Week in Review – 2014/04/13

A look back on the week in Andromo, Android, Mobile, and stuff… Tomorrow is a holiday here so I’m releasing the Week in Review one day early.

April13

Design Design Design

Here is an very interesting interview with Matias Duarte, Director, Android User Experience at Google. There are not a lot of specifics discussed in the video, but if you want a hint at where Android is going, or if you are interested in design give it a watch.

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Registration for Google’s annual developer conference “Google I/O” opened up this week. If you want to go to the conference you have until 2:00 PM PDT on April 18 to register. Visit the main Google I/O website to register or just to browse what the conference has to offer.

App Stores Galore

On Tuesday I published a list of Android app stores on the blog. This turned out to be one of the most popular blog posts we’ve ever had here, so Android and Andromo developers are obviously interested in alternatives. Check out the post and let me know if I’ve missed any stores.

New Camera App

Google released a new Camera app on the 16th called (you guessed it) Google Camera. This might come as an automatic update or you might have to download it manually, either way it’s free and a nice improvement, plus you get “Lens Blur” option in this version:

IMG_20140417_143804

Ice, Ice Update

The ice “sculpture” draining from a rooftop in the back alley is finally starting to melt. As is winter’s death grip on Winnipeg, rejoice!

IMG_20140417_143833

Releasing a new app?

Last but not least, if you are releasing a new app in upcoming week let me know about it (either as a comment or on twitter) and I might feature it here. Have a good weekend folks, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

List of Android App Stores

Google_Play_Store_96We did an Android app store survey for developers and published the results last week, but one thing that I have wanted to do (but didn’t get a chance to) was list all of the apps stores (both those on the survey and those not) for developers looking to expand into alternative markets and diversify across app stores.

Note: I have not checked out each of these app stores so I cannot vouch for them upload at your own risk!

Now that all of that is out of the way here is a list of app stores and links to their websites in alphabetical order:

I you prefer a Google Doc of the above list then just visit: Android App Stores – By Andromo. There are a few extra columns in there to make creating this post a bit easier, but I think it works.

If I have missed any of the app stores please let me know in the comments below and I will add it to the list.

Do you have any thoughts on the app stores listed above? Any experiences with them please leave a comment as well. Knowing which app stores work and which do not is a valuable piece of information.

Don’t forget to visit the One Platform Foundation for a great list of app stores and extra information on them. Many of the links above came from their list.

Andromo makes it fast and easy to create Android apps, with absolutely no programming required.

Google Play is a trademark of Google Inc.

Android App Store Survey Results

A while ago I posted a survey for Android developers trying to determine which app stores were the most important to them and while the response wasn’t overwhelming (only 103 responses) I thought I would share some of the results that we have collected so far:

Which app stores have you uploaded your app(s) into?

UploadedStores

Click on the image for a larger view. The most popular app store (by a long shot) is Google Play. Here are the five most popular app stores in the survey:

  1. Google Play – 91
  2. Amazon AppStore – 52
  3. Samsung Apps – 27
  4. Opera Mobile Store – 23
  5. Yandex – 14

What Are Your Top Five App Stores?

Not much different in the distribution people gave when they votes for their top five app stores:

TopFive

  1. Google Play – 94
  2. Amazon AppStore – 53
  3. Samsung Apps – 32
  4. Opera Mobile Store – 24
  5. SlideME – 15

The only difference in the top five is last spot where SlideME replaces the Yandex store. I think that this has to do with the fact that SlideME does not allow Andromo apps, and since many of the respondents were Andromo developers they might feel that SlideME is an important app store but have not been able to upload their apps into SlideME just yet.

How important are alternative app stores to you as an Android developer?

HowImportant

Here we can see a pretty even split across all five responses with a majority of developers feeling that alternative app stores are important in some way.

