Your next growth market: Realizing the potential of MENA


Posted by Mohammad El-Saadi, BD, Google Play



We know that many developers want to take advantage of growth opportunities in
new regions, but are held back by not knowing the most important areas to focus
on. That's why we wanted to share stories from our partners in the Middle East
and North Africa (MENA). It's a fast growing region for Google Play, and one
that already represents a sizable revenue opportunity. They've shared their
experiences, and some key things to focus on if you're thinking of launching in
the region.



Middle East and North Africa overview













MENA is a diverse region in terms of disposable income, access to connectivity,
and smartphone penetration. However, it is possible to broadly group MENA into
two types of market:



Growth markets


  • Examples: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and the rest of
    the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
  • Very high smartphone penetration (on par with top western european markets),
  • Large disposable income
  • Robust growth in spend on mobile apps and games


Emerging markets


  • Examples: Morocco, Egypt and Iraq.
  • Large populations
  • Significant growth in smartphone (primarily Android) adoption.


Opportunities



Localization



If you want to be successful in MENA, localization is key. In Saudi Arabia 19 of
the top 20 grossing apps & games have their Google Play Store listing localized
and the majority of those have their actual app/game localized as well. By
localizing to Arabic, mobile app and game developers have found great success in
the region.



When Singapore-based href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wego.android">Wego.com
localized to Arabic, they achieved over 200% YoY growth in
MENA
, grew their app rating from 3.5 to over 4.5 among Arab travelers
and increased Arab users' retention rates by 200%. Today, MENA represents over
65% of their users.



To do localization well, here are a few things to consider:


  • Localize your store listing into Arabic including your video, screenshots
    and text. If you are targeting specific countries within MENA consider using
    local dialects, otherwise use formal Arabic. Consider using Store Listing
    Experiments to optimize your listing for local audiences.
  • If applicable, flip your app/game UI to be right-to-left.
  • Beware of common issues when localizing to Arabic: Arabic letters appearing
    disjointed or showing up in reverse order and the ordering of words getting
    mixed up when sentences contain both Latin and Arabic words
  • Localize pricing by showing appropriate local currency and rounding. Note
    that different countries in MENA have different currencies and
    affordability/willingness to pay.
  • Plan around major local events such as the holy month of Ramadan, when after
    fasting from dawn to sunset, families and loved ones gather for meals, laughs
    and stories. We've found that during this month usage of apps and games
    increases significantly in MENA.
  • Provide local customer support
  • Be culturally sensitive in your communication and content - avoid
    stereotypes and keep in mind the relatively conservative nature of users in the
    region
  • Leverage the power of YouTube to reach your audiences in MENA. Saudi Arabia
    for instance is the second largest market for YouTube globally in terms of views
    per capita.


Refer to our href="https://developer.android.com/distribute/tools/localization-checklist.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_mena_112116&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Localization
Checklist for some best practices when localizing for any language.



Gaming



Gaming is a high growth and revenue opportunity in MENA. Most countries in the
region have a median age of 30 or lower, smartphone growth will continue to grow
at double digits, which makes gaming a key segment for users in the region.
Today's local top grossing charts and dominated by Midcore strategy games.
Interestingly, GCC countries have some of the highest Average Revenue Per Paying
User rates globally.



International titles, including Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Mobile Strike and
Clash of Kings, have performed incredibly well in the region. In addition,
titles specifically targeting MENA have also seen tremendous success. href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/dev?id=7006382305291329295">Revenge of
the Sultans, by ONEMT, from China, has been the top grossing title across
several MENA countries for many months. Similarly, when IGG.com launched the
Arabic version of Castle Clash, they grew revenue from MENA by
58%
within 4 months.



As the market evolves, there is also a huge opportunity for other genres (such
as RPG, FPS, and sports) which are not present at scale in the region yet.



Google Play in MENA



We continue to invest in making sure that users are able to pay for their
favorite apps and games by launching locally relevant payment methods in MENA.
Today, we have carrier billing available with the major networks in Saudi
Arabia, UAE and Kuwait. We plan to expand coverage in more countries, including
Qatar and Bahrain, in the future.




We are also committed to increasing the quality and availability of Arabic apps
and games for MENA users, which is why we launched our href="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">Now
in Arabic href="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">cohref="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">llhref="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">echref="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">tihref="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">onhref="https://play.google.com/store/recommended?sp=CAEwAFovCilwcm9tb3Rpb25fMzAwMjUxMl9BcHBzX01FTkFfTm93X0luX0FyYWJpYxAHGAM%3D:S:ANO1ljLJ7kY&c=apps">
featuring apps and games that have recently localized to Arabic. This
collection will be regularly updated. If you're interested in being included, href="https://docs.google.com/a/google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfuqUnnrY4a9XUsKlqrfow_7v9p1jMX_ae7DLnshk30pqOVZQ/viewform">submit
your localized app/game.




Final update to Android 7.1 Developer Preview



Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering



Today we're rolling out an update to the Android 7.1 Developer Preview -- the
last before we release the final Android 7.1.1 platform to the ecosystem.
Android 7.1.1 includes the developer features already available on Pixel and
Pixel XL devices and adds optimizations and bug fixes on top of the base Android
7.1 platform. With Developer Preview 2, you can make sure your apps are ready
for Android 7.1.1 and the consumers that will soon be running it on their
devices.



As href="https://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/10/android71-dev-preview-available.html">highlighted
in October, we're also expanding the range of devices that can receive this
Developer Preview update to Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, and Pixel C.



If you have a supported device that's enrolled in the href="http://www.android.com/beta">Android Beta Program, you'll receive an
update to Developer Preview 2 over the coming week. If you haven't enrolled your
device yet, just visit the site to
enroll your device and get the update.



