24 November 2010

Content Rating for Android Market

[This post is by Eric Chu, Android Developer Ecosystem. —Tim Bray]

Providing users with more information about applications on Android Market has been a top request from Android users. Starting in a few weeks, we will be showing content ratings for all applications on Android Market. This new capability will provide users with additional information to help them select the best applications for them.

Android Market’s content policy remains the same as before: applications will be rated according to four content rating levels: All, Pre-teen, Teen, & Mature. Details on the rating levels can be found at Android Market Help Center.

To prepare for this launch, starting next week, developers submitting new or updated applications will be required to include a rating for all applications and games uploaded onto Android Market. In addition, developers will have the next several weeks to add a rating to their existing applications and games. Once content rating is visible to users, any applications or games that do not include a rating will be treated as “Mature”.

We are working hard to rapidly deliver improvements and upgrades to Android Market. Please look for more Android Market upgrades in the coming weeks. Thanks for your continued support and please don’t hesitate to give us feedback on what else we can do to make you more successful with Android and Android Market.

11 November 2010

Market Housekeeping Alert

We’ve had quite a bit of discussion in this space recently about how to make sure that your app is visible in Android Market to any device that can run it, and only to those devices. In particular, check out two recent pieces by Reto Meier, Future-Proofing Your App and The Five Steps to Future Hardware Happiness.

As Reto points out, Market used to infer some <uses-feature> settings for older apps that were uploaded before certain device features arrived. This hasn’t been the case for applications uploaded since June of this year; developers have had to be careful about <uses-feature> and its android:required attribute. From what we see, it looks like most of you have got this sorted out and things are working smoothly.

However, there are still apps that haven’t been re-uploaded since June. In preparation for introducing some new Market features (that we think you’ll like), we’re about to launch a re-scan of all those legacy apps, looking at their Android Manifests and updating Market’s database. This means that if you have an app that you haven’t updated since June, and it lacks up-to-date <uses-feature> settings, it may stop being visible on certain devices.

We think the set of apps that will have this problem will be small, if only since most successful apps are updated regularly. If you want to be sure, check Reto’s advice here under "Android Market Rule #2”.

We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: There are a lot of different sizes and shapes and flavors of Android devices in the product pipeline, and you want your app available on every one that can possibly run it. So this is an area that is going to be requiring attention from developers on a continuing basis.

10 November 2010

Android Market Action

Almost instantly after I joined Google, it became obvious to me that the number-one area where Android developers wanted to see action and progress was in Android Market; your concerns in this area vastly outweighed whatever issues might be bothering you about the handsets and the framework and the programming tools. In recent months there has been a steady, quiet, incremental flow of improvements and upgrades. They add up. This is by way of a glance back at developments since the arrival of Froyo last summer.

First, we introduced error reporting to Market, so developers can see if their apps are locking up or crashing; and if so, exactly where.

Second, we upgraded the Market publisher site to include user comments, so you can read what people are saying about you, or at least what they’re saying in a language you understand.

Third, we added the licensing server, which, when used properly, tilts the economics of Android apps toward you, the developer, and against the pirates.

Fourth, we cranked up the number of countries people can buy and sell apps in: as of now, you can sell them in 29 countries and buy them in 32.

Fifth, we rolled in a “recent changes” feature, a place for developers to put their release notes. Android Market has a zero-friction process for app update, and the really great apps have followed the “release early, release often” philosophy. As a developer, I like having a place to write down what’s behind an app release, and as a person who downloads lots of apps, I like to know what the goodies are in each new update.

Sixth, Market now has a “draft upload” feature; this removes a lot of the tension and strain from the app-update process. Get your screenshots and feature graphics and text and APK all squared away with as much editing as you need to, then update them all with one click.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say “Sixth and last”, because this is a team on a roll and I expect lots more goodness from them; if you care about the larger Android ecosystem, or are already a developer, or are thinking of becoming one, stay tuned to this channel.