Apr 12

Time to Upgrade from GCM to FCM


Originally posted by Jen Person on the Firebase Blog.

In 2016, we unveiled Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) as the next evolution of Google Cloud Messaging (GCM). Since then, we’ve been working hard to make Firebase Cloud Messaging even more powerful than its predecessor. Like GCM, Firebase Cloud Messaging allows you to send notifications and data messages reliably to iOS, Android, and the Web at no cost. In addition, FCM includes a host of new features, such as an intuitive notifications interface in the Firebase console, better reporting, and native integrations with other Firebase products. With FCM, you can target and test notifications to re-engage your users with greater ease and efficiency.

We’re excited to devote more time and attention to improving FCM. That’s why today we’re announcing that all developers will need to upgrade to FCM within a year. The GCM server and client APIs have been deprecated and will be removed as soon as April 11th, 2019. We recommend you upgrade sooner rather than later so you can start taking advantage of the new features we’re building in FCM right away!


To help you through the upgrade, we’ve created a step-by-step migration guide and answered a few of the most common questions you’ll probably have below.

What else is new in FCM?

Once you upgrade, you’ll be able to use all of the new features and functionality available in FCM, like platform overrides and topic combinations. You’ll also be able to send notifications directly from the Firebase console! What’s more, FCM integrates seamlessly with other Firebase products like A/B Testing and Predictions.

Want to test different messages to see which one drives more conversions? You can use FCM with A/B Testing to run experiments to optimize your notifications. Want to engage users who are likely to churn or spend money in your app? You can use FCM with Predictions to target notifications to users based on their predicted behavior.

These are some of the awesome features you’ll have at your fingertips with FCM. In the future, we’ll be adding many more!

Will I still be able to send messages to my existing users?

If you have projects that are still using the GCM APIs, you will need to update your client and server code to use FCM before April 11, 2019. But rest assured, your existing GCM tokens will continue to work with FCM so you won’t lose the ability to send messages to your existing users.

How do I upgrade?

The full process is outlined in our migration guide, or if you prefer video content, you can also check out this Firecast for details.

On a high level, upgrading consists of three main parts: console-side, app-side, and server-side.

  • In the Firebase console, you’ll need to create a new Firebase project using your app’s existing Cloud Project ID.
  • In your app, you’ll need to make some code changes. The amount of changes will depend on what features of GCM you currently use, such as topic subscriptions and token generation.
  • On the server side, you’ll need to change the server endpoint from GCM to FCM.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to complete all three parts of the process in one sitting – you can take it at your own pace. For example, you can choose to configure the console today and work on the app code another time. You’re also free to update your app’s code right now, and tackle the server-side requirements later.

What happens to my users who don’t update their apps?

As long as users have GCM logic in their apps, they will still receive messages. FCM is backwards compatible with GCM, so even if you don’t update your server endpoint now, you can still update your app’s logic, and vice versa.

What data will Firebase collect and use? I’m concerned about privacy.

Please see the Firebase terms and the Firebase Privacy and Security Policy. You can disable Google Analytics for Firebase to reduce the amount of data that is collected, but keep in mind this will also disable some FCM features.

What if I still have questions?

We’re here to help you through the upgrade process. Check out this nifty FAQ page as a start. We also encourage you to post your questions on StackOverflow. Or, feel free to reach out to Firebase support through any of these means.

To save you clicking time, here are some of the links that are also worth a read. Start with the upgrade guide, and then check out the other links to find out more.

  • Migrating from GCM to FCM
  • Migrate from Google Cloud Messaging to Firebase Cloud Messaging – Firecasts
  • Migrating from GCM to FCM – FAQ
  • Firebase support
  • FCM Introduction
  • About Firebase Cloud Messaging
  • Example – Android Quickstart – Messaging
  • Authorizing Send Requests

What if I already migrated?

Awesome! How’d it go? Tweet me at @ThatJenPerson to tell me what went well and what didn’t. Sharing your experience helps us make improvements!

We look forward to welcoming you to FCM, the next evolution of GCM!


