Apr 17

New in Android: L Developer Preview and Google Play Services 5.0

By Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Earlier today, at Google I/O, we showed a number of projects we’ve been working on to the thousands of developers in the audience and the millions more tuning in on the livestream. These projects extend Android to the TV (Android TV), to the car (Android Auto) and to wearables (Android Wear), among others.

At Google, our focus is providing a seamless experience for users across all of the screens in their lives. An important component to that is making sure that you as developers have all of the tools necessary to easily deploy your apps across to those screens. Increasingly, Android is becoming the fabric that weaves these experiences together, which is why you’ll be excited about a number of things we unveiled today.

Android L Developer Preview

For the first time since we launched Android, we’re giving you early access to a development version of an upcoming release. The L Developer Preview, available starting tomorrow, lets you explore many of the new features and capabilities of the next version of Android, and offers everything you need to get started developing and testing on the new platform. This is important because the platform is evolving in a significant way — not only for mobile but also moving beyond phones and tablets. Here are a few of the highlights for developers:

  • Material design for the multiscreen world — We’ve been working on a new design language at Google that takes a comprehensive approach to visual, motion, and interaction design across a number of platforms and form factors. Material design is a new aesthetic for designing apps in today’s multi-device world. The L Developer Preview brings material design to Android, with a full set of tools for your apps. The system is incredibly flexible, allowing your app to express its individual character and brand with bold colors and a variety of responsive UI patterns and themeable elements.
  • Enhanced notifications — New lockscreen notifications let you surface content, updates, and actions to users at a glance, without unlocking. Visibility controls let you manage the types of information shown on the lockscreen. Heads-up notifications display content and actions in a small floating window that’s managed by the system, no matter which app is in the foreground. Notifications are material themed and you can express your brand through accent colors and more.
  • Document-centric Recents — Now you can organize your app by tasks and present these concurrently as individual “documents” in the Recents screen. Users can flip through Recents to find the specific task they want and then jump deep into your app with a single tap.
  • Project Volta — New tools and APIs help your app run efficiently and conserve power. Battery Historian is a new tool that lets you visualize power events over time and understand how your app is using battery. A job scheduler API lets you set the conditions under which your background tasks and other jobs should run, such as when the device is idle or connected to an unmetered to a charger, to minimize battery impact.
  • BLE Peripheral Mode — Android devices can now function in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) peripheral mode. Apps can use this capability to broadcast their presence to nearby devices — for example, you can now build apps that let a device to function as a pedometer or health monitor and transmit data to another BLE device.
  • Multi-networking — Apps can work with the system to dynamically scan for available networks with specific capabilities and then automatically connect. This is useful when you want to manage handoffs or connect to a specialized network, such as a carrier-billing network.
  • Advanced camera capabilities — A new camera API gives you new capabilities for image capture and processing. On supported devices, your app can capture uncompressed YUV capture at full 8 megapixel resolution at 30 FPS. The API also lets you capture raw sensor data and control parameters such as exposure time, ISO sensitivity, and frame duration, on a per-frame basis.
  • New features for game developers — Support for OpenGL ES 3.1, gives you capabilities such as compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather for your games. Android Extension Pack (AEP) is a new set of extensions to OpenGL ES that bring desktop-class graphics to Android. Games will be able to take advantage of tessellation and geometry shaders, and use ASTC texture compression across multiple GPU techonolgies.
  • Android Runtime (ART) — The L Developer Preview introduces the Android Runtime (ART) as the system default. ART offers ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, more efficient garbage collection, and improved development and debugging features. In many cases it improves performance of the device with no action required by the developer.
  • 64-bit support — The L Developer Preview adds support for 64-bit ABIs, for additional address space and improved performance with certain compute workloads. Apps written in the Java language can run immediately on 64-bit architectures with no modifications required. To support apps using native code, we’re also releasing an updated NDK that includes 64-bit support.

Watch for more details coming out tomorrow (26 June) on what’s in the L Developer Preview and how to get it.

