Google I/O 2018: What’s new in Android


Posted By Stephanie Cuthbertson, Product Management Director, Android

As Android has grown exponentially over the past ten years, we’ve also seen our developer community grow dramatically. In countries like China, India, and Brazil, the number of developers using our IDE almost tripled – in just two years. With such growth, we feel an even greater responsibility to invest in our developer experience. Guided by your feedback, we’ve focused our efforts on making mobile development fast and easy, helping you get more users by making apps radically smaller, and increasing engagement to keep users coming back. We’re also pretty excited to see Android Things go to 1.0, creating new opportunities for you to develop – everything from major consumer devices, to cool remote control vehicles! As Day 1 of Google I/O kicks off, let’s take a closer look at these major themes from the Developer Keynote:

Development: making mobile development fast and easy

  • Android Jetpack — Today, we announced Android Jetpack, designed to accelerate your app development. Android Jetpack is the next generation of Android components, bringing together the benefits of the Support Library — backwards compatibility and immediate updates — to a larger set of components, making it quick and easy to build robust, high quality apps. Android Jetpack manages activities like background tasks, navigation, and lifecycle management, so you can eliminate boilerplate code and focus on what makes your app great. Android Jetpack is designed to work well with Kotlin, saving you even more code with Android KTX. The new Android Jetpack components released today include WorkManager, Paging, Navigation, and Slices.

  • Kotlin — Since announcing support for Kotlin last year, the developer community has embraced the language. Most importantly, 95% of developers tell us they are very happy with using Kotlin for their Android development. And, the more developers use it, the more that number rises. The number of Play Store apps using Kotlin grew 6x in the last year. 35% of pro developers use it, and that number is growing each month. We are continuing to improve the Kotlin developer experience across our libraries, tooling, runtime, documentation and training. Android KTX is launching today as part of Android Jetpack to optimize the Kotlin developer experience. Tooling continues to improve with Android Studio, Lint support, and R8 optimizations. We have even tuned the Android Runtime (ART) in Android P, so that apps built with Kotlin can run faster. We have rolled out Kotlin code snippets in our official documentation, and are publishing a Kotlin version of the API reference documentation today. Earlier this week, we launched a new Kotlin Bootcamp on Udacity, which is a great resource for developers who are new to Kotlin. Lastly, we now have a Kotlin specialization in the Google Developers Experts Program. If you still haven’t used Kotlin, I hope you you give it a try.
  • Android Studio 3.2 CanaryAndroid Studio 3.2 features tools for Android Jetpack including a visual Navigation Editor and new code refactoring tools. The canary release also includes build tools to create the new Android App Bundle format, Snapshots in the Android Emulator for fast start time, new R8 optimizer for smaller download and install app code size, a new Energy Profiler to measure app impact on battery life, and more. You can download the latest version of Android Studio 3.2 from the canary channel download page.

Distribution: making apps radically smaller

Introducing Android App Bundle.

  • Android App Bundle & Google Play Dynamic Delivery — Introducing the new app model for Android. Dramatically reduce app size with a new publishing format—the Android App Bundle. In Android Studio, you’ll now build an app bundle that contains everything your app needs for any device—all the languages, every device screen size, every hardware architecture. Then, when a user downloads your app, Google Play’s new Dynamic Delivery will only deliver the code and resources matching the user’s device. People see a smaller install size on the Play Store, can download your app more quickly, and save space on their devices. An example of all resources being delivered to a device via a legacy APK and an example of Dynamic Delivery serving just what’s needed to a device.
    (Left) An example of all resources being delivered to a device via a legacy APK.
    (Right) An example of Dynamic Delivery serving just what’s needed to a device.
  • Dynamic features via the Android App Bundle — The Android App Bundle also enables modularization so that you can deliver features on-demand, instead of during install. You can build dynamic feature modules in the latest Android Studio canary release. Join our beta program to publish them on Google Play.
  • Google Play Console — New features and reports in the Play Console will help you improve your app’s performance and grow your business. Read about the improvements to the dashboard, statistics, Android vitals, pre-launch report, acquisition report, and subscriptions dashboard. You can also upload, test, and publish apps using our new publishing format, the Android App Bundle.
  • Google Play Instant — After launching in beta at GDC, today we announced that all game developers can build instant apps and we’re thrilled to welcome Candy Crush Saga. Google Play Instant is now available on over 1 billion devices worldwide from the Play Store, search, social and most places you can tap a link. To make instant apps easier to build, we are launching a Unity plugin and beta integration with Cocos creator this week. Recently, we’ve started testing Google Play Instant compatibility with AdWords, allowing people to try out games directly from ads, across all the channels reached by Universal App campaigns.

