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

Jul 27

From Chrysaor to Lipizzan: Blocking a new targeted spyware family

Posted by Megan Ruthven Android Security, Ken Bodzak Threat Analysis Group, Neel Mehta Threat Analysis Group

Android Security is always developing new ways of using data to find and block
potentially harmful apps (PHAs) from getting onto your devices. Earlier this
year, we
announced we had blocked Chrysaor targeted spyware, believed to be written
by NSO Group, a cyber arms company. In the course of our Chrysaor investigation,
we used similar techniques to discover a new and unrelated family of spyware
called Lipizzan. Lipizzan’s code contains references to a cyber arms company,
Equus Technologies.

Lipizzan is a multi-stage spyware product capable of monitoring and exfiltrating
a user’s email, SMS messages, location, voice calls, and media. We have found 20
Lipizzan apps distributed in a targeted fashion to fewer than 100 devices in
total and have blocked the developers and apps from the Android ecosystem.
Google Play Protect has notified all affected devices and removed the Lipizzan
apps.

We’ve enhanced Google Play Protect’s capabilities to detect the targeted spyware
used here and will continue to use this framework to block more targeted
spyware. To learn more about the methods Google uses to find targeted mobile
spyware like Chrysaor and Lipizzan, attend our BlackHat talk, Fighting
Targeted Malware in the Mobile Ecosystem.

How does Lipizzan work?

Getting on a target device

Lipizzan was a sophisticated two stage spyware tool. The first stage found by
Google Play Protect was distributed through several channels, including Google
Play, and typically impersonated an innocuous-sounding app such as a “Backup” or
“Cleaner” app. Upon installation, Lipizzan would download and load a second
“license verification” stage, which would survey the infected device and
validate certain abort criteria. If given the all-clear, the second stage would
then root the device with known exploits and begin to exfiltrate device data to
a Command & Control server.

Once implanted on a target device

The Lipizzan second stage was capable of performing and exfiltrating the results
of the following tasks:

  • Call recording
  • VOIP recording
  • Recording from the device microphone
  • Location monitoring
  • Taking screenshots
  • Taking photos with the device camera(s)
  • Fetching device information and files
  • Fetching user information (contacts, call logs, SMS, application-specific
    data)

The PHA had specific routines to retrieve data from each of the following apps:

  • Gmail
  • Hangouts
  • KakaoTalk
  • LinkedIn
  • Messenger
  • Skype
  • Snapchat
  • StockEmail
  • Telegram
  • Threema
  • Viber
  • Whatsapp

We saw all of this behavior on a standalone stage 2 app, com.android.mediaserver
(not related to Android
MediaServer). This app shared a signing certificate with one of the stage 1
applications, com.app.instantbackup, indicating the same author wrote the two.
We could use the following code snippet from the 2nd stage
(com.android.mediaserver) to draw ties to the stage 1 applications.

public void uninstallParent() {
    android.util.Log.d("ApplicationsManager", "Removing parent application!");
    com.android.mediaserver.shell.Shell$  SU.run(new StringBuilder().append("").append("echo u:r:system_server:s0 > /proc/$  $  /attr/current; pm uninstall").append("com.app.instantbackup").toString());
    com.android.mediaserver.shell.Shell$  SU.run(new StringBuilder().append("").append("rm -rf /data/data/").append("com.app.instantbackup").toString());
    com.android.mediaserver.shell.Shell$  SU.run(new StringBuilder().append("").append("rm -Rf /data/data/").append("com.app.instantbackup").toString());
    return;
}

Morphing first stage

After we blocked the first set of apps on Google Play, new apps were uploaded
with a similar format but had a couple of differences.

  • The apps changed from ‘backup’ apps to looking like a “cleaner”, “notepad”,
    “sound recorder”, and “alarm manager” app. The new apps were uploaded within a
    week of the takedown, showing that the authors have a method of easily changing
    the branding of the implant apps.

  • The app changed from downloading an unencrypted stage 2 to including stage 2
    as an encrypted blob. The new stage 1 would only decrypt and load the 2nd stage
    if it received an intent with an AES key and IV.

Despite changing the type of app and the method to download stage 2, we were
able to catch the new implant apps soon after upload.

How many devices were affected?

There were fewer than 100 devices that checked into Google Play Protect with the
apps listed below. That means the family affected only 0.000007% of Android
devices. Since we identified Lipizzan, Google Play Protect removed Lipizzan from
affected devices and actively blocks installs on new devices.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Ensure you are opted into Google Play Protect.
  • Exclusively use the Google Play store. The chance you will install a PHA is
    much lower on Google Play than using other install mechanisms.

  • Keep “unknown sources” disabled while not using it.
  • Keep your phone patched to the latest Android security update.