Google Play Services 5.0

Along with the L Developer Preview, we also announced a new version of Google Play services that brings new capabilities and the latest optimizations to devices across the Android ecosystem. Google Play services ensures that you can build on the latest features from Google for your users, with the confidence that those services will work properly everywhere. The latest version has begun rolling out and here are some of the highlights:

  • Services for Android wearables — Your apps can more easily communicate and sync with code running on Android wearables through an automatically synchronized, persistent data store and a reliable messaging interface.
  • Play Games services — Build a great gaming experience with Quests, which allow event-based challenges for players to complete for rewards, Saved Games (a snapshot API allow synchronization of game data along with a cover-image and description), and Game Profile (providing experience points for players).
  • App Indexing API — Surface deep content in your native mobile applications on Google search and drive additional user engagement.
  • Google Cast — Use media tracks to enable closed-caption support for Chromecast.
  • Drive — Sort query results, create offline folders, and select any mime type in the file picker by default.
  • Wallet — Build a “Save to Wallet” button for offers directly into your app; use geo-fenced in-store notifications to prompt the user to show and scan digital cards. Split tender allows payment to be split between Wallet Balance and a credit/debit card in Google Wallet.
  • Analytics — Get insights into the full user journey and understand how different user acquisition campaigns are performing with Enhanced Ecommerce, letting you measure product impressions, product clicks, and more.
  • Mobile Ads — Use improved in-app purchase ads and integrations for the Play store in-app purchase API client.
  • Dynamic Security Provider — Offers an alternative to the platform’s secure networking APIs that can be updated more frequently, for faster delivery of security patches.

We expect the rollout of Google Play services 5.0 to take several days, after which time you’ll be able to get started developing with these new APIs.

Join us at the Google I/O sessions

If you’d like to learn more, join us for sessions on Android development, material design, game development, and more. You’ll find the full session list on the Google I/O 2014 site, and you can filter the schedule to find livestreamed sessions of interest.

Google I/O 2014
I/O Livestreams
I/O Bytes Videos
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Apr 13

Android Developer Story: Hutch improves player engagement with A/B testing on Google Play

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Google Play team

Hutch is a London based mobile studio focusing entirely on racing games, with
more than 10 million players on Google Play. For their latest game, MMX Hill
Climb, they used A/B testing and game analytics to improve the game design and
experience resulting in more than 48 mins daily active usage per user.

Watch Shaun Rutland, CEO, and Robin Scannell, Games Analyst, explain how they
were able to deliver a more engaging user experience in this video.

Learn more
about A/B testing and get the Playbook for
Developers app to stay up-to-date on new features and learn best practices
that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


Android Developers Blog

Apr 11

Announcing Open Registration and Exhibitors for Google Play Indie Games Festival in San Francisco, Sept. 24

Posted by Jamil Moledina, Google Play, Games Strategic Lead

To celebrate the art of the latest innovative indie games, we’re hosting the
first Google
Play Indie Games Festival in North America on September 24th in San
Francisco. At the festival, Android fans and gamers will have a unique
opportunity to play new and unreleased indie games from some
of the most innovative developers in the US and Canada, as well as vote for
their favorite ones.

Registration
is now open and the event is free for everyone to enjoy.

We’re also excited to announce the games selected to exhibit and compete at the
event. From over 200 submissions, we carefully picked 30 games that promise the
most fun and engaging experiences to attendees. Fans will have a chance to play
a variety of indie games not yet available publicly.

Check out the full list of games selected here
and below.


A Matter of
Murder

Antihero
(coming soon)

AR Zombie
(coming soon)

Armajet
(coming soon)

Armor Blitz
(coming soon)

Bit Bit Blocks
(coming soon)

1979 Revolution:
Black Friday
(coming soon)
Coffee Pot
Terrarium
(coming soon)
Crayola® Worlds for Tango
(coming soon)
Dog Sled Saga
(coming soon)

Endless Mine
Futurable 1.
Summer City
(coming soon)
Gunhouse
(coming soon)

HoloGrid: Monster
Battle
(coming soon)
Hovercraft:
Takedown

HOVR
(coming soon)

Maruta 279
(coming soon)

Norman’s Night In:
The Cave
(coming soon)
Numeris
Orbit – Playing with
Gravity

Parallyzed
Psychic
(coming soon)

