05 December 2016

Welcoming Android 7.1.1 Nougat

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Android Nougat

Android 7.1.1 Nougat!

Today we're rolling out an update to Nougat -- Android 7.1.1 for Pixel and Pixel XL devices and the full lineup of supported Nexus devices. We're also pushing the Android 7.1.1 source code to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) so that device makers can get their hands on the latest version of Android.

With Android 7.1.1 officially on it's way to users, it's a good time to make sure your apps are ready.

What's in Android 7.1.1?

Android 7.1.1 is an incremental release that builds on the features already available on Pixel and Pixel XL devices, adding a handful of new features for consumers as well as optimizations and bug fixes on top of the base Android 7.1 platform (API level 25).

If you haven't explored the developer features, you'll want to take a look at app shortcuts, round icon resources, and image keyboard support, among others -- you can see the full list of developer features here. For details on API Level 25, check out the API diffs and the API reference.

You can find an overview of all of the Android Nougat developer resources here, including details on the core Android 7.0 Nougat behavior changes and developer features.c

Coming to consumer devices soon

We're starting the Android 7.1.1 rollout today, and we expect it to reach all eligible devices over the next several weeks. Pixel and Pixel XL devices will get the over-the-air (OTA) update, as will Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G (Android One) devices. Devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program will receive the final version as well. As always, you can also download and flash this update manually.

We've also been working with our device manufacturer partners to bring Android 7.1.1 to their devices in the months ahead.

Make sure your apps are ready

Take this opportunity to test your apps for compatibility and optimize them to look their best on Android 7.1.1, such as by providing round icons and adding app shortcuts. We recommend compiling your app with, and ideally targeting, API 25. See our recent post for details.

With the final platform we’re updating the platform and build tools in Android Studio, as well as the API Level 25 emulator system images. The latest version of the support library (25.0.1) is also available for you to add image keyboard support, bottom navigation, and other features for devices running API Level 25 or earlier.

We're also providing downloadable factory and OTA images on the Nexus Images page to help you do final testing on your Pixel and Nexus devices. To help scale your testing, make sure to take advantage of Firebase Test Lab for Android and run your tests in the cloud at no charge through the end of December.

After your final testing, publish your apps to your alpha, beta, or production channels in the Google Play Developer Console.

What's next?

We'll soon be closing open bugs logged against Developer Preview builds, but please keep the feedback coming! If you still see an issue that you filed in the preview tracker, just file a new issue against Android 7.1 in the AOSP issue tracker. You can also continue to give us feedback or ask questions in the developer community.

As mentioned back in August, we've moved Android Nougat into a regular maintenance cycle and we're already started work on refinements and bug fixes for the next incremental update. If you have an eligible device that's currently enrolled in the Android Beta Program, your device will automatically receive preview updates of upcoming Android Nougat releases as soon as they are available. If you don't want to receive those updates, just visit the Beta site and unenroll the device.

Thanks for being part of the developer preview. Let us know how this year's preview met your needs by taking a short survey. Your feedback helps to shape our future releases.

01 December 2016

Indie game developers in Latin America sustain growth after launch on Google Play

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Marketing Programs Manager, Google Play

Indie game developers are some of the most exciting and innovative teams to work with. While developers large and small exist on the same field, gone are the days where you hit publish and turn your back, moving on to the next project. We've gathered a few developer stories coming out of Latin America sharing experiences and advice.

Oktagon Games

Ronaldo Cruz, Founder and CEO of Oktagon Games tells us how "reviews provide great qualitative insight on the game helping us identify problems that may not be caught by analytics."


Tiny Bytes

Tiny Bytes reduced churn by 5% using an in-game tutorial and analytics.

Impossible Apps

Cleverson Schmidt of Impossible Apps shares how introducing in-app purchases helps diversify revenue streams and "can make the game profitable and self sustainable."


How useful did you find this blogpost?


