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January 21, 2014

Russell Beattie

The Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program enables developers to create Kindle Fire apps using existing HTML5 mobile web apps. It’s also a good way for web developers to start creating mobile apps using the skills and knowledge they already have.

Back in December we covered how to get your existing web apps onto actual devices with a Webinar on Submitting HTML5 Web Apps to the Amazon Appstore, and companion blog post focusing on setting up the Amazon Web App Tester to debug and test your apps.

We wanted to follow up with some more details to help you get the most out of the tester, which is a key part of the HTML5 web app creation process on Kindle Fire tablets. The Web App Tester has a variety of powerful features which can be used to make development faster and easier. Below are a few ways to best take advantage of all that great functionality. 

Amazon's Web App Tester

What exactly is Amazon's Web App Tester? It's a downloadable app which lets you test your web app in a production-like environment on your Kindle Fire or Android device, without first submitting it to our store. The tester contains the same web engine and libraries that will run your web app when it is wrapped into a downloadable app. The tester however, has an interface that lets you enter in your own custom URLs, and most importantly, enables remote debugging for development and testing using your desktop computer.

Because the Web App Tester is based on the same technologies as the final wrapped app, you should be able to better assess your app's performance and functionality - and more quickly work through any problems you might encounter - on the device itself, rather than via an emulator or simulator, which may not be as accurate.

Additionally, libraries that are pre-loaded into the final downloadable app, such as the In App Purchasing API for JavaScript, are also built into the Tester so you can debug your IAPs before you launch. (Look for a more detailed post about enabling IAP for your web apps coming soon).   

Managing Multiple URLs

The first thing you'll encounter when using the Web App Tester is a place to enter a URL for testing. This is great for easy ad-hoc testing, but if you have complicated URLs to enter, or have multiple URLs that you need to manage, you can create a JSON file of URLs and put it into the root folder of your Kindle Fire. The file has to be named amazon.testerurls.json and placed in the /mnt/sdcard/ folder on your device. Here's how the list of URLs should be formatted:

{ 
   "urls":[
      "http://m.imdb.com",         
      "http://m.amazon.com",         
      "https://read.amazon.com"]     
}
 

The easiest way to get it to the correct spot on your device is via the command line using the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), which comes as part of the Android SDK. Assuming you've set up the SDK correctly, you only need to connect your device using USB, open a command line, change to the directory where your JSON file is located and run this command:

$ adb push amazon.testerurls.json /mnt/sdcard/ 

Remote Debugging Options

If your device and your computer share the same network, you can enable Web Developer Tools for debugging over WiFi. If you're on a corporate network, or want to test aspects of your app including offline functionality or WLAN speeds, you can connect via USB using ADB.

Helpfully, the Web App Tester gives you all the details you need to enable Remote Debugging once you start the app. Simply click the full screen handle at the bottom or side of the screen, and swipe down. There you'll see options to enable remote debugging using ADB or via your network.

 

Once you choose, a dialog box pops up with instructions and the exact URL to enter into your Chromium based browser (for debugging). For example, here are the instructions for remote debugging via WiFi:

 

Close that dialog, enter the URLof your web app to test and you'll be all set to debug via a desktop computer.

Dev Tools Tips

Once the Dev Tools page is open in your desktop browser, remote testing and debugging of your mobile web app should become as familiar as doing development for desktop browsers. Here are some things to watch for.

On Device Tools. First, note that all the normal functionality you'd find in Dev Tools is live, but running on the device itself. In fact the entire UI is a static HTML app served from the device, which then communicates back via Web Sockets. Viewing the network speed, recording the timeline activity or profiling is all happening with the device's hardware.

Reload Shortcut. When doing development for a desktop browser, you may be in the habit of clicking the reload icon in the browser to refresh the page. Rather than exiting out of your app on the device, and then re-starting, you can simply type Command-R/Control-R inside the remote Dev Tools window to refresh the contents of the page on the device itself.

Live Inspection. Just like on a desktop browser, you can use the inspect icon to help pinpoint elements on the screen within the HTML5 markup of your app - rather than clicking the screen, just activate the inspect icon, and then touch the screen to find that element within the Dev Tools. It goes in reverse as well, notice that as you use your mouse to hover over the markup in Dev Tools, the corresponding elements light up on the device.