Riptide GP:
Renegade

Roofbot
Sand Stories
(coming soon)

SmashWars VR:
Drone Racing

ThreeSwipes
Rainmaker:
Ultimate Trading

Zombie Rollerz
(coming soon)
Coming soon

Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite games at the
festival, along with an authoritative panel of judges from Google Play and the
game industry. They include:

  • Ron Carmel, Co-founder of Indie Fund; co-creator of World of Goo
  • Hyunse Chang, Business Development Manager at Google Play
  • Lina Chen, Co-founder & CEO of Nix Hydra
  • David Edery, CEO of Spry Fox
  • Maria Essig, Partner Manager, Indies at Google Play
  • Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer at Google
  • Dan Fiden, Chief Strategy Officer of Funplus
  • Emily Greer, CEO of Kongregate
  • Alex Lee, Producer, Program Manager, Daydream & Project Tango at Google
  • Jordan Maron, Gamer and independent YouTuber “CaptainSparklez”

We are also thrilled to announce that veteran game designer and professor
Richard Lemarchand will be the emcee for the event. He was lead designer at
Crystal Dynamics and Naughty Dog, and is now Associate Chair and Associate
Professor at the University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts,
Interactive Media and Games Division.

The winning developers will receive prizes, such Google Cloud credits, NVIDIA
SHIELD Android TVs and K1 tablets, Razer Forge TV bundles, and more, to
recognize their efforts.

Join us for an exciting opportunity to connect with fellow game fans, get
inspired, and celebrate the art of indie games. Learn more about the event on
the event
website.


Android Developers Blog

Apr 06

Introducing new Android Excellence apps and games on Google Play

Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

Congratulations to the latest apps and games featured in the Android Excellence program on Google Play. As a reminder, these collections are refreshed every three months and recognize apps and games that set the bar for high quality, great user experience, and strong technical performance.

If you’re looking for some new apps, here are a few highlights.

  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC: Capture, edit, and share your photos with the power of Lightroom on your mobile device. Use presets for quick and easy edits, or dive in with the advanced editing tools.
  • Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge: Use this app to fit seven minute workouts into your busy lifestyle. Grab your phone, or even your Wear OS device to work out anywhere and anytime. Keep it up to earn achievements and join the 7 Club for even more support.
  • SoloLearn: Learn to Code for Free: Learn one of many new coding languages by joining a community of millions. Tap in to the 24/7 peer support, or create your own lessons to become a community influencer.

Here are a few of our favorite new games joining the collection.

  • CodyCross: Crossword Puzzles: Try this game for a fun new style of crossword puzzles. Play for free on adventure mode or subscribe for special themed packs, varying difficulty levels and fresh content added weekly.
  • MARVEL Contest of Champions: Play with your favorite Marvel Super Heroes and Super Villians in iconic locations from the Marvel Universe. Assemble your team of champions to play through the exciting storyline and even build alliances with your friends.
  • Orbital 1: Test your skills in this real-time multiplayer game with beautiful 3D graphics. Collect and upgrade fighters and weapons to build out your perfect squad for quick battles and new daily quests.

See the full list of Android Excellence apps and games.

New Android Excellence apps New Android Excellence games
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC

Dashlane

Holstelworld

iCook

Keeper Password Manager

Keepsafe Photo Vault

Mobisystems OfficeSuite

PhotoGrid

Runtastic Results

Seven – 7 Minute Workout Training Challenge

SoloLearn: Learn to Code for Free

Tube Map

WPS Office

Angry Birds 2

Azur Lane アズールレーン

CodyCross

Into the Dead 2

Little Panda Restaurant

MARVEL Contest of Champions

Orbital 1

Rooms of Doom

Sky Dancer Run

Sling Kong

Soul Knight

Explore other great apps and games in the Editors’ Choice section on Google Play and discover best practices to help you build quality apps and games.

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Android Developers Blog

Mar 23

Updates to Unity, C++, and iOS tools for Play game services

Posted by Benjamin Frenkel, Product Manager

To further support all you game developers, we’ve updated our popular developer tools to give you a consistent set of game services across platforms for a better, more stable experience, with a particular focus on improvements to the Play game services Unity plugin. In addition, we added support for the Nearby Connections API, launched earlier this year at GDC, to our C++ SDK and Unity plugin.