Engagement: bringing users back more and more.

  • Slices Slices are UI templates that display a rich array of dynamic, and interactive content from your app, across Android and within Google surfaces. Slices can include live-data, scrolling content, inline actions, and deep-linking into your app so users can do everything from playing music to checking reservation updates. Slices can also contain interactive controls like toggles and sliders. You can get started building Slices today, and they will begin appearing for users soon.
Check reservations with Slices.Control music with Slices.Call a Lyft using Slices.
  • Actions — Actions are a new way to make your app’s capabilities and content more accessible, so that people can easily get to it at the right moment. App Actions will appear to users based on usage and relevance, across multiple Google and Android surfaces, such as the Google Search App, the Play Store, the Google Assistant, and the Launcher. App Actions will be available for all developers to try soon, please sign up here if you’d like to be notified. You can also choose to build a Conversational Action as a companion experience to your app. This works on a variety of Assistant-enabled devices, such as speakers and smart displays. Both types of Actions use a new common catalog of intents.

Actions are a new way to make your app's capabilities and content more accessible, so that people can easily get to it at the right moment.

Smarter devices: a powerful platform for IoT devices

  • Android Things 1.0 Android Things is Google’s managed OS that enables developers to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale. Earlier this year at CES, we announced Lenovo, Harman, LG, and iHome are all building Assistant-enabled products powered by Android Things. Introducing Android Things 1.0! After a developer preview with over 100,000 SDK downloads and feedback from more than 10,000 developers, we announced Android Things 1.0 this week. Four new System-on-Modules (SoMs) are now supported on the platform with guaranteed long-term support for three years and additional options for extended support, making it easier to go from prototypes to production. To make product development more seamless than ever, the accompanying Android Things Console is also ready for production. It helps developers easily manage and update their devices with the latest stability fixes and security updates provided by Google.

To get started with Android Things, visit our developer site and the new Community Hub to explore kits, sample code, community projects, and join Google’s IoT Developers Community to stay updated. We introduced a limited program to partner with the Android Things team for technical guidance and support building your product. If your company is interested, sign up for our OEM Partner Program.
In addition to all these new developments, we’re on the ground in over 140 countries, growing and expanding the developer community through programs such as Women Techmakers and Google Developer Groups (GDGs). We’re investing in training programs like Google Developers Certification, building more courses through Udacity and other partners, to help developers deepen their technical capability. Today, 225 Google Developers Agency Program members from 50 agencies in 15 countries, are Android Certified. As part of our Google Developers Experts Program, we also now have more than 90 Android Developer Experts around the world actively supporting developers, start-ups and companies to build and launch innovative apps.
We also continue to recognize the great work from top app and game developers. This year, we held our third annual Google Play Awards. The nominees represent some of the best experiences available on Android, with an emphasis on overall quality, strong design, technical performance, and innovation. Check out the winners and nominees.
During Google I/O, attendees and viewers have an opportunity to dive deep with 48 Android & Play breakout sessions. Thank you for all your wonderful feedback, and please keep giving us your advice on where we should go next.

I/O 2018: Everything new in the Google Play Console

Posted by Tian Lim, VP of UX and Product, Google Play

Google Play connects a thriving ecosystem of developers to people using more than 2 billion active Android devices around the world. In fact, more than 94 billion apps were installed from Google Play in the last year alone. We’re continuing to empower Android developers with new features in the Play Console to help you improve your app’s performance and grow your business. And, at Google I/O 2018, we’re introducing our vision for a new Android app model that is modular and dynamic.

Benefit from size savings with the Android App Bundle

The Android App Bundle is Android’s new publishing format, with which you can more easily deliver a great experience in a smaller app size, and optimize for the wide variety of Android devices and form factors available. The app bundle includes all your app’s compiled code and resources, but defers APK generation and signing to Google Play. You no longer have to build, sign, and manage multiple APKs.

Google Play’s new app serving model, called Dynamic Delivery, uses your app bundle to generate and serve optimized APKs for each user’s device configuration. This means people download only the code and resources they need to run your app. People see a smaller install size on the Play Store, can install your app more quickly, and save space on their devices.