FPS Meter. In the Dev Tools, you can use the settings icon to turn on the FPS meter, which displays in the top corner of your device. This will let you get a live view of how fast your app is refreshing, without having to add in additional libraries.

On Device Debugging and Console. You can step through JavaScript code just as you would normally. Additionally, the console is also live, with the JavaScript engine running on the device. This allows you to use console tricks such as $0 to refer to the selected element, navigate using document.location.href, or even pop up an alert() window if needed.

Remote Debugging API

Because the Web App Tester's Dev Tools use the same remote debugging protocol as desktop Chromium browsers, they can be accessed not only from Dev Tools, but from text editors, IDEs or via scripting languages such as Python. Here's an example using the chrome-remote-interface Node.js module.

First, install the library using NPM:

npm install chrome-remote-interface 

Then create a test.js file with this boilerplate example (modifying the options variable as needed):

var Chrome = require('chrome-remote-interface');

var options = {

host:  'localhost',

port:  '9222'

};

Chrome(options, function (chrome) {

    with (chrome) {

        on('Network.responseReceived', function (message) {

            console.log(message);

        });

        on('Page.loadEventFired', function (message) {

            console.log("----------------------- page loaded ");

            console.log(message);

        });

        Network.enable();

        Page.enable();

        Page.reload();

    }

}).on('error', function (err) {

    console.log(err);

    console.error('Cannot connect to Chrome');

)};

Then run the script

node test.js 

As you use your app on the device, you'll see events logged in your console as they fire. The protocol and module will also let you send commands to the remote browser, letting you automate testing on the device and recording the results. For more info, check out the Remote Debugging Protocol pages here.

Hopefully some of these tips will come in handy as you're doing development for your web app, if you have any tips of your own or questions about using Dev Tools, definitely get in touch!

-Russ (@RussB)

 

January 08, 2014

David Isbitski

HTML5 Web Apps: Tips on Acquiring Customers in the Amazon Appstore

We want to start the year off by focusing on getting your Web Apps noticed in the Amazon Appstore, so you have the best chance of acquiring new customers.  There are a few easy steps you can take to so that your apps, whether web or non-web apps, are more appealing to first time downloaders.  This includes ensuring you have quality screenshots and promotional images, detailed product descriptions, an easy way for customers to review or share your app, as well as a way for customers to discover your apps outside of the Amazon Appstore.  Amazon also offers unique ways to help your Web Apps get noticed including weekly promotions for the top Web Apps in the Appstore as well as access to Appstore Developer Select.   

Appstore Developer Select

All Web Apps submitted to the Amazon Appstore will be automatically entered into for Appstore Developer Select, if they meet the program requirements.  This program helps get your Web Apps discovered and gives you more opportunities to boost your sales and revenue.  As a developer with one or more qualifying apps, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Enhanced Merchandising to Improve Discovery: Your qualifying apps will receive 500,000 free mobile ad impressions across the Amazon Mobile Ad Network. We’ll provide enhanced merchandising for your apps in a dedicated section on the Amazon Appstore home page and consider your apps for advertising on Kindle Fire.
  • Amazon Coins Rewards to Customers to Improve Conversion: Consumers purchasing your app or in-app items in your app will receive up to 30% of the purchase price back in Amazon Coins. We’ll boost customer acquisition by rewarding first-time purchasers of Select paid apps and in-app items with an extra 250 bonus Coins.
  • 25% off AWS Services to Help You Scale: You will earn 25% credit back on qualifying purchases of Amazon Web Services (AWS) products, up to a maximum $500 credit per year.

You can check the status of your eligibility by going to the My Apps section of the Apps and Services Tab in the Developer Console.
 

 

You can click on View Report to see which items your App has passed on and which items you need to update in order to become eligible.


 

Once your app has been enrolled in Appstore Developer Select you will also have the option to view the Ad Campaign that has been set up on your behalf.
 

 

Optimizing App Details

The title and description of your app is like the front door of a building.  Customers will never know what’s inside until they knock and walk inside.  By writing an effective description you can change your app from the spooky abandoned house on the corner to an enticing new shopping mall just waiting to be explored.

