Yesterday PopCap Games, a worldwide leader in casual games, announced an agreement with – you guessed it – us, to offer their first Android games in the U.S. market, exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Today we’re happy to make Chuzzle (regularly $2.99) available for free.
For the few people not familiar with Chuzzle, it’s a non-stop explosion of game action. Chuzzles burst when they get together in groups of three or more. The only way to “make them happy” is to pop them. Chuzzle is already a hit with iPhone users. Now, Chuzzle for Android features on-the-go gameplay action including four different modes, a “trophy room,” scrambles, and dynamic level generation.
What’s in it for you?
We’re continuing a steady drumbeat of exclusives and deals to wow customers, thus bringing new customers into the store and enticing existing customers to keep coming back. As we mentioned in last week’s post about Angry Birds Rio, the more customers we engage, the more opportunities there is to monetize your apps.
We’ve launched a marketing campaign for the exclusive Android launch of Chuzzle on the Amazon Appstore, and, spoiler alert, we’re preparing one for the impending exclusive Android launch of Plants vs. Zombies. Both Chuzzle and Plants vs. Zombies have a large and loyal iPhone fanbase, and Android users have been asking for these games.
Why do we do exclusives?
At Amazon, we start with the customer and work backwards. By bringing new apps and games to the Android marketplace first, we’re showing our customers we work hard to deliver some of hottest titles before they’re available anywhere else.
We think happy customers will be repeat customers, so for developers this means more chances to get apps, including exclusive apps, in front of the right audience. On an ongoing basis we’re also working to drive traffic to our store – and your apps.
When do we consider exclusives?
We are always looking for the next best thing, which is part of why we love our jobs – we get to play! We’re also monitoring what customers are saying about apps and the Amazon Appstore, including what else customers want. We look at exclusives on an opportunistic basis; some of our considerations are:
Stay tuned for more on exclusives and cool opportunities – we’re just getting warmed up.
How to update your app:
To update details about your app (including images, videos, app descriptions, etc.):
To update your APK:
If you’ve seen or heard of the movie Rio, you may have seen that Blu isn’t in his cage anymore – no mirror, no little bell. He’s ready to hit the beach. And with Blu gaining his freedom, Rovio has released an updated Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android with 30 new levels and, you guessed it, Blu is a playable character filled with feathered fury.
What does this mean for you?
The more customers we engage, the more opportunities we have to monetize your apps. When we launched, we had the Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore. As part of our launch marketing we advertised the Amazon Appstore and leveraged an Android exclusive of Angry Birds Rio as a hook across Amazon.com online, in mobile advertising, in social outlets, and more. The results have been tremendous.
There will also be another marketing campaign surrounding the update of Angry Birds Rio exclusive on the Amazon Appstore. Angry Birds Rio has a large and loyal fanbase, many of whom will come to the Amazon Appstore get the update and ultimately purchase other apps.
When to consider updates:
There are many things to take into consideration when updating your app. Here are some high level things to consider:
Next week we’ll be at the APPNATION conference in San Francisco on April 27 and 28 at Moscone Center South. The conference is intended primarily for developers and entrepreneurs like you to learn and share best practices about getting exposure for and monetizing apps.
Our very own Jon Fleming, head of business development, will be on a panel moderated by Noah Kravitz, editor-at-large for TechnoBuffalo, called “So Many App Stores, So Little Time” along with Jud Bowman, Appia CEO, and Trevor Cornwell, appbackr CEO.
We’ve negotiated a discount of 50% off the full-conference, all-access pass to APPNATION 2011. You can redeem this discount online with the priority code: “APDI50.” The code is good until Tuesday, April 26th at 11:59pm.
We hope to see you there!
Whether app development is your full-time gig, or a hobby you tinker with during nights and weekends, we want to thank you for making the Amazon Appstore for Android awesome. As with all things tech, the platform is changing quickly and we want to share with you some of our favorite Android development resources, so you can conquer whatever Android throws at you next. Whether you’re new to Android, or an old pro, we hope these featured titles will inspire you to continue making fun, useful, or quirky apps for all of us to enjoy!
