As we continue this multi-part series on how to make your first game for the Amazon Appstore we’ll dig into the fundamentals of game design. If you are just finding this post, make sure you check out part one which covers picking a game framework that supports exporting to the Amazon Appstore.
For most people, it usually starts the same exact way. You have a game idea and just want to start building. Making a game is more than just having a good idea and the skill to code it; you have to think through the gameplay, the target audience, and map out what it is you are going to build. I love this tweet by Sean James McKenzie of @baconandgames about your first game idea:
To help you simplify your idea to something manageable you should start by getting it down on paper. No one builds a house without a blueprint, and you shouldn’t make a game without a solid plan either. This could be something as simple as a task list with everything you need to do or something more specific, such as a document outlining all the details. Either way, your game design process is going to start with a blank page. Let’s talk about how to fill it in.
In traditional game development, you are encouraged to make a game design document. This is usually a large document outlining every aspect of a game. It’s the blueprint that the rest of the team must follow when building out the game. If you are a single developer, this is overkill. You can easily boil down a GDD into a single list of tasks with a few introduction paragraphs and any collateral or references, such as screen shots and links to other games or game mechanics you like.
It’s up to you to find the best way to document your idea, but the more you work through the details the better the project will end up. It’s very “cheap” to work out your ideas on paper or in your head before you start coding. Once you begin the coding process and need to go back, you amass what we call technical debt that can make your code unmanageable or, even worse, kill your productivity altogether by forcing you to constantly hack together new solutions or refactor code you’ve already written.
The most important part of this documentation process is sharing your idea with others and getting their feedback. I know you want to protect your idea with your life, but the reality is that most people starting out making games need feedback from others. We all start out with the lofty goal of “making a game I want to play,” but the reality is that you are just one person and, in order to be successful, you need to appeal to larger markets. I’m not saying you should post your game ideas online for all to see, but find a select group of trusted friends and run it by them. You’ll find that some feedback is hard to take, but being able to filter out what will actually make your game better is a valuable skill to have.
Perhaps the most important thing outside of documenting your own ideas is to start playing games … a lot of games. As a game maker, your hobby should be playing games, taking them apart, and figuring out what makes them tick. You should keep a notebook of all the games that you play, and even the ones you don’t play but see online. Use something like OneNote, or any note-taking app. The idea is to write down what you like about the game, what you don’t like, and some of your big takeaways from playing it. There should be screen shots if you like the art style and links to any collateral information on the game that will help you with your own ideas later. Since you never know how a game will inspire you, it’s important to be as detailed as you can. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s honestly the most valuable tool you will ever have when it comes to finding inspiration and avoiding common pitfalls.
Once you have mastered these three steps for writing down your ideas, vetting them out and finding new inspiration you will be on your way to making your own game. To help get you started, here are a few games I suggest trying out on the Amazon Appstore which inspire me:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
In this five part series you will get the basic foundation you will need to get started. In part one we’ll cover picking a framework and why you should use one designed specifically for game development.
To help you pick the right game framework, I have highlighted a few of the most popular ones which work great on Fire OS devices and are perfect for people getting started making their first game. I have arranged these from easy to hard based on the above criteria.
Construct 2 is as easy as it gets for making a game. It employs a drag-and-drop behavior system, where you build up game logic from pre-made scripts that are attached to your game’s elements.
Construct 2 games are built in HTML5 (although you never have to touch the code itself) and, because of this, it’s ideal for publishing your game on the Web. Construct 2 games also run on a number of different platforms too The only down side to Construct 2 is that you are removed from the coding aspect of making the game, so you are fully dependent on what Scirra has provided. And, while you can add additional functionality via plugins, it’s not ideal if you come from a coding background and want to manually tweak things yourself.
GameMaker is a great tool for making 2D games. It’s incredibly powerful, and a lot of well-known indie success stories got their start in GameMaker (“Spelunky,” “Hotline Miami,” etc.).
Right now, Unity is a very popular game framework. Similar to GameMaker it also has it’s own IDE and you can drag and drop behaviors but Unity requires a baseline of coding skills to get up and running.
The IDE is very polished and easy to use, but being a 3D tool means that there is a certain level of knowledge you will need before getting started. Unity supports three languages: UnityScript (which is similar to JS), C#, and Boo. Unity now has a free version that supports exporting to desktop and mobile that displays the Unity logo on startup. The pro version gets incredibly pricey but adds lots of must-have features for more advanced game developers. Also, Unity released a new Sprite workflow for anyone interested in making 2D games.
Sometimes you want to control every aspect of your code. HTML5 is a great place to do that, and it’s one of the only game platforms that allows you to target multiple platforms with the same code base, and include the browser on desktop and mobile as well.
