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October 07, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Moe Tanabian, Software Development Manager, a2z Development Center Inc., an Amazon.com company, is our guest blogger for this post.  Moe recently presented on this topic during the Android Developers Conference (AnDevCon) in May.

One of the challenging issues of building mobile devices and applications is energy consumption management. In order to support users’ mobility, and their various uses of their devices, it is necessary to make light and reliable battery-powered devices with batteries that last longer.

Smartphones and tablets are getting faster, their screens are getting bigger and brighter, their CPUs run on faster clocks, and their daily usage time is getting longer as users use them for a wider variety of functions.

The advances in battery technology have been much slower than the evolution of device technologies and their usage patterns. In fact, most modern mobile devices are powered by battery technologies that are over a decade old. That is why most efforts to prolong battery life are focused on making hardware and software more power efficient.

Knowing about power consumption and the behavior of applications on mobile devices is fundamental in making batteries last longer. There are four factors that determine how much energy a mobile device, and by extension a mobile app, consumes: The battery, the device hardware, the software that runs on the device, and the user workload.

We know that batteries and battery technologies have been slow in getting more energy dense while most hardware is getting more power-hungry. Let’s look at how we can optimize software to lower power consumption and to adapt to user behavior and workload—from an app developer’s perspective.

Power Consumption Measurement

The first step toward optimization is to measure power consumption of an application. We can use direct and indirect methods to measure the energy that an application consumes.

Direct method: Ina direct method, a relevant use case is run on the device, and using a high sampling frequency logging power-meter, an amp-meter or a volt-meter the drawn power from battery is logged. These logs are analyzed later to determine how much power was consumed to complete the use case. Figure 1 shows how a mobile device is connected for direct power measurement.

Batterylife-1

Indirect model based method: In an indirect or predictive mode based method, first we develop a power consumption model of the device based on its power consuming components. In atypical mobile device, these components include the CPU, the screen and screen illuminator, memory and flash, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular radios, GPS receiver, and available sensors on the device such as accelerometer and gyroscope as they are shown in Figure 2.

The total power that is consumed by a device (Pt) is the sum of the power consumed by the main components, plus a constant k. For the component i (for example the screen brightness) the drawn power can be modeled as the product of an associated system variable Ci, and the component’s coefficient Bi  for the time that the component is active, which is the test duration. This forms a regression estimation model that can be trained using training data observed from a direct method measurement for all components of interest.

Batterylife-2

Once the model is trained and k and Bi are determined, it can be used to estimate power consumed for a particular use case by simply plugging in the collected values of Ci from logs.

Batterylife-3
 

Logging and Instrumentation for Power Consumption

Instrumentation is one of the basic ways to understand the power consumption behavior of mobile device software. With adequate logging, areal-time service can deduce where and how power is consumed. Good power consumption logging covers instrumentation of the following points and events:

  • Logging an associated system variable for each component that is considered important from power consumption perspective. Examples are when the screen turns on or off, the display brightness level, CPU utilization along with CPU clock, Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth radio parameters such as on/off state and TX power if available, state of sensors on the device, and finally, state of the battery.
  • Important internal events that can change the running state of the app including timers, and power manager related events. For example when the device changes its state from Idle to suspend or active, or when the screen is turned off or when its brightness changes.
  • Externally driven notifications and events such as incoming calls, SMS and other type of messaging.
  • Logging instrumentation should have enough data in the logs, that at the time of post-processing, it should be clear which device, which user, and which session the log belongs to, and of course, without compromising the user’s privacy.
  • Another important factor is the frequency of logging. It’s a good practice to make logs granular enough so that post-processing can reveal useful information about the power that is being consumed across different components for apps that are of interest. At the same time, logging too frequently itself can put excessive overhead on the device which not only will skew the results, it will lower device’s performance and shortens its battery life. Determining the optimum logging frequency depends on the target’s device’s capability, and the power manager’s internal timers and behavior. A good rule of thumb when logging is to try not to impact user experience in a demanding application, such as CPU/GPU intensive games. For most modern mobile devices, a logging power consumption variable at a frequency of 0.2-1Hz should provide enough granularity while avoiding excessive load on the device and user experience.

Power Consumption Optimization in Mobile Applications

Optimizing for power consumption requires a holistic approach that touches most decisions about designing and developing a mobile application. Ultimately, better battery life provides a better user experience and makes for more satisfied users.