Want to get started building applications for Android? Already building Android applications and want to get better at it? This book brings together all the expert guidance–and code–you’ll need! Completely up-to-date to reflect the newest and most widely used Android SDKs, The Android Developer’s Cookbook is the essential resource for developers building apps for any Android device, from phones to tablets.
“Excellent book, saved me many hours of development time”
– Customer Review of Android Developer’s Cookbook
Android in Action prepares the reader to embrace the Android mobile platform in easy-to-understand language and builds on this foundation with reusable Java code examples. It's ideal for corporate developers and hobbyists who have an interest, or a mandate, to deliver mobile software. The Android application framework is thoroughly explained and discussed within the current competitive landscape. Following the release of Android 2.0, this edition has been updated to cover hot topics such as Bluetooth integration, web development strategies, AppWidget framework, sensor management, the Android Native Development Kit, and localization.
– Customer Review of Android in Action
Providing in-depth coverage of how to build mobile applications using the next major release of the Android SDK, this invaluable resource takes a hands-on approach to discussing Android with a series of projects, each of which introduces a new feature and highlights techniques and best practices to get the most out of Android. This update to the bestselling first edition dives in to cover the exciting new features of the latest release of the Android mobile platform.
“Great book for someone trying to break into app development”
– Customer Review of Professional Android 2 Application Development
Pro Android 2 shows you how to build real-world and fun mobile applications using Google’s latest Android SDK. This new edition is fully updated for Android 2, covering everything from the fundamentals of building applications for embedded devices to advanced concepts such as custom 3D components, OpenGL, and touchscreens including gestures. While other Android development guides simply discuss topics, Pro Android 2 offers the combination of expert insight and real sample applications that work.
“Outstanding deep dive into Android 2.0”
– Customer Review of Pro Android 2
<p>We’d like to clear up some confusion about conflicting versions of our developer agreement. There are both PDF and plain text versions on our developer portal, and these versions didn’t agree. The PDF version was correct; the plain text version was old. This has now been fixed. The old plain text version was outdated and didn’t show the updates we made to the agreement last November, including that the definition of list price applies only to the app’s current price on a similar store. Thanks for making the store a success.</p>
In a previous post, we talked about automated marketing for apps in the Amazon Appstore for Android. On top of automated marketing, Amazon is constantly striving to achieve an excellent customer experience through timely merchandising of relevant products across Amazon.com.
Occasionally, we can market apps from our store in other Amazon storefronts when the content is compelling and the right fit. This placement is a win-win for customers and developers. It brings relevant information to customers and can increase impressions and hopefully downloads of an app for developers. Here is an example of a “right roto,” or an ad that appears on the right of a page, for the TurboTax SnapTax app in Amazon’s tax storefront.
On top of showcasing the TurboTax SnapTax app, we incorporated a “shoveler,” or a grouping of apps, onto the page where we’re displaying other tax-related apps that we think customers may find useful. Here is a look at the entire page:
So what makes an app the right fit for placement in other Amazon stores? Bottom line, the app content must be relevant to and/or complement other content on a page in another Amazon store.
The manifest of your Android app provides essential information about the app to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Your app must include an “AndroidManifest.xml” file in the root directory.
The Amazon Appstore uses the app manifest file to ensure we merchandise apps appropriately. Prior to submitting your app to Amazon, please ensure the manifest is packaged with your app and includes the following elements and data:
• VersionName: A string value that represents the release version of the application code, as it should be shown to users. The value is a string so that you can describe the application version as a <major>.<minor>.<point> string, or as any other type of absolute or relative version identifier. There is a hundred-character maximum on the length of the version name string.
• Uses-sdk: Tells us which OS the app runs on.
• Uses-configuration: Tells us which configuration is required by the app. (This element may be left empty if nothing is required.)
• Uses-feature: Tells us which features of the phone are used, such as the camera. (This section may be left empty if there are no required features.)