There are a lot of really great HTML5 frameworks out there, but the two most popular are Impact ($100 license) and Phaser (free). The one thing to keep in mind is that you will have to manage browser compatibility across desktop and mobile, and native app distribution is still an issue. Also, in many cases you will need to bring your own tools, but seeing a game work perfectly in a mobile browser without a plugin opens up a lot of doors you would not get in a native mobile app store. On the flip side, we make it incredibly easy to test and publish HTML5 games on our devices via our Web App Tester.
Godot is a new and completely open source game engine that just caught my attention.
While I’ve not used it, it looks incredibly promising and one I wanted to put on other developers radars. It uses a scripting langue similar to Phython and promises to export to multiple platforms. It’s one that I hope to dig into a little more in the new year plus being completely open source means you can tinker with how the engine works under the hood.
While I could probably write an entire book on different game frameworks and platforms, I don’t want to overwhelm you. The good news is that, if you are just starting out, there is guaranteed to be a framework that is right for your skill level or game idea. If you are looking for some more resources on how to get started, we have a few blog posts to covering Phaser and Unity, which you may want to check out:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
The thing I’ve enjoyed most in the past year is connecting with so many amazing app devs. We’ve talked in person and on this blog about monetization, opportunities on FireTV, Fire Tablets, Fire phone and some cool new features. But, one line of questions consistently tops the list…
“How hard is it to get into the Amazon Appstore?”
While it’s easy to respond with “It’s easy, in fact most apps just work — it’s Android”, it’s always more fun and informative to say “Let’s try it right now!” Frankly, it’s the only way for an app developer to really know. As a dev myself, I’ve heard “it’s easy” a million times when it’s really a more complicated answer and depends on my specific situation. So, maybe a better question would be “What’s the minimum amount of work that I need to do to understand the true cost of publishing my app to Amazon." (hint: it’s easy!)
With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a set of blog posts that help you answer that question by giving you specific answers for your specific app in minutes.
All you need is your APK. Drag and drop it into the tool’s website. We’ll run a test pass and in minutes you’ll get a report including specific action items (if any), links to the documentation you need for each action item and screenshots of your app on device.
I’ve sideload apps with many developers and each time it’s really cool to see them light up when their app fires up. There’s a whole new set of Amazon Appstore customers available and it’s so close. Here’s how you can enable ADB and sideload on each of the Amazon devices and see your app running for yourself.
Happy New Year!
Paul Cutsinger (@PaulCutsinger)
An important success metric for any app is engagement: a measure of how frequently and how long people play your game. Amazon GameCircle is designed to help developers increase engagement through player Achievements, Leaderboards, and saved game syncing across multiple devices. Once you integrate GameCircle, players can seamlessly play games and interact with other gamers across mobile devices.
Now GameCircle social APIs offer new ways for you to improve player engagement by making it easier for players to connect with new friends. Using a simple API you can now pull GameCircle friends data into your game for players who use Amazon devices. Players using Amazon devices are able to create a profile for themselves, including a nickname and profile image, and can add other GameCircle players to their friends list. You can access this data and display it in your own games or use it to leverage custom social interaction features.
Players with friends play longer, but not all players have real-life friends playing your game right now. The GameCircle Friends API helps you solve that problem by enabling you to show your customers a list of suggested friends. By integrating a ‘Find Friends on GameCircle’ button into your game, players can easily click-through to their GameCircle Friends page to discover new friends who are also playing your game and add those suggested friends in just two clicks. GameCircle Friends doesn’t require players to grant your app permission or sign-in to access friends, so players can find and add new friends quickly and get back to playing your game sooner.
Add GameCircle Friends to your game today to increase player engagement. Getting started is easy:
Vision Mobile recently shared a new chart showing a higher percentage of Amazon Fire developers above the app poverty line versus other platforms. More specifically, 59% of developers distributing their apps on the Amazon Appstore make more than $500 per month versus <50% on other platforms. The chart also showed that developers continue to experience increased monetization in the Appstore - Amazon had a bigger proportion of developers making $5,000+ a month compared to developers on other platforms. We’re excited to see developers like you expand their reach and monetize apps through the Amazon Appstore.