(Left) An example of all resources being delivered to a device via a legacy APK.
(Right) An example of Dynamic Delivery serving just what’s needed to a device.

With the Android App Bundle, you’re also able to add dynamic feature modules to your app. Through Dynamic Delivery, your users can download your app’s dynamic features on-demand, instead of during the initial install, further reducing your app’s download size. To publish apps with dynamic feature modules, apply to join the beta.

Start using the Android App Bundle in the latest Android Studio canary release. Test your release using the testing tracks in the Play Console before pushing to production. Watch these I/O sessions to hear from the team as they introduce the new app model:

Fix quality and performance issues in your app or game

An internal study Google ran last year found that over 40% of one-star reviews on the Play Store mentioned app stability as an issue. Conversely, people consistently reward the best performing apps with better ratings and reviews, leading to better rankings on Google Play and more installs. Not only that, but people tend to be more engaged and willing to spend more time and money in those apps. To help you understand and fix quality issues we’re improving a number of features in the Google Play Console.

  • Use the new internal test track to push your app to up to 100 internal testers in seconds before you release them to alpha, beta, or production. You can also have multiple closed test tracks for different versions of your app, before pushing them to open betas or production.
  • The pre-launch report summarizes issues found in alpha or beta versions of your app, based on automated testing on popular devices in Firebase Test Lab. There are several new features to help you test the parts of your app or game that crawlers find harder to reach: create demo loops for games written with OpenGL, record scripts in Android Studio for the test crawler to follow, identify deep links, and provide credentials to go behind logins. In addition to reporting crashes, performance and security issues, and taking screenshots of the crawled screens, the report will soon identify accessibility issues you should fix to ensure a positive user experience for the widest audience.
  • Android vitals now analyzes data about startup time and permission denials in addition to battery, rendering, and stability. The revamped dashboard highlights crash rate, ANR rate, excessive wakeups, and stuck wake locks: the core vitals developers should give attention to. All other vitals, when applicable to your type of app or game, should be monitored to ensure they aren’t having a negative effect. You’ll also see anomalies in any vitals, when there’s a sudden change you should be aware of, and benchmarks so that you can compare your app’s performance to that of similar apps. Exhibiting bad behavior in vitals will negatively affect the user experience in your app and is likely to result in bad ratings and poor discoverability on the Play Store.

Watch these I/O sessions where we introduce the new features and share examples of how developers are using them successfully:

Improve your store performance and user acquisition

The Play Console has tools and reports to help your whole team understand and improve your app’s store performance and business metrics. The Play Console’s access management controls were recently improved so you can more easily grant access to your whole team while having granular control over which data and tools they can see and use.

  • The app dashboard has been improved so you can quickly digest need-to-know information and take action. The dashboard now shows more data, is easier to read, and is customizable. This should be your first stop to understand the latest activity around your app or game.
  • You can now configure the statistics report to show you how your instant apps are performing. See how many people are launching your instant app by different dimensions and how many go on to install the full app on their device. All app and game developers can build instant experiences today. Learn more in the instant apps documentation.
  • The acquisition report will start showing you more data about how people find your app and whether they go on to install it and make purchases. You can now see average revenue per user and retention benchmarks, to compare your app’s performance to similar apps, at every state of the acquisition funnel. Organic breakdown, rolling out soon, will separate the number of people who find your store listing by searching the Play Store from those who get there via browsing. You will also be able to see what search terms are driving the most traffic, conversions, and purchases. With these improvements, you can further optimize your efforts to grow and retain a valuable audience.
  • Order management has also been updated to enable you to offer partial refunds for in-app products and subscriptions.

Watch these I/O sessions where we introduce the new features and share examples of how developers are using them successfully:

Grow and optimize your subscriptions business

Subscriptions continue to see huge growth, with subscribers on Google Play growing over 80% year over year. Google Play Billing offers developers useful features to acquire, engage, and retain subscribers, and gives users a consistent and familiar purchase flow. We’re making improvements to help you prepare your subscriptions business for the future and to give users more information on their subscriptions.

  • With the Google Play Billing Library, you can easily integrate new features with minimal coding. Now with newly-released version 1.1, you can upgrade subscriptions without changing the renewal date. Also, you will soon be able to make price changes to existing SKUs.
  • The new subscriptions center on Google Play lets people manage their active subscriptions, including fixing payment issues or restoring canceled subscriptions. You can create deep links so your users can directly access subscription management options on the Play Store. Soon, people who cancel subscriptions will have the option to leave feedback stating why, which you will have access to in the Play Console.
  • Subscription reports in the Play Console have been updated to help you better understand your retention and churn across multiple subscriptions, times, and territories. You can now measure whether features such as free trials, account holds, and grace periods are successful in acquiring and retaining users.