Conclusion

Sadly the number of responses are too small to really get a clue as to how important alternative app stores are to Android developers, but I think that we can conclude a few things from the results:

  1. Google Play is important. Google Play is by far the most important app store to Android developers who responded, which makes sense given that it is considered the premier app store and the default App store for most Android phones sold outside of China.
  2. Alternative App Stores are important. Given the number of different app stores that respondents distributed their apps into I think you can safely say that alternative app stores are important to Android developers. After all most of these stores are free, and if you can get a few more downloads with minimal effort why not?

So what do you think? Do you agree with the survey results? Have you changed your mind since you answered the survey? Let me know in the comments below.

Note: These results would probably have been much different if we could have surveyed Chinese app developers.

Google Play Policy Update

Google_Play_Store_96I know it’s Friday night but after I saw my email and a post from Phandroid on twitter and I thought I should make a quick post on the blog so that all Andromo developers know about the Google Play™ Developer Program Policy Update

The email that I got and that you should have received says the following:

Hello Google Play Developer,

We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers. This requires us to update our policies in accordance with current practices as the ecosystem evolves. This email is to notify you that we’ve made some changes to our policies which are highlighted below.

  1. We’ve updated our content policies to further clarify our stance on sexually explicit material and provide a better experience for our users, including minors
  2. We’re introducing the App Promotion policy, which provides guidance on what app promotion tactics are disallowed when promoting your app on Play
  3. We’ve introduced a provision that requires you to clearly disclose when an advertised feature in your app’s description requires in-app payment
  4. We’ve clarified the System Interference policy to prohibit any browser modifications on behalf of third-parties or advertisements
  5. We’ve re-emphasized in the Ads Policy that all advertising behavior must be properly attributed to, or clearly presented in context with the app it came along with
  6. We’ve also updated the Spyware section of our Policy Guidelines Help Site to address surveillance or tracking apps. Please take a look at the Google Play Developer Program Policy to see all the changes and make sure your app complies with our updated policies.

Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will be immediately subject to the latest version of the Program Policy. If you find any existing apps in your catalog that don’t comply, we ask you to un-publish the app, or fix and republish the app within 15 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing apps discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.

Regards,
Google Play Team

It is important to pay attention to the changes as well as the paragraph at the bottom (emphasis mine):

Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will be immediately subject to the latest version of the Program Policy. If you find any existing apps in your catalog that don’t comply, we ask you to unpublish the app, or fix and republish the app within 15 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing apps discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.

So if any of those items are of a concern to you it’s time to update your apps. Be sure to read the full policy document for all of the changes.

Google Play is a trademark of Google Inc.

Do You Have a Translation for Us?

After writing a blog post yesterday [建立您自己的Android应用 (Are Translations Important?)] I started thinking about the languages that I used for the non-English examples (Simplified Chinese, Arabic, and Russian) and that it wasn’t necessarily fair to only use those examples given the global nature of the internet and mobile technology.

In the last month andromo.com has had visits from 368 different language locales and 222 different countries. So speakers from a lot of different languages visit our website, and in acknowledgement of that diversity I would like to open up that blog post to anyone who can translate the text from our main page into another language. Not all of the text is necessary just the text that appeared in that blog post:

Create Your Own Android Apps

No coding required. Andromo is so easy to use, anyone can do it!

Signup Now For Free

If you can translate that text into another language (including Simplified Chinese, Arabic, and Russian as I just used Google Translate!) leave the translated text in a comment below and I will add it to the previous post crediting you for the translation.

Thanks!

Android App Store Survey

Hey everyone, we are running an Android App Store Survey for all Android and Andromo developers and I would like to invite you to participate.

It’s a short survey (5 questions in total, 3 required and 2 optional) trying to determine which app stores are the most important to Android developers. So if you have a minute maybe you would like to share your thoughts on Android app stores:

Android App Store Survey

And if you can please help spread the word about the survey. We want as many Android developers we can get filling it out.