Today the Amazon Appstore is available on more than just Fire devices including the all-new Amazon Fire TV Stick. The Amazon Appstore for Android is also pre-loaded on BlackBerry 10 devices and carriers including O2, EE, Deutsche Telecom and others on millions of Android devices. This wide reach gives your app access to even more customers. Plus, the latest Amazon shopping app fully integrates apps and games into the shopping experience enjoyed by millions of customers. So when customers are searching for products in the Amazon shopping app, they’ll also discover relevant apps and games that they may also enjoy. Here’s what some developers are saying about their experience with Amazon:
– Elad Kushnir, VP of Business Development at Playtika
– Jean-Baptiste, CEO at DJIT
P.S. The holidays are the best time of the year to submit your apps. Read our latest blog post to learn more: Three Important Stats About Holiday Device Sales
Are you a C# developer looking to publish your apps and games across multiple mobile platforms? Did you know that Xamarin fully supports Amazon’s growing ecosystem of devices including Kindle Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire phone.
At Xamarin Evolve 2014 this month I facilitated a session on building native Amazon Fire phone, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet apps with Xamarin Studio (Click the image below to see the video).
This free video will walk you through how to quickly use Xamarin to run your apps and games on Amazon devices, as well as provide an overview of Amazon Appstore services that help developers get their app discovered and increase customer engagement and monetization. Now is the time! Using the same C# language you love and the power of Xamarin you can reach millions of potential new Amazon customers.
For more information about getting started with Xamarin Studio and Amazon Fire devices, check out the following additional resources:
It started with a 90 second test to see if your Android app is ready to launch in the Amazon Appstore.
Then there was added support for Fire phone and screenshots from the actual device.
Now, you can get the results from your device testing even if you don’t have a developer account. So, grab your APK and get test results in 90 seconds.
Test your apps for Fire Tablets, Fire Phone and Appstore for Android in just a few minutes. 75% of existing apps and games we've tested require no changes before going live. You can find out whether your app has any of the common issues that can block publication on the Amazon Appstore. Our App Testing Service also gives you access to additional test results that show you how your app looks and performs on live devices. Start the test here.
Are you a game developer already publishing Android games or looking to get started? Need a small, affordable tablet that is not only good for testing but can also play games and help you develop your own?
Well the new Fire HD 6 is an excellent gaming device in disguise, as well as the ultimate digital companion for game developers. At the low price of $99, you get an incredibly well built 6” Android based tablet powered by Fire OS and leverages the Amazon Appstore. This is the one device I have been incredibly excited about, and I wanted to add it to my game development toolset from the moment I got my hands on it.
I have a wide collection of tablets ranging from 13” all the way down. The one thing I have noticed is that for larger devices, it’s sometimes uncomfortable to play games on for long periods of time without my hands getting tired. Also, my hands are used to the size of game controllers and mobile gaming devices. The Fire HD 6 is roughly the same size and thickness of the base of the Nintendo 3DS XL. That means for games with virtual controls on the screen, it feels more natural to hold the tablet; you still have enough room for your thumbs and the controls without blocking the action.
Games like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Minecraft, Terraria, VVVVVV, Thomas Was Alone, Delver and many others with on-screen touch controls work great! Especially games where you can customize the size and position of the virtual controls, allowing you to maximize your view of the game will feel more natural on a 6” tablet. The other thing exciting about this device – and many of our other tablets - is the fact that you can also connect a Bluetooth game controller and create a portable Android gaming experience. Playing GTA with the controller, as it was intended to be played, is great. If you have an Amazon Fire Game Controller, connect it up to the Fire HD 6 and enjoy an incredibly portable gaming device. Also, with the new SlimPort connector, you can even connect the Fire HD 6 to the TV with a controller and play games on the big screen.
In addition to the Fire HD 6 being a capable gaming device, it’s also the perfect digital companion for game developers. Of course using it as an Android based testing device is probably number one in most developer’s minds. The fact that it runs productivity apps as well will help you even more. I use my Fire HD 6 as a digital sketchpad. With a copy of Sketchbook Pro, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper and a touchscreen stylus I am not only able to sketch out all my game ideas, literally in the palm of my hand, but I also don’t have to worry about my hand accidentally resting on the screen causing streaks in my artwork. The Fire HD 6 is a little bigger than the traditional moleskine notebooks I used to carry around, and with everything backed up in the cloud, I no longer worry about losing any of my drawings.
I also take lots of digital notes. I collect articles, websites, jot down ideas, or build to-do lists while I am working on a given project. The Amazon Appstore has Evernote, OneNote and may other note taking apps you probably already use on a daily basis. And since each of these solutions also takes advantage of cloud syncing, my notes are always with me wherever I go. I can easily jot down stuff on my computer and follow up on the go with my Fire phone, or use it as a companion next to my computer while I code.