Android Developers Blog

Mar 24

Making your App Content more Accessible from Google

Posted by Chaesang Jung, Software Engineer

There are many reasons to build or not to build a mobile app as part of your broader mobile strategy. For instance, while apps offer a rich user experience, users can’t access them through Google Search like they do websites. Today, we’re announcing a new Google Search capability, app indexing, that will start to make apps more accessible through Google on Android.

Let’s say that a user is searching for a movie. With app indexing, Google will begin to include deep links to apps in Android search results. When the user taps on the “Open in app” deep links, the app opens up directly to the movie in question.

In this example, in order for the app deep links to appear in search results,

  • The Flixster app supports deep linking
  • The Rotten Tomatoes website has specified that the Flixster app page is an alternate for the web page
  • Google has indexed the Flixster app to determine relevance
  • The user has installed the Flixster app

The end result is that users will have a seamless search experience when accessing your app content through Google.

Google is currently testing app indexing with an initial group of developers including AllTheCooks, AllTrails, Beautylish, Etsy, Expedia, Flixster, Healthtap, IMDb, moviefone, newegg, OpenTable, Trulia, and Wikipedia. Deep links for these applications will start to appear in Google search results on Android, in the US, in a few weeks.

How to get started

If you are interested in enabling indexing for your Android app, you can learn more about our developer guidelines at developers.google.com/app-indexing and sign up. We are expanding our app indexing efforts and will gradually include more developers over time.


Android Developers Blog

Mar 03

Introducing new app categories — From Art to Autos to Dating — to help users better find your apps

Posted by By Sarah Karam, Google Play Apps Business Development

With more than 1 billion active users in 190 countries around the world, Google
Play continues to be an important distribution platform for you to build a
global audience. To help you get your apps in front of more users, it’s
important to make them more quickly and easily discoverable in Google Play.
That’s why we rolled out major features, such as Search
Ads, Indie
Corner, store
listing experiments, and more, over the past year.

To improve the overall search experience, we’re introducing new app categories
and renaming a few existing ones, making them more comprehensive and relevant to
what users are looking for today.

The new categories include:

  • Art & Design
  • Auto & Vehicles
  • Beauty
  • Dating
  • Events
  • Food & Drink
  • House & Home
  • Parenting

In addition, the “Transportation” category will be renamed “Maps & Navigation,”
and the “Media & Video” category will be renamed “Video Players & Editors.”

To select a new category for your app or game

  1. Sign in to your Google Play
    Developer Console.

  2. Select an app.
  3. On the left menu, click Store Listing.
  4. Under “Categorization,” select an application type and category.
  5. Near the top of the page, click Save draft (new apps) or Submit update
    (existing apps).

Newly added categories will be available on Google Play within 60 days. If you
choose a newly added category for an app before the category is available for
users, your current app category may change. See additional details and view our
full list of categories in the Help
Center.


Android Developers Blog

Feb 04

Average annual damage from cyber attacks increased by 78 %

The frequency of attacks, the level of their damage and the time to correct them continue to grow the fourth consecutive year, according to the latest report from Ponemon Institute.

In a report in 2013 Cost of Cyber ​​Crime Study estimated that the average annual damage from cyber attacks today is 11.56 million U.S. dollars, an increase of 78 % over four years ago when they released their
Antivirus and Security News

Jan 19

Grow your business on Google Play with help from the new Playbook for Developers app

Posted by Dom Elliott, the Google Play team

Today, the Playbook for
Developers
mobile app is now
generally available for Android devices. The app helps you stay up-to-date with
the features and best practices to grow your business on Google Play. Thanks to
all our beta testers over the last six weeks whose feedback helped us tweak and
refine the app in preparation for launch.

Here’s how you read and watch content in the Playbook for Developers app:

  • Choose topics relating to your business interests to personalize My
    Playbook
    with curated articles and videos from Google and experts
    across the web.

  • Explore the in-depth guide to Google’s developer
    products, with articles grouped by what you’re trying to do: develop, launch,
    engage, grow, and earn.

  • Take actions on items – complete, share, save, or dismiss them – and read
    your Saved articles later, including offline if they’re
    written in the app. A data connection will be needed to read articles and videos
    from across the web.