 

The keywords section will be how customers find your app when searching the Amazon Appstore so make sure you chose relevant discoverability terms. 

In addition to the App details you can also select a Content Rating for your app letting customers know what to expect.

Be sure to read our previous blog post with tips on effective title and description for your apps here.

High Res Screenshots and Multimedia

Your Web App submission will need to provide screenshots of your app running as well as an optional video.  You should create and upload both a 114x114 icon and a 512x512 icon, which will be used for the app list and carousel respectively.

 

In order to take the screenshots of your app running you will need to use the Web App Tester program on a Kindle device (emulators are not currently supported) and use the Kindle built in screenshot button combination.  The button sequence for each Kindle device can be found here.

You will need to next copy the screenshots off of the Kindle device and uploaded to the developer portal.  

On windows simply plug in your Kindle device and open File Explorer to Internal Storage > Pictures > Screenshots.

 

For Mac OSX you will need to use the Android File Transfer Tool and navigate to Pictures > Screenshots.

 

While you are only required to submit three screenshots, having additional screenshots as well as a promotional image is recommended and will help to increase the chance for downloads.  You can also include an optional Video showcasing your Web App.

 

You can get additional information on taking screenshots of your Web Apps via the official developer documentation  here.

App Badges

Amazon also offers App Badges you can include on your Website and customer communications such as email blasts.

  

These Badges are available in a variety of languages and will further increase potential download traffic to your app by referring customers who are already interested in your products or have come across your website. 

For full details on using App Badges be sure to check out the documentation here.

Conclusion

Building an audience for your apps and connecting with new customers is an important concern for most developers.  By following the steps listed here you can ensure a higher chance of getting noticed.  The more customers who see your app the greater the chance of increased downloads, more reviews and eventual promotion inside the Amazon Appstore.

Got a great HTML5 Web App in the Amazon Appstore?  Looking to get promoted?  Why not tell us about it!  You can Contact Us directly and let us know. 

 

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

December 18, 2013

David Isbitski

We recently launched the Mobile Associates API (MAA) for Amazon Appstore (including Kindle) and general Android devices. Since the launch, the API has been successfully integrated in hundreds of Android apps and has helped generate incremental revenue for developers. Mostly, developers use MAA to complement revenue generated from mobile ads. Using MAA, you can sell real products from the millions of items at Amazon, whether physical (i.e. toys, clothing) or digital (i.e. eBooks), from inside your apps while earning up to 6% in advertising fees from those purchases.  With wide variety of the Amazon product catalog, there are probably many items that are relevant to your users. Plus, you have complete control over the products you want to promote and the in-app user experience. 

In this post, we will show how to build “Relevant products” experience using Mobile Associates API. In this experience, you can offer contextually relevant products in your app by specifying a search term and direct customers to mobile optimized Amazon search result page. Customers can browse through the search results page, select products, and complete the purchase after signing in to their Amazon account. You earn advertising fees equal for qualifying purchases made during that session. Most developers can build this experience in 30 minutes.

“Relevant Products” Experience

For developing other experiences, please visit Amazon Mobile Associates API

Steps to Integrate                                                                                                  

1.       Identifying relevant products to promote

2.       API code integration

3.       Testing the app

Identifying relevant products to promote

Mobile Associates API provides four parameter, searchTerm, product category, Brand, and SortOrder, to search and promote most relevant products to your app users on search landing page. Please see the available product categories and compatible sorting and filtering options here.

To identify relevant products, begin by identifying the most relevant product categories based on your app category and your app user’s demographics. You can also use different product categories in different sections of your app.

Once you have identified the relevant product categories, identify a relevant searchTerm to find relevant products within your chosen categories. Now go to Amazon.com and search for products using searchTerm within your chosen categories. App users will see this list of products when using your app. Refine your searchTerm to identify the list of products your users are most likely to purchase. These items may not be the highest value item available under the given category. For example, most app users are unlikely to buy the most expensive running shoes.

You can also sort these items in different orders. We recommend sorting them by “relevance”. You may consider other sortOrder such as “highest to lowest price” under special circumstances. You can also specify “brand” as a filter if you believe that your app users are more likely to buy a certain brand.