Of course the Amazon Appstore has some big name games, but my own personal interest in mobile gaming is with indie devs and hobby developers. The Fire HD 6 is a new market for indie devs looking to reach customers looking to get an affordable small form factor tablet. There has never been a device at this size or price point from a well-known company such as Amazon that will appeal to consumers. Amazon already has a loyal fan base and adding a more affordable tablet to its holiday lineup means access to even more screens this holiday season.
Here in New York, I’ve been working with local indie devices such as Golden Ruby, who recently launched their hit game Worm Run on Fire tablets and Amazon Fire TV. Because they’re already part of the Amazon Appstore, they’re automatically available on the new line of Fire tablets.
Not only does their game look great on the new device, but since they take advantage of a single binary across all of our devices, Worm Run also supports a Bluetooth controller too. This means that developers who are already taking advantage of the Amazon Appstore and hardware ecosystem continue to grow their customer base as we bring new devices to market.
Developers like Charlie Schulze, who works part time on his games outside of his day job, is also excited about supporting the new Amazon devices.
His latest game, Squiggle Racer, has been growing in popularity on multiple platforms and it is great to see him bringing his game over to the Amazon Appstore. Not only can he now target this new Android powered device with his existing APK, but by adding in GameCircle and controller support, he can now reach customers across our entire family of devices from the Fire phone to Fire TV and of course all of our Fire tablets. Leveraging his current Android build, he was able to not only get his game up and running on our devices quickly, but also take advantage of a new distribution platform to help increase his user base.
For indies and developers who build games as a hobby, the Amazon Appstore offers a great opportunity to grow your user base. Plus, with the Fire HD 6’s affordable price, developers can get a fully functional, well-built Android-based tablet for all of their development needs. But it doesn’t stop at just the hardware and OS, we also offer all game developers some great APIs to increase engagement and help monetize their creations.
One of the key benefits of building a game on Fire OS, which powers all of our devices, is the deep integration it has with GameCircle. GameCircle represents more than just a way to add leader boards, achievements and cloud syncing to your game. It also enables developers to increase the player’s engagement in their game and automatically tracking their gamer progress across all of our devices. Each user has their own GameCircle profile that automatically syncs across any Fire OS device they own. As a developer, if you also implement Cloud Syncing you can also ensure that customers who bought your game and play on the Fire HD 6, or any Fire tablet, can continue their progress on their Fire TV and Fire phone.
In addition to GameCircle, we also offer more APIs critical for building a successful game such as:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman) is a Developer Evangelist at Amazon focusing on HTML5 and Games for the Amazon Appstore.
In a short 15 years, mobile technology has come a long way. Monochrome screens and 12-button keypads have given way to touchscreens and multi-touch input. Still, sound quality on mobile has been a nagging issue. Sure, there have been audio-centric devices, but the big sell was always the simple presence of audio, with no expectation of truly engaging sound reproduction. Developers had no guarantees that the time and effort they devoted to building a soundstage for games and apps would pay off. Many times, it didn’t.
Dolby Laboratories has been working in entertainment for nearly 50 years. If you’ve seen a movie, played a tape (how arcane!), played any AAA console games, or listened to music on your home audio/video receiver (AVR), chances are exceptionally high that Dolby has had a part in making that content sound as enticing as it does.
So, when the Dolby logo started appearing on mobile devices, it was a clear signal that audio was starting to take a front seat in the mobile experience.
The combination of Dolby® Digital Plus™ and Amazon’s Fire tablets creates a new standard in mobile entertainment. Users are now able to enjoy mobile content with high-quality audio—no compromises. The effect is dazzling. Amazon’s streaming video and music sounds deeper and richer on Fire tablets than on nearly any other mobile device. Mobile apps benefit from the technology as well, and hundreds of apps have added a new dimension of audio simply by leveraging Dolby Digital Plus via the Dolby Audio™ API for Android.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and HDX represented the first round of enhanced audio in mobile.
Now Amazon has leveled up to Round 2 with the announcement of the next generation of Fire tablets—including an 8.9" version that is the first tablet to feature Dolby Atmos and deliver theater-like experience over headphones with Amazon streaming movies.
Dolby Atmos was primarily designed to allow movie content producers to place sound in a three-dimensional space and create a more lifelike experience for filmgoers. If you’ve never seen a movie in Dolby Atmos, you need to. It transports you into the movie with breathtaking, multidimensional sound that fills the theater with amazing richness and depth. Sounds move all around you, including overhead, making you feel like you are truly inside the story. Dolby Atmos achieves this by rendering audio as objects that are controlled by metadata.