• Supports-screens: Tells us if the app supports large and/or high-intensity screens
• Uses-permissions: These are Android permissions and are required by the platform. (This should NOT be present if your app does not require permissions.)
Below is an example manifest structure with required elements in red:
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
If you do not have any data for a certain element--for instance, if your app does not utilize any permission--you should remove that element entirely instead of leaving it empty. Empty elements can cause issues in the ingestion process. Also, make sure your app only requests permissions that it actually needs to function properly. Unnecessary permission requests can cause a spyware or malware concern from a customer’s perspective.
If your manifest does not comply with this set of rules, it may be rejected directly by the Developer Portal or in the app approval phase.
You can find more information about the AndroidManifest.xml File on the Android Dev Guide:
If you have ever shopped at Amazon.com, you’ve likely seen “Customer Discussions” associated with features such as the Gold Box Deal of the Day, as well as individual items. Customer Discussions connects customers with each other to ask questions and share insights and opinions on Amazon.com about different products and services.
As an app developer, you can benefit from the great opportunity Customer Discussions offers for interacting with customers who are interested in your app. You can answer customer questions, provide support, and collect feedback for futures releases.
While product detail pages give an overview of the app itself, and star ratings and reviews give high-level insight into what customers think, Customer Discussions is a place where customers can interact and talk about both the app and topics related to the app.
Here is an example of the Customer Discussions happening on the Shazam Encore app:
You’ll see the various discussions focus on music in this case, as the app is music-centric, and aren’t as much about the app itself. Even though the discussions are about the music and not about the app itself, they can provide valuable information about your customers’ taste, which you can use in marketing your app. Customers may also talk directly about the app in the Customer Discussions threads – here’s where you have the opportunity to glean information for potential app updates.
Wondering how to get started? To post on Amazon forums, all you need to do is sign in to your Amazon account (the account must have at least one purchase on it) and start posting. We expect all of our customers to follow Amazon.com’s Conditions of Use and adhere to the discussion guidelines at all time. If you haven’t created a pen name already, we suggest you use a name that clearly indicates you are the creator of the app. To build customer trust, it is important that they be able to differentiate you from other customers. Finally, please keep in mind that Customer Discussions is not a place to start verbal wars. We want our developers to be a friendly, helpful resource for our customers. You can learn more about Customer Discussions online here.
With the rise in popularity of bar code-reader apps, QR Codes have become a convenient way of transferring text from media to mobile devices. A report published recently by MGH indicates that a growing number smartphone owners use the two-dimensional images to gain access to products and promotions.
A QR Code is a square, black and white image that contains standardized patterns to store text, in the same way that bar codes contain patterns for alphanumeric characters. The amount of encoded text can vary depending on the size of the QR Code image, but typically the text encoded is relatively short and takes the form of a URL. You may have seen the following options on our Get Started page to quickly give you access to the Amazon Appstore on your Android device:
As mentioned in a previous post, you can link directly to apps in the Amazon Appstore with a mobile-friendly URL. The URL can be represented as a QR Code, which can then direct potential customers on your website or blog to your app on the Amazon Appstore mobile client. For instance, the following link and corresponding QR Code will send users to the detail page for the Amazon MP3 App for Android:
The following URL will invoke a search to find MP3 related apps on the Appstore:
Any QR Code generator that meets the ISO requirements will suffice. Some websites that can do this for you include Delivr, bit.ly, the URL shortening site, and Google.
We are excited to announce the US launch of the Amazon Appstore for Android. If you’ve already submitted your app(s) – thank you! We couldn’t have launched this store without your support. From Games to Utilities, we have apps to suit our customers’ many Android app wants and needs.
Over the past few months we have been sharing quite a bit of information about what you as a developer can utilize in the Developer Portal and in the Amazon Appstore itself. As you can see, we built the store to make it easy to find, discover and buy Android apps. We believe a more compelling customer experience will in turn result in better monetization.