In early December, we'll roll out Android 7.1.1 to the full lineup of supported
devices as well as Pixel and Pixel XL devices.


What's in this update?



Developer Preview 2 is a release candidate for Android 7.1.1 that you can use to
complete your app development and testing in preparation for the upcoming final
release. In includes near-final system behaviors and UI, along with the latest
bug fixes and optimizations across the system and Google apps.



It also includes the developer features and APIs (API level 25) already
introduced in Developer Preview 1. If you haven't explored the developer
features, you'll want to take a look at href="https://developer.android.com/preview/shortcuts.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">app shortcuts,
href="https://developer.android.com/preview/api-overview.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog#circular-icons">round
icon resources, and href="https://developer.android.com/preview/image-keyboard.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">image keyboard
support, among others -- you can see the href="https://developer.android.com/preview/api-overview.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">full list of
developer features here.



With Developer Preview 2, we're also updating the SDK build and platform tools
in Android Studio, the Android 7.1.1 platform, and the API Level 25 emulator
system images. The latest version of the support library (href="https://developer.android.com/topic/libraries/support-library/revisions.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">25.0.1)
is also available for you to href="https://developer.android.com/reference/android/support/v13/view/inputmethod/InputConnectionCompat.OnCommitContentListener.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">add
image keyboard support, href="https://developer.android.com/reference/android/support/design/widget/BottomNavigationView.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_developerpreview_112216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">bottom
navigation, and other features for devices running API Level 25 or earlier.



For details on API Level 25 check out the href="https://developer.android.com/sdk/api_diff/25/changes.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">API
diffs and the updated href="https://developer.android.com/reference/packages.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">API
reference on the href="https://developer.android.com/preview/index.html">developer preview
site.


Get your apps ready for Android 7.1



Now is the time to optimize your apps to look their best on Android 7.1.1. To
get started, update to href="https://developer.android.com/studio/index.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Android
Studio 2.2.2 and then download the API Level 25 platform, emulator system
images, and tools through the SDK Manager in Android Studio.



After installing the API Level 25 SDK, you can update your project's
compileSdkVersion to 25 to build and test against the new APIs. If you're doing
compatibility testing, we recommend updating your app's targetSdkVersion to 25
to test your app with compatibility behaviors disabled. For details on how to
set up your app with the API Level 25 SDK, see href="https://developer.android.com/preview/setup-sdk.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Set
up the Preview.



If you're adding app shortcuts or circular launcher icons to your app, you can
use Android Studio's built-in Image Asset Studio to quickly help you create
icons of different sizes that meet the href="https://material.google.com/style/icons.html#icons-product-icons">material
design guidelines. You can test your round icons on the Google APIs emulator
for API Level 25, which includes support for round icons and the new Google
Pixel Launcher.














Android Studio and the Google APIs emulator let you quickly create and test
your round icon assets.



If you're adding image keyboard support, you can use the Messenger and Google
Keyboard apps included in the preview system images for testing as they include
support for this new API.


Scale your tests using Firebase Test Lab for Android



To help scale your testing, make sure to take advantage of href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/11/android-dev-preview-in-firebase-test-lab.html">Firebase
Test Lab for Android and run your tests in the cloud at no charge during the
preview period on all virtual devices including the Developer Preview 2 (API
25). You can use the automated crawler (href="https://firebase.google.com/docs/test-lab/robo-ux-test">Robo Test) to
test your app without having to write any test scripts, or you can upload your
own instrumentation (e.g. Espresso) tests. You can upload your tests href="https://console.firebase.google.com/project/_/testlab/run">here.


Publish your apps to alpha, beta or production channels in Google
Play



After you've finished final testing, you can publish your updates compiled
against, and optionally targeting, API 25 to Google Play. You can publish to
your alpha, href="https://developer.android.com/distribute/engage/beta.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">beta,
or even production channels in the Google Play Developer Console. In this way,
push your app updates to users whose devices are running Android 7.1, such as
Pixel and Android Beta devices.


Get Developer Preview 2 on Your Eligible Device



If you have an eligible device that's already enrolled in the href="https://android.com/beta">Android Beta Program, the device will get
the Developer Preview 2 update over the coming week. No action is needed on your
part. If you aren't yet enrolled in program, the easiest way to get started is
by visiting android.com/beta and opt-in
your eligible Android phone or tablet -- you'll soon receive this preview update
over-the-air. As always, you can also download and href="https://developer.android.com/preview/download.html?utm_campaign=android_launch_npreview_061516&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog#flash">flash
this update manually.



As mentioned above, this Developer Preview update is available for Nexus 5X,
Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, and Pixel C devices.



We're expecting to launch the final release of the Android 7.1.1 in just a few
weeks Starting in December, we'll roll out Android 7.1.1 to the full lineup of
supported preview devices, as well as the recently launched Pixel and Pixel XL
devices. At that time, we'll also push the sources to AOSP, so our device
manufacturer partners can bring this new platform update to consumers on their
devices.



Meanwhile, we continue to welcome your feedback in the href="https://code.google.com/p/android/issues/list?can=1&q=label%3ADevPreview-N-7.1">Developer
Preview issue tracker, href="https://plus.google.com/communities/105153134372062985968/stream/755bb91d-c101-4e32-9277-1e560c4e26d2">N
Preview Developer community, or href="https://plus.google.com/communities/106765800802768335079">Android Beta
community as we work towards the final consumer release in December!