The app supports Android 5.0 and above. We will be adding and updating content
in the app to help you stay up-to-date and grow your business. Get the Playbook
for Developers app today and then give us your feedback. The app is
also available in the following languages: Bahasa
Indonesia, Deutsch,
español
(Latinoamérica), le
français, português
do Brasil, tiếng
Việt, русский
язы́к, 한국어,
中文
(简体), 中文
(繁體), and 日本語.

This is the second app we’ve released for Google Play developers. Get the Google Play Developer Console app to
review your app’s performance statistics and financial data, get notified about
your app’s status and publishing changes, and read and reply to user reviews on
the go.


Android Developers Blog

Dec 08

Power Great Gaming with New Analytics from Play Games

By Ben Frenkel, Google Play Games team

A few weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), we announced Play Games Player Analytics, a new set of free reports to help you manage your games business and understand in-game player behavior. Today, we’re excited to make these new tools available to you in the Google Play Developer Console.

Analytics is a key component of running a game as a service, which is increasingly becoming a necessity for running a successful mobile gaming business. When you take a closer look at large developers that do this successfully, you find that they do three things really well:

  • Manage their business to revenue targets
  • Identify hot spots in their business metrics so they can continuously focus on the game updates that will drive the most impact
  • Use analytics to understand how players are progressing, spending, and churning

“With player engagement and revenue data living under one roof, developers get a level of data quality that is simply not available to smaller teams without dedicated staff. As the tools evolve, I think Google Play Games Player Analytics will finally allow indie devs to confidently make data-driven changes that actually improve revenue.”

Kevin Pazirandeh
Developer of Zombie Highway 2

With Player Analytics, we wanted to make these capabilities available to the entire developer ecosystem on Google Play in a frictionless, easy-to-use way, freeing up your precious time to create great gaming experiences. Small studios, including the makers of Zombie Highway 2 and Bombsquad, have already started to see the benefits and impact of Player Analytics on their business.

Further, if you integrate with Google Play game services, you get this set of analytics with no incremental effort. But, for a little extra work, you can also unlock another set of high impact reports by integrating Google Play game services Events, starting with the Sources and Sinks report, a report to help you balance your in-game economy.

If you already have a game integrated with Google Play game services, go check out the new reports in the Google Play Developer Console today. For everyone else, enabling Player Analytics is as simple as adding a handful of lines of code to your game to integrate Google Play game services.

Manage your business to revenue targets

Set your spend target in Player Analytics by choosing a daily goal

To help assess the health of your games business, Player Analytics enables you to select a daily in-app purchase revenue target and then assess how you’re doing against that goal through the Target vs Actual report depicted below. Learn more.

Identify hot spots using benchmarks with the Business Drivers report

Ever wonder how your game’s performance stacks up against other games? Player Analytics tells you exactly how well you are doing compared to similar games in your category.

Metrics highlighted in red are below the benchmark. Arrows indicate whether a metric is trending up or down, and any cell with the icon can be clicked to see more details about the underlying drivers of the change. Learn more.

Track player retention by new user cohort

In the Retention report, you can see the percentage of players that continued to play your game on the following seven days after installing your game.

Learn more.

See where players are spending their time, struggling, and churning with the Player Progression report

Measured by the number of achievements players have earned, the Player Progression funnel helps you identify where your players are struggling and churning to help you refine your game and, ultimately, improve retention. Add more achievements to make progression tracking more precise.

Learn more.

Manage your in-game economy with the Sources and Sinks report

The Sources and Sinks report helps you balance your in-game economy by showing the relationship between how quickly players are earning or buying and using resources.

For example, Eric Froemling, one man developer of BombSquad, used the Sources & Sinks report to help balance the rate at which players earned and spent tickets.

Read more about Eric’s experience with Player Analytics in his recent blog post.

To enable the Sources and Sinks report you will need to create and integrate Play game services Events that track sources of premium currency (e.g., gold coins earned), and sinks of premium currency (e.g., gold coins spent to buy in-app items).


Android Developers Blog

Nov 14

Award Winning Antivirus of March from AV-Comparatives

AV-Comparatives – independent laboratory testing of information security – announced the results of its research in March. Test Real-World Protection checked how well the world’s top antivirus 1264 fighting modern threats.

