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At its I/O 2016 developer conference today, Google rolled out new Google Play store features for developers. Ellie Powers, Google Play’s lead product manager, showed off improvements to how beta programs work, benchmarks, a new pre-launch report, and a slew of minor improvements.
Google Play has over 1 billion monthly active users, which the company argues makes it “the world’s largest app distribution platform.” But Google also shared a new number today: Last year, Google Play users installed apps 65 billion times. That number is up from 50 billion in 2014, or a 30 percent increase.
Google wants to keep that figure rising, so it implemented the following list of features to help developers grow their apps and games:
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- Beta tests and app discovery: Open beta tests will now appear in Google Play search results, and users can opt-in from store listings directly. Users can also now send developers private feedback through the Play store listing.
- Google Play Early Access: This new feature section in Google Play showcases a hand-picked group of promising open betas that haven’t gone to production yet. If you love beta-testing apps, this is for you.
- Collections: New collections for tasks that might require a combination of apps are going to start showing up in Google Play. For example, when you’re buying a house, a collection might have the best apps for finding real estate, keeping notes, getting a mortgage, and traveling in the area. Developers don’t need to take any action, as Google will be doing the curation.
- Play Pre-Launch Report: This tool in the Developer Console’s Settings summarizes issues found on a wide range of devices by testing your app on Firebase Test Lab for Android. It includes diagnostics to help you fix crashes as well as screenshots from devices that use different Android versions, languages, and screen resolutions. Warnings of known security vulnerabilities, including in third-party libraries your app relies on, will also be shown.
- Reviews: Benchmarks let you see your app’s rating distribution compared to similar apps in your category, across topics like design, stability, and speed. You can see how each area affects your app’s rating and identify what needs work.
- Reply to Reviews API: For developers who have their own customer support solutions, this API lets you reply to reviews from there. Zendesk and Conversocial have already adopted it, and Google hopes more partners will as well.
- User Acquisition performance report: In the Developer Console, you can now see user acquisition data by country and user acquisition benchmarks to compare your app’s conversion rates to similar apps.
- Tips for emerging markets: Google is offering “Building for Billions” guidelines and playbook. The former offers development checklist to help you optimize your app, and the latter includes more in-depth tips and best practices.
- Round prices for local conventions: The Developer Console can now automatically round prices to local conventions in each market ($1.99 in the U.S. but ￥200 in Japan). You can also set up templates to change pricing for products in bulk.
- Compression: App updates are more data efficient and the Play Store itself is faster on all connection types. Google didn’t share specific numbers today, but it will soon.
- Local apps: Google has revamped the selection of apps in key markets like India and Brazil to better showcase those that are more relevant locally.
Speaking of apps, Google Play has gained two of its own. The Play Console app lets you access your app’s data on the go (including installs, uninstalls, crashes, ratings, and reviews), receive push notifications for important news, and reply to reviews. The Playbook app lets you set your objectives and provides a tailored list of the latest articles and videos from Google experts and across the Web.
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