Once you have identified the products you want to promote, you can use the appropriate searchTerm, product category, Brand, and SortOrder in the APIs to promote the relevant products.

Example: If your app belongs to the fitness category, you can pick product categories such as “Health and Personal Care” to promote vitamins, “Shoes” to promote running shoes, or even “Books” to promote fitness related books. You should promote context appropriate products such as barbells or protein supplements to a person who does frequent weight training. Use “men’s running shoes” in shoes category if the app user is male. You should refine the searchTerm based on your conversion rates and the products your users are purchasing.  Promote brands which are popular in your app user’s geographic location. For example, Adidas is a very popular brand in Germany.

API code integration

Update the Android Manifest

Making requests to the Amazon Mobile Associates API requires the INTERNET permission. These permissions need to be declared outside of the <application> tags in yourAndroidManifest.xml file.

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE" />
<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.ACCESS_WIFI_STATE" />

Initialize the API

In your Activity.onCreate(), initialize the API by calling AssociatesAPI.initialize(config) using your Application Key.

protected void onCreate(final Bundle savedInstanceState) {
   super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
   setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);
   AssociatesAPI.initialize(new AssociatesAPI.Config(APPLICATION_KEY, this));
}

To get the Application Key, log on to the developer portal, click on the "My Apps" tab and then select an existing app or click on the "Add a New App" button. When creating a new app, just fill in the "App Title" and "Form Factor" fields and click the "Save" button. The next screen will show the unique Application Key value, which is a 32-character globally unique alphanumeric string that is used to identify your app. The same Application Key can be used across platforms, but each distinct app must have a unique Application Key.

Direct to Amazon Search Result Page

To direct customers to an Amazon product search results page, construct an OpenSearchPageRequest by specifying the search keyword and pass the search request to the LinkService.openRetailPage method.

String searchTerm = "running";
String category = "Shoes";
openSearchPageButton = (Button)findViewById(R.id.open_search_page_by_term_button);
openSearchPageButton.setEnabled(true);
openSearchPageButton.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {   

    public void onClick(View view) {
       OpenSearchPageRequest request = new OpenSearchPageRequest(searchTerm, category);
       try {
           LinkService linkService = AssociatesAPI.getLinkService();
           linkService.openRetailPage(request);
       } catch (NotInitializedException e) {
               e.printStackTrace();
       }
   }
});

For more details on building “Relevant products” experience, please visit the Amazon Developer Portal.

Testing the app

Once you have integrated the MAA APIs in your app, you should test your app by clicking through MAA links and validating that the users are presented with the relevant products. We also recommend that you validate application id and that the app has INTERNET permission enabled before publishing the app.

 

 

December 09, 2013

David Isbitski

The Amazon Mobile App Distribution program enables you to distribute your existing web apps on Kindle Fire and select Android devices in nearly 200 countries across the globe (including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Brazil and Japan). 

Almost any mobile friendly website you are hosting today can be run as a Web App.  This means all of the HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS code you have built today can be made available as an App in the Amazon Appstore

In the recent Webinar on Submitting HTML5 Web Apps to the Amazon Appstore, we covered how to get your existing web apps onto actual devices and debug and test them.

You can debug your HTML5 Web App in two different ways.

•      You can use your favorite IDE or debugging tools for normal Web App development like you are already doing. 

•      Or, you can optionally use the Chrome DevTools to debug your web app using a Kindle Fire or an Android device running the Web App Tester Tool.

Note: The Chrome DevTools, the Chrome Browser installation tool, the Android SDK and certain other development tools are provided by third parties, not by Amazon.

Setting up your Debug Environment

The Chrome Developer Tools are freely available from Google and included in all the latest versions of the Chrome Browser.  Simply select the Chrome menu at the top-right of your browser window, then select Tools > Developer tools to begin debugging.  You can get additional information on installing the tools off the Chromium blog.  The Chrome DevTools use the Android Debug Bridge (adb), part of the Android SDK tools, to communicate with the web app from your computer.

Next, we will need to install the Web App Tester Tool from the Amazon Appstore.  This tool will allow us to create a bridge to our computer over USB or WiFi. 