Watch our I/O session where we explain the new features:

Prepare for the upcoming Play requirement for target API level

As we have announced, Google Play will require new apps (from August 2018) and app updates (from November 2018) to target API level 26 or higher. For more information and practical guidance on preparing for the new requirement, watch the I/O session, Migrating your existing app to target Android Oreo and above, and review our migration guide. If you develop an SDK or library that’s used by developers, make sure it’s ready to target Oreo too and sign up to receive news and updates for SDK providers.

Get more resources to help you succeed on Google Play

To find out more about all these new features, learn best practices, understand how other developers are finding success, and hear from the teams building these features, watch the Android & Play sessions at I/O 2018. For more developer resources about how to improve your app’s performance on Google Play, read this guide to the Google Play Console and visit the Android developers website. Finally, to stay up to date, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium where we post regularly.

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Our big bet on mobile games at Game Developers Conference 2018

Posted by Benjamin Frenkel, Product Manager, Google Play Instant

We’ve been working hard to make Google Play the premier platform for game discovery and a place for you to grow your business. In the last year, the number of Android users who installed a game has more than doubled. Nearly 40% of that growth came from emerging markets, including Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico. Our investments extend beyond the Play Store and include many key Google products:

  • Last week, we introduced a gaming solution from Google Maps APIs that enables you to build game worlds based on real world data to find the best places for gameplay.
  • We also launched Agones, an open source, dedicated game server hosting product built on Google Cloud Platform, in collaboration with Ubisoft, to support multiplayer games.
  • At last month’s Mobile World Congress, we released version 1.0 of ARCore, our augmented reality SDK for Android, enabling you to publish AR apps and games to Google Play for the first time and reach 100M devices across the Android ecosystem.
  • Over the next few months, we’ll roll out a beta for click-to-play video ads on Google Play—a new way to reach players with sight, sound and motion. These placements will help you showcase your games.

Today, during our annual Google Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference, we introduced new tools and platforms to improve the overall game discovery on Google Play and give you more ways to deliver engaging player experiences.

Introducing Google Play Instant

With all the great games available on Google Play, we want to make discovery easier and remove friction during the install process. Installing and opening a game takes time and results in many players never getting to experience your game. We’re thrilled to announce that instant apps is now available for games.

This means that with a tap, players can try a game without having to download it first. Games available instantly today include: Clash Royale, Words with Friends 2, and Bubble Witch 3 Saga, and other titles from Playtika, MZ, Jam City, and Hothead Games.

We’re calling this new experience Google Play Instant. To try it out, simply launch the Google Play Store on your Android device and visit the Instant Gameplay collection. Or, you can visit the “Arcade” in our redesigned Google Play Games app and launch any of the “Instant Gameplay” collection games. Google Play Instant makes it easier to have your players invite their friends to try out games right away through social invites and lets you share games through marketing campaigns.

Google Play Instant is still in closed beta and we look forward to opening it more broadly later this year. It provides a collection of extensions to the instant apps framework that better support the needs of game developers; including a higher APK size limit to 10MB, progressive download support for executable code and game assets, and support for NDK and game engines using existing tool chains. We’re also working with popular game development platform Unity, and others including Cocos, to add IDE support making it easy for developers to build instant apps. Developers can sign up for more information about Google Play Instant as it becomes available.

Discover insights from game developers who have successfully benefited from Google Play Instant. Read how Zynga, King, Hothead Games, Jam City, Playtika, MZ and Magma Mobile successfully used instant apps to acquire new users, improve retention, and effectively cross-promote their games.

Google Play Console tools to build high quality games

We also added some useful tools to the Play Console to help you build great games, including:

  • A new internal testing track that will allow you to quickly test and iterate on new games and features. The track is additional to the alpha and beta testing tracks, and makes your game available for up to 100 testers within seconds.
  • Demo loops for the pre-launch report, a new feature that lets you predefine a likely series of actions in a game and have this “loop” run on on live devices in the Test Lab (bypassing the robo crawler).

This is just the start of what we have planned for 2018. We can’t wait to see Google Play Instant bring new audiences to your games.