Calling European game developers, enter the Indie Games Contest by December 31

Originally posted on Google Developers blog


Posted by Matteo Vallone, Google Play Games Business Development



To build awareness of the awesome innovation and art that indie game developers
are bringing to users on Google Play, we have invested heavily over the past
year in programs like href="https://play.google.com/store/info/topic?id=topic_b000054_games_indie_corner_tp&e=-EnableAppDetailsPageRedesign">Indie
Corner, as well as events like the Google Play Indie Games Festivalshref="https://events.withgoogle.com/google-play-indie-game-festival/"> in
North
America
and href="https://events.withgoogle.com/google-play-indie-games-fes/">Korea.



As part of that sustained effort, we also want to celebrate the passion and
innovation of indie game developers with the introduction of the first-ever
href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/">Google Play
Indie Games Contest
in Europe. The contest will recognize the best
indie talent in several countries and offer prizes that will help you get your
game noticed by industry experts and gamers worldwide.




Prizes for the finalists and winners:


  • An open showcase held at the Saatchi Gallery in London
  • YouTube influencer campaigns worth up to 100,000 EUR
  • Premium placements on Google Play
  • Tickets to Google I/O 2017 and other top industry events
  • Promotions on our channels
  • Special prizes for the best Unity game
  • And href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/prizes/">more!


Entering the contest:



If you're based in Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France (coming soon),
Germany, Iceland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland (coming soon), Romania,
Spain, Sweden, Turkey, or UK (excl. Northern Ireland), have 15 or less full time
employees, and published a new game on Google Play after 1 January 2016, you may
now be eligible to href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/">enter the
contest. If you're planning on publishing a new game soon, you can also
enter by submitting a private beta. Check out all the details in the href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/terms/">terms and
conditions. Submissions close on 31 December 2016.




The process:



Up to 20 finalists will get to showcase their games at an open event at the
Saatchi Gallery in London on the 16th February 2017. At the event, the top 10
will be selected by the event attendees and the Google Play team. The top 10
will then get the opportunity to pitch to a jury of industry experts, from which
the final winner and runners up will be selected.



Even if someone is NOT entering the contest:



Even if you're not eligible to enter the contest, you can still register to
attend the final showcase event in London on 16 February 2017, check out some
great indie games, and have fun with various industry experts and indie
developers. We will also be hosting a workshop for all indie games developers
from across EMEA in the new Google office in Kings Cross the next day, so this
will be a packed week.



Get started:



href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/">Enter the Indie
Games Contest now
and visit the href="https://events.withgoogle.com/indie-games-contest-europe/">contest
site to find out more about the contest, the event, and the workshop.




Google Play services and Firebase for Android will support API level 14 at minimum

Posted by Doug Stevenson, Developer Advocate


Version 10.0.0 of the Google Play services client libraries, as well as the
Firebase client libraries for Android, will be the last version of these
libraries that support href="https://source.android.com/source/build-numbers.html">Android API
level 9 (Android 2.3, Gingerbread). The next scheduled release of these
libraries, version 10.2.0, will increase the minimum supported API level from 9
to 14 (Android 4.0.1, Ice Cream Sandwich). This change will happen in early
2017.


Why are we discontinuing support for Gingerbread and Honeycomb in Google
Play services?



The Gingerbread platform is almost six years old. Many Android developers have
already discontinued support for Gingerbread in their apps. This helps them
build better apps that make use of the newer capabilities of the Android
platform. For us, the situation is the same. By making this change, we will be
able to provide a more robust collection of tools for Android developers with
greater speed.


What this means for your Android app that uses Google Play services or
Firebase:



You may use version 10.0.0 of Google Play services and Firebase as you are
currently. It will continue to work with Gingerbread devices as it has in the
past.



When you choose to upgrade to the future version 10.2.0, and if your app
minimally supports API level 14 or greater (typically specified as
"minSdkVersion" in your build.gradle), you will not encounter any versioning
problems. However, if your app supports lower than API level 14, you will
encounter a problem at build time with an error that looks like this:


class="prettyprint">Error:Execution failed for task ':app:processDebugManifest'.
> Manifest merger failed : uses-sdk:minSdkVersion 9 cannot be smaller than version 14 declared in library [com.google.android.gms:play-services:10.2.0]
Suggestion: use tools:overrideLibrary="com.google.android.gms:play_services" to force usage


Unfortunately, the stated suggestion will not help you successfully run your app
on older devices. In order to use Google Play services 10.2.0 and later, you
can choose one of the following options:


1. Target API level 14 as the minimum supported API level.



This is the recommended course of action. To discontinue support for API levels
that will no longer receive Google Play services updates, simply increase the
minSdkVersion value in your app's build.gradle to at least 14. If you update
your app in this way and publish it to the Play Store, users of devices with
less than that level of support will not be able to see or download the update.
However, they will still be able to download and use the most recently published
version of the app that does target their device.



A very small percentage of all Android devices are using API levels less than
14. You can href="https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html?utm_campaign=firebase_discussion_apilevel_112116&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">read more about
the current distribution of Android devices. We believe that many of these
old devices are not actively being used.



If your app still has a significant number of users on older devices, you can
use multiple APK support in Google Play to deliver an APK that uses Google Play
services 10.0.0. This is described below.


