

...But AppState is Yesterday's News

Since the introduction of Saved Games, we've seen enough titles happily using the service and heard enough positive feedback from developers that we're convinced that Saved Games is the better offering and the way to go in the future. With that in mind, we've decided to start deprecating the old cloud save system using AppState and are encouraging everybody who's still using it to switch over to the new Saved Games feature (referred to in our libraries as "Snapshots").

What does this mean for you as a game developer?

If you haven't yet added Saved Games to your game, now would be the perfect time! The holidays are coming up and your players are going to start getting new devices over the next couple of months. Wouldn't it be great if they could take your game's progress with them? Unless, I guess, "not retaining users" is part of your business plan.

If you're already using the new Saved Games / Snapshot system, put your feet up and relax. None of these changes affect you. Okay, now put your feet down, and get back to work. You probably have a seasonal update to work on, don't you?

If you're using the old AppState system, you should start migrating your player's data over to the new Saved Games service. Luckily, it's easy to include both systems in the same game, so you should be able to migrate your users' data with their ever knowing. The process would probably work a little something like this:

In a few months, we will be modifying the old AppState service to be read-only. You'll still be able to read your user's old cloud save games and transfer them to the new Saved Games service, but you'll no longer be able to save games using the old service. We are evaluating early Q2 of 2015 to make this change, which should give you enough time to push your "start using Saved Games" update to the world.

If you want to find out more about Saved Games and how they work, feel free to review our documentation, our sample applications, or our Game On! videos. And we look forward to many more hours of gaming, no matter how many times we switch devices.

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18 Nov 2014 2:37pm GMT

17 Nov 2014

feedAndroid Developers Blog

Google Play services 6.5

Posted by Ian Lake, Developer Advocate

To offer more seamless integration of Google products within your app, we're excited to start the rollout of the latest version of Google Play services.

Google Play services 6.5 includes new features in Google Maps, Google Drive and Google Wallet as well as the recently launched Google Fit API. We are also providing developers with more granular control over which Google Play services APIs your app depends on to help you maintain a lean app.

Google Maps

We're making it easier to get directions to places from your app! The Google Maps Android API now offers a map toolbar to let users open Google Maps and immediately get directions and turn by turn navigation to the selected marker. This map toolbar will show by default when you compile against Google Play services 6.5.

In addition, there is also a new 'lite mode' map option, ideal for situations where you want to provide a number of smaller maps, or a map that is so small that meaningful interaction is impractical, such as a thumbnail in a list. A lite mode map is a bitmap image of a map at a specified location and zoom level.

In lite mode, markers and shapes are drawn client-side on top of the static image, so you still have full control over them. Lite mode supports all of the map types, the My Location layer, and a subset of the functionality of a fully-interactive map. Users can tap on the map to launch Google Maps when they need more details.

The Google Maps Android API also exposes a new getMapAsync(OnMapReadyCallback) method to MapFragment and MapView which will notify you exactly when the map is ready. This serves as a replacement for the now deprecated getMap() method.

We're also exposing the Google Maps for Android app intents available to your apps including displaying the map, searching, starting turn by turn navigation, and opening Street View so you can build upon the familiar and powerful maps already available on the device.

Drive

You can now add both public and application private custom file properties to a Drive file which can be used to build very efficient search queries and allow apps to save information which is guaranteed to persist across editing by other apps.

We've also made it even easier to make syncing your files to Drive both user and battery friendly with the ability to control when files are uploaded by network type or charging status and cancel pending uploads.

Google Wallet

In addition to the existing 'Buy with Google' button available to quickly purchase goods & services using Google Wallet, this release adds a 'Donate with Google' button for providing the same ease of use in collecting donations.

Google Fit

The Google Fit SDK was recently officially released as part of Google Play services and can be used to super-charge your fitness apps with a simple API for working with sensors, recording activity data, and reading the user's aggregated fitness data.

In this release, we've made it easier for developers to add activity segments (predefined time periods of running, walking, cycling, etc) when inserting sessions, making it easy to support pauses or multiple activity type workouts. We'll also be adding additional samples to help kick-start your Google Fit integration.

Granular Dependency Management

As we've continued to add more APIs across the wide range of Google services, it can be hard to maintain a lean app, particularly if you're only using a portion of the available APIs. Now with Google Play services 6.5, you'll be able to depend only on a minimal common library and the exact APIs your app needs. This makes it very lightweight to get started with Google Play services.

SDK Coming Soon!

We'll be rolling out Google Play services 6.5 over the next few days, and we'll update this blog post, publish the documentation, and make the SDK available once the rollout completes.

To learn more about Google Play services and the APIs available to you through it, visit the Google Play Services section on the Android Developer site.