30 November 2016

Updated Udacity Android course prepares students for the Associate Android Developer Certification

Posted by Jocelyn Becker, Senior Program Manager, Android Training

As one of our most popular Udacity courses, the Developing Android Apps course was recently updated to ensure developers have the resources to build high quality apps. This course, which has already helped more than half a million developers learn to build Android apps, has been through the car wash and come out sparkling clean and updated.

Google and Udacity have worked together to update the course to include the very latest changes in Android and Android Studio, including how to use the new Constraint Layout editor, and how to use Firebase Job Dispatcher. Learn best practices for building Android apps using Android 7.0 (Nougat) while keeping your apps backwards compatible in older versions, learning at your own pace in your own time.

You sent us feedback that some of the lessons were a little difficult to get through, so we've restructured the lessons and added smaller apps for you to build as you progress through the course. So not only will you build the Sunshine weather app as a complete, integrated application that spans the entire course, but you'll also create an app in each lesson to help you learn individual concepts.

Build a To Do app and add new tasks as you learn how to build a ContentProvider.

This course brings back Android experts Dan Galpin and Reto Meier from Google, and Lyla Fujiwara from Udacity, and introduces new faces from Google and Udacity.

Start learning now at https://www.udacity.com/course/ud851.

Combined package for Developing Android Apps course and Associate Android Developer Certification

This updated course teaches the skills that are tested by the Associate Android Developer certification exam. Udacity is offering a package that combines the updated Developing Android Apps course with a voucher for the Associate Android Developer certification exam. If you pass this exam, you will earn the Associate Android Developer Certification and show that you are competent and skilled in tasks that an entry-level Android developer typically performs. Enroll in Udacity's Fast Track to get prepared and take the Associate Android developer exam at: https://www.udacity.com/course/nd818.

Learn tips from Memrise to increase in-app conversions with pricing experiments

Posted by Tamzin Taylor, Partner Development Manager at Google Play, & Kristina Narusk, Head of Production at Memrise

Getting people to install your app is one thing, getting them to sign up to your paid offering is quite another. It's important to understand the complete journey your users take from installing your app to paying for something. Once you do, you can experiment on the flow to try and increase conversions. Memrise has found great success in experimenting on their language learning app to increase the number of paying users.

Four experiments Memrise use to improve conversions

Memrise makes languages fun with a number of different learning modes you can play to help increase your vocabulary in a chosen language. You can download the app for free and play some of the modes or take advantage of their premium subscription offering called 'Memrise Pro' which offers new game modes and additional features like offline learning. Memrise recently ran a number of conversion experiments with the main objective of increasing the Average Revenue Per Daily Active User (ARPDAU). These experiments tested multiple user experience and pricing experiment scenarios.

1. A/B test how messaging different user benefits can impact conversion

What they did: Memrise wanted to know what motivation and call to action would convert the most users to buy a Pro subscription from a locked game mode in the app. To do this, they ran an A/B test with two similar designs, featuring different reasons for the user to upgrade, and compared the results to their original upgrade messaging.



Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 15.26.00.png
Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 15.25.34.png
Test A: Focus on ‘difficult’ words with an orange background.
Test B: Focus on ‘favorite’ words with a pink background.

Results: Test A performed the best. Conversion to Pro in Test A was 28% higher than in Test B. Pro mode usage was subsequently 9.7% higher in Test A compared to Test B too.

Next steps: After seeing how test A won the experiment, Memrise applied this creative across the board. Subscribers driven by that particular mode increased as a percentage of all subscriptions in the app by 16%. Memrise plans to run additional A/B tests at others points of conversion in the app to see if they can increase the results even further. They'll also try different text for the call to actions.

2. Test whether adapting to local price points results in sustainable uplift

In 2015, Google Play launched new minimum local price levels in countries around the world. To take advantage of the new price points, Memrise tested lowering localised prices in certain markets to better match purchasing power. Prices were an average of 6 times lower during this experiment.