Simply swipe from the top of the device (if on a Kindle Fire device make sure you tap the full screen handle on the bottom of the screen to open the status bar) and then swipe down from the top of the screen to display the Quick Settings Notification Area.  Once there you will have the option to connect over either USB or WiFI.

In this example I have selected WiFi and am given a url I can put into my browser to connect the Chrome Dev Tools to that running app.

Here is a screenshot of a Kindle Fire running my Web App with the Chrome Debug Tools showing the source for my app.  This enables me to now select actual <div> tags now in the html code via Chrome on my computer and see those <div> tags being highlighted on my actual device (as in the example below).

Conclusion

By utilizing the free Chrome Developer Tools and the free Web App Tester tool we are now able to debug our Web App on an actual device in real time.  This includes everything you would expect from the Chrome Developer Tools, like real time resource monitoring, the ability to view our html source and a JavaScript console.

For a complete walkthrough of the steps described here you can watch the short screencast below as well as checking out the web app debug documentation on our developer portal here.

 

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

December 06, 2013

David Isbitski

The Amazon Mobile Ads API allows you to easily place high-quality display ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network into your Android and Kindle Fire apps. Successfully monetizing your apps with ads depends on several factors, one of the biggest being the ad fill rates you receive. A common practice is to use multiple ad networks so that if you are unable to fill an ad with one network you can request an ad from another one.

I thought it would be helpful to offer some guidance on how you can implement multiple ad networks into your own apps. This should help increase your fill rates as well as giving you the opportunity to show ads to customers were the Amazon Mobile Ad Network currently does not serve ads.

Let’s get started!

Setting up the App Manifest and Layout

The first thing you will need to do is follow the guidelines for including the correct Android network permissions and ad Activity as described here.  Since you are going to include AdMob ads as well you will need to define that activity after our Amazon Ad as seen below.

You will also need to make sure you have set up the Amazon AdLayout inside of your layout file like below.

Declaring Multiple Ad Networks

Verify that both ad networks have been added to your Android project and set for export as seen below. For purposes of this demo, I will be using version 6.4.1 of the AdMob SDK and version 5.1.153 of the Amazon Mobile Ads API.”

Depending on what ad network SDK you are working with, many of the classes may be named similarly to the ones used in Amazon Mobile Ads API . You will need to be extremely careful when referencing individual classes and I recommended using fully qualified namespaces as seen below.

Displaying an Amazon Ad

Displaying an ad with the Amazon Mobile Ads API is as simple as creating and adding an Amazon AdView to the layout, setting any optional targeting properties and then calling the loadAd method of the AdView.

In the example below I am setting the ad to target a twenty five year old male and using a simple fixed rate timer to refresh the ad over time using a fixed schedule timer.

I have also turned logging on by setting the AdRegistration logging flag to true. This will give us detailed information in LogCat about the ads being served.

Here are some screenshots of the Amazon ads being loaded on a Kindle Fire HDX device:

Here is an example of the Amazon ad information being written to LogCat:

Checking if an Amazon Ad was served

If an Amazon ad has not been served within the timeout period it will call the onAdFailedToLoad() method. The default timeout is 20 seconds but you can change this to a different value (defined in milliseconds) by setting a property on the AdView itself. I recommend doing this while testing so that you can force the ad mediation to happen.

In the code below you will see I have set the timeout to be 100 milliseconds, which will always cause the ad to fail while I am debugging my secondary ad network. Once I have seen ads being loaded from both networks I can set this back to a more reasonable value.

Inside the onAdFailedToLoad method I log the ad error message I received, remove the Amazon view from the UI, load the AdMob view and then I have it request an ad.

Here are some screenshots of the AdMob ad being loaded on a Kindle Fire HDX device:

Here is an example of the AdMob information being written to LogCat:

Setting an Ad Timeout

The Amazon Mobile Ad Network recommends loading a new ad on screen navigations and device orientation changes when the ad view changes size. You may also want to refresh the ad after a set time interval. In this case, the Amazon Mobile Ad Network recommends a refresh rate of 30 to 60 seconds. Faster ad refresh intervals could result in blocked ad requests.

Please note that the Amazon Mobile Ads API does not provide any built-in functionality for automatically refreshing ads. The timeout value of the Amazon AdView is the amount of time it will try to get a new ad for you before calling the onAdFailedToLoad method. This will not auto refresh the ad it will only change the amount of time it spends trying to load an ad.