The winners of the next research AV-Comparatives steel programs Emsisoft Anti-Malware 8.1 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2014, the two managed to block 99.7% of threats and
Antivirus and Security News

Oct 30

GNSS Analysis Tools from Google

Posted by Frank van Diggelen, Software Engineer

Last year in Android Nougat, we introduced APIs for retrieving Global
Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Raw measurements from Android devices. This
past week, we publicly released GNSS
Analysis Tools to process and analyze these measurements.

Android powers over 2 billion devices, and Android phones are made by many
different manufacturers. The primary intent of these tools is to enable device
manufacturers to see in detail how well the GNSS receivers are working in each
particular device design, and thus improve the design and GNSS performance in
their devices. However, with the tools publicly available, there is also
significant value to the research and app developer community.

How to use the tool

The GNSS Analysis Tool is a desktop application that takes in raw the GNSS
Measurements logged from your Android device as input.

This desktop application provides interactive plots, organized into three
columns showing the behavior of the RF, Clock, and Measurements. This data
allows you to see the behavior of the GNSS receiver in great detail, including
receiver clock offset and drift to the order of 1 nanosecond and 1 ppb and
measurement errors on a satellite-by-satellite basis. This allows you to do
sophisticated analysis at a level that, until now, was almost inaccessible to
anyone but the chip manufacturers themselves.

The tools support multi-constellation (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou and QZSS)
and multi-frequency. The image below shows the satellite locations for L1, L5,
E1 and E5 signals tracked by a dual frequency chip.

The tools provide an interactive control screen from which you can manipulate
the plots, shown below. From this control screen, you can change the background
color, enable the Menu Bars for printing or saving, and select specific
satellites for the plots.

Receiver test report

The tools also provide automatic test reports of receivers. Click “Make Report”
to automatically create the test report. The report evaluates the API
implementation, Received Signal, Clock behavior, and Measurement accuracy. In
each case it will report PASS or FAIL based on the performance against known
good benchmarks. This test report is primarily meant for the device
manufacturers to use as they iterate on the design and implementation of a new
device. A sample report is shown below.

Our goal with providing these Analysis Tools is to empower device manufacturers,
researchers, and developers with data and knowledge to make Android even better
for our customers. You can visit the GNSS
Measurement site to learn more and download this application.


Android Developers Blog

Sep 27

Announcing the Winners from the Indie Games Festival in San Francisco

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

At the Google Play Indie Games Festival over the weekend, we welcomed hundreds
of attendees to try out and enjoy a diverse range of amazing games from the
indie community. The competition was very tough, and in the end, we recognized
three winners:

  • Flipping
    Legend by Hiding Spot

  • Slayaway
    Camp by Blue Wizard Digital

  • Tiny Bubbles by Pine Street Codeworks (coming soon!)

We’d also like to congratulate the rest of the Top 10 developers and all of the
finalists who shared their games to make for such a fun and exciting event.
Check out the great collection
of games on Google Play.

Here are the other seven games that rounded out the Top 10:

  • Age
    of Rivals by Roboto Games

  • Beast
    Brawlers – PvP Arena by V2 Games Inc.

  • Covens
    by Raincrow Studios, LLC

  • Crashy
    Cars by pixelbizarre

  • Jigsaw
    Story by Happy Square Studio Inc

  • Loteria
    Latin Bingo by Gorilla Bean Games

  • Splitter
    Critters by RAC7

The day started with time for attendees to play the 20 finalists’ games. They
experienced different genres and styles of gameplay and were encouraged to talk
with the developers about their work and what it’s like to make mobile games for
a living. The event brought together kids, adults, gaming enthusiasts and
non-gamers, and was a great representation of the fun experiences mobile games
create.

In the afternoon, attendees voted for their favorites and the Top 10 moved on to
the presentation round. These developers had three minutes to deliver their best
pitch to the panel of judges. After the judges voted, results were in and the
three winners and seven runners up were named.

If you like indie games and want to keep up with our favorite indie picks, visit
the Indie Corner on Google Play.


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Android Developers Blog

Aug 25

Find success on Google Play: What app developers can learn from games

Posted by Matteo Vallone, Business Development Manager at Google Play

(As a way to reach more app developers and help them grow successful businesses on Google Play, this post was first published on The Next Web – Ed.)

