Our highlights from Android & Google Play in 2019 - building for the next decade

Posted by Patricia Correa, P&E Developer Marketing Director




The last 12 months have seen Google Play continue to grow, with over 116 billion downloads of the apps and games that you created.



We’ve been working hard to build the latest technology and tools for modern Android development and distribution, improving Google Play and the Play Console to offer you new and better ways for your app to be discovered, promoted, and monetized.



A key focus has been addressing the challenge of keeping users safe and maintaining trust in Google Play.









Modern Android development




We are focused on building great tools and services and your feedback is crucial in helping us do so. You have told us that you love Android’s openness, but we have also heard that you would like us to marry it with an opinion about the right way to do things. We call this approach modern Android development: opinionated and powerful, for fast, easy development, taking away everything that slows you down so you can focus on building incredible experiences. You can see modern Android development come to life in a number of investments we made this year:




  • We previewed Jetpack Compose, a modern declarative UI toolkit built for the next 10 years. Inspired by Kotlin, Compose makes it easy to build beautiful, native apps with code that is more intuitive and concise. Check out the Compose tutorial to learn more.

  • This year, Android Jetpack saw many stable library releases from background scheduling with WorkManager, in-app navigation with Navigation to app performance measurement with Benchmark . In 2019 , we also gave you early versions of more building blocks for your production apps with Jetpack CameraX library, BiometricPrompt and encryption & security. Check them all out here.

  • For everyone who wants to get started with Kotlin there are a range of courses available on Udacity. We’ve added the Advanced Android course with Kotlin to help every developer grow their skills and get the most from Kotlin. For those who are already experts, we’re launching a new Android Developer Certification in Kotlin, which is available at a discount until early 2020.

  • We recently released the first canary version of Android Studio 4.0 with powerful, integrated tooling support for Compose. It also has a new Motion Editor, Java 8 Language library desugaring, full support for KTS files, Kotlin live templates, and more.



Android 10




Android 10, released earlier this year, is built around three important themes. First, Android 10 is shaping the leading edge of mobile innovation with advanced machine-learning and support for emerging devices like foldables and 5G enabled phones. Next, Android 10 has a central focus on privacy and security, with almost 50 features that give users greater protection, transparency, and control. Finally, Android 10 expands users' digital wellbeing controls so individuals and families can find a better balance with technology.








Modern app and game distribution





We introduced Android App Bundles last year as a mechanism to simplify and streamline app distribution, overcome the constraints of APK publishing, and introduce advanced distribution features such as dynamic delivery. There are now over 300K app bundle apps and games in production, covering nearly 30% of all active installs. If this doesn’t include your app or game, check out 16 reasons to publish your apps and games with the Android App Bundle.



This year we’ve made it much easier to test and implement app bundles and dynamic delivery. Internal app sharing makes it easy to share test builds with others. You can easily grant anyone on your team the ability to upload a test build to Play and get a download link to share with your testers. With internal app sharing, you can be sure that each device is receiving exactly what Play would deliver in the wild. You don’t need to use version codes or the prod signing key, and can even upload debuggable artifacts.You can also get download links for old versions of your app from the Play Console, whether they’re app bundles or APKs.








Protecting the ecosystem





In 2019, you helped us make Google Play even safer, building user trust in your apps and Google Play as a whole. Thanks to your hard work, we have:




  • Made Google Play safer for children and families by helping ensure apps and games for children have appropriate content, show suitable ads, and handle personally identifiable information correctly.

  • Reduced access to sensitive data by restricting SMS and call log permissions to apps whose core functionality needs them, resulting in 98% fewer apps accessing this sensitive data.



To help you protect your apps, we’ve improved our ability to detect impersonators, repackaging, bad content, and other forms of abuse. Additionally, we’re investing in resources like policy-focused Play Academy courses to help you better understand and navigate our policy changes.



Because the threats are always changing, it’ll take all of us working together to keep users safe and our platform secure. Thank you for continuing to work with us on this.










Building better app businesses





During 2019 we continued to look for new ways to help you market and monetize your apps and games:




  • Google Play got a visual refresh which improves app discovery and accessibility for the wide diversity of store visitors.

  • App tags improve discoverability, enabling you to describe the content and functionality of your game with up to five tags.

  • Your app’s rating is now weighted towards your most recent ratings, instead of a lifetime cumulative average, so that it better reflects your app’s current state.

  • Improved and more granular benchmarks in the Google Play Console’s User Acquisition-, Ratings-, and Android Vitals-reports; and new benchmarks for core statistics against 200 curated peer-sets; with period-on-period growth rates, including user and device acquisitions, churn, actives, and more.

  • If you’re using subscriptions, the pause subscription report offers you new insights including the length users paused for and whether they returned or churned at the end of their pause period.

  • We expanded our buyer support so you can now sell apps and games to people in Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Iraq, and Turks and Caicos. We also welcomed many new developers to the Google Play Store’s family with Seller Support, with more than 35 additional countries launched this year. Find out more.




And that’s a wrap





With such scale comes responsibility. We’re committed to ensuring our users’ safety for the future, to making development easier and distribution faster, and to offering you more effective ways for your app to be discovered and monetized.



On this note, we hope we can all continue working together to make Android and Google Play better for billions of people around the world, in 2020, and the years to come. From everyone on our team, we wish you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.




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