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17 Nov 2014 11:34pm GMT

12 Nov 2014

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EyeEm Improves User Engagement through Android Design

By Leticia Lago, Google Play team

EyeEm is a global community for photographers that goes beyond sharing photos with friends: photographers can share tips, take part in missions, and sell their photos. To win more customers, a design that best showcases photos from the community is very important for this Berlin-based company.

With the idea of bringing a beautiful, simple experience to their fast growing base of Android users, the team recently embarked on a redesign of their app. Following the Android design principles, they stripped back the UI and simplified navigation. This allowed them to deliver a more streamlined app experience, along with a clean, crisp design that presents photos beautifully. And it paid off. According to Ramzi Rizk, EyeEm co-founder and CTO, "Our new design helped improve user growth and retention across the board, in every single metric we have."

In the following video, Rizk and colleague Matias Castello, Product Head of Mobile, talk about their experience applying Android design to their app and the improvements in user engagement it has achieved:


Resources to help you with design

To learn more about how to design your apps for Android devices and achieve great user engagement and retention, be sure to check out these resources:

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12 Nov 2014 6:24pm GMT

10 Nov 2014

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Utilities for C/C++ Android Developers: fplutil 1.0

By Stewart Miles, Fun Propulsion Labs at Google*

Today we're announcing the 1.0 release of fplutil, a set of small libraries and tools by Fun Propulsion Labs at Google (the FPL in fplutil) that is useful when developing C/C++ applications for Android.

fplutil introduces the following:

android_ndk_perf.py example HTML report

You can download the latest open source release from our github page. We invite you to contribute to the project and join our discussion list!

*Fun Propulsion Labs is a team within Google that's dedicated to advancing gaming on Android and other platforms.

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10 Nov 2014 6:04pm GMT

06 Nov 2014

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Improved Game Testing with Google Play Games Management API

By Ben Frenkel, Google Play Games team

We're always looking to help developers improve the gaming experience for their users on Google Play. So today, we've expanded our existing suite of Management APIs to let you fully control all resources in your Google Play Games-enabled game during development and testing, with better support for alpha and beta groups.

Let's take a quick dive into the expanded offering.

These updates make it far less complex and error prone to manage data during testing, saving you time and improving the rate at which you can make and test changes to your games.

Play Games Management API background

The Management API is a set of tools that enable developers to do things like manage tester data and clean up bogus leaderboard score submissions. Developers can also use the API to control and manipulate resources (e.g., achievements, events, multiplayer match data).

Getting started

You can get started with the latest version of the Management API right now. Review the updated API reference documentation, start with an example management interface, or download the sample client libraries to get on your way.

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06 Nov 2014 10:30pm GMT

Introducing a New Guide, “The Secrets to App Success on Google Play”

By Dom Elliott, Google Play team

With more than 50 billion apps and games downloaded in total, Google Play is helping developers and content creators around the world build successful businesses. In fact, we paid out more than $5 billion over the last year to developers for creating incredible apps that are changing the way people communicate, live, work, and play.

Developing an app or game and distributing it on Google Play is a good start, but it's only the first step to building a sustainable business. That's why we've written "The Secrets to App Success on Google Play," a detailed playbook on the best practices and tools you can use to maximize the reach, retention, and revenue of your new app.

The guide is separated into the following sections:

Download the guide now in English (PDF, 11MB) or get it on Google Play. We'll release the guide in more languages in the coming months. If you're in the US or the UK, we also have a limited number of printed copies that we are offering to send for free. Request a printed copy here.

Once you've checked out the guide, we'd love to hear your feedback so we can continue to improve, let us know what you think.

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06 Nov 2014 4:31pm GMT

05 Nov 2014

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Going Global: Space Ape Games Finds Success in Japan

By Leticia Lago, Google Play team

There are many ways to find success for a game on the international stage: it's not a simple formula, it's a combination of things, ranging from localizing effectively to choosing the right price. London-based Space Ape Games brought together a range of resources and tactics to take Samurai Siege into Japan, growing that market to contribute up to 15% of the game's average $55,000 daily earnings.

John Earner, Simon Hade, and Toby Moore founded Space Ape Games in 2012 with just 12 people. Their goal, to create amazing multiplayer mobile games. Samurai Siege is their first game and they found that Android players have great retention and monetize well. "Our experience has been great with Google Play. We have found that it is half of our audience and half of our business," says John.

Check out the video below to hear more about how Space Ape expanded to Japan.


Resources to help you grow globally

You can grow your games business worldwide too, and maximize your distribution potential with Google Play. Be sure to check out these resources:

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05 Nov 2014 6:49pm GMT

03 Nov 2014

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Your Chance to be on TV!