You will need to create your own timer system to refresh the ad or some other way inside of your app. In the code example above I used a timer on a fixed rate schedule for demo purposes, but there is no limitation to the way you could handle this in your own apps. For example, every time a player reaches a new level in your game you briefly display an ad.

Conclusion

Hopefully you have seen how easy it is to set up ad mediation with the Amazon Mobile Ads API and third party ad SDKs in your own apps. You can read more details on working with other ad SDKs here on our developer portal. You can also get more detailed information about the Amazon Mobile Ads API itself and sign up here.

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

November 26, 2013

Mike Hines

Ever wonder what’s involved in turning your web app into an app you can launch from a mobile device? On the Amazon Appstore, it’s pretty easy, and involves just a few steps you can learn about here. One of those steps is adding a JSON file called the web-app-manifest to your web app.

This manifest file contains information required to run your app on a mobile device, and the basic manifest file is created for you on the developer portal. Where you put that manifest file can make a difference though. You should know about that and how to edit your manifest file in order to give your app access to features like geolocation on the device.

Where can you put the Manifest, and what difference that makes.

While we recommend that you put the manifest file at the root of your web app, you can put the manifest file anywhere on your server. The location of your manifest file determines what pages will render in the context of your app, and which pages will render in the default browser. The pages in the sub-domains under your manifest will be accessible by your app and will render in the context of your app. Any pages outside of those domains or directories will open in the default browser instead of in the context of your app.

Take a look at what pages will and won’t be accessible from your mobile app depending on where you put the manifest. Note the special case of www. and m. addresses in yellow below.

If you put your manifest here…

These pages will open in your app

But these pages will open in a browser

http://foo.com/web-app-manifest.json

http://*.foo.com/*

http://*.notFoo.com/*

http://bar.foo.com/web-app-manifest.json

http://*.bar.foo.com/*

http://*.notBar.foo.com/*

http://m.foo.com/web-app-manifest.json

http://*.foo.com/*

http://*.notFoo.com/*

http://www.foo.com/web-app-manifest.json

http://*.foo.com/*

http://*.notFoo.com/*

http://foo.com/MyApp/web-app-manifest.json

http://foo.com/MyApp/*

http://foo.com/notMyApp/*

http://*.foo.com/MyApp/*

http://bar.foo.com/MyApp/web-app-manifest.json

http://bar.foo.com/MyApp/*

http://bar.foo.com/*

http://notBar.foo.com/*

http://notBar.foo.com/MyApp/*

http://bar.foo.com/notMyApp/*

SSL Note:

  • If the manifest is delivered with https://, then the entire app must be delivered over SSL as well.
  • If the manifest is delivered with http://, the app may be still be served over SSL.
  • If you use any permissions (IAP, Geo Location, Login), you must use SSL.

Now that you have a good idea where to put your manifest, what to put in it?

Contents of the web-app-manifest.json file

The manifest created automatically for you will look like this:

{
 "verification_key" : "c8efxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxe5b239e9",
 "version" : "0.00(0)",
 "type" : "web",
 "last_update" : "2013-11-19 23:40:17+0000"
}

  • “verification key” connects your website to your app.
    *This is the only required field in the manifest.
  • “version” helps you track the version that you have submitted
  • “type” lets us know that in this case, the app is a web-app
  • “last_update” is when this manifest file was created (you can change it to match your updates)

In addition to the elements above, you may also wish to add one of these elements:

  • “permissions” specifies the permissions your app will request (these will require SSL use).  They consist of:
  • “Created_by” = you.
  • “launch_path” identifies the file you want your app to open
  1. iap = In App Purchasing
  2. geolocation = Get location information
  3. auth = if you request user credentials for login (facebook connect, google, your own.)

A finished web-app-manifest.JSON that uses all available fields might look like this:

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{

    "verification_key": " c8efxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxe5b239e9",

    "launch_path": "index.html",

    "permissions": [

        "iap",

        "geolocation",

        "auth"

    ],

  

    "type": "web",

    "version": "0.1a",

    "last_update": "2013-04-08 13:30:00-0800",

    "created_by": "webappdev"

}

Updating your web-app-manifest.JSON file

If after your app launches, you decide you want to update you web-app-manifest.JSON file, the app on device will not automatically update with new JSON file data. You will need to publish an updated version of your app. You can create an updated version of your native app in the dev portal by using the ‘Add an upcoming version’ link at the top of the developer portal page for your app (see below).