The best way to optimize for battery life is to identify the most offending areas in the software and optimize them first. What constitutes the most power-consuming features greatly depends on what features users use most,and this varies from user by user. Best battery life optimization mechanisms are the ones that recognize users’ usage patterns and adapt the optimizations accordingly. In this section I’ll introduce general practices that can improve power consumption in a mobile application.

  • Avoid accessing the disk and network too frequently. These are expensive operations when it comes to power consumption. Instead, try to batch up your disk reads and writes, and network operations and do them less frequently. It requires a lot less power to send 3 MB of data every 30 minutes than breaking it up into 30 iterations and sending 100KB every minute. This is because the power manager on the device minimizes power consumption by aggressively turning off major power consuming components such as radios and screen, when they are idle for a period of time. If the user or an application triggers a component frequently—for example, by sending data on a network in the case of the Wi-Fi radio—the power manager will have to turn on the radio and this can drain the battery very quickly. The same applies for CPU utilizations. Group CPU intensive tasks together and run them in bulk as much as possible, rather than in multiple chunks. This allows the CPU to go to sleep more often and save battery.
  • Avoid using exact time timers and requesting high precision locations from location services. Similarly, avoid reading other sensors such as the compass and accelerometer too frequently.
  • Avoid complex 2D and 3D UI, especially in multi-layer UI designs. Many graphic processors are not able to optimize complex graphics adequately and spend valuable cycles drawing parts of the screen that are not visible to the user because either they are outside of the visible area, or they are hidden behind other overlapping layers. Simple UI design has the additional of benefit of being very fast, and that’s user-friendly. Additionally, complex UI generally lowers FPS (frames per second), which degrades user experience.
  • Design simple user interactions and avoid providing users with a complex set of choices and UI elements. Humans are not very efficient when they have to select among too many choices. Our response time increases substantially when we have to pick a selection among many. This is called cognitive latency and a good UI design minimizes cognitive latency. This in turn minimizes the time that the user spends on a fully rendered UI and lit up screen and it lowers power consumption.
  • A darker UI is more power efficient than brighter UI.
  • While this may sound obvious, it’s often neglected: avoid running unnecessary code. If your application transitions into the background and there’s no user interaction, stop listening to events, timers, and any other trigger that can unnecessarily wake up the application. For example, if your application receives stock tickers from a server and this triggers a UI update, avoid updating the UI if the application is in the background state. An even better practice is to halt the network connection and re-establish it again when the user brings the application back to the foreground.

References

  1. Pro Android Apps Performance Optimization(Professional Apress) by Hervé Guihot
  2. iOS App Programming Guide; http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/DOCUMENTATION/iPhone/Conceptual/iPhoneOSProgrammingGuide/iPhoneAppProgrammingGuide.pdf
  3. Design and testing for longer battery life in Android Devices and Applications by Moe Tanabian, http://www.slideshare.net/mometan/an-devconii-moetanabianssh

October 02, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Whispersync for Games provides an easy way for developers to tackle two major requests from mobile players: a way to avoid losing saved game data and a way to have their saved games follow them from device to device. This helps ensure a great customer experience while also giving developers a powerful tool to aid player retention and re-acquisition.

Whispersync-1
 

For most games, a carefully crafted progression scheme with purposeful pacing and escalating challenges is a key factor in providing players with many hours of entertainment. The effort put into playing the game,learning the strategies, unlocking achievements, and setting high scores represents a significant investment for the player. If their saved data, and all the effort that represents, is lost, the chance of them playing the game again plummets.

Loss of data isn't a common occurrence, but it can happen when someone loses a device, upgrades to a new device, or simply uninstalls the game to make room for other downloads. Regardless of the reason, implementing Whispersync for Games lets developers store their saved game data in the Amazon cloud so they never have to worry about lost progress being an impediment to player retention.It also helps overcome hurdles when attempting to re-acquire lapsed players.Adding new features and releasing content updates are a great way to keep a game fresh, but when a customer has to start over from the beginning because they don't have their old saved data, that's a significant barrier to getting them to play a game again.

 Whispersync-2

Loading Saved Data from the Amazon Cloud

 

Integrating Whispersync for Games is a straightforward process and directions can be found on the GameCircle API page in the Mobile App Distribution Portal. GameCircle handles the heavy lifting, but there are some things you can do to ensure players have the best possible experience:

Always provide a helpful description when syncing data to the Amazon cloud. Whispersync for Games is usually a seamless experience for the customer, but there are times when they need to make a choice on whether to sync from the Amazon cloud data. This most commonly occurs when a player is switching from device to device and playing the same game. If the player wants a totally separate experience on the two devices, they can disable Whispersync for Games. If they haven't, we can't be certain whether their intent is to pick up where they left off or to resume playing from the saved state on the device so we give them the choice. The description you set in the synced data provides them with the information they need to make an informed decision. GameCircle will automatically display the time and device the data came from, so your description should reference something iconic or memorable within the game. The name of the level they were on, the last big story moment before the save, or how many widgets they've collected could all be good descriptors depending on the type of game.