2. Build multiple APKs to support devices with an API level less than
14.



Along with some configuration and code management, you can href="https://developer.android.com/training/multiple-apks/api.html?utm_campaign=firebase_discussion_apilevel_112116&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">build
multiple APKs that support different minimum API levels, with different
versions of Google Play services. You can accomplish this with href="https://developer.android.com/studio/build/build-variants.html?utm_campaign=firebase_discussion_apilevel_112116&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">build
variants in Gradle. First, define build flavors for legacy and newer
versions of your app. For example, in your build.gradle, define two different
product flavors, with two different compile dependencies for the components of
Play Services you're using:


class="prettyprint">productFlavors {
legacy {
minSdkVersion 9
versionCode 901 // Min API level 9, v01
}
current {
minSdkVersion 14
versionCode 1401 // Min API level 14, v01
}
}

dependencies {
legacyCompile 'com.google.android.gms:play-services:10.0.0'
currentCompile 'com.google.android.gms:play-services:10.2.0'
}


In the above situation, there are two product flavors being built against two
different versions of the Google Play services client libraries. This will work
fine if only APIs are called that are available in the 10.0.0 library. If you
need to call newer APIs made available with 10.2.0, you will have to create a
compatibility library for the newer API calls so that they are only built into
the version of the application that can use them:


  • Declare a Java interface that exposes the higher-level functionality you
    want to perform that is only available in current versions of Play services.
  • Build two Android libraries that implement that interface. The "current"
    implementation should call the newer APIs as desired. The "legacy"
    implementation should no-op or otherwise act as desired with older versions of
    Play services. The interface should be added to both libraries.
  • Conditionally compile each library into the app using "legacyCompile" and
    "currentCompile" dependencies.
  • In the app's code, call through to the compatibility library whenever newer
    Play APIs are required.


After building a release APK for each flavor, you then publish them both to the
Play Store, and the device will update with the most appropriate version for
that device. Read more about href="https://developer.android.com/google/play/publishing/multiple-apks.html?utm_campaign=firebase_discussion_apilevel_112116&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">multiple
APK support in the Play Store.



Pixel Security: Better, Faster, Stronger

Posted by Paul Crowley, Senior Software Engineer and Paul Lawrence, Senior Software Engineer




Encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else's hands. The
new Google Pixel and Pixel XL are encrypted by default to offer strong data
protection, while maintaining a great user experience with high I/O performance
and long battery life. In addition to encryption, the Pixel phones debuted
running the Android Nougat release, which has even more href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/security-enhancements-in-nougat.html">security
improvements.



This blog post covers the encryption implementation on Google Pixel devices and
how it improves the user experience, performance, and security of the device.






File-Based Encryption Direct Boot experience



One of the security features introduced in Android Nougat was href="https://source.android.com/security/encryption/file-based.html">file-based
encryption. File-based encryption (FBE) means different files are encrypted
with different keys that can be unlocked independently. FBE also separates data
into device encrypted (DE) data and credential encrypted (CE) data.



href="https://developer.android.com/training/articles/direct-boot.html">Direct
boot uses file-based encryption to allow a seamless user experience when a
device reboots by combining the unlock and decrypt screen. For users, this means
that applications like alarm clocks, accessibility settings, and phone calls are
available immediately after boot.


Enhanced with TrustZone® security



Modern processors provide a means to execute code in a mode that remains secure
even if the kernel is compromised. On ARM®-based processors this mode is known
as TrustZone. Starting in Android Nougat, all disk encryption keys are stored
encrypted with keys held by TrustZone software. This secures encrypted data in
two ways:


  • TrustZone enforces the href="https://source.android.com/security/verifiedboot/">Verified Boot
    process. If TrustZone detects that the operating system has been modified, it
    won't decrypt disk encryption keys; this helps to secure device encrypted (DE)
    data.
  • TrustZone enforces a waiting period between guesses at the user credential,
    which gets longer after a sequence of wrong guesses. With 1624 valid four-point
    patterns and TrustZone's ever-growing waiting period, trying all patterns would
    take more than four years. This improves security for all users, especially
    those who have a shorter and more easily guessed pattern, PIN, or
    password.


Encryption on Pixel phones



Protecting different folders with different keys required a distinct approach
from href="http://source.android.com/security/encryption/full-disk.html">full-disk
encryption (FDE). The natural choice for Linux-based systems is the
industry-standard eCryptFS. However, eCryptFS didn't meet our performance
requirements. Fortunately one of the eCryptFS creators, Michael Halcrow, worked
with the ext4 maintainer, Ted Ts'o, to add encryption natively to ext4, and
Android became the first consumer of this technology. ext4 encryption
performance is similar to full-disk encryption, which is as performant as a
software-only solution can be.



Additionally, Pixel phones have an inline hardware encryption engine, which
gives them the ability to write encrypted data at line speed to the flash
memory. To take advantage of this, we modified ext4 encryption to use this
hardware by adding a key reference to the bio structure, within the ext4 driver
before passing it to the block layer. (The bio structure is the basic container
for block I/O in the Linux kernel.) We then modified the inline encryption block
driver to pass this to the hardware. As with ext4 encryption, keys are managed
by the Linux keyring. To see our implementation, take a look at the href="https://android.googlesource.com/kernel/msm/+/android-msm-marlin-3.18-nougat-dr1/fs/ext4/crypto_key.c">source
code for the Pixel kernel.



While this specific implementation of file-based encryption using ext4 with
inline encryption benefits Pixel users, FBE is available in AOSP and ready to
use, along with the other features mentioned in this post.



Understanding APK packaging in Android Studio 2.2

Posted by Wojtek KaliciƄski, Android Developer Advocate


Android Studio 2.2 launched recently with href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/android-studio-2-2.html">many
new and improved features. Some of the changes are easy to miss because they
happened under the hood in the Android Gradle plugin, such as the newly
rewritten integrated APK packaging and signing step.