There is much common ground between freemium apps and games businesses when it comes to achieving success. Users are, however, more used to paying for games than apps, stemming from the history of traditional gaming consoles. Moreover, mobile games are also able to easily offer ‘virtual goods’ across a range of price points to suit every pocket. This means that game developers have had plenty of opportunity to learn about how to improve onboarding, conversion, and ultimately the user Lifetime Value (LTV). So what can app developers learn from game developers? Here are some best practice tips and insights from successful game developers that can be applied to many apps, today.

Drive app success the game developer way:

1. Optimize retention before investing in acquisition

Retention is king, and retention drives conversion. For games developers, retention is the key measure of game quality and whether it appeals to players.

Most game developers will “soft launch” to beta testing communities or test markets. During this phase, the game is tweaked to optimize retention by looking into specific areas, such as tutorial completion, level difficulty and conversion. Developers can then track retention using the Cohorts reports in Google Analytics. Once retention is satisfactory, the developer can go to full launch and start investing in user acquisition.

2. Retain users with step-by-step engagement

The first seven days after install are the most critical for retention: users install several apps to try them, and decide in the first few days which ones they want to keep using. If you can retain for that time span, your app is more likely to become part of the user’s daily routine.

There are some simple ways to progressively build user engagement. It’s important to present a strong story that explains why that app is relevant to the user, while introducing them to key features. Then place features that offer the user value early, so they can be found without much effort.

This is a not a one-size-fit-all. To find the right solution, a developer needs to first make assumptions on what user flows can improve retention and then run A/B tests to validate or correct them. For example, a developer could think that introducing sign-in later in the user flow might improve retention. Also, the developer needs to keep in mind what the key long term engagement metrics are for the individual app (such as photos uploaded or the number of articles read) and measure the impact of the different onboarding flows on those metrics as well.

In general, these principles are good places to start optimizing your onboarding:

  • Look for ways to let the users experience the app straight away, rather than taking them through a long, complex setup.
  • Present “activation moments” — such as registering an account, uploading a video, or finding friend — gradually
  • Start by requiring minimal investment by the user, then ask them for more details as they are needed to use the apps features.
  • Treat permissions as a service for the user. For example, if you want users to register, show them in advance that, by making their experience more personal, they’ll get more value from the app.

In this example, OkCupid tried different onboarding flows and found the most engaging version increased seven-day retention by over 20 percent.

Finally, ensure the user can understand the value of your app before you start asking them to pay. Game developers are particularly good at letting their users try most or all product features for free in in a set number of days or sessions.

A great tool to help analyze how users are engaging (or not) with the app is through the Flow Report in Google Analytics. Using this report, a developer can see how users navigate through the app and where they leave to identify potential roadblocks.

3. Target the right offers at the right users

Understanding different groups of users in-app purchase behavior is the key to devising strategies to encourage them to spend.

Start by identifying groups of users by how they spend and much they are likely to spend. It may be by age group, the channel that brought the install, or in-app behaviour. Use the Segment builder in Google Analytics to identify and define these groups of users. Then, tailor in-app purchase offers to match the segments spending behavior. For example, for segments where multiple users tend to spend more in one go, but spend infrequently, offer them in-app features bundled together.

4. Offer in-app purchases when users are most likely to spend

Users are also more likely to spend, if the purchasing experience is frictionless, and even more so when they can see how the expenditure will add value. So:

  • Present purchase opportunities to users when they’re most likely to need or want it — and explain to the user why it’s relevant.
  • Make purchasing accessible easily from within the app with a minimum number of taps. For example, offer an upgrade button on the footer of relevant screens.

TomTom added a countdown to indicate when the free service runs out (counted in kilometers travelled). The counter includes a button to upgrade offering a one tap in-app purchase.

Like all good game developers, they focus on building good experiences that retain and engage users through constant testing and analytics. First impressions are important, so users need to be able to quickly understand the importance of the app and easily navigate through the onboarding experience. And to start generating revenue, it is important to be thoughtful about how to make in-app purchases actionable.

Watch Matteo’s Playtime 2015 session ‘The rules of games, for apps’ to hear more in-depth insights which app developers can learn from games with best practices and developer examples:

You can also watch the other sessions from Google Playtime 2015 to learn more about tools and best practices which can help you find success with business on Google Play.


Android Developers Blog