Google Playtime Announcements for Apps

October 19, 2018

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Google has announced new features and functions for Google Play, which will be made available for its Early Adopter Program (EAP) soon before rolling out worldwide. These were revealed at the Google Playtime event in Berlin in addition to official announcements on the company’s Twitter.

In-App Updates

One of the announcements is a new API that enables apps to prompt updates without having to leave the app itself. The immediate in-app updates create an unobtrusive prompt that informs users of a new available update, which they can tap on to go directly to the update screen and begin installing it. This saves users the trouble of having to minimize the app, open the Play Store, go to the update screen and install it from there. Additionally, it ensures that users will know when updates go live, so they can always have the latest version of an app. [caption id="attachment_2899" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Google Play in-app updates Image via @GooglePlayDev[/caption]

New Subscription Options

Google has also announced new options for apps with subscription services. While apps can currently offer subscription plans through their in-app purchases, the new functions enable a “free trial & install” option, cancellation offers and the ability to pause subscriptions. Developers can also now change the price of existing subscriptions without needing to create a new SKU. With this, developers can better entice users to download and try out their apps without fear of being locked into a subscription. It should also help improve user retention rates by allowing developers to offer discounts and special offers before users unsubscribe. When a user goes to cancel their subscriptions, developers can present them with special offers, such as a discount off the next few months of their subscriptions, to improve customer retention. Enabling users to pause their subscriptions instead of cancelling will help retain users that may need to take a break or save money for a month or two, since it will resume their subscription at a set time rather than cancel and hope they re-subscribe.

Expanded Instant Play

Additionally, Google Play Instant is extending to more apps. Developers can offer instant free trials of an app for premium titles and pre-registration campaigns, enabling users to test out the app without downloading it. Providing instant app options for pre-registration campaigns will help developers build buzz for their apps and entice users with gameplay before the app’s launch, ensuring that they’ll have players ready when the app is officially released. Google is also taking steps to make instant apps easier on developers, starting by increasing their size limit to 10 MB. The company has partnered with Unity to create a Google Play Instant plug-in, and with the Android Studio 3.3 beta release, developers can make an app bundle or module enabled for instant play more easily.

New Metrics & Monitoring

While the new features are convenient for users and will help with retention rates, it’s also important to monitor an app’s performance. The Play Console now offers new tools in the Developer Console to evaluate core metrics, such as 30-day rolling average metrics and cumulative data. The reports can be downloaded directly as CSV files. With the data from these metrics, developers can better determine how their app is performing in what areas and see the impact of their App Store Optimization strategy. For an updated look at crash rates, Google Play has linked pre-launch reports and Android vitals. This will provide additional data for crashes and bugs, as well as highlight issues and their impacts, so developers can better address any problems that may arise.

What this Means for ASO

The announcements from Google Playtime highlight several new opportunities for developers that they can begin integrating soon. The new features can help make the app experience more rewarding for users and can be beneficial for an app’s App Store Optimization. Instant apps and free trials can improve conversion rates, while the new subscription options can increase user retention. The addition of a In-App Updates can help developers who see high spikes in crashes and ANR rates give their users an easy way to download a fixed version.  High crash and ANR rates can be detrimental not only to a user’s experience, but your ranking in the Play Store as well. Similarly, the new metrics can help developers understand how their app is being received, what users are being drawn to it and how it’s performing – all useful information for shaping keywords to target, creatives to implement and other aspects of ASO. New reporting metrics can help track results of the changes in conjunction with external ASO Software. Google Playtime provided several new changes for developers to look forward to. Every change is a new opportunity for developers to reach new users, retain existing ones and improve their app, so they should prepare for the updates as they begin to roll out.

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