APK Signature Scheme v2



With the introduction of the new href="https://source.android.com/security/apksigning/v2.html">APK Signature
Scheme v2 in Android 7.0 Nougat, we decided to rewrite how assembling APKs
works in the Android Gradle plugin. You can read all about the low-level
technical details of v2 signatures in the href="https://source.android.com/security/apksigning/v2.html">documentation,
but here's a quick tl;dr summary of the info you need as an Android app
developer:


  • The cryptographic signature of the APK that is used to verify its integrity
    is now located immediately before the ZIP Central Directory.
  • The signature is computed and verified over the binary contents of the whole
    APK file, as opposed to decompressed file contents of each file in the archive
    in v1.
  • An APK can be signed by both v1 and v2 signatures at the same time, so it
    remains backwards compatible with previous Android releases.


Why introduce this change to how Android verifies APKs? Firstly, for enhanced
security and extensibility of this new signing format, and secondly for
performance - the new signatures take significantly less time to verify on the
device (no need for costly decompression), resulting in faster app installation
times.



The consequence of this new signing scheme, however, is that there are new
constraints on the APK creation process. Since only uncompressed file contents
were verified in v1, that allowed for quite a lot of modifications to be made
after APK signing - files could be moved around or even recompressed. In fact,
the zipalign tool which was part of the build process did exactly
that - it was used to align ZIP entries on correct byte boundaries for improved
runtime performance.



Because v2 signatures verify all bytes in the archive and not individual ZIP
entries, running zipalign is no longer possible after
signing
. That's why compression, aligning and signing now happens in a
single, integrated step of the build process.



If you have any custom tasks in your build process that involve tampering with
or post-processing the APK file in any way, please make sure you disable them or
you risk invalidating the v2 signature and thus making your APKs incompatible
with Android 7.0 and above.



Should you choose to do signing and aligning manually (such as from the command
line), we offer a new tool in the Android SDK, called href="https://developer.android.com/studio/command-line/apksigner.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_api_111016&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">apksigner,
that provides both v1 and v2 APK signing and verification. Note that you need to
run zipalign before running apksigner
if you are using v2 signatures. Also remember the jarsigner tool
from the JDK is not compatible with Android v2 signatures, so you can't use it
to re-sign your APKs if you want to retain the v2 signature.


In case you want to disable adding v1 or v2 signatures when building with the
Android Gradle plugin, you can add these lines to your href="https://google.github.io/android-gradle-dsl/current/com.android.build.gradle.internal.dsl.SigningConfig.html">signingConfig
section in build.gradle:

class="prettyprint">v1SigningEnabled false
v2SigningEnabled false


Note: both signing schemes are enabled by default in Android Gradle plugin 2.2.


Release builds for smaller APKs



We took this opportunity when rewriting the packager to make some optimizations
to the size of release APKs, resulting in faster downloads, href="http://android-developers.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/improvements-for-smaller-app-downloads.html">smaller
delta updates on the Play Store, and less wasted space on the device. Here
are some of the changes we made:


  • Files in the archive are now sorted to minimize differences between APK
    builds.
  • All file timestamps and metadata are zeroed out.
  • Level 6 and level 9 compression is checked for all files in parallel and the
    optimal one is used, i.e. if L9 provides little benefit in terms of size, then
    L6 may be chosen for better performance
  • Native libraries are stored uncompressed and page aligned in the APK. This
    brings support for the android:extractNativeLibs="false" option
    from Android 6.0 Marshmallow and lets applications use less space on the device
    as well as generate smaller updates on the Play Store
  • Zopfli compression is not used to better support Play Store update
    algorithms. It is not recommended to recompress your APKs with Zopfli.
    Pre-optimizing individual resources such as PNG files in your projects is still
    fine and recommended.


These changes help make your releases as small as possible so that users can
download and update your app even on a slower connection or on less capable
devices. But what about debug builds?


Debug builds for installation speed



When developing apps you want to keep the iteration cycle fast - change code,
build, and deploy on a connected device or emulator. Since Android Studio 2.0
we've been working to make all the steps as fast as possible. With Instant Run
we're now able to update only the changed code and resources during runtime,
while the new Emulator brings multi-processor support and faster ADB speeds for
quicker APK transfer and installation. Build improvements can cut that time even
further and in Android Studio 2.2 we're introducing incremental packaging and
parallel compression for debug builds. Together with other features like
selectively packaging resources for the target device density and ABI this will
make your development even faster.



A word of caution: the APK files created for Instant Run or by invoking a debug
build are not meant for distribution on the Play Store! They contain additional
instrumentation code for Instant Run and are missing resources for device
configurations other than the one that was connected when you started the build.
Make sure you only distribute release versions of the APK which you can create
using the Android Studio href="https://developer.android.com/studio/publish/app-signing.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_api_111016&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog#release-mode">Generate
Signed APK command or the assembleRelease Gradle task.




Adding TV Channels to Your App with the TIF Companion Library


Posted by Nick Felker and href="http://google.com/+SachitMishraDeveloper">Sachit Mishra, Developer
Programs Engineers



The TV
Input Framework (TIF)
on Android TV makes it easy for third-party app
developers to create their own TV channels with any type of linear media. It
introduces a new way for apps to engage with users with a high-quality channel
surfing experience, and it gives users a single interface to browse and watch
all of their channels.



To help developers get started with building TV channels, we have created the href="http://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs">TV Input
Framework Companion Library, which includes a number of helper methods and
classes to make the development process as easy as possible.



This library provides standard classes to set up a background task that updates
the program guide and an interface that helps integrate your media player with
the playback controller, as well as supports the new TV Recording APIs that are
available in Android Nougat. It includes everything you need to start showing
your content on your Android TV's live TV app.




