24 Apr 2017
Drum roll please! The Google Play Awards are back again this year and will take place Thursday, May 18th at 6:30pm (Pacific Time) during Google I/O, our annual developer festival.
The annual ceremony is a great opportunity for the industry to recognize outstanding developers that continue to set the bar for quality apps and games showing a passion for driving innovation and adoption of new platforms and user experiences.
This year we'll be honoring partners across 12 award categories, some familiar and some new. Nominees were selected much like last year by cross-functional teams throughout Google who work hand-in-hand with the relevant categories and product areas. While category specific criteria can be found below, the common requirements across all categories focused on high star rating, technical performance and freshness, requiring a launch or major update since April 2016. The winners of each category will be announced at Google I/O in May.
The full list of categories and nominees are below and can also be found at g.co/play/GPA2017:
- Games from indie developers that focus on artistic design, gameplay mechanics and overall polish. And the nominees are……
Standout StartupApps from new developers that offer a unique experience while achieving strong organic install growth. And the nominees are……
Best Android Wear ExperienceNew wear 2.0 apps offering great design, user delight and functionality. And the nominees are…
Best TV ExperienceApps or games leveraging innovative features for the large-screen format while providing an immersive and intuitive experience. And the nominees are…
Best VR ExperienceHighly engaging and immersive experience with optimal use of Daydream UI. And the nominees are…
Best AR ExperienceApps or games harnessing the creative and imaginative technology of AR. And the nominees are…
Best App for KidsApps or games with family friendly design that encourage creativity, exploration and education. And the nominees are…
Best Multiplayer Game
- Games built to connect gamers in competitive and engaging multiplayer experiences. And the nominees are…
Best AppA true representation of beautiful design, intuitive UX and high user appeal. And the nominees are…
Best GameGames with strong mechanics, stellar graphics and strong engagement and retention tactics. And the nominees are...
Best Accessibility ExperienceApps or games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serves people with disabilities or special needs. And the nominees are…
Best Social ImpactApps that creates meaningful social impact for a broad spectrum of people around the world. And the nominees are…
24 Apr 2017 5:07pm GMT
20 Apr 2017
Developers spend a considerable amount of resources driving users to download their apps, but what happens next is often the most critical part of the user journey. User onboarding is especially nuanced in the kids space since developers must consider two audiences: parents and children. When done correctly, a compelling onboarding experience will meet the needs of both parents and kids while also accounting for unique considerations, such as a child's attention span.
Budge Studios has successfully grown their catalog of children's titles by making onboarding a focal point of their business. Their target demographic is three to eight-year olds, and their portfolio of games include top titles featuring Strawberry Shortcake, Hello Kitty, Crayola, Caillou and The Smurfs.
"First impressions matter, as do users' first experience with your app. In fact, 70%1 of users who delete an app will do so within a day of having downloaded it, leaving little time for second chances. As an expert in kids' content, Budge tapped into our knowledge of kids to improve and optimize the onboarding experience, leading to increased initial game-loop completion and retention." - Noemie, Founder & Co-CEO at Budge Studios
Three key ways Budge Studios designs better onboarding experiences:
When Budge released their app Crayola Colorful Creatures, they looked at data to identify opportunities to create a smoother onboarding flow for kids. At launch, only 25% of first-time users were completing the initial game loop. Budge analyzed data against gameplay and realized the last activity was causing a drastic drop-off. It required kids to use the device's microphone, and that proved too challenging for very young kids. Budge was able to adjust the initial game loop so that all the activities were accessible to the youngest players. These adjustments almost tripled the initial loop completion, resulting in 74% of first-time users progressing to see additional activities.
2. Earn parents trust by providing real value upfront
Budge has a large of portfolio of apps. Earning parents' trust by providing valuable and engaging experiences for kids is important for retaining users in their ecosystem and achieving long term success.
With every new app, Budge identifies what content is playable for free, and what content must be purchased. Early on, Budge greatly limited the amount of free content they offered, but over time has realized providing high quality free content enhances the first-time user experience. Parents are more willing to spend on an app if their child has shown a real interest in a title.
Working with top kids' brands means that Budge can tap into brand loyalty of popular kids characters to provide value. To launch Strawberry Shortcake Dreams, Budge decided to offer Strawberry Shortcake, the most popular character in the series, as a free character. Dress Up Dreams is among the highest converting apps in the Budge portfolio, indicating that giving away the most popular character for free helped conversions rather than hurting it.
3. Test with real users
Budge knows there is no substitute for direct feedback from its end-users, so Budge involves kids every step of the way. Budge Playgroup is a playtesting program that invites families to try out apps at the alpha, beta and first-playable development stages.
The benefits from early testing can be as basic as understanding how the size and coordination of kids' hands affect their ability to complete certain actions or even hold the device, and as specific as pinpointing a less-than-effective button.
In the testing stages of Strawberry Shortcake Holiday Hair, Budge caught an issue with the main menu of the app, which would not have been evident without observing kids using the app.
In the original design, users were prompted to start gameplay by audio cues. During testing, it was clear that the voiceover was not sufficient in guiding kids to initiate play, and that additional visual clues would significantly improve the experience. A simple design change resulted in a greatly enhanced user experience.
The onboarding experience is just one component of an app, but just like first impressions, it has a disproportionate impact on your users' perception of your app. As Budge has experienced, involving users in testing your app, using data to flag issues and providing real value to your users upfront, creates a smoother, more accessible onboarding experience and leads to better results.
For more best practices on developing family apps and games, please check out The Family Playbook for developers. And visit the Android Developers website to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.
20 Apr 2017 4:26pm GMT
14 Apr 2017
Yesterday, we released Android Studio 2.4 Preview 6. Java 8 language features are now supported by the Android build system in the javac/dx compilation path. Android Studio's Gradle plugin now desugars Java 8 class files to Java 7-compatible class files, so you can use lambdas, method references and other features of Java 8.
For those of you who tried the Jack compiler, we now support the same set of Java 8 language features but with faster build speed. You can use Java 8 language features together with tools that rely on bytecode, including Instant Run. Using libraries written with Java 8 is also supported.
We first added Java 8 desugaring in Android Studio 2.4 Preview 4. Preview 6 includes important bug fixes related to Java 8 language features support. Many of these fixes were made in response to bug reports you filed. We really appreciate your help in improving Android development tools for the community!
It's easy to try using Java 8 language features in your Android project. Just download Android Studio 2.4 Preview 6, and update your project's target and source compatibility to Java version 1.8. You can find more information in our preview documentation.
14 Apr 2017 8:00pm GMT