Let’s take a look a closer look!

Unity plugin feature parity and stability improvements

We’ve added full support for Events and Quests in the Unity plugin. If you’re a Unity developer, you can now incorporate Quests into your games and take full advantage of Player Analytics natively within the Unity IDE.

We’ve also listened to feedback from our community of Unity plugin users and made stability improvements to Play game services Multiplayer, Saved Games, and to sign-in. You’ll now have a much better experience integrating with these Play game services, with fewer crashes and glitches.

C++ SDK and Unity support for the Nearby Connections API

We have added support for the Nearby Connections API to our C++ SDK and Unity plugin. You can now easily build awesome second screen and local multiplayer experiences, like this Beach Bugging Racing example, with the development tools you are most comfortable with.

Easier and more stable iOS builds with CocoaPods

We’ve also made major improvements to our Play game services CocoaPods, which simplify dependency management and building App Store packages from Xcode. The CocoaPods will improve building for iOS with the Play game services iOS and C++ SDKs, and the Unity plugin. We also improved the stability of multiplayer on iOS, eliminating many of the issues around accepting match invitations.

Finally, we improved our support for iOS 8, making it easier to set up multiplayer push notifications, and fixing UI compatibility issues.

Quick links to get you started

Play game services developer page: https://developers.google.com/games/services/

Case studies: http://developer.android.com/distribute/stories/games.html

Downloads

  • C++, iOS, and Java SDKs: https://developers.google.com/games/services/downloads/sdks
  • Unity plugin: https://github.com/playgameservices/play-games-plugin-for-unity
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Android Developers Blog

Mar 22

Google Play Services 4.0

Today we’re launching a new release of Google Play services. Version 4.0 includes the Google Mobile Ads SDK, and offers improvements to geofencing, Google+, and Google Wallet Instant Buy APIs.

With over 97% of devices now running Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or newer platform versions, we’re dropping support for Froyo from this release of the Google Play services SDK in order to make it possible to offer more powerful APIs in the future. That means you will not be able to utilize these new APIs on devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo).

We’re still in the process of rolling out to Android devices across the world, but you can already download the latest Google Play services SDK and start developing against the new APIs using the new Android 4.4 (KitKat) emulator.

Google Mobile Ads

If you’re using AdMob to monetize your apps, the new Google Mobile Ads SDK in Google Play services helps provide seamless improvements to your users. For example, bug fixes get pushed automatically to users without you having to do anything. Check out the post on the Google Ads Developer Blog for more details.

Maps and Location Based Services

The Maps and Geofencing APIs that launched in Google Play services 3.1 have been updated to improve overall battery efficiency and responsiveness.

You can save power by requesting larger latency values for notifications alerting your app to users entering or exiting geofences, or request that entry alerts are sent only after a user stays within a geofence for a specified period of time. Setting generous dwell times helps to eliminate unwanted notifications when a user passes near a geofence or their location is seen to move across a boundary.

The Maps API enhances map customization features, letting you specify marker opacity, fade-in effects, and visibility of 3D buildings. It’s also now possible to change ground overlay images.

Google+ and Google Wallet Instant Buy

Apps that are enabled with Google+ Sign-In will be updated with a simplified sign-in consent dialog. Google Wallet Instant Buy APIs are now available to everyone to try out within a sandbox, with a simplified API that streamlines the buy-flow and reduces integration time.

Google Wallet Instant Buy also includes new Wallet Objects, which means you can award loyalty points to a user’s saved rewards program ID for each applicable Google Wallet Instant Buy purchase.

New user control over advertising identifier

To give users better controls and to provide you with a simple, standard system to continue to monetize your apps, this update contains a new, anonymous identifier for advertising purposes (to be used in place of Android ID). Google Settings now includes user controls that enable users to reset this identifier, or opt out of interest-based ads for Google Play apps.

More About Google Play Services

To learn more about Google Play services and the APIs available to you through it, visit the Google Services area of the Android Developers site.