(Note: href="https://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs">source from
href="https://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs">android-tv-sample-inputs
sample)



To get started, take a look at the href="https://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs">sample app
and href="https://developer.android.com/training/tv/tif/index.html?utm_campaign=android tv_discussion_tif_110916&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">documentation.
The sample demonstrates how to extend this library to create custom channels and
manage video playback. Developers can immediately get started with the sample
app by updating the href="https://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs/blob/master/app/src/main/res/raw/rich_tv_input_xmltv_feed.xml">XMLTV
file with their own content or dynamically creating channels in the href="https://github.com/googlesamples/androidtv-sample-inputs/blob/master/app/src/main/java/com/example/android/sampletvinput/SampleJobService.java">SampleJobService.



You can include this library in your app by copying the library
directory from the sample into your project root directory. Then, add the
following to your project's settings.gradle file:


include ':library'


In your app's build.gradle file, add the following to your
dependencies:


compile project(':library')


Android TV continues to grow, and whether your app has on-demand or live media,
TIF is a great way to keep users engaged with your content. One partner for
example, Haystack TV, recently integrated TIF into their app and it now accounts
for 16% of watch time for new users on Android TV.



Check out our TV developer
site
to learn more about Android TV, and join our developer community on
Google+ at g.co/androidtvdev to discuss
this library and other topics with TV developers.



CMake and ndk-build support in Android Studio 2.2

Posted by Kathryn Shih, Android Product Manager


In addition to supporting the experimental Gradle plugin, href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/android-studio-2-2.html">Android
Studio 2.2 enables you to build C/C++ components of Android projects using
CMake and ndk-build.




The Android Studio team plans to continue to support the experimental Gradle plugin.
This will eventually replace the current Gradle plugin, providing additional
tightly-integrated benefits to C/C++ developers such as smarter dependency
management. So if you're interested in someday having the smartest possible
interface between your IDE and your build system, you shouldn't ignore the
experimental plugin.



CMake and ndk-build are useful alternatives to Gradle in several cases:


  • Projects that are already using CMake or ndk-build, such as legacy Eclipse
    ndk projects
  • Projects that are unable to assume the risk of using an experimental plugin
    for their C/C++ builds
  • Projects that will share a C/C++ build system across multiple platforms
  • C/C++ projects that need to use advanced features currently unavailable in
    experimental Gradle such as NEON support


For new projects, we recommend using CMake or experimental Gradle. For new
Android projects with limited C++, we recommend trying the experimental Gradle
plugin. For projects with substantial amounts of C++, or where you want the
maximally stable build configuration, we recommend using a CMake build. Android
Studio intends CMake to be a permanently supported solution.



While we think that there are substantial advantages to having a single build
system able to handle all parts of an Android application, stabilizing the
experimental plugin is not an option for us because it relies on Gradle APIs
that are still a work in progress. Until the Gradle APIs are stabilized, the
experimental plugin will keep changing, particularly in its Domain Specific
Language, and will be strictly tied to a very specific version of Gradle itself.



Note that the the old, undocumented ndkCompile integration is deprecated. If you
are using it, you need to move away from it as we'll remove it completely in the
near future. We recommend migrating to gradle+cmake via our href="https://developer.android.com/studio/projects/add-native-code.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_cmake_110716&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">migration
guide.



Migrating from Eclipse to Android Studio



href="https://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/11/support-ended-for-eclipse-android.html">We
no longer support the Eclipse ADT. To get started migrating, href="https://developer.android.com/studio/index.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_cmake_110716&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">download and install
Android Studio. For most projects, migration is as simple as importing your
existing Eclipse ADT projects in Android Studio with the File → New→
Import Project
menu option. For more details on the migration process,
check out the href="https://developer.android.com/studio/intro/migrate.html?utm_campaign=android_discussion_cmake_110716&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">migration
guide.



Feedback and Open Source Contributions



We're dedicated to making Android Studio the best possible integrated
development environment for building Android apps, so if there are missing
features or other challenges preventing you from using Android Studio, href="https://goo.gl/forms/aGz9hQyRaTRQzN4s1">we want to hear about it [href="https://goo.gl/forms/aGz9hQyRaTRQzN4s1">please take our survey]. You
can also file bugs or feature
requests
directly with the team, and let us know via our href="http://www.twitter.com/androidstudio">Twitter or href="https://plus.google.com/103342515830390186255">Google+ accounts.



Android Studio is an open source
project, available to all at no cost. Check out our href="http://tools.android.com/contributing">Open Source project page if
you're interested in contributing or learning more.



Test on Android 7.1 Developer Preview in Firebase Test Lab

By Ahmed Mounir Gad, Product Manager, Firebase Test Lab



To deliver the best user experience right out of the gate, Firebase Test Lab for Android allows you to test your apps and ensure their compatibility with multiple device configurations, across OS versions, screen orientations, and locales. With a single click, you can run your tests on hundreds of device configurations in Google Cloud and receive your results quickly.




Today, we’re excited to announce the availability of the Android 7.1 Developer Preview on Firebase Test Lab virtual devices. In addition to testing the Android 7.1 Developer Preview on your physical Android Device with the Android Beta program, or on your local Android Emulator, you can use the Firebase Test Lab to scale your app testing to hundreds of Android virtual devices.



You can also use Firebase Test Lab to perform your own testing. If you don’t have any test scripts, Robo test is ideal for doing your basic compatibility testing on the new platform. It crawls your app in an attempt to find crashes. You can also use the Espresso Test Recorder in Android Studio to record your own instrumentation tests without writing any code.