Improve your Google Play listing with a Video

Android 4.4 KitKat

Android 4.4 (KitKat) was released recently, and included along with many of the fixes and improvements was the ability to easily record the screen of the device. Previously one had to awkwardly (trust me I did it) record the device using a second camera, or have a jail-broken device. Built-in screen recoirding is a nice addition for us Andromo Developers because it allows us to easily improve our Google Play app listing, and hopefully get more downloads.

Phil Nickinson, the editor over at Android Central has a nice post in the Android Central forums detailing how to use this new feature: How to use screen recording in Android 4.4 KitKat.

In a nutshell you need the latest Android SDK and Platform Tools installed (you can read about how to do that on the Android Developer site) and then you issue the following command via the command line/shell:

adb shell screenrecord --bit-rate 8000000 /sdcard/yourfilename.mp4

Note: One of the reasons I mentioned Phil’s post is because he recommends increasing the bitrate, I have tried it and it does look nice.

When you are done demonstrating your app CTRL-C will cancel the screen recording.

You should also take a look at the official Android Platform Tools documentation on recording a device screen to see all of the screen recording options. What I like about the Android documentation is that it details an easy way to copy the file from your Phone or Tablet:

adb pull /sdcard/yourfilename.mp4

Once you have the MP4 file, upload it to YouTube, and then add it to your Google Play store listing Graphic and Image Assets, and you’re done.

Here is an example video I made of a sample Andromo app:

Happy developing.

Getting Started With Andromo App Maker

The 10,000 Foot View of Andromo.com

Andromo.com represents the true democratization of the app creation process, it is a website that lets anyone transform their idea into an Android app. In order to create your Android app using Andromo, just follow these three steps:

1. Create a project: Each project you create within your Andromo account represents one android app. To create an Android app using Andromo, you need to create a project.
2. Add activities to your project: Activities are what give your app functionality. In order for your app to do *anything* you need to add activities to it.
3. Build your Project: Building your project will generate your Android app. When you are done, or when you want to test, you need to build your project via the Build tab. This will generate an APK file which you can then install on your Android device.

Note: Before you can create an app using Andromo you need to sign up for a valid Andromo account. If you don’t have one already visit Andromo.com to register for free.

You can also watch this short video which will walk you through the process: Creating Your First Android App using Andromo.com

Andromo In More Detail

Projects

As mentioned above, a project within Andromo represents an Android app. If you want to create an Android app using Andromo you need to create a project first.

To create a project, log into your Andromo account and visit your projects page.

There you will see a large green button that you should click on to create a project:

After you click this button you will be prompted to name your project. The name of your project will be what your end users sees on their Android device, but don’t be too concerned with your project name to start, as you can always change it later.

Activities

Activities are what give your Android app functionality. Without any activities your Android app won’t do anything, so the first thing that you want to do after creating your project is go to the Activities tab.

There are 19 different activity types that you can use to add functionality to your app, from the About Activity to the YouTube Activity. These activities are the tools that you have at your disposal when creating your app. You can add as many or as few activities as you want to your app, but a good safe bet is at least four activities per app.

See the Activities Knowledge Base section for more information on different activity types available to you and how you can make use of them.

Building

Building is the process of transforming your Andromo project into an Android APK. An Android APK is a single file that represents your Android app. This is the file that your end user will install onto their Android device and then execute in order to use your app. When you are satisfied with your app, or when you want to test what you have created so far, you need to visit the build tab to generate your Android APK.

Building your project is very easy, simply click the big green ‘Generate My App!’ button on the Build tab, and Andromo will start building your app.

Once the build process has completed you will be emailed a link to your Android APK file and the download link will be made available within your Andromo.com dashboard.

Once you have the link to your Android APK you can install your app on your Android device and publish your app to Google Play.

Helpful Links

Here are some links that will help you make the most out of Andromo:

Google Play Developer Program Policy Update

If you are an Adromo developer chances are you’ve already heard about the recent changes to the Google Play Developer Program Policies. If not you really should give them a read as you have until September 22 2013 to update the apps you have on Google Play and ensure that they comply with the new policy. The time limit only applies to existing apps, as all apps that you upload after August 21st 2013 must already comply with the new developer policies.