 Whispersync-3Choosing Which Saved Data to Use

 

Ensure that you'resyncing data at the appropriate times. You don't need to sync on every player action, but you should do so at major game checkpoints such as when they complete a level or reach other important milestones. It's also a good idea to sync data when a player pauses the game since that's a common indication that they have ended their current play session. Whenever you perform a sync operation, players will see a rotating Whispersync for Games icon so they know their saved games are being stored to the Amazon cloud.

Whispersync-4Syncing Data on Level Completion

 

With thenew Kindle Fire HD tablets finding their way to customers over the next few months, there's never been a better time to add Whispersync for Games to your apps. Players will be upgrading to new tablets and trying their favorite games to see how they look and play. Having their saved game data stored in the Amazon cloud lets them easily pick up right where they left off, making it more likely that they'll keep playing your games after the transition.

October 02, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

We are pleased to announce that you can now submit apps for distribution later this year in Japan.  This is another significant addition to Amazon’s complete end-to-end platform for developers looking to build, market,and monetize their apps and games. You can get started today by visiting the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal.

Our community of app developers around the globe have made Amazon's mobile app distribution very successful, with millions of customers discovering and buying Android apps for their phones and tablets.  Amazon recently expanded distribution into the United Kingdom,Italy, France, Germany and Spain; allowing developers to attract even more customers.

Amazon’s developers have reported strong monetization from the apps they have distributed, thanks to services like In-App Purchasing and Amazon’s secure, 1-Click purchasing. The In-App Purchasing API makes it easy to offer digital content and subscriptions —such as in-game currency, expansion packs,upgrades, magazine subscriptions and more— for purchase within their apps.Amazon’s secure 1-Click purchasing experience gives customers a seamless shopping experience when purchasing content. Developers distributing game apps on Amazon’s platform in the U.S. have also reported increased player engagement using Amazon GameCircle, which offers features like leaderboards,achievements and syncing game-state between Kindle devices.

All developers have the ability to select the countries where they would like their apps to be sold and set list prices by marketplace.  We encourage all developers to localize their apps for different regions and to think of creative ways to deliver unique experiences to new customer segments.  By customizing your apps for different countries you can ensure customers have an easier time discovering and using your apps, In-App Purchase items, and subscriptions.  You can learn more about Android localization tips and resources and steps for localizing your app in the Distribution Portal right here on the blog, or learn more about international app distribution on the Mobile App Distribution Portal

New to Amazon?  We’re currently waiving all first year program fees It’s free to register for a developer account for new developers and it’s easy to download our SDK here.  

September 30, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Dasha Kobzeva, Head of Marketing and PR, Playrix, is our guest blogger for this post.

Playrix is a strong team of more than 100 inspired professionals, dedicated to creating multi-platform video games of the highest quality. The company was founded in2004 and since the very beginning we've been striving to accomplish our mission- to bring fun to millions of our players worldwide by creating unique games.It is impossible to fulfill our mission and engage a truly global audience without localizing our apps into different languages.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of downloads and monetization levels on various platforms after launching a localized version of the game, that is why we believe that developers should not overlook this opportunity.


Here are a few tips we’d like to share with fellow-developers on how to manage localization based on our own experience:

1. Localize Smart

Obviously there is no need to localize an app in every language out there. Pinpoint the markets that have higher download and monetization rates for your apps and work on the localized versions for these territories. If you do not have enough time or resources to localize the content, make sure to localize your metadata (descriptions and screenshots). It may improve your download rate and attract wider audience.

2.  Put Extra Thought into Your App’s Title

 

Whether to localize the app name or not is a tough question. On the one hand, players might be confused to see different names of the same app in different languages, and sticking to a single name will help to consolidate the game’s brand worldwide. On the other hand, it might be a good idea to localize the name if the universal title makes no sense in the target language or is simply misleading. For instance, when we first brought one of our flagship PC titles, Fishdom, to the German market,online portals were reluctant to use the original English name and wanted us to change it, because in German the name of the game might have been perceived as“Fish Cathedral”. However, at that point the game was very popular and successful in the US, and we decided to stick with the same name, but given different conditions, we might have gone with a more German-friendly name.