List of samples

1st stage

Older version

Package Name Latest App SHA 256
com.safe.datasaver 5d6a8c9c335edaf0b5d010f30e9fc9cea1e7a19d8c4e888079d6a6a4bae5aaef
com.and.goldbackup 3a9f25b2ba38974b0eb8de76ad37abc77f7eb068e6880305cc1faaba4467d5cf
com.star.backupstar ed4f693ea491ab0c455499fbaeddec70652b506f778130b43101b2496669fe59
com.veramon.backupit 27971324142ae23aad3f7e95e7eb1b85a7f08b39b4a4d27aab177669e875791b
com.copanga.backupplus 726b91193469513405b95f0c20cb0ec94396ce317ac0f763e98af949186630f8
com.app.thunderbackup 99282aa2d17a341d88a6e1944149639bcc8f711cdcd134a455b0c25951111712
com.kopos.nowbackup 48305da03403990395afb159c56370d204b0e32343f3b0790b640653ee79e5c9
com.appnow.backupdroid 35896010e204b064e313204d525185586924b31a0804d0512ba5467fc95cb35e
com.apptimus.androidbackuppro b615936270d9dab3c29d7b0a3c1fc846f1f5d82570fb917849769f578cfaeb01
com.app.backupfast 9efa83579e769f73793e138d79d15aa5b96e42c58b568eab00edece6219e2322
com.app.instantbackup a5f266864b341f8558aacdee1a38fe4b95a9035bf9c0c1d7761e23de2181dcf2

Newer version

Package Name Latest App SHA 256
com.sd.sdbackup 8ebe42ce2c03e56cb97bb2dc1be47a4226899d6f648c30eecb19e32a7867657a
com.app.procleaner affc95a6db70b62b4252fe5da4016ae873b33e645147f06f12a33c9dc5305ae4
com.app.alarmmanager fe121da2a53632ba2b617eae26c72b685ed4853a6b3f9fd223af11a1042c3541
com.app.soundrecorder aa4445023df7b203e8078858b502d1082647c815b24c3335a58347bc98b79c74
com.mem.notesplus 24aa8a2f2fbbbe82b89076bf1981bdedb7ecb4baa9e036993504e8309269b373
com.app.processcleaner b2eca848730d41c2e8001ec7316352343b84327d59e193aacdcd0d01aceb79f2
com.kobm.devicecleaner 6ddad8d049fd25e06b84de013dfec7e1bb09abca78604305b9ae1df6c4145e5c
com.yonni.deviceoptimizer 2f8fab18374080ac42422e5e79a693438b81f95f76de5f2f34cd2a0c882f06ef
com.haima.ultracleaner af7f90809d4e3bf160ccf4a219012f9dac283657f57b812733022f4a966428ea

Standalone 2nd stage

Package Name Latest App SHA 256
com.android.mediaserver 1ba8d5f45e8cd545cc3b919bea80e7bd5c6c85fc822f52edc0669191536d43da


Android Developers Blog

Jun 22

Get your app featured on the first smartphone with Project Tango from Lenovo

Originally posted on Google Developers Blog

Posted by Johnny Lee, Technical Project Lead, Project Tango

Today, at CES, Lenovo announced the development of the first consumer-ready smartphone with Project Tango. By adding a few extra sensors and some computer vision software, Project Tango transforms your smartphone into a magic lens that lets you place digital information on your physical world.

*Renderings only. Not the official Lenovo device.

To support the continued growth of the ecosystem, we’re also inviting developers from around the world to submit their ideas for gaming and utility apps created using Project Tango. We’ll pick the best ideas and provide funding and engineering support to help bring them to life, as part of the app incubator. Even better, the finished apps will be featured on Lenovo’s upcoming device. The submission period closes on February 15, 2016.

All you need to do is tell us about your idea and explain how Project Tango technologies will enable new experiences. Additionally, we’ll ask you to include the following materials:

  • Project schedule including milestones for development –– we’ll reach out to the selected developers by March 15, 2016
  • Visual mockups of your idea including concept art
  • Smartphone app screenshots and videos, such as captured app footage
  • Appropriate narrative including storyboards, etc.
  • Breakdown of your team and its members
  • One pager introducing your past app portfolio and your company profile

For some inspiration, Lowe’s is developing an app where you can point your Project Tango-enabled smartphone at your kitchen to see where a new refrigerator or dishwasher might fit virtually.

Elsewhere, developer Schell Games let’s you play virtual Jenga on any surface with friends. But this time, there is no cleanup involved when the blocks topple over.

There are also some amazing featured apps for Project Tango on Google Play. You can pick up your own Project Tango Tablet Development Kit here to brainstorm new fun and immersive experiences that use the space around you. Apply now!


Android Developers Blog

Jun 13

New backdoor intercepts input data from the keyboard

The company “Dr. Web” warned of spreading malware BackDoor.Saker.1, which bypassing mechanism to control user accounts. The main function of BackDoor.Saker.1 – execution command coming from intruders, and most importantly, to intercept the keys pressed by the user ( keylogging ) .

Infiltrating for becoming infected computer , the Trojan executes the file temp.exe, designed to circumvent the
Antivirus and Security News

May 25

Request a professional app translation from the Google Play Console and reach new users

Posted by Rahim Nathwani, Product Manager, Google Play

Localizing your app or game is an important step in allowing you to reach the
widest possible audience. It helps you increase downloads and provide better
experiences for your audience.

To help do this, Google Play offers an app translation service. The service, by
professional linguists, can translate app user interface strings, Play Store
text, in-app products and universal app campaign ads. We’ve made the app
translation service available directly from inside the Google Play Console,
making it easy and quick to get started.

  • Choose from a selection of professional translation vendors.
  • Order, receive and apply translations, without leaving the Play Console.
  • Pay online with Google Wallet.
  • Translations from your previous orders (if any) are reused, so you
    never pay for the same translation twice. Great if you release
    new versions frequently.

Using the app translation service to translate a typical app and store
description into one language may cost around US$ 50. (cost depends on the amount
of text and languages).

Find out more and get
started with the app translation service.

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Android Developers Blog