Some of the changes in the new policy are quite significant so I wanted highlight a few to help Andromo developers comply with the changes. But before I do, it is important to remember that you can create Android apps using Andromo that are 100% compatible with Google’s new policy. Of course you can violate their policy if you want (not smart) but there is nothing in Andromo that will violate Google’s policy changes on its own.

Ads

The biggest changes (and the ones that seems to be noticed most amongst Android developers) to the developer policy are the changes to Google’s Ad policies. Only one of the changes has a direct impact on Andromo developers (given the Ad networks we have so far chosen to add to Andromo) and that change is the banning of push notification ads:

Notification ads are prohibited—Your app should not create system-level notifications containing ads unless the notifications are part of the explicit feature set of the app.

This change applies to Andromo users who have taken to using AirBop to deliver notification ads to their users. While this was allowed (but frowned upon) before the policy changes, it is no longer permitted.

AirBop still complies with Google’s new Developer Policy, it is only using AirBop to send ads to your users that would violate. Unless, as the policy states, “the notifications are part of the explicit feature set of the app.”

Spam


In the past Google has made it known that both “keyword stuffing” and impersonating other apps or brands was against the rules, but they have updated their Spam policies and made them much more explicit. Two main points to watch out for are:

Spam in your Google Play Description:

  • Repetitive keywords: Your app description should not include keywords that are repetitive or excessive.
  • Unrelated keywords or references: The description should not be loaded with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate ranking or relevancy in Google Play search results.
  • Excessive detail, references to your other apps: Your app description should avoid excessive detail and references to your other apps or products.
  • Website Spam:

  • Apps published on Google Play should provide their own content. Do not publish an app whose primary function is to reproduce or frame someone else’s website (unless you have permission).
  • …do not publish an app whose primary function is to drive affiliate traffic to a website.
  • The example on the Google Developer page highlights something I have seen some Andromo developers do that is no longer acceptable:

    This app lets you access Turtoogle Game on your Android device in the same way as you access the game on your desktop computer, and with all the same Turtoogle Game features.

    Intellectual Property


    The intellectual property section of the Google Policies is quite complex and I recommend that you read it in full before publishing to Google Play and before the September 22nd deadline.

    Be sure to read the following three main sections:

    Conclusion

    The moral of the story for Andromo developers is to play it safe; there is no reason to be banned by Google. Don’t be caught unaware by the new policy changes: update you existing apps and ensure that all of your new apps comply with the new policy. If you do this you’ll be an Android developer publishing to the Google Play app store for years to come.

    New Dashboard – Final Testing

    We’re almost there, the new Dashboard is almost done and has entered into the “final testing” phase.

    “What does this mean?” you ask.

    It means that we’re very busy, it also means that the new Dashboard and all of the other changes we’ve been making (e.g. the lovely new Action bar pictured above) will be released very soon.

    “How soon?”

    Maybe as early as next week.

    “Really?”

    Really.

    “What should I do?”

    Well the changes that are coming to Andromo with this update are quite vast and will change the way your app looks. Some of the settings that were previously available in Andromo are making way for newer and better settings. This means that your app will look differently when you build it after we unleash this update. So if you really like the way your Andromo app looks now, if you have a dashboard you love, we recommend that you build it one last time before we throw the switch.

    We think that it will change your apps for the better, and that you are going to be able to create looks that were impossible before, but there will be a change.

    Other than that, sit back, relax, and get ready to update your apps.

    “Anything else?”

    Enjoy your weekend, it’s a long weekend up here in Winnipeg, so we’ll see you on Tuesday.

    Oh and here’s that last app on a Nexus 7.

    And one final screenshot just for fun.

    Ok, fine, just one more for Lorne.