3. Provide Contextual Information to Your Translators

 

Cultural differences may drive characters and story-lines to be perceived differently across markets and languages. Research the markets you are entering and keep cultural differences in mind when localizing your app so that the essence of your apps or games are consistent globally even after translation.  Make sure to provide as much contextual information as possible: screenshots, description of the characters, design documentation, string length, character limitations, playable build of the game, link to the existing game or prequels, etc. One of our games, Gardenscapes, features a character, the butler, who uses a lot of British-style jokes and puns, and we wanted to bring this inimitable and funny character to users worldwide in all its integrity. Providing your agency with thorough instructions will save your time eventually and contribute towards quality.
 

4. Strive for Quality

No matter whether you decide to work with internal translators or an agency, make sure you have a quality translation in the end. Remember that a bad localization is worse than no localization at all. Here at Playrix, we carry out internal linguistic QA after the localized content has been added into the app.  If working with an agency, prepare detailed and clear instructions to prevent over-the-top email exchanges.
 

September 26, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

There are many reasons to want a screenshot from Kindle Fire HD: taking screenshots for visual marketing materials on your app’s detail page, posting on your own site for promotion, marking up design changes, or simply to have a user show you an issue they’re seeing.

For developers it’s  easy to get a screenshot – connect your device or emulator to the Dalvik Debug Monitor Server (DDMS) and then just click the camera icon to grab an image of whatever is on the screen.  On the Kindle Fire HD, however, there’s a simpler option that doesn’t require developer tools or USB cables:

When the image you want to capture is on the screen, simply press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time.  You will hear a shutter sound and briefly see an image of the screen with a border around it. As soon as you’ve taken the image, release the two buttons and the device returns to normal.

To use the screenshots on the device you can use a file explorer app, send an e-mail and add the images from /Photos/Screenshots as attachments, or connect the Kindle Fire HD to your PC or Mac and access them from the USB mounted drive.

September 25, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Amazon offers a Kindle Fire HD 7" emulator to test and debug your apps if you don't have a Kindle Fire HD 7" device. While we recommend developers test their apps on a physical device, you can test many aspects of your apps without running your code on a device. This allows you to be confident that the user interface, navigation and flow through the application are as you designed it. If you need to test the same application on multiple devices you can quickly compare the experience without juggling cables.

As the emulator images reflect the underlying devices as closely as possible, they include support for some of the Kindle Fire unique capabilities such as GameCircle, In-App Purchasing, and Maps.  Because the emulator images run as self-contained virtual machines, it is possible to have multiple, concurrent instances allowing you to deploy and compare results simultaneously. As you can imagine this leads to very efficient, iterative development making device-specific interface adjustments easier to manage.

To ensure that the emulator performs as well as possible on a range of computers,we support GPU emulation which delivers a smoother graphical experience and faster start-up experience. While this will help performance throughout the emulator for host computers that support these capabilities, it will have the most impact in graphics-intensive OpenGL- based applications such as games.Learn more by following the instructions at this link

Another tip we can offer is to preview the customer experience as if the user is signed-in.  Kindle Fire HD comes to customers pre-registered, and our trusted 1-Click purchase process increases purchase and download of your apps and in-apps items.  Because users of your apps will be signed in, we recommend you test the user experience as a user who is signed-in.  The Kindle Fire HD 7” emulator will not be signed-in by default.  To preview the experience of a registered user, you should navigate to Settings->My Account and then register the device with a valid Amazon account.

Ready to get started?  Review the documentation, install the emulator, and give it a whirl. We’d love to hear your feedback in the forums.

September 23, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

With the launch of our Kindle Fire HD family of devices, we are introducing a new feature called Amazon Device Targeting, which offers you the ability to target APKs to specific devices.  While it is easy to support optional APIs and device capabilities within a single binary, you may decide that it is easiest for your apps to generate different binaries for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.   For each title, you can now offer separate APKs for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD 7", Kindle Fire HD 8.9", and general Android(all non-Amazon) devices.  

Amazon’s Device Targeting feature provides several benefits for your mobile apps:

  • Better search relevancy for your app: Instead of having multiple apps for a similar title, your reviews, page views,downloads are consolidated to a single app—pushing your app up in search and relevancy rankings. 
  • Reduced customer confusion:  Customers won’t be confused by multiple device-specific versions of your app.
  • Device specific feature optimization: Tailor your APK for screen size and density, OpenGL compression format, and API version. 