Here’s the really cool part: as an app developer deploying on the Fire OS, you’re ahead of the game. Audio elements in apps are already rendered as objects, so you can take advantage of Dolby Audio enhancements now. While Dolby Atmos sound isn’t available for apps, you can still leverage the benefits of Dolby technology by integrating the Dolby Audio API into your app or game. The benefits include:
Integration takes around 15 minutes, and plug-ins are available for Unity, Marmalade, Adobe Air, Xamarin, and Cordova.
The Dolby Audio API is available for free, and you will hear an immediate difference on Dolby technology-enabled devices like Amazon’s Fire tablets.
Now is the perfect time to differentiate your application by using enhanced audio. With mobile companies across the spectrum adding higher quality audio as a major selling point, apps using the Dolby Audio API are poised to grab the spotlight and delight customers with a new take on immersive experiences. Be the first to take advantage of Dolby technology on Fire tablets, and watch your users marvel at the deeper experience it affords.
Thanks to guest blogger Andy Vaughan of Dolby Laboratories for introducing Dolby Atmos and describing how Fire tablets use the technology to set a new standard for mobile audio. A 10-year mobile industry veteran and low-level audiophile, Andy knows the state of audio on mobile devices is ripe for change. Before delivering solutions for feature phones, smartphones, tablets, and e-readers, he helped launch developer programs for Rational Software, IBM, and Fortify Software.
Supporting the announcement of brand-new Fire tablets and enhancements to Fire OS, the App Testing Service (ATS) has been updated to work seamlessly with Fire OS. In as little as 90 seconds, you can receive a detailed report of potential issues that could affect compatibility with the Amazon Appstore—including guidance on how to resolve them before publishing. ATS can also run your app on actual Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7 devices, providing a comprehensive compatibility report (including screenshots) in as little as 15 minutes.
ATS performs a static analysis of your app’s manifest and optionally analyzes your app as it runs on actual device hardware (including the new 6” and 7” Fire tablets just announced). It performs tests that fall into three major categories:
Testing combines static analysis of how how your app runs on Fire OS as with analysis of your app as it runs on actual device hardware (including the new 6” and 7” Fire tablets just announced). Your app will be installed and launched, after which the service will explore activities it is able to identify. ATS will generate a report that includes test events, screenshots, CPU usage, and heap utilization during testing. You will also have access to detailed logs.
The testing process is optimized for apps built using native Android widgets, so if you create a custom user interface (for example, using OpenGL or HTML5) testing may be less extensive. Note that ATS does not collect login credentials, so it will not explore sections of your app where these are required.
Using ATS to check your app is fast and easy. All we need is your APK file, which you can drag and drop directly on the ATS widget located at the top-left of the Developer Portal home page.
Once you drop an APK file on the widget, your app will be uploaded to ATS and testing will begin.
Results of the initial analysis will be available in as little as 90 seconds.
We’ll provide specific instructions on how to resolve issues we discovered.
Device tests will also be performed, though analysis of those results will takes longer—usually between 15 minutes and 6 hours. If you have a developer account with Amazon, you can access those results from your ATS dashboard. If not, you may provide an email address and we will send the results to you as soon as they are available.
Device test results will provide links to screenshots captured during the testing process, letting you see how your app actually appeared while under test.
Once you have used ATS to test your app for potential compatibility issues, reviewed the test results, and made any updates necessary to address specific items called out by the service, you are ready to publish your app to the Amazon Appstore. Submit your app from the Developer Portal or drag and drop your APK to re-run the test; the initial results will include a big orange button to kick off the submission process.
If you don’t already have an Amazon developer account, note that you will be required to create one before you can submit your app to the Amazon Appstore. Creating a developer account is free, however. If you are an Amazon customer, you can even use your existing Amazon account, if you want.
See our Developer Portal for more information on the App Testing Service and
Amazon today introduced Fire OS 4 “Sangria,” the next generation of software and services that powers Amazon’s Fire devices, including three all-new Fire tablets introduced today. The Fire HD 6, Fire HD 7, and Fire HDX 8.9 tablets all give customers the power to watch, work, and play. Aggressively priced, they are highly affordable and will appeal to a whole new customer segment by introducing a smaller, lighter 6” HD tablet form factor.
This release introduces hundreds of new upgrades and platform enhancements, including:
All-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria”
Fire OS 4 “Sangria” starts with Android and adds a customer-friendly user interface, unlimited cloud storage of Amazon content and photos taken on your Fire device, latest productivity apps, and enhanced platform integrations to seamlessly access the best selection of digital content—more than 33 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, and Android apps and games.
Unmatched Entertainment Ecosystem
Fire OS 4 integrates our newest services including Prime Music, ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), and Kindle Unlimited. Second Screen headphone integration lets you watch Amazon Instant Video on a compatible big screen TV with headphones plugged into your tablet so you can enjoy the movie in enhanced Dolby Digital sound.