From now until the end of December (12/31/2016), Firebase Test Lab will be offered at no charge on the Firebase Blaze plan for all virtual devices, to help you ensure the compatibility of your app with the Android 7.1 Developer Preview release, as well as with other Android releases.



Prepare your app for API level 25, then go to the Firebase Test Lab console to run your first test.




Happy testing!




Robo tests uncovering a crash on Android 7.1 Developer Preview for the Flood-It! app.








Welcome to Playtime!


Posted by Larissa Fontaine, Director, Global Head of Apps Business
Development, Google Play



Almost href="https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipPWGjEv2iaJxAOiJZc1JnqZ5chXbI3zVxXYkBYplvdNqHM5ZjQSYtj3a8YJ86MB7g?key=T1NNZURfbGhyV0wta3Z2ajhBUUFncC1rQnNtR1p3">three
years ago, we started the first of an ongoing series of developer events,
called Playtime, dedicated to educating partners on best practices and tools
available to improve their apps and games and grow successful businesses on
Google Play. It was originally a modest gathering that was held on our campus in
Mountain View, CA, but it has quickly grown to become one our premier developer
events of the year (outside of Google I/O) with a huge global footprint. We've
already been in London, Paris, Berlin, San Paulo, New Delhi, Moscow, Tel Aviv,
Tokyo, Seoul and more, just to meet directly with developers.




Today, Playtime is back in San Francisco after a long international run! On
stage, we'll recap some of our recent efforts to invest in new areas that go
beyond the smartphone, as well as announce new tools and highlight the major
progress of recently launched features that help developers increase user
engagement and make more money.



Extending beyond mobile devices



We live in a multiscreen world and people want to enjoy Android apps on the
their phones, and many other devices. That's why we have been extending Google
Play to go beyond the smartphone, enabling new app and gaming experiences while
on the go, on a chromebook, in the living room and immersed in virtual reality.



The new Daydream device platform
is going to be available soon and will come with a Google Play Store filled with
high quality VR apps. Android Apps are now href="https://blog.google/topics/education/android-apps-coming-to-chromebook-near/">available
in beta on a few Chromebook devices (same Android apps that currently run on
phones and tablets). And we recently announced a developer preview of Android
Wear 2.0 which introduced href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/android-wear-2-0-developer-preview-3-play-store-and-more.html">Google
Play for Wear. This makes it easier for users to discover and install great
apps that work directly on the watch.



Enhanced developer tools and programs



We continue to deliver the best tools for developers in the Play Developer
Console to drive user engagement and increase revenue.



Offer new subscription promos



We know how important subscriptions are in helping you monetize and we're
continuing to invest in features to support your subscription business.
Subscriptions are the fastest growing business model on Play, with consumer
spending in subscription apps increasing 10x over the last 3 years. Coming soon,
you'll be able to create an introductory price for new subscribers for a set
period of time. For example, you can offer a subscription for $1 per month for
the first three months before the normal subscription price kicks in. Along with
local/custom pricing and free trials already offered, introductory pricing will
help you acquire more subscribers and grow your subscription business.



Build anticipation with pre-registration



Earlier this year, we started working with select developer to let users
pre-register for major upcoming Android titles, such as Clash Royale
(Supercell), and Candy Crush Jelly Saga (King), which has driven more than 30
million installs so far. With pre-registration, users simply tap the
'pre-register' icon to show their interest. The process automatically sets up an
alert that prompts a user once the app is available. The program is limited at
this time.



Get feedback early with Early Access



In only a few short months, more developers have been leveraging the "Early
Access" open beta program to build a user base, interact with early-adopter
users and get invaluable feedback before an official launch. It has been an
immediate hit! Since the collection became available to all users, open beta
titles have been installed over 4 million times (up from 1 million in September)
and demand is growing. If you are a developer getting ready to launch on Google
Play, you can nominate your app or game to be part of Early Access. Learn more
here.



Recognizing art and innovation from Indies



To build awareness of the awesome innovation and art that indie game developers
are bringing to users on Google Play, we have invested heavily over the past
year in programs like href="https://play.google.com/store/info/topic?id=topic_b000054_games_indie_corner_tp&hl=en&e=-EnableAppDetailsPageRedesign">Indie
Corner, as well as industry events like the href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/announcing-the-winners-of-the-google-play-indie-games-festival.html">Google
Play Indie Games Festival in North America. The new Indie Corner collection,
in particular, has already helped million of gamers discover the latest and most
innovative releases on Google Play. Developer can nominate indie game for
inclusion at g.co/indiecornersubmission. We'll pick the best games to showcase
based on the quality of the experience and exemplary use of Google Play game
services.



Ensuring fair play for everyone



Our goal is always to do the right thing for both users and developers. As game
economies have become more complex, developers are looking for more tools to
ensure that all users play fairly to make gameplay fun for everyone. Today, we
are announcing a new API (in beta) that helps developers identify users who have
requested refunds so they can better manage their economies. This program is
currently in early beta and interested developers can sign up to learn more href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeob_Dhrd8Ew6fbRAa_2uj3B_SeXq8Nf0iF-dE6P8je0LabZA/viewform?c=0&w=1">here.



It has been another great year for Google Play thanks to the continued feedback
and support from the developer community.



Support Ended for Eclipse Android Developer Tools

By Jamal Eason, Product
Manager, Android


With the release of href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2016/09/android-studio-2-2.html">Android
Studio 2.2, the time has now come to say goodbye to the Eclipse Android
Developer Tools. We have formally ended their support and development. There's
never been a better time to switch to Android Studio and experience the
improvements we've made to the Android development workflow.