Once your new version submission is underway, you can submit and verify a new manifest, and then submit the new app version for publication.

A Tip to Remember!

Please be sure to configure your server to accommodate .JSON MIME types! For example:

.json -> application/json
.webapp -> application/x-web-app-manifest+json

More Information

You can find detailed documentation on the web-app-manifest.JSON file and on HTML5 app submission on our Dev Portal here.

Should you have any additional questions about the web app manifest file and how it is used, please send us a quick note so we can get you the answer you need.

 

November 14, 2013

David Isbitski

We’re excited to announce a new tool for developers called the Developer Promotion Console (DPC). DPC gives you a self-service way to manage the pricing of all your apps with pricing campaigns. Want to run a 24-hour special holiday sale or discount all of your apps to celebrate the launch of a new game? It’s now much easier.

The Developer Promotion Console is available just in time for the holidays and it’s a great time run a special offer. In 2012, we saw a 50% increase in the number of app downloads during Thanksgiving week as compared to an average week. During ‘Digital Week’ 2012, the week after Christmas, customers purchased and downloaded 600% more apps than any other week during 2012.

What is it?

DPC allows you to create campaigns that run from 24 hours to any amount of time you choose, up to a maximum of 27 consecutive days. Pricing is worldwide so you can set discounts by Amazon marketplace. Best of all, you can run campaigns for the price of your mobile apps and any of your mobile in-app items.


 

What does it include?

Set temporary price drops: Create price drop promotions for your mobile apps and mobile in-app items to incentivize your customers to purchase your products. 

ReportingEasily view your ROI during your price drop promotion. Compare the performance of your promotion with your performance prior to the promotion.

Ease of use: Creating a price drop promotion is simple. Typically, it will take no more than five minutes and three steps to go from start to a scheduled promotion.

How do I get started?

Inside of the developer console, you will see a new tab called ‘Promotions.’ Clicking on the tab will display a new button to create a ‘Price Drop,’ as well as a list of your existing campaigns.

You will be able to set a discount for any of your apps and in-app items available for purchase.

For this example, we are going to create a new campaign for one app and set a price discount for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. We start off by giving the campaign a name, in this case the ‘Thanksgiving Holiday Promo’, and then selecting the app (currently blocked out in the image for privacy reasons) that we want to include in the promotion.

We then select the Amazon marketplaces we want the campaign to run in. Since Thanksgiving is a US holiday, we will only run it in the amazon.com marketplace.

Next, we can choose the dates for our campaign, with the minimum being one day and the maximum being 27 consecutive days. We are going to run this campaign for Thanksgiving Day only, on November 28, 2013.


We then click ‘Next’ and define the discount we want to apply to our app. We are going to do a 50% off sale with the price being rounded to the nearest 9. Selecting the amazon.com marketplace from the dropdown shows us that the list price for our app will go from 2.99 USD to 1.49 USD when the campaign is active.

Again, note that the app name in the above screenshot has been hidden in this example for privacy reasons.

Clicking ‘Next’ will give us a final confirmation of our campaign’s details. We have the ability to edit any of the sections before hitting ‘Submit’.

We’re finished. Our campaign is now ready to run on Thanksgiving Day in the amazon.com marketplace, where our app will be available for sale at 50% off.

How much did we increase sales?

Rather than guessing if we made more money with increased sales at a discount, the DPC reports will show us our net results of our campaign sales compared with our normal app pricing.

To view the results of the campaign, we just click on the ‘Promotions’ tab again (the same one we used to create our campaigns), and we will see a list of the campaigns that have run or are planned.

In the above example, we can see that we ran a campaign from October 29th through November 3rd (campaign name hidden for privacy reasons), and we have the option to click ‘View’ to see the results of that campaign.

We can see that during the campaign period, we sold 21 units of our app at 50% off.

