Google kicks off Playtime 2017 for app developers

Google’s annual global Playtime series started yesterday with back-to-back events in Berlin and San Francisco. The series is designed to help developers find success with Android’s growing portfolio of hardware, including phones, tablets, Wear devices, TV’s, Chromebooks and Daydream. Every month around the globe, there are over 8 billion new Android app installs per month. Microsoft recently quit the smartphone game because of a lack of developer interest, which highlights just how vital developers are to Android’s successful ecosystem.

New innovations on Google Play and new features in the Play Console will be a big part of the series. Developers can follow Google’s Medium online where Playtime series presenters will post strategies, best practices and examples of how to achieve business objectives. Google will also publish the State of Play 2017 to report on both Google’s and Android’s ongoing progress and how they’re helping developers find success.

Google has revamped the Editor’s Choice section of Google Play, now live in 17 countries, that highlights the highest quality apps and games that Google feels are best. Android Excellence recently recognized their favorite apps and games for Fall 2017. The best indie games are also being highlighted this year with winners recently announced at the Indie Games Festival in San Francisco. Nominations for the Second Indie Games Contest in Europe have also opened.

An improved home for games has been implemented in the Play Store with trailers and screenshots of gameplay. Coming soon, two new browse destinations will hit the Play Store – “New” for upcoming and trending games, and “Premium” for paid games. Google is also looking to help developers even after users have installed their apps. There are reminders to try recently installed games and “live operations” banners are being expanded, which highlight major in-game events within popular games. Android Instant Apps, which allows anyone to use an app without having to install it, is getting a “Try it Now” button, allowing users to jump right in with a single tap.

The Google Play Console provides developers with tools needed for every step of an app’s lifecycle. Introduced at I/O 2017, “Android vitals” have already helped 65% of top developers understand their app’s performance. Five new vitals are being added to monitor an app’s battery consumption, crashes and render time. The better performing apps will be favored via Google Play’s search and discovery algorithms.

Pre-launch reports are also getting improved and will be enabled for all developers with no opt-in requirements. Uploaded alpha or beta APK’s will automatically be installed and tested on popular devices powered by Firebase Test Lab. Crashes, display issues, security vulnerabilities and performance will all be included in the reports. Apps that frequently crash or freeze will be banned under a new policy.

Developers with alpha and beta app releases will soon be able to target specific countries. Over 66% of top developers are also using the device catalog, which helps them expand to the widest range of Android devices. Developers can discover why specific devices aren’t supporting their app and save device searches.

Play Billing Library will make it easier for developers to setup and manage subscription services, and new test instruments will make the testing of flows for successful and unsuccessful payments easier. Developers can now offer shorter free trials with a minimum of three days and one free trial at the app level will be enforced to stop abuse. “Account hold” allows developers to block user access until renewal payment issues are resolved. And starting in January 2018, transaction fees are being updated for subscribers who are retained for more than a year.

The Google Play Security Reward Program will help discover security vulnerabilities and notify developers on how to fix them. This new program will add to other existing reward programs to improve Google Play’s overall security with incentives.

Source: Android Developers Blog

About the Author: Erik Slaven

He was born and raised in Virginia, but escaped to Southern CA. Started out as a BlackBerry addict until he bought HTC’s Droid Eris and never looked back. He's owned dozens of Android devices and can rarely settle on a daily driver for more than a few months. He's currently using a Galaxy S8 and BlackBerry KEYone. He rides motorcycles for fun and would live on the beach if it was legal. Marketing and freelance pr help keep the lights on.