Built for Gaming
Fire tablets are built for the best in gaming with tilt, turn, and multi-touch controls. Customers get a new paid app for free everyday, and enjoy great discounts on popular games and apps. Plus, use Amazon Coins to purchase and save on apps, games, and in-app items. New Fire tablet owners in the US get 500 Amazon Coins—a $5 value.
Content in the Cloud
Every Fire tablet includes free unlimited storage in Amazon Cloud Drive for photos taken on the device, plus 5GB of storage for photos and files added to Cloud Drive from other devices.
Starting at $99, Fire tablets feature quad-core processors that more than double the speed and quadruple the graphics performance of previous models. Your apps launch faster and your customers enjoy a smoother and richer experience with better overall performance than ever before. Stunning HD displays and Dolby Audio make your apps and games shine.
Fire OS 4 is available on the new Fire tablets, with some features coming to the 3rd generation Kindle Fire HDX and Kindle Fire HD (released in 2013) as part of free, over-the-air Fire OS updates starting later this year.
Learn more about the new Fire tablet hardware and the software improvements announced today.
Fire OS 4 and the new Fire tablets are designed to provide fast and easy access to favorite books, songs, videos, and games. By deeply integrating software, content, and the Cloud, we build on Fire OS’s content-forward user interface to deliver innovative services that are available only from Amazon.
Fire OS is designed from the ground up to make it as easy and fast as possible for customers to access their favorite apps and content. The home screen Carousel and media libraries are automatically personalized to put your apps front and center in the app grid, providing easy, one-click access.
This means customers use your apps more, leading to more sessions, deeper engagement, and more opportunity to generate revenue. We expect these and many other features will make the new Fire tablets even more popular than their predecessors, further expanding the reach for your apps and games.
This year’s Fire tablets will be available to customers worldwide in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, and Australia. The Amazon Appstore is also available on Android devices in 236 countries to give your apps even more reach. According to an Amazon-sponsored IDC survey, 76% of developers say that Fire helps them connect with new customer segments that may be difficult to find on other platforms.
Fire tablets expand that reach even further, and with perfect timing. The holiday season is almost here, and Amazon devices have historically surged during this period. According to Flurry Analytics, Christmas Day sees a particularly large number of device activations—24 times the typical number for any other day in 2013, for example—so now is the time to develop a new app or bring your existing Android or web app to Fire tablets, Fire TV, or Fire phone.
Fire tablets run Fire OS, which is based on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and offers complete support for API Level 19. This means that it is incredibly easy to bring your Android APK to Amazon devices. Most Android apps we’ve tested work on Fire tablets without modification, so you can publish your apps to the Amazon Appstore with little or no effort and expand your potential audience by millions.
Use the App Testing Service to check the compatibility of your existing Android app in as little as 90 seconds. It will identify potential issues and explain how to resolve them, and then make submitting your app a breeze.
An IDC survey we commissioned found that developers make as much money per user (often more) when they sell their apps and games on Fire tablets, as compared to any other mobile platform. Playtika, for example, creator of highly immersive social games like Bingo Blitz, saw its highest average revenue per paying user (ARPU) on Fire tablets—70% higher than Android and 15% higher than iOS. Similarly, Crittermap saw superior results using the Amazon Mobile Ads API. Creators of BackCountry Navigator PRO, they earned higher eCPM than on other ad networks.
Fire tablets also support Amazon Mobile Ads, a cross-platform service to display banner, interstitial, and rich media ads inside your apps. You are paid for ad impressions, not just ad click-through events. Use it to monetize app sessions across Fire tablets, Fire phone, and all Android and iOS devices.
Amazon Mobile Ads is just one of many APIs available in Amazon’s Mobile App SDK, which also provides support for In-App Purchasing, A/B Testing, Maps, Login with Amazon, and GameCircle Achievements, Leaderboards, and Whispersync for Games. Build with our Mobile App SDK to get these services up and running quickly, and then use them to engage new customers, understand and improve their experience with your app, and increase revenue.
Learn more about Amazon’s monetization APIs on our website, where you will find Quick Start Guides and sample code to help you integrate them into your apps quickly.
The Amazon Appstore has never been available on a broader range of devices and platforms. It’s no wonder 65% of the surveyed developers also say that the Total Revenue achieved on the Kindle Fire is similar to, or even better than, what they experience with other major platforms.
The Amazon Appstore is preloaded on Kindle Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Fire phone devices. And recently, we announced that Fire TV is available in the UK and Germany. Amazon Fire TV makes it easy for users to stream movies, TV shows, and music as well as download apps and play games right on the HDTVs they already own.