Amazon Appstore highlights:
In true Amazon fashion, we’re making discoverability easier, which gets your apps in front of more customers. Specifically, we are offering a few unique features such as recommendations based on customers’ browse and purchase history. This is one of the automated marketing features we discussed previously. Automated marketing includes placements in search results, browse based results, bestsellers, and more. We will also be doing ongoing promotional activity designed to attract new and repeat customers to the Amazon Appstore like the paid app for free promotion on the homepage. We have been working with many of you to line up quality apps for these programs, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to promote your titles.
Reporting in the Developer Portal:
Now that we’re live, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with Amazon Appstore reporting. You can find reporting once you log into your account in the Amazon Appstore Developer Portal. To view your reporting, log into the Developer Portal and click on the “Reports” tab. You will see a page that looks like this:
If you love those birds and hate those pigs like we do, you will be pleased to hear that an all-new installment of the quirky bird pack is coming soon. The Android version of Angry Birds Rio, the follow up to the smash hits Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons, will launch exclusively in the Amazon Appstore.
What does this mean for you?
More traffic, more customers! The Angry Birds franchise has been downloaded over 100 million times – the Android installed base is over 30 million . When we launch the Amazon Appstore, we will be teaming with Rovio to drive those customers to the store - which means more traffic to the Amazon Appstore and more customers for you.
In preparation for our store launch, we launched the Amazon Appstore for Android Facebook page and @amazonappstore Twitter handle today. We’ll use these communication vehicles to engage customers, and we encourage you to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of our consumer-focused messaging. We will continue to post developer-centric news you can use on this blog and the @amznappstoredev Twitter handle.
The Amazon Appstore is launching very soon. If you have not yet submitted your app, we encourage you to do so now to ensure your product is ready for launch!
We’ve been sharing a lot of information about best practices for uploading your app(s) to the Amazon Appstore for Android, along with details on what the store will look like when we go live (which is soon).
Developer Carmen Delessio’s success story may offer inspiration on how to take advantage of these two resources and submit new apps to the Appstore. Delessio is an Android app developer who has leveraged Amazon SimpleDB and AWS SDK for Android to build some of his apps.
In September of 2010, Delessio heard about the Sprint 4G App Challenge and decided to enter his updated version of BFF Photo Pro. Two months later, Sprint sent him an award notification.
"At first, I literally did not believe it and began to check the info," Delessio said."I verified and was incredibly happy to learn that I was one of the five winners of $50,000."
His success has propelled him to continue developing new Android apps, with AWS providing a crucial backbone for his code. Along with BFF Photo Pro, Delessio has leveraged the AWS SDK and SimpleDB to build BFF Search, which allows users to easily search for people, topics, and events on Facebook. Both of his BFF apps will be available on the Amazon Appstore.
He's also used the AWS services to build NYC Parks, an app based on the XML datasets available to the public by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. While swearing he's not contest crazy, Delessio entered the app in the NYC BigApps 2.0, a competition that seeks to make New York "more transparent, accessible, and accountable."
"We are in a place right now where your work, and the recognition for your work, defines your opportunities more than any other time that I can remember. It's a real meritocracy," observed Delessio, who is currently working with a Major League Baseball (MLB) data set to build an app that allows users to search for all the MLB games they’ve attended and share their stats over their social network. "This plays into the strengths of AWS; you have a great opportunity to make great apps with low expense. Structured data fits into SimpleDB well, and the AWS SDK allows you to access it and build (your app) with integrity: I don't have to think very much how it works, it just works."
If you own a Kindle, you’ve experienced the power of having a Digital Locker and the ability to download your purchased content to just about any device. The notion of “buy once, read anywhere” will now also apply to your Android apps purchased through the Amazon Appstore.
Customers who purchase an app will retain an entitlement to their app even if they decide to replace their current Android device and/or purchase new devices, as long as the new devices meet the installation requirements of the app. This provides insurance to customers that their purchased apps will be available for use on all supported devices, even if the customer has uninstalled or otherwise removed those apps in the past.