User Experience

You may be wondering about the experience of your customers if you leverage the Amazon Device Targeting feature.  Say a customer owns both a Kindle Fire HD device and an Android mobile phone.  The customer downloads or purchases one of your apps on their Kindle Fire HD device. When the customer moves to their Android mobile phone, the correct APK is delivered based on screen and size density, OpenGL compression format, and API version—a by device optimized customer experience.   Customers will appreciate not having to sort the differences between Kindle Fire and regular editions of your app.  Increasing a customer’s confidence around the correct app purchasing decision for their devices will enhance your app brand messaging, build customer trust and loyalty, decrease your catalog fragmentation, and strengthen your footprint on Amazon.

Steps to Implement Amazon Device Targeting for Your Apps

1.  Create targeted binaries in your development environment as outlined in our FAQ.

2. Add a new app to the distribution portal (or select a current app). Within your Binary Tab, upload your binary, select the devices you are targeting, choose a binary alias then save & upload another binary.

Device Targeting currently allows for up to 4 individual APKs that can target non-Amazon Android devices, Kindle Fire (1stGeneration), Kindle Fire, and Kindle Fire HD 7”. We will soon add the capability to add a 5th APK for Kindle Fire HD 8.9”. Please be mindful of versionCode and versionName requirements when building your APKs.

Note: You will see a warning if your first APK uploaded targets less device types than the last live version of your app.  This warning disappears once you have APKs targeting at least as many device types as your previous app version.  If you do not update your APKs to all device targets, customers will be unable to purchase your app on the device type you did not target.

3. If you are uploading a binary larger than 30mb, be sure follow the FTP instructions for naming convention. More information on FTP is available below.

4. You should now have your binaries listed at the top of your Binary Tab in your Development Portal . Each binary is now set to target a different device. 

Note:  currently, when you update an app in the multi-binary environment, you will need to create and upload an updated version of each binary. For example, if you have 4 target binaries for your app, and make an update to one of them, you will also need to update the version codes for the other 3 APKs and upload all 4 binaries.

Targeting-1
 

 

Uploading a Binary with FTP

If you are uploading a binary larger than 30mb, be sure follow the FTP instructions for naming convention below.

You build the APK name as follows:

The first element is your version ID, ex:M3RRPI3Z18JUMV (this will stay the same for this app)

 

The second part is your binary alias.  For example, Binary1 (you can have multiple binary aliases each targeting a different device).

Ex: M3RRPI3Z18JUMV-Binary1.apk, M3RRPI3Z18JUMV-Binary2.apk,M3RRPI3Z18JUMV-Binary3.apk, M3RRPI3Z18JUMV-Binary4.apk

 

Note: If you currently have all hardware targeting options selected with the binary you have previously uploaded for this app update,  step through your existing uploaded binaries for this update, and adjust your device targeting per binary so that this APK can target a device type. 

  1. Follow the basic instructions given in the FTP instructions and naming convention link. This will give you your Amazon Host/Username/Password so you can use your FTP client to upload selected binaries. Most, if not all, operating systems come with a command line FTP client you can use, though you are free to use any that supports the standard FTP protocol.

Targeting-2
 

Example of FTP File Submissions

2. You should receive an e-mail indicating that you have successfully uploaded and associated your APKs with your app. Most errors are the result of improper naming conventions.

3. When you go to the Distribution Portal and select your app's Binary File tab, you should see your binary listed at the top of the edit page.

4. Select your first binary, select EDIT at the bottom of the screen and choose the appropriate Device Support settings for each binary.

Note:  No two APKs can target the same device type. However, a single APK target may target any amount of device types.   

 

5. Be sure to save.

September 19, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

The all-new Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD family of tablets include a new feature, called Billboards, that introduces customers to new apps using engaging and colorful imagery.  Ina similar fashion to how large outdoor billboards are designed to catch the eye, our Billboards feature makes use of engaging imagery on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD storefront to introduce customers to new apps. At Amazon, we are constantly looking for new ways for you to grow your business by connecting you with new customers. Billboards is one of our newest features to improve app discoverability for both customers and developers. 

Where's my perry billboard

Customer Experience

When customers view our store on an all-new Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD device, they’ll see multiple scrollable billboards at the top of their screen.  Each billboard serves as an immediate entry point to its app’s detail page where the customer will have the opportunity to purchase or download the app.  Promotional images will be curated from our selection of apps and highlighted in the billboards placement. We recommend developers use promotional images that visually communicate the essence of their app.  The promotional image should speak to what your app is all about, your brand and should entice customers to simply check out your great app.  Customers will see billboards on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. 