By Tarjei Vassbotn and Dan Galpin, Developer Advocates, Android TV

We're excited to see the launch of Nexus Player, the first consumer streaming media player running Android TV. Android TV delivers an entertainment experience tailored for users, including movies, shows, games and more.
Now is a great time to develop apps for Android TV that reach a whole new audience.

Starting today, you can publish your apps for Android TV on Google Play, the largest digital store for apps and games. We've provided guidance on how to get started building great apps for Android TV in this post.

"Google has done an insanely good job to ease the developer's task of creating a TV application, mainly thanks to the Leanback support library. It literally takes 2 hours to create a fully working and possibly fancy app, which is awesome."

- Sebastiano Gottardo

A high bar for quality experiences

We want to offer the best possible experience for users to enjoy your apps and games. To make this possible, your Android TV app must meet the basic requirements for usability. When your app meets these requirements, users will be able to discover and download it directly on their Android TV devices.

Even if you have already uploaded your app to the Google Play Developer Console, you will need to add TV graphics and screenshots, and opt-in to distribution on TV on the Pricing & Distribution page. For complete information about the requirements and process of publishing your Android TV app for Google Play, make sure to check out the publishing documentation.

Get started!

With our Leanback Library we've made it easy for you to extend your existing app to the TV screen or even build a completely new app for Android TV. For a quick look at the Leanback Library, check out this DevBytes video.

We've only begun scratching the surface of what's possible with this new form factor, and we are very excited to see what you will build, start developing today!

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03 Nov 2014 9:38pm GMT

29 Oct 2014

feedAndroid Developers Blog

The fastest route between voice search and your app

By Jarek Wilkiewicz, Developer Advocate, Google Search

How many lines of code will it take to let your users say Ok Google, and search for something in your app? Hardly any. Starting today, all you need is a small addition to your AndroidManifest.xml in order to connect the Google Now SEARCH_ACTION with your searchable activity:

<activity android:name=".SearchableActivity">
    <intent-filter>
        <action android:name="com.google.android.gms.actions.SEARCH_ACTION"/>
        <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT"/>
    </intent-filter>
</activity>

Once you make these changes, your app can receive the SEARCH_ACTION intent containing the SearchManager.QUERY extra with the search expression.

At Google, we always look for innovative ways to help you improve mobile search and drive user engagement back to your app. For example, users can now say to the Google app: "Ok Google, search pizza on Eat24" or "Ok Google, search for hotels in Maui on TripAdvisor."

This feature is available on English locale Android devices running Jelly Bean and above with the Google app v3.5 or greater. Last but not least, users can enable the Ok Google hot-word detection from any screen, which offers them the fastest route between their search command and your app!


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29 Oct 2014 7:46pm GMT

28 Oct 2014

feedAndroid Developers Blog

Tips for integrating with Google Accounts on Android

By Laurence Moroney, Developer Advocate

Happy Tuesday! We've had a few questions come in recently regarding Google Accounts on Android, so we've put this post together to show you some of our best practices. The tips today will focus on Android-based authentication, which is easily achieved through the integration of Google Play services. Let's get started.

Unique Identifiers

A common confusion happens when developers use the account name (a.k.a. email address) as the primary key to a Google Account. For instance, when using GoogleApiClient to sign in a user, a developer might use the following code inside of the onConnected callback for a registered GoogleApiClient.ConnectedCallbacks listener:

[Error prone pseudocode]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
// createLocalAccount() is specific to the app's local storage strategy.
createLocalAccount(accountName);

While it is OK to store the email address for display or caching purposes, it is possible for users to change the primary email address on a Google Account. This can happen with various types of accounts, but these changes happen most often with Google Apps For Work accounts.

So what's a developer to do? Use the Google Account ID (as opposed to the Account name) to key any data for your app that is associated to a Google Account. For most apps, this simply means storing the Account ID and comparing the value each time the onConnected callback is invoked to ensure the data locally matches the currently logged in user. The API provides methods that allow you to get the Account ID from the Account Name. Here is an example snippet you might use:

[Google Play Services 6.1+]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = GoogleAuthUtil.getAccountId(accountName);
createLocalAccount(accountID);
[Earlier Versions of Google Play Services (please upgrade your client)]
Person currentUser = Plus.PeopleApi.getCurrentPerson(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = currentUser.getID();
createLocalAccount(accountID);

This will key the local data against a Google Account ID, which is unique and stable for the user even after changing an email address.

So, in the above scenario, if your data was keyed on an ID, you wouldn't have to worry if your users change their email address. When they sign back in, they'll still get the same ID, and you won't need to do anything with your data.