Back in April, we announced the expansion of the Amazon Appstore to 41 new countries, including Egypt, Indonesia, Singapore, and Turkey. Publishing your Android app on Amazon means you can reach customers from around the world, including those in countries that were previously inaccessible.
The Amazon Appstore is not just available on Amazon devices; hundreds of thousands of customers have already downloaded the Amazon Appstore for Android. This announcement expands the distribution of Amazon Appstore apps and games on Android devices. And coming this fall, the Amazon Appstore will be preloaded on BlackBerry 10 devices, giving you access to another new global customer segment.
Download our Mobile App SDK today to get started developing for Fire OS and Amazon’s entire device family. You can even test your existing Android apps with our App Testing Service to see how they will actually work on Fire tablets and Fire phone. As the Amazon ecosystem grows, so does your potential audience.
At the Amazon Appstore, we’re continuing to create opportunities and services that help app developers reach more customers and make more money. Lately, we’ve highlighted some stories from app publishers who have had success distributing Kindle Fire and Android apps in the Amazon Appstore. You may have read about Soundtracker who increased average session length by 400% and Big Bubble Blue who generated up to 15% better ARPU. Many other developers are experiencing similar success and a recent article from BI Intelligence indicates that Amazon Appstore is “generating strong revenue results.”
“Popular Kindle Fire apps are generating 59 cents of revenue for every dollar earned by top apps in the Google Play store, according to a Distimo study. Download volumes are about half those on Google Play for top app titles — impressive considering how many more Android devices are in circulation.”
75% of Android tablet apps we tested work on Kindle Fire, with no added development necessary. And with apps available in almost 200 countries and strong monetization potential, there hasn’t been a better time to try the Amazon Appstore. Sign up for a free developer account and get started.
Check out the full Business Insider report here.
If you are a developer who has had an app in our store for a while, or someone new to our platform, we encourage you to use Amazon Appstore and Kindle Fire badges and branding to help promote your app. In this article we’ll review badges, other images, links and guidelines for their use with your app and marketing.
There are two badges with three color-treatments each that you can use. Here are the badges that you can use to promote the availability of your app in our U.S. store:
The Amazon and Kindle Fire badges above are available in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Japanese. The Amazon badges are also available in Portuguese.
You can get full-size downloads of these badges on this page, along with some usage guidance.
If you’d like to use a plain icon:
Or if you would like to use a Kindle device image:
You can find links to those resources about half way down this page.
Links to the Amazon Appstore
For web-browser based linking, please:
Use this link structure: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/ASINnumber/ref=mas_pm_app_name
Replace the bold “.com” with your country marketplace suffix. (.com for US, .de for Germany, etc)
Replace the bold “ASINnumber” with your mobile app’s ASIN (Amazon Standard Item Number) and app name. Please use an underscore (_) to separate the words in the “app_name” portion, if your title is more than one word. You can find the ASIN on the Product Details section of your mobile app on www.amazon.com/apps.
For example, this is the Air Patriots link in the German marketplace:
For in-app advertising or mobile app-based linking:
In the US:
Use this link structure: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.example.package&ref=mas_pm_app_name
Replace the bold portions with the package name of your APK, and app name respectively.
For our international stores:
Use this link structure:
Replace the bold portion with the package name of your APK.
NOTE: With any of these link structures, please test the links before using them to make sure that they direct to the correct page or search results.
The link instructions above are pretty much identical to the guidance near the bottom of this page.
Other Useful Guidelines
There is still more good stuff on the handy page I keep linking to. This includes guidelines for correct use of the Amazon Appstore trademark when blogging or using social media to promote your app. I would, of course, be remiss if I failed to mention the legal requirements listed at the bottom of the page. Our attorneys have done a good job of breaking the important points down into easily readable bullet points. Please do look at them, it won’t take long.
Just in case you missed the link earlier, you can read all of this information here, on our developer portal.
Today, we’re extending Amazon Coins to all Android devices with the Amazon Appstore installed. Amazon Coins is a way for Amazon Appstore customers to buy and enjoy Android apps, games, and in-app items for less. Customers can save up to 10% on apps and games by purchasing Amazon Coins, while developers continue to get their full 70% revenue share.
Since the launch of Amazon Coins in the US, UK, and Germany in 2013, customers have already purchased hundreds of millions of Amazon Coins and are actively using them on Kindle Fire devices, representing real dollars to developers.
Now, users of the Amazon Appstore on Android will be able to use Amazon Coins to purchase apps, games, and a broad range of in-app items on any Android device running the Amazon Appstore in the US, UK, or Germany. If a customer is already a Kindle Fire user, he or she will automatically see their existing Coins balance on their other Android devices in addition to their Kindle devices.
