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Google Play prepares new full-screen app discovery feature, adds more developer tools

Although overshadowed by AI news this year, Google’s I/O 2024 developer conference is also focused on what’s new for those building for Android. This year, it’s Google Play that’s getting the spotlight, with a new discovery feature for apps, new ways to acquire users, updates to Play Points and other improvements to developer tools like the Google Play SDK Console and Play Integrity API, among others. things.

The Engage SDK is particularly interesting for developers. It will allow app creators to present their content to users in an immersive full-screen experience personalized for each user. Google says, however, that this isn’t a surface users can see at the moment.

Instead, the Engage SDK is offered as a developer preview so developers can leverage the next surface to highlight the most important content from user-installed apps, personalized recommendations, and promotions. If the user has already installed the application, the user can highlight the most important content of these applications. If the user does not have the app installed, developers can use this space to showcase the most interesting features of their app. It can also offer personalized promotions and offers.

Developers will need to integrate the Engage SDK – something that takes about a week – to leverage this new feature. Currently, the Engage SDK is available as an invite-only preview.

Play Points, the Play ecosystem’s rewards program, is used to launch coupons, discounts, and exclusive in-game items. It’s now also easier to monitor these promotions through the Play Console, so developers can better optimize their campaigns.

Google has also made it easier to integrate Play Games services and expanded its Google Play Games program on PC to more than 140 markets. The program’s catalog now includes more than 3,000 titles, the company said.

For SDK developers, Google opens its SDK console to all SDK makers, as long as they are distributed by a canonical Maven repository source that Google can verify. The SDK Console, first launched in 2021, aims to help SDK makers improve their performance by offering tools such as crash reporting, insights, and the ability to communicate more directly with developers. With this extension, it will now also be open to smaller SDKs and open source SDKs that were previously unsupported. This will allow more SDK makers to provide developers with tools to update SDK versions that fix bugs and issues and comply with the latest Play Store guidelines.

Developers can also share crash reports and Application Not Responding (ANR) errors with SDK owners to help them improve.

Image credits: Google

The Play Integrity API, launched in 2022, is also being updated. The API helps developers ensure that user actions and server requests come from an unmodified version of their application to protect against risk and fraud. Now it will add three new features. One is the public beta of “app access risk,” which lets an app know if another app is capturing the screen, showing overlays, or controlling the device. (However, it will not be triggered by features used for accessibility.) The API can also now respond with a Play Protect verdict, which lets developers know if Play Protect is enabled or if it has found software known malware on the device. Another feature, “recent device activity,” will allow developers to detect devices making a high volume of requests, which could be a sign of automated traffic or an attack, Google says.

To help developers acquire and engage users, the Play Store is rolling out custom store listings, which allow developers to edit their listings and optimize them for different audiences. They can also now create lists based on keywords users are searching for and Play Console will offer keyword suggestions. Google’s Gemini AI can also be used to help write app descriptions.

Image credits: Google

Following other changes aimed at making the Play Store more useful to people using different form factors, like tablets or watches, listings can now show screenshots, ratings and reviews specific to each form factor. shape. This will also be useful when users filter apps by device type or explore the “other devices” apps page.

Developers who use deep links to their app – or links that redirect to a particular page in their app – can now update these links without submitting an app update for review. Instead, they will be able to use the deep link fix feature in Play Console to experiment with different links and then go live.

The company also outlined various changes to commerce on Play Store, including support for UPI in India, Pix in Brazil, the ability for parents to approve children’s purchases in a Google Family setup and, in India, the ability to ask a family member or friend outside of your family group to purchase an app or in-app product. The latter is managed by sharing a payment link via SMS or email.

Google said it automatically updates prices on the Play Store to reflect currency fluctuations against the US dollar and now allows developers to set prices for products up to $999.99 (or l ‘local equivalent). Developers can also use a new Play Billing Lab app to test features to improve the customer experience around one-time purchases and subscriptions.

Its installment subscription feature, which has been in early access in some markets, allows customers to pay over time for long-term subscriptions. So far, the program has seen an 8% increase in total subscriptions and a 4% increase in user spending, but Google hasn’t said when it will be rolled out more widely.

Image credits: Google

To take advantage of the features, developers will need to upgrade to Play Billing Library 7.0 later this month, Google said.

Read more about Google I/O 2024 on TechCrunch


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