Results: After 30 days, Memrise saw the following changes in conversions to paid users:



🇹🇷
Turkey
180%
🇧🇷
Brazil
182%
🇷🇺
Russia
99%
🇲🇽
Mexico
115%
🇮🇳
India
5.1%
🇮🇩
Indonesia
152%
🇰🇷
South Korea
120%
🇹🇭
Thailand
70%
🇲🇾
Malaysia
27%

Next steps: The change in price affected the subscription dynamics with more users taking advantage of Memrise's in-app discounted offer in most countries. The offer was for annual subscribers only and has led to a positive effect on LTV. One insight from the experiment was that Indian users prefered to have the option to subscribe in weekly or monthly increments and not just annually. Memrise is still tracking carefully to see whether the discounted subscription pricing will lead to an increase in conversions.

3. Test when and how often you offer free trials to see if that affects conversion rate

Memrise occasionally offers users, who aren't Pro subscribers, a free trial of one of the Pro game modes while cycling through the various free modes. After the free trial session, users are presented with an offer to subscribe. Memrise experimented with the offer's timing making it appear more frequently while users were cycling through normal free sessions Instead of after every 49th session, users saw the unlocked mode after every 21st session.



Screenshot_unlocked.png
Screenshot_unclocked_offer.png
An example of a free trial of a Pro mode.
After completing a free trial, users see a discounted subscription offer.

Results: Offering a free trial more frequently paid off. The conversion rate increased by 50% while all other conversion rates remained the same.

Next steps: Memrise maintained the more frequent offer cadence and has seen revenue growth as a result.

4. Test whether seasonal discounts result in more conversions Memrise launched a 'Back to School' campaign presenting all users with a discounted annual plan offer for a week in September 2016. The aim was to convert more users and generate higher value users from annual subscription plans.

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 16.03.14.png

Results: Memrise saw two effects from the seasonal offer. As a result of only presenting an annual period and removing weekly and monthly, 20% fewer users per day converted to Pro. However, because more people were taking an annual subscription than a shorter subscription, the average revenue per day increased by 32% justifying the change.

Next steps: Memrise plans to test different offers in the future with a combination of subscription offerings. They'll also focus offers in countries like Turkey and Mexico, where they saw the biggest increase in conversions.

Keep experimenting and take advantage of new features to improve the user experience and increase conversions

At Playtime San Francisco, we announced that introductory pricing for subscriptions would be coming soon and the feature is now live. By continually testing messaging, pricing, offers, and free trials or discounted trials, you could increase the conversions in your app and your ongoing revenue just like Memrise. Learn more about Google Play in-app billing subscriptions and get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.

How useful did you find this blogpost?


29 November 2016

Keeping it real: Improving reviews and ratings in Google Play

Posted by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager and Buddhika Kottahachchi, Product Manager

The Play Store contains the largest catalog of apps in the world. As our users make decisions about the apps they'd like to install, we want to ensure Play provides a trustworthy experience.

Recently, we announced our improvements in fighting fraudulent and spam app installs. In continuing our efforts to combat spammy behavior, we've also improved the ways we identify and remove fake reviews and ratings. With this enhanced capability we are now able to identify and remove more fake reviews and ratings with greater accuracy.

In the vast majority of cases, no action is needed. If you are working with someone else to promote your app (e.g., third-party marketing agencies), we advise you to check-in and ensure that their promotion techniques use legitimate practices, and adhere to the Google Play Developer Policy. The basic rule of thumb for reviews and ratings is that they should come from genuine users, and developers should not attempt to manipulate them in any form (e.g., fake, paid, incentivized).

We will continue making such enhancements to our systems that will further help protect the integrity of Google Play, our developer community, and ultimately our end users.

Android Developer Story: Le Monde increases subscriptions with Google Play Billing

Watch Edouard Andrieu, Director of Mobile, and Ahcene Amrouz, Product Manager for Mobile, explain how La Matinale has a 6% higher subscription conversion on Android than on other platforms thanks to tools like Google Play Billing.

Learn more how to add an introductory price to your subscription, and get the News Publisher Playbook to stay up-to-date with more features and best practices to help you find success for your news apps on Google Play.