Creating Your Billboard

Promotional images should be 1024x 500 pixels and in PNG or JPG format.  When creating your image, were commend that you strive for an engaging image that speaks to what your app is all about. Make your image colorful to catch the eye of customers, and choose imagery that promotes the essence of your app and brand. Text on your promotional image should be large, simple, and readable. Do not add the price to the image ($0.99) or any discount call outs (50% off).

All recipies billboard

Submitting Your Billboards

Once your billboards are ready,submit them to Amazon through the Mobile App Distribution Portal

1. From the Distribution Portal,navigate to the My Apps tab. Select the app you'd like to edit and navigate to the Images & Multimedia tab for that app. Then, click the Edit button.

Promo_images_1

2.  Select Upload Image from the Promotional Image field. Choose the image you’d like to upload, and then save the image. Images must be 1024 x 500 in PNG or JPG format.

Promo_images_2
 

September 17, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Soon after its introduction last November, Kindle Fire became the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon.com. In its first nine months, it accounted for 22% of U.S. tablet sales. Last week, Amazon introduced the next generation of tablets: Kindle Fire HD. The newKindle Fire tablets will give players a completely revamped gaming experience, powered by Amazon GameCircle, and with the general release of the Amazon GameCircle API, will give game developers an opportunity to get additional features and visibility at no cost.

A New Games Library

 

 Since playing games is one of the most popular activities on Kindle Fire, Amazon created a new Games library to give players a home base for their game collection. Games is now the first product category listed in the navigation.

Gcblog-1
Kindle Fire Carousel and Navigation

In the Games library, players can immediately see all their games, sorted by the most recently played. For games that have integrated with Amazon GameCircle, players can see their friends, achievement, and leaderboard activity before starting play. Leading games such as Jetpack Joyride, Where’s my Perry?, Skylanders Cloud Patrol and Temple Run have already integrated with Amazon GameCircle.

Gcblog-2

New Games library With GameCircle Statistics

GameCircle-enabled games also get several pages of content in the game library, including a “Summary” page, a friends page, an achievements page and a leaderboards page. The “Summary” page highlighted below features friends ranking, player scores and next achievement to earn, with a“Play” button to launch the game.

Gcblog-3
Summary Page

 

Social Gaming

In July, AmazonGameCircle launched with the leaderboards and achievements that customers love.Now, GameCircle lets players connect with other GameCircle players or import their Facebook Friends to compare achievements and compete for higher scores. Customers are now able to see what games their friends own and what new games they should try.

Gcblog-4
Friend Profile Page

 

Detailed friend-to-friend comparison pages also help customers find out how they stack up against their friends, giving a quick overview of achievements and high scores for each player. 


 

Gcblog-5
Friend-To-Friend Comparison Page

 

As a developer, all you need to do to get these features for your game is to add GameCircle achievements or leaderboards.  Best of all,these services are free and easy to integrate. Once integrated, your game will automatically feature player stats, game library content and leverage all the new social features and game discovery mechanisms.  Select GameCircle games are also highlighted in Amazon Appstore, giving your game a chance to get additional visibility among Kindle Fire customers.

For more information on GameCircle and for access to the achievement, leaderboard and Whispersync APIs, visit https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/gamecircle.html.

September 16, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

You may have noticed a new API on the Amazon Mobile App SDK tab in the distribution portal.  When we announced Kindle Fire HD, we also made the Amazon Maps API available to our developer community.The Amazon Maps API makes it easy for you to integrate mapping functionality into apps that run on the all-new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. These new devices will also support location-based services through the android.location API.

The Amazon Maps API provides a simple migration path for developers who are already using the native Google Maps API on Android.  Our Maps API offers two core features:

  • Interactive Maps. You can embed a Map View in your app for customers to pan, zoom and fling around the world. You have the option to display a user’s current location, switch between standard maps and satellite view, and more.
  • Custom Overlays. You can display the locations of businesses, landmarks and other points of interest with your own customized markers and pins.

The Amazon Maps API is available now in beta.  Apply today to get access through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal, and see how easy it is to add maps to your app. 

The Amazon Maps API is available now in beta. Apply today to get access through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal., and see how easy it is to add maps to your app.

 

September 12, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Amazon now offers electronic payments to E.U. based developers in select countries. If your bank’s location is not eligible for electronic payments,your payment will be made by check.

Using electronic funds transfer (EFT) gives you the benefit of having your payment sent to your bank through direct deposit, reducing the time it takes you to get paid. Plus electronic deposits paid in your home currency may help you avoid conversion fees that could be imposed by your bank.

To determine if you are eligible for electronic payments, sign into your Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portalaccount and select your bank’s location from the “Where is your bank/financial institution?” drop-down menu.  Based on this selection, if electronic payment is available, you will be prompted to choose between an electronic payment or check.  

You can see an example below:


EFT shot

If you do not wish to be paid by electronic payment, you may choose to be paid by check in the currency of the Amazon marketplace in which your apps are sold. Please note that you will receive a separate check for each marketplace in which your apps are sold. The following thresholds must be met before Amazon issues a payment:

 

·        USD Direct Deposit: $10

·        EUR Direct Deposit: 10

·        GBP Direct Deposit: £10

·        Check:$100, 100 or £100

For all Amazon sales – in U.S. or international marketplaces - we disburse payments on a monthly basis.

If you do not wish to be paid by electronic payment, you may choose to be paid by check in the currency of the Amazon marketplace in which your apps are sold.  Please note that you will receive a separate check for each marketplace in which your apps are sold. The following thresholds must be met before Amazon issues a payment:

·        USD Direct Deposit: $10

·        EUR Direct Deposit: 10

·        GBP Direct Deposit: £10

·        Check:$100, 100 or £100

For all Amazon sales – in U.S. or international marketplaces - we disburse payments on a monthly basis.

September 09, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

With the release of the Kindle Fire HD family of tablets and the all-new Kindle Fire, you may wonder how to ensure your apps run well and look great on the new devices. The good news is that out of the box, many apps will work as expected. However, we know that developers are eager to give Amazon customers the best possible experience on Kindle Fire tablets, and there are several things we encourage you to think about. This post provides an introduction to how you can prepare your apps for the new Kindle Fire tablets.

The User Experience

For customers one obvious change is the improvement in screen resolution on the Kindle Fire HD family of tablets, which feature stunning 7" and 8.9" high definition displays. The 8.9” screen on Kindle Fire HD features an incredible254 pixels per inch, the highest resolution of any of our tablets. And Kindle Fire HD’s 7” screen has a stunning 1280 x 800 HD display that gives customers deep, detailed contrast and rich, natural color. Apps should support both the existing1024 x 600 pixel display as well as 1280 x 800 and 1920 x 1200 layouts. The Kindle Customer experience Guidelinesdocument offers a detailed overview of the new displays as well as features such as the soft key bar and gestures.

To ensure that customers have a great HD experience on Kindle Fire HD, we have established guidelines to identify the apps that are high-definition. We also encourage developers to review guidelines for marketing your apps as HD. If you believe your apps meet the requirements,please include the notation “please review for HD designation” in the Testing Instructions field when you submit your apps.

 Kindle Fire HD includes a front-facing camera which influences the direction in which users choose to use the device. If your apps force landscape orientation, refer to our best practices  for information on how to control the orientation for Kindle Fire HD.

Even before you acquire a new Kindle Fire HD tablet, you can preview the customer experience on Kindle Fire HD by downloading the Kindle Fire HD Emulator.

 

The APIs

 One of the biggest differences between Kindle Fire and the new devices is that the new devices use Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich). For developers, the support for Ice Cream Sandwich and API 15 brings a richer and more robust set of APIs. The Kindle Tablets Development Best Practices document details the new hardware and APIs you can take advantage of. As with any change of API level, it’s a good idea to run through basic regression testing either in the Kindle Fire HD Emulator or a physical device even if you don’t recompile your APK with the new API support. Some of the most common issues you may want to review are support for pause/resume from the Quick Settings bar and not optimizing for the Soft Key toolbar.

One capability you can use is hardware acceleration. By taking advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics, you can present your users with a more fluid experience and save battery life. Implement hardware acceleration by upgrading your tool-chain and application to support the Android 4.0.3 API 15libraries (rather than the Android 2.3.3 API 10 libraries that Kindle Fire used).

To activate hardware acceleration globally, add the following attribute to the <application> tag in the manifest:

<application android:hardware Accelerated="true" ...>

While in most cases this will be sufficient (depending on how your apps make use of the drawing surface) you may also need to test and control hardware acceleration at a more granular level (Activity, Window, or View).

While it is easy to support optional APIs and device capabilities within a single binary, you may decide to generate different binaries for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD. To handle that, we now support device targeting so you can continue to support existing devices while also taking full advantage of the newer platform.

Get Started Today!

Visit the Mobile App Distribution Portal to integrate the Amazon Mobile App SDK, to join the program, and to submit your apps. Plus, continue visiting our blog, where we’llbe offering more information on optimizing your apps for Kindle tablets.

Whether updating existing apps or submitting new apps to Amazon, this is a great time to refresh your consumer marketing. Review past blog posts for tips on writing an effective app description,submitting visual marketing assets,and adding promotional images.

September 06, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Announcing the all-new Kindle Fire HD family of tablets,with stunning 7" and 8.9" high-definition displays, and the all-new Kindle Fire! The 8.9” screen on Kindle Fire HD features an incredible 254pixels per inch, the highest resolution of any of our tablets. And Kindle Fire HD’s 7” screen has a stunning 1280 x 800 HD display that gives customers deep,detailed contrast and rich, natural color in breathtaking high definition.

Kindle Fire is the #1 best-selling product across millions of items available on Amazon, and developing for Kindle Fire allows you to grow your business by engaging new customers and monetizing your app. Millions of Kindle Fire customers have already bought apps, and customers who buy Kindle tablets are pre-registered, so they can immediately begin downloading and playing apps.Because our 1-Click purchase experience is secure and easy to use, it increases conversion rates for your apps, thereby delivering a strong return on investment.

We’ve created resources below to help you build, optimize,test, and market your apps on the new Kindle tablets, and we encourage you to get started today!

Build & Optimize Your Apps

 

  • Device Targeting- Target APKs to Amazon devices. For each title, you can offer separate APKs for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD 7”, Kindle Fire HD 8.9”, and general Android (all non-Amazon) devices.
  • International Localization- Localizeyour app for each marketplace where Kindle Fire will be sold. Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD are available for pre-order today in the United Kingdom,Germany, Spain, Italy, and France.
  • Amazon Web Services- Power your apps with AmazonWeb Services. Use the AWS Android SDK to call an AWS web service API directly from your mobile apps to add scalable storage,database, or messaging infrastructure.

Test Your Apps

 

 

Submit & Market Your Apps

 

  • Promotional Imagery- Submitpromotional images to capture the attention of customers using colorful artwork reflecting the essence of your apps. These images are displayed prominently to Kindle Fire HD customers when they browse and shop mobile apps. Submit your 1024 x 500 pixel image in PNG or JPG format today.
  • Localized Marketing Content and Pricing- We recommend you localize your marketingcontent and pricing for each marketplace where Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD will be sold.

 

Stay in Touch with Amazon

 

  • Development Best Practices- We’ll be offering tips, sample code, and strategies for optimizing your apps here on our blogand via Twitter. Follow us to stay up to date.

Thank you for distributing your apps on Amazon. We’re excited to see the apps you build and optimize for our new Kindle tablets!

August 29, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

We are pleased to announce that you can now distribute your games and apps to Amazon customers in Europe. Check out the press release here

Thanks to our community of app developers, Amazon's mobile app distribution has been very successful in the U.S., with millions of customers discovering and buying Android apps for their phones and tablets.  Our international expansion – which includes the easy to install In-App Purchasing API, Free App of the Day, and trusted 1-Click purchasing – gives you a chance to enjoy similar success in the EU.  Don’t miss this opportunity to grow your business.

All developers have the ability to select the countries where they would like their apps to be sold and set list prices by marketplace.  We encourage all developers to localize their apps with language translation for different regions and to think of creative ways to deliver unique experiences to their international customers.  By customizing your apps for different countries you can ensure customer shave an easier time discovering and using your apps, In-App Purchase items, and subscriptions.  You can learn more about Android localization tips and resources and steps for localizing your app in the Distribution Portal right here on the blog, or learn more about international app distribution on the Mobile App Distribution Portal

New to Amazon?  We’re waiving developer fees in 2012  It’s free to register for a developer account and it’s easy to download our SDK here.

August 28, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Aaron Rubenson, Director, Amazon Appstore for Android,provided his perspective on delighting customers and monetizing mobile apps at the Seattle Casual Connect conference in July.  Missed the conference?  Check out a video of his presentation to game developers on the Casual Connect website or download the presentation from this link:

Download Making_Money_by_Delighting_Customers_Rubenson_Casual_Connect.

Topics include:

  • Making great content
  • Creating the first reason to buy
  • Removing purchase barriers
  • Maintaining a relationship
  • Building a brand

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