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Android Developers Blog

Mar 21

New features for reviews and experiments in Google Play Developer Console app

Posted by Kobi Glick, Google Play team

With over one million apps published through the Google Play Developer Console,
we know how important it is to publish with confidence, acquire users, learn
about them, and manage your business. Whether reacting to a critical performance
issue or responding to a negative review, checking on your apps when and where
you need to is invaluable.

The Google
Play Developer Console app, launched in May, has already helped thousands of
developers stay informed of crucial business updates on the go.

We’re excited to tell you about new features, available today:

Receive notifications about new reviews

Use filters to find the reviews you want

Review and apply store listing experiment results

Increase the percent of a staged rollout or halt a bad staged
rollout

Download the Developer
Console app on Google Play and stay on top of your apps and games, wherever
you are! Also, get the Playbook for Developers app to stay up-to-date with more features and best practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


Android Developers Blog

Mar 20

Expand Your Global Reach on Google Play With New Language and Country Analytics

Posted by Rahim Nathwani Product Manager, App Translation Service

With users in 190 countries around the world, Google Play offers you a truly
global audience for your apps and games. Localization is one of the most
powerful ways to connect with people in different places, which is why we
launched translation support for in-app purchase and Universal App Campaigns
earlier this year. With over 30 language translation options available via the
Developer Console, we updated our app translation service to help you select the
most relevant languages, making it quick and easy to get started.

With the launch of new language and country analytics, you gain access to app
install analysis on Google Play, including:

  • Information on the top languages and countries where apps have been
    installed, broken down to the level of your app’s category

  • The percentage of installs that come from users of those languages
  • Further information to help inform your go-to-market plans for these
    countries

To make ordering translations easier, we show language bundles that you can add
to your order in a single click.

To get started, select Manage translations -> Purchase
translations
from the Store Listing page in the Google Play Developer Console.


Android Developers Blog

Mar 08

New Demographic Stats in Google Play Games Services

By Ben Frenkel, Google Play Games team

Hey game developers, back in March you may remember we added new game statistics in the Google Play Developer Console for those of you who had implemented Google Play Games: our cross-platform game services for Android, iOS and the web.

Starting today, we’re providing more insights into how your games are being used by adding country, age, and gender dimensions to the existing set of reports available in the Developer console. You’ll see demographics integrated into Overview stats as well as the Players reports for New and Active users.

In the Overview stats you can now see highlights of activity by age group, most active countries, and gender.

With a better understanding of your users’ demographic composition, you’ll be able to make more effective decisions to improve retention and monetization. Here a few ways you could imagine using these new stats:

  • You just launched your new game globally, and expected it do particularly well in Germany. Using country demographic data, you see that Germany is much less active than expected. After some digging, you realize that your tutorial was not properly translated to German. Based on this insight, you immediately roll out a fix to see if you can improve active users in Germany.

In the Players stats section the new metrics reveal trends in how your app is doing across age groups, countries, and gender.

  • After Looking at your new demographics report you realize that your game is really popular with women in their mid-20s. Your in-app purchase data corroborates this, showing that the one female hero character is the most popular purchase. Empowered by this data, you race to add female hero characters to your game.

Additionally, if you’re already using Google Play game services, there’s no extra integration needed! By logging in to the Google Play Developer Console you can start using demographics to better inform your decisions today.

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Android Developers Blog

Mar 04

Android Developer Story: Culture Alley reaches millions of English learners on Google Play

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Google Play team

Culture
Alley developed the app Hello
English to help Indians learn English through gamification, supporting over
15 dialects. More than 13 million people now use Hello English in India and
around the world.

Hear Nishant Patni, Founder & CEO and Pranshu Bhandari, Co-Founder, explain how
they optimized the app to address challenges faced by emerging markets. Learn
how they used various Google Play tools to address varying levels of
connectivity and device capabilities, and improve user retention.

Learn
more best practices about building for billions and watch
the ‘10 tips to build an app for billions of users’ video to get more tips.
Also, get the
Playbook for Developers app and stay up-to-date with more features and best
practices that will help you grow a successful business on Google Play.


Android Developers Blog