Android Studio


Android Studio,
the official IDE for Android, features powerful code editing with advanced
code-completion and refactoring. It includes robust href="https://developer.android.com/studio/write/lint.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">static analysis,
bringing the intelligence of the Android engineering team to you to help you
easily apply Android coding best practices, and includes simultaneous debugging
in both Java and C++ to help fix any bugs that slip through. When you combine
this with performance tooling, a fast, flexible build system, code templates,
GitHub integration, and its high-performance, feature-rich emulator, you get a
deeply Android-tailored development environment for the many form factors of the
OS. It's the development environment used by 92% of the top 125 Google Play
apps and games, and we're constantly innovating it to handle every Android
development need.



What's New in Android Studio 2.2



href="http://android-developers.blogspot.jp/2016/09/android-studio-2-2.html">Android
Studio 2.2 builds on the great features from Android Studio 2.0. There are
over twenty new features that improve development whether you are designing,
iterating, or testing. Notable changes include:


  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/run/index.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Instant Run
    - The super-fast iteration engine now is both more reliable and
    available for more types of changes
  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/write/layout-editor.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Layout
    Editor
    - The new user interface designer that makes it easier than
    ever to create beautiful app experiences
  • href="https://developer.android.com/training/constraint-layout/index.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Constraint
    Layout
    - A new flexible layout engine for building dynamic user
    interfaces - designed to work with the new layout editor
  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/projects/add-native-code.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">C++
    Support
    - CMake and ndk-build are now supported alongside improved
    editing and debug experiences
  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/build/apk-analyzer.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">APK
    Analyzer
    - Inspects APKs to help you streamline your APK and debug
    multi-dex
    issues
  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/debug/am-gpu-debugger.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">GPU
    Debugger (beta)
    - Captures a stream of OpenGL ES commands and
    replays them with GPU state inspection
  • href="https://developer.android.com/studio/test/espresso-test-recorder.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">Espresso
    Test Recorder (beta)
    - Records interactions with your app and
    outputs UI test code







Top Developers Love Android Studio




For our ADT Fans



All of your favorite ADT tools are now part of Android Studio, including DDMS,
Trace Viewer, Network Monitor, and CPU Monitor. We've also improved Android
Studio's href="https://developer.android.com/studio/intro/accessibility.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">accessibility,
including keyboard navigation enhancements and screen reader support.



We href="http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2015/06/an-update-on-eclipse-android-developer.html">announced
that we were ending development and official support for the Android Developer
Tools (ADT) in Eclipse at the end of 2015, including the Eclipse ADT plugin and
Android Ant build system. With the latest updates to Studio, we've completed
the transition.



Migrating to Android Studio



To get started, href="https://developer.android.com/studio/index.html?utm_campaign=android_deprecation_eclipse_110216&utm_source=anddev&utm_medium=blog">download and install
Android Studio. For most developers, including those with C/C++ projects,
migration is as simple as importing your existing Eclipse ADT projects in
Android Studio with the File > New > Import Project menu
option. For more details on the migration process, check out the href="https://developer.android.com/studio/intro/migrate.html?utm_campaign=eclipse-626&utm_source=dac&utm_medium=blog">migration
guide.



Feedback and Open Source Contributions



We're dedicated to making Android Studio the best possible integrated
development environment for building Android apps, so if there are missing
features or other challenges preventing you from switching to Android Studio, href="https://goo.gl/forms/aGz9hQyRaTRQzN4s1">we want to hear about it [href="https://goo.gl/forms/aGz9hQyRaTRQzN4s1">survey] ! You can also href="http://tools.android.com/filing-bugs">file bugs or feature requests
directly with the team, and let us know via our href="http://www.twitter.com/androidstudio">Twitter or href="https://plus.google.com/103342515830390186255">Google+ accounts.



Android Studio is an open source
project, available to all at no cost. Check out our href="http://tools.android.com/contributing">Open Source project page if
you're interested in contributing or learning more.



Look out for our bi-annual Google Play Developer Sentiment Survey, coming soon

Posted by Dorothy Kelly, Head of Developer Insights, Google Play Developer
Marketing



Core to our mission, we're always
focused on the user and delivering the best experience possible. This same
principle underlies how Google Play works with developers, as we aim to provide
you with best experience working with us and our products. We can only do this
through understanding what you need and how we can improve. We ran our first
Developer Sentiment Survey in July this year, and heard feedback from over 4,000
developers across 15 countries. This bi-annual survey gathers feedback at scale
from the thousands of developers around the world who publish their apps and
games on Google Play. While it was great to hear how Google Play is working for
you, we also learned how we should improve to enable you to build even more
successful businesses.



This month, you may receive an email from Google Play inviting you to
participate in the next Google Play Developer Sentiment Survey. This invitation
is sent to a selection developers who have opted in to receive Research contacts
in the Developer Console, or to those who are directly managed by Google. You
can review and update your
preferences
in the Developer Console to ensure you get the opportunity to be
invited to participate in future surveys.



In this survey we ask you to give us feedback across a number of areas:


  • Develop: Testing, publishing and launching your app or
    game.
  • Grow: Discovery and marketing of your app or game.
  • Engage: Distributing to and engaging with your target
    market.
  • Earn: Pricing and Payment methods.
  • Getting Support: Accessing the information and support you
    need when you have a question.


We use your feedback to decide what we need to focus on next to help you grow
your app or game business. Initiatives announced at I/O 2016, such as improved
betas, prelaunch reporting, the Developer Console app, and pricing templates,
were all developed in response to feedback from developers like you.



If you do receive an invitation to participate in this survey, we really
appreciate you taking the time to complete it. We value your feedback and want
to act on it to help you create apps and games that delight your users, and help
you build a successful business anywhere in the world.