The ‘Effect’ column takes the guesswork out of the ROI for our campaign and gives us the net results. Based on sales during the period of time before the campaign ran, we have increased our revenue for the period by 84%, resulting in a nice boost.

We can also click on the CSV icon, which will create a detailed view of daily sales during the campaign period and compare them with previous run rates.

Conclusion

The new Developer Promotion Console helps you manage discounted pricing which can lead to increased sales and customer engagement. Creating a new campaign is easy through the Developer Promotion Console, at no cost to you. With detailed reports that will show you the ROI of your campaign, you can feel more confident experimenting with discounts on your apps and in-app items.
 

-Dave (@TheDaveDev

 

November 07, 2013

Mike Hines

Now is one of the best times of year to submit your apps to the Amazon Appstore and have them published for Android phones and tablets, including the new Kindle Fire line of tablets. In 2012, we saw a 50% increase in the number of app downloads during Thanksgiving week as compared to an average week. During ‘Digital Week’ in 2012, the week after Christmas, customers purchased and downloaded 600% more apps than an average week during the year.

As we’ve noted in earlier blog posts, it’s easy to get started as 75% of the Android tablet apps we’ve tested already work on Kindle Fire without any extra development. Amazon also has a tool that quickly ensures your apps have the best chance of passing both Amazon Appstore and Kindle Fire compatibility testing. Even if you’ve already got an app in the Amazon Appstore, you can use this service to check out any updates you plan on submitting.

The testing tool works fast and screens your apps for potential errors or incompatibilities. For example, you’ll learn:

  • If there are structural issues with implementation of Amazon APIs
  • If you are using any libraries that might impact compatibility
  • If your app has features that are not supported by some Kindle Fire devices

If an issue is found, you will also get some suggestions for fixing the problem. Note, the tool is not designed to replace debugging in your IDE, and it won’t find null pointer exceptions or similar coding errors.

To get started, you can find the tool in the SDK & Tools area of the Developer Portal where there is now a link for the App Testing Service.
 


 

The App Testing Service detail page includes a brief description of the tool and a button that initiates the App Testing Service. Clicking that button brings you to the app testing page (below) which contains a control into which you can drag your .apk.
 


To give you a sense on the experience you can expect, I’ll walk you through the short process. I started with a small quotation app that I created and dragged it into the tool. The testing was complete in under a minute and my app passed. The tool then displayed a ‘Submit to Amazon Appstore’ button that I could use to start the app submission process.

Next, I tested the same app that used Google In-App Billing instead of Amazon In-App Purchasing. The tool caught that error and correctly identified the issue and offered suggestions for fixing my app. Here is that test result:
 


Here is another test result that identifies an error in In-App Purchasing implementation:
 


Once the test is complete, you can find the results of this and all your tests in a table at the bottom of the app testing page. This lets you go back and re-visit previous issues and recommendations across all the apps you have tested.

So don’t miss out on getting in front of all those customers during the holiday season. Save time and go to https://developer.amazon.com/tya/welcome.html and make sure your apps are ready to submit to the Amazon Appstore. 

 

October 29, 2013

Mike Hines

Following up on the latest in a series of webinars covering Amazon devices, game services, and mobile applications, here’s a list of questions we collected during and after our presentation on the Amazon AB Testing API.

Q: AB test requires internet connection at every launch so even i switch to 100% for say thanksgiving.. it will not applicable to user if he is not connected to internet.. Is there any way to make it concrete...
A: If you query the server for a variant each time you use the app, the user will get the default value (“ABTest Default”) from this line:

newText = varNewText.getVariableAsString("varNewText", "ABTest Default");

If that default were set to “Thanksgiving”, you could be sure that you would get this value even if offline.

If you have a different, undesired value as default, you will need to wait until the user launches the app while online to effect the change. Even then, when offline, the user will see Default again.  To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can save the value once it’s been set. Then you can check to see if there is a connection before resetting the value from the server, and use the stored value if there is no connection. This way, the value can always be “Thanksgiving” (or whatever variant you select), even when the user is offline.

Q: if we r using a|b testing in our google play apps, does it need the amazon appstore app installed (for drm validation) in the device or just adding the insights jar file in our google play app will do?
A: Amazon Appstore does not need to be installed for A|B Testing to work. Just adding the Insights jar file will