How useful did you find this blogpost?

23 November 2016

Your next growth market: Realizing the potential of MENA

Posted by Mohammad El-Saadi, BD, Google Play

We know that many developers want to take advantage of growth opportunities in new regions, but are held back by not knowing the most important areas to focus on. That's why we wanted to share stories from our partners in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It's a fast growing region for Google Play, and one that already represents a sizable revenue opportunity. They've shared their experiences, and some key things to focus on if you're thinking of launching in the region.

Middle East and North Africa overview

MENA is a diverse region in terms of disposable income, access to connectivity, and smartphone penetration. However, it is possible to broadly group MENA into two types of market:

Growth markets

  • Examples: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Very high smartphone penetration (on par with top western european markets),
  • Large disposable income
  • Robust growth in spend on mobile apps and games

Emerging markets

  • Examples: Morocco, Egypt and Iraq.
  • Large populations
  • Significant growth in smartphone (primarily Android) adoption.

Opportunities

Localization

If you want to be successful in MENA, localization is key. In Saudi Arabia 19 of the top 20 grossing apps & games have their Google Play Store listing localized and the majority of those have their actual app/game localized as well. By localizing to Arabic, mobile app and game developers have found great success in the region.

When Singapore-based Wego.com localized to Arabic, they achieved over 200% YoY growth in MENA, grew their app rating from 3.5 to over 4.5 among Arab travelers and increased Arab users' retention rates by 200%. Today, MENA represents over 65% of their users.

To do localization well, here are a few things to consider:

  • Localize your store listing into Arabic including your video, screenshots and text. If you are targeting specific countries within MENA consider using local dialects, otherwise use formal Arabic. Consider using Store Listing Experiments to optimize your listing for local audiences.
  • If applicable, flip your app/game UI to be right-to-left.
  • Beware of common issues when localizing to Arabic: Arabic letters appearing disjointed or showing up in reverse order and the ordering of words getting mixed up when sentences contain both Latin and Arabic words
  • Localize pricing by showing appropriate local currency and rounding. Note that different countries in MENA have different currencies and affordability/willingness to pay.
  • Plan around major local events such as the holy month of Ramadan, when after fasting from dawn to sunset, families and loved ones gather for meals, laughs and stories. We've found that during this month usage of apps and games increases significantly in MENA.
  • Provide local customer support
  • Be culturally sensitive in your communication and content - avoid stereotypes and keep in mind the relatively conservative nature of users in the region
  • Leverage the power of YouTube to reach your audiences in MENA. Saudi Arabia for instance is the second largest market for YouTube globally in terms of views per capita.

Refer to our Localization Checklist for some best practices when localizing for any language.

Gaming

Gaming is a high growth and revenue opportunity in MENA. Most countries in the region have a median age of 30 or lower, smartphone growth will continue to grow at double digits, which makes gaming a key segment for users in the region. Today's local top grossing charts and dominated by Midcore strategy games. Interestingly, GCC countries have some of the highest Average Revenue Per Paying User rates globally.

International titles, including Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Mobile Strike and Clash of Kings, have performed incredibly well in the region. In addition, titles specifically targeting MENA have also seen tremendous success. Revenge of the Sultans, by ONEMT, from China, has been the top grossing title across several MENA countries for many months. Similarly, when IGG.com launched the Arabic version of Castle Clash, they grew revenue from MENA by 58% within 4 months.

As the market evolves, there is also a huge opportunity for other genres (such as RPG, FPS, and sports) which are not present at scale in the region yet.

Google Play in MENA

We continue to invest in making sure that users are able to pay for their favorite apps and games by launching locally relevant payment methods in MENA. Today, we have carrier billing available with the major networks in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. We plan to expand coverage in more countries, including Qatar and Bahrain, in the future.

We are also committed to increasing the quality and availability of Arabic apps and games for MENA users, which is why we launched our Now in Arabic collection featuring apps and games that have recently localized to Arabic. This collection will be regularly updated. If you're interested in being included, submit your localized app/game.