We have already seen developers benefit from customers using their Amazon Coins to try out and explore new apps and games. Now that Coins are available to an even larger audience, you can take advantage of the opportunity by making sure your app is available on the largest number of devices.
Check your device availability to make sure your app is available to as many Coins-enabled customers as possible. Checking is easy, and adding supported devices is not much harder. Follow these steps below to get started:
1. In the Amazon Developer Portal, go to your app’s detail page.
Under the Binary File(s) tab, check the Device Support section for “All non-Amazon Android devices…” (see sample below).
2. If your app has “All non-Amazon Android devices...” and the Kindle Fire devices listed, then you’re done!
If the entry is missing “All non-Amazon Android devices...” (as shown below), you can change that.
Change this by: a) Modifying your AndroidManifest.xml, b) Creating an ‘Upcoming Version’ in the dev portal, and then c) Submitting the .apk with the new manifest file. Here are the steps to do that:
a. If you have verified that your .apk will run successfully on some (or most) other Android devices, make sure you reference supported devices in your AndroidManifest.xml file by using <compatible-screens /> or <supports-screens /> (please make sure to increment the version number of your app when you modify the manifest).
b. Click Add Upcoming Version in the dev portal.
While in the new ‘Upcoming Version’ section, go to the Binary File(s) tab and check all the appropriate boxes.
c. Upload the .apk with the new manifest.xml, make sure the other tabs are complete (and app version number is different), and re-submit your app.
3. If your app is not available on Kinde Fire devices, you can use Amazon’s App Testing Service to get the info you need in about a minute. Just drag and drop your .apk into the tool to get your results! You can also check out common reasons for incompatibility, and check out the documentation on our dev portal.
Dolby has just released a new Dolby Audio Plug-In for Kindle Fire HD and HDX that helps developers deliver even better audio to their users. Developers can now select an audio profile to optimize the sound based on the kind of audio being delivered. This means optimized audio setting for voice during your app’s dialog, and optimized settings for broad-range sound during your app’s action sequences. All with just a few lines of code you can insert into your app, no re-architecting required!
This isn’t the first time Amazon and Dolby have collaborated. Amazon and Dolby worked together on hardware and software enhancements for the Kindle Fire HD and HDX line of tablets for their launch, delivering Dolby Digital post-processing for native apps. But now Dolby has raised the bar again with Dolby Digital Plus, and the new Dolby Audio APIs for Kindle Fire. (Fear not, Unity fans. There is a Unity plug-in for you too.)
When you use the Dolby Audio Plug-in APIs, you can choose from four audio profiles to tune your sound profile to match the audio use in your app. For example, you can tune your app to use the Voice profile for dialog-heavy parts of your app, and the Game profile for first-person-shooter action. Here are the profiles you can choose from:
-Music: Applies equalization and dynamic range control to enrich instrumental and vocal quality in recorded music
-Movie: Clarifies the dialogue while providing the best representation of the full dynamic range of the program
-Game: Creates a ‘live’ space to best bring out the effect of fast-moving objects in the audio
-Voice: Customized for the reproduction of speech patterns and the tonal range of the human voice
This lets you deliver an optimized audio experience to your users, and it takes very little time to do so. Here are the high level steps to implement this API:
1. Load the Dolby JAR file and import the DolbyAudioProcessing libraries
2. Create a OnDolbyAudioProcessingEvent listener
3. Call getDolbyAudioProcessing to get an instance of the Class (only done once for lifetime of the app)
4. Wait for the app to connect to the DolbyAudioProcessing handler
5. Instantiate the audio profiles as needed to in your app (Voice for dialog heavy parts, Game for FPS parts, etc…)
6. Restore default audio behavior if your app is in the background
7. Restore default audio behavior by releasing the Dolby instance on destroy
Setting the sound profile to use at different points in your app is pretty easy (see below).
You can set profile to Music, Movie, Game or Voice as appropriate at that location in your app.
Overall, integrating the API takes about an hour and does not require re-designing any logic or workflow. It’s a small investment for a big win.
You can download the free sample apk right away so you can hear for yourself how nice this is. To download the API, you need to sign up for a free developer account with Dolby (which took me less than 30 seconds).
Dolby has done a good job of making this easy to deploy. When you download the API package, you’ll get everything you need to get started, including javadocs, a quick start guide, and sample code showing exactly how to invoke Dolby APIs. You can download the free Dolby Audio Plug-in on this page, and learn more about Dolby Developer Services on their developer home page here.