Google I/O 2019: New Features in Google Play Console To Help Your Mobile Business Grow

Google I/O 2019 has passed, and here’s a recap of the most important things that have been announced for the Google Play Console! 

New features coming to Google Play

There have been many features released or announced during Google I/O 2019, and it’s still going strong. It has been made sure that the company has considered developers’ feedback, introducing some functionalities and updates that they have been asking for. Some of them are the increase in security, the custom peer groups to benchmark ratings and Android Vitals to your main competitors.

Some of the major concerns are due to a sense of insecurity regarding users’ data, and Google has delivered: users have more control over how the data can be used about their location access or which apps can do background processing. The company has made sure to strengthen policies to build trust. Over the last year, for example, there have been changes on SMS and cal log permissions, restricting access to only those cases which are valid. It turned out in a decrease of apps requiring access to SMS and call log by 98%. For developers, there has been also an increase in security: signing key is more secure because Google Play holds a copy and protects it from loss. This new feature allows you to upgrade the cryptographic strengths of your signing key for new installs and their updates.

The most important features that have been announced are Android App Bundles, new reports data to improve iteration and tracking performance and tools to help your business grow through marketing and monetization.

Reach more users and grow business by android app bundles

Introduction to Android App Bundles

The current APK is inefficient, its security could be better and it’s built for monolithic apps. Therefore, Google presents Android App Bundle, its new official publishing format that offers a more efficient way to build and release your app. 80k+ apps and games switched to bundle in production, which is resulting in important savings in terms of app size. In average, it’s showing 20% size saving compared to universal APK, which turns out to 11% install uplift from these size savings. This kind of information is now available as a new section of Android Vitals, and it shows the following metrics: download size of your app (as well as the size of the app right after the install), how its size changes over time and information on how to reduce it. 

App Download Size

Dynamic Features

Modularization is another aspect that has helped developers through dynamic feature models. It increases engineering velocity because teams can design, build and maintain features independently. Facebook, for example, benefits from it by implementing functionality that’s relatively separate from the rest of the app. Once they are done, they add those features to the main app without increasing its base size. Dynamic features allow you to customize when and to whom you deliver specific functionalities, so now it’s possible to deliver features on demand. Redbus, an app for online bus ticket booking, uses it to test a new business idea: allowing enterprise consumers to book tickets for events. Thanks to that functionality, they can target a specific audience and determine the product market fit for this new line of business. The most important thing here is that, as it is only available for those who want it, it allows to keep the app size small at the point of install and provide a more customized experience.

Another new option is to deliver features conditionally at the time of install. It allows you to control what parts of the app can be delivered based on the country and features of the device. For example, if you have an AR feature you can decide to install it only on AR capable devices. Netflix also delivers customer support function as a dynamic feature in production, which means that only users that need to call for support actually need to download this feature. By using the app bundle and dynamic features, they reduced their app size by 33%, from 23MB to 15MB.

In-App Updates API

In-app updates API is now available. It’s important to get users on the latest version of the app, and one of the top requests was to update users that are on an old version. The new API allow you to get users to update without ever leaving the app. This kind of in-app updates have received 50 % acceptance rate.

Internal App Sharing

It allows you to share test builds with the team in a matter of seconds. You can get a shareable URL to install your test version without the need to worry about version code, signing keys, or most other validations that you need to think about when you’re launching your production release. This will help to iterate faster and better even as the ecosystem grows more complex.

Tracking performance of our apps and games with custom peer groups & new metrics

Google has added a new option to analyze the health and performance of the app: custom peer groups. You can select from eight to twelve peers to compare your app to, then see the median value for the peer as well as the difference between your app and your peers. Besides the rating data, Google now makes semi-private information available for the benchmark, letting you compare your app with similar apps to decide whether you should invest more time in fixing performance issues. More interesting data: you’ll be able to see if your uninstall rate is higher than your peers, then compare how you’re doing on the common causes of retention issues like crash rate or APK size.

Peer Groups

In general, metrics have been rebuilt from the ground up, aiming to answer the most critical issues: the number of users you acquire or the number of existing users you lost in the last 30 days. New metrics are broader and more accurate, as they now show information on returning users, a critical aspect to understand your total acquisition. It also offers ten times more metrics and variations than the current ones. To make data consumption easier, there has also been an update of the statistics page to automatically perform common analysis like benchmarking growth rates.

Last but not least, average rating calculation is changing. Instead of a lifetime and cumulative value, the new average will give more weight to the most recent ratings, which it gives users better understanding of the current state of the app, and it also reflects the work an app has done to improve. Regarding reviews, ratings increase (on average) by 0,7 stars when users get a reply from developers, so Google is trying to make it easier to respond to user reviews. They’ll try to achieve it by using one-touch automatic suggested replies, build on machine learning, really similar to those working on Gmail. These suggested replies are based on the content of a user review and the way you naturally communicate to your users.

Google Play Console Metrics
Source: Google I/O

Tools to helps your business grow sustainably through marketing and monetization

Custom listing pages

There’s an option of having multiple unique listing pages in production targetable to different audiences, like its country, for example. It’s in early access, but you’ll be able to target three new audiences: users who’ve never installed your app, users who’ve uninstalled your app and users who currently have your app installed. This will also be possible for pre-registered apps. In terms of this functionality, that helps you to build hype around your app or game and get some installs before releasing it, there’s a new feature available: pre-registration rewards. It allows you to give users a special in-app gift to those who pre-register. 20% more likely to be retained by day 30.

It has also been announced that icons should be changed in order to follow the new guidelines before June 24th. Those who can’t make the date will go on legacy mode, which will make the icon look good until it’s possible to update them.

Games discovery

At the moment, when browsing the Google Play Store there’s little information available regarding a game functionality at first sight. It’s difficult to make the most out of the icon to convince users to download a game, and you usually get them to do so thanks to the elements in your app listing: trailers, screenshots, description… The further you go into the funnel, the more appealing a game becomes:

Google Play Store Listing Game
Source: Google I/O

In order to make things easier for users when it comes to deciding whether to install or not a game, Google is introducing new formats to show more information about games on Play Store Home. That means that we’ll be able to see trailers, screenshots and other events while browsing the store:

New discovery formats

There are some requirements so as to become eligible for these new formats:

  • 3 or more 16×9 screenshots uploaded to the developer console
  • The promotional video has monetization disabled and it’s public

Monetization improvements

In terms of monetization, Google is introducing pending transactions, which are delayed forms of payment, like cash bank transfer and direct debit. There will also be a new functionality (now on early access) called subscribe & install, which is a streamlined flow that lets a user sign up for a free trial and install the app in the same simple flow.

Google Play Store news – Google I/O 2019 in a nutshell

It looks like Google is coming strong this year, improving some security issues such as the control over how the data can be used about their location access or which apps can do background processing. This has been a concern for a long time now and it seems that they are fixing this topic.

Regarding new Google Play Console announcements, the new official publishing format called Android App Bundle assures to be more efficient when it comes to building and releasing an app. New functionalities include: Dynamic Features, In-App updates and internal app sharing.

In terms of tracking performance, there will also be a revolution with all the new metrics that are being introduced, which will allow you to keep track of your app’s size over time, more information about user acquisition (users you acquire, users that have left in the last 30 days…) that will make your reports more complete than ever.

Last but not least, new formats are coming to game listings, offering new ways to discover mobile games.

We are really excited about all the new changes that Google has presented. What’s your favorite? Let us know your opinion in the comments!

Main picture by Scott Akerman

Google I/O 2019: New Features in Google Play Console To Help Your Mobile Business Grow
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Gerard Gordon

Gerard Gordon

Content & Social Media Manager at TheTool. I enjoy practicing sports, listening to good music and learning everything that has to do with technology.

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