Multiple Accounts

If your app supports multiple account connections simultaneously (like the Gmail user interface shown below), you are calling setAccountName on the GoogleApiClient.Builder when constructing GoogleApiClients. This requires you to store the account name as well as the Google Account ID within your app. However, the account name you've stored will be different if the user changes their primary email address. The easiest way to deal with this is to prompt the user to re-login. Then, update the account name when onConnected is called after login. Any time a login occurs you, can use code such as this to compare Account IDs and update the email address stored locally for the Account ID.

[Google Play Services 6.1+]
String accountName = Plus.AccountApi.getAccountName(mGoogleApiClient);
String accountID = GoogleAuthUtil.getAccountId(accountName);
// isExistingLocalAccount(), createLocalAccount(), 
// getLocalDataAccountName(), and updateLocalAccountName() 
// are all specific to the app's local storage strategy.
boolean existingLocalAccountData = isExistingLocalAccount(accountID);
if (!existingLocalAccountData) {
    // New Login.
    createLocalAccount(accountID, accountName);
} else {
    // Existing local data for this Google Account.
    String cachedAccountName = getLocalDataAccountName(accountID);    
    if (!cachedAccountName.equals(accountName)) {
        updateLocalAccountName(accountID, accountName);
    }
}

This scenario reinforces the importance of using the Account ID to store data all data in your app.

Online data

The same best practices above apply to storing data for Google Accounts in web servers for your app. If you are storing data on your servers in this manner and treating the email address as the primary key:

ID [Primary Key] Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
user1@gmail.com Value 1 Value 2 Value 3

You need to migrate to this model where the primary key is the Google Account ID.:

ID [Primary Key] Email Field 1 Field 2 Field 3
108759069548186989918 user1@gmail.com Value 1 Value 2 Value 3

If you don't make Google API calls from your web server, you might be able to depend on the Android application to notify your web server of changes to the primary email address when implementing the updateLocalAccountName method referenced in the multiple accounts sample code above. If you make Google API calls from your web server, you likely implemented it using the Cross-client authentication and can detect changes via the OAuth2 client libraries or REST endpoints on your server as well.

Conclusion

When using Google Account authentication for your app, it's definitely a best practice to use the account ID, as opposed to the account name to distinguish data for the user. In this post, we saw three scenarios where you may need to make changes to make your apps more robust. With the growing adoption of Google for Work, users who are changing their email address, but keeping the same account ID, may occur more frequently, so we encourage all developers to make plans to update their code as soon as possible.


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28 Oct 2014 5:18pm GMT

Material Design on Android Checklist

By Roman Nurik, Design Advocate

Android 5.0 brings in material design as the new design system for the platform and system apps. Consumers will soon start getting Android 5.0 and they're already seeing glimpses of material design with apps like Google Play Newsstand, Inbox by Gmail and Tumblr. Meanwhile, developers now have the Android 5.0 SDK, along with AppCompat for backward compatibility. And designers now have access to Photoshop, Illustrator and Sketch templates. All this means that now-yes now!-is the time to start implementing material design in your Android apps. Today, let's talk about what implementing material design really boils down to.

Below, you'll find a material design checklist that you can use to mark progress as you implement the new design system. The checklist is divided into 4 key sections based on the 4 key aspects of material design.

If you include a good chunk of the items in the checklist below, especially the ones indicated as signature elements, and follow traditional Android design best practices (i.e. these, these, and things we discussed on ADiA), you'll be well on your way to material design awesomeness!

Tangible Surfaces

UIs consist of surfaces (pieces of "digital paper") arranged at varying elevations, casting shadows on surfaces behind them.

Figure 1. Surfaces and layering.

A Bold, Print-Like Aesthetic

The "digital ink" you draw on those pieces of digital paper is informed by classic print design, with an emphasis on bold use of color and type, contextual imagery, and structured whitespace.

Figure 2. Primary and accent colors.

Figure 3. Keylines.

Authentic Motion

Motion helps communicate what's happening in the UI, providing visual continuity across app contexts and states. Motion also adds delight using smaller-scale transitions. Motion isn't employed simply for motion's sake.

Figure 4. "Hero" transitions.

Adaptive Design (and UI Patterns)

Tangible surfaces, bold graphic design, and meaningful motion work together to bring a consistent experience across any screen, be it phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, TVs, wearables, or even cars. Additionally, the key UI patterns below help establish a consistent character for the app across devices.

Figure 5. The floating action button.

App bar

Tabs


Figure 6. Tabs with material design.

Navigation drawer


Figure 7. Navigation drawers
with material design.

More and more apps from Google and across the Google Play ecosystem will be updating with material design soon, so expect Winter 2014 to be a big quarter for design on Android. For more designer resources on material design, check out the DesignBytes series. For additional developer resources, check the Creating Apps with Material Design docs!

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28 Oct 2014 1:00pm GMT