The digital locker service combined with a robust Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution not only make managing apps easier for customers, they also address one of the biggest concerns developers have: unauthorized copying and distribution. An authorized user can now install your app on any of their supported devices; however, if you chose to apply DRM on your app at submission time, your app will not run on unauthorized devices.
Any app that has Amazon DRM applied to it will require users to have installed and signed-in to the Amazon Appstore client to access the app. When an app is accessed by the user, it will verify with the Amazon Appstore device service as to whether the user has an entitlement to the app. If the user does not sign in or does not have an entitlement to that app, then the app will not be usable. However, any user can gain an entitlement by purchasing the app through Amazon.
We will be posting more updates on Amazon DRM over the next few weeks on the Amazon Appstore Developer Blog. We will cover additional topics, such as sharing data between apps and signing your app after Amazon DRM has been applied.
Update: In response to your questions, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide a few clarifications.
Do I have to use Amazon DRM if I sell my app through Amazon.com?
No, it is not required. When you submit your app you can choose to offer your app DRM free or you can apply Amazon DRM.
Do customers need to have internet access to use an Amazon DRM-enabled app?
No. Once an app is installed, a user can use the app without having internet access.
How can you verify that the user has an entitlement to the app without internet access?
During the installation process for an app, the Amazon Appstore client downloads a small token that grants the user the right to access the application. A valid token permits the user that purchased the app to access their app offline. The Amazon Appstore client will periodically communicate with Amazon servers to refresh the token.
As an app developer, you know the importance of using external services and APIs offered by other developers. Leveraging third-party software eliminates unnecessary coding on your part and allows you to quickly bring higher-quality, feature-rich apps to market. An app can leverage the features of other apps to handle various types of requests. One common example is using a browser to handle user requests to hyperlinked text displayed in your app. Another example is launching a third-party social networking app to authenticate your user. Although on the surface these integration points appear similar-- the reality is that they can be very different. The difference lies in the mechanism used to invoke the external app.
In the first scenario, when a user clicks on a hyperlink, the action will automatically invoke an intent, which is sent to the Android system to process. The intent, which encapsulates an operation to be performed and contains the necessary data to send to the operation, acts as the glue between two or more loosely coupled Android apps. The Android system matches the intent to one or more activities, services, or receivers that have registered with the system. In the case of a hyperlink, typically the default browser activity will handle the intent. However, if more than one intent handler is able to process the operation (such as when a user clicks on an e-mail address), the system offers the user the option to select the intent handler they are interested in using. In the example below, an e-mail handler and the copy-paste handler are invoked after a user clicks on an e-mail address within a browser.
The important thing about the first scenario is that your app does not concern itself with who handles the intent, and no data is shared between the two. Your app will defer to the user to make the appropriate selection.
In the second scenario, you will have a more tightly coupled dependency on the authentication service provided by the third-party social networking app. This means that you do not want just any social networking app to authenticate your user. Instead, you are looking for a particular app, and if that app does not exist, you will respond accordingly.
However, before this dependency can be created, your app will need to be able to share data with the service provider. This is done by signing your app and obtaining the appropriate security key(s) from the third party to access its API. Depending on the requirements of the service provider, you can then either bundle its library with your app or require that the third party’s app be installed on the device.
At runtime, if you cannot resolve the dependency to the third-party app (i.e. it’s not installed), then you will want to provide the user an opportunity to install the app. This can be done by launching an intent from your app to an Amazon Appstore URL:
String url = "http://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.amazon.mp3";
Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW);
The above example links the intent to the Amazon MP3 app. To link to a different app, you can simply take the package name (“com.amazon.mp3”) and replace it with the one for the app you are depending on. The Amazon Appstore mobile client will be configured to handle URL intents of the following pattern:
The invocation of the intent will then provide the user the option to view the app page through the Amazon Appstore mobile client.
From there, the user can take advantage of Amazon’s 1-Click purchase feature to download the app (paid or free). After the user installs the third-party app, they can go back to your app’s activity and continue from there.
The following list includes some other helpful links you can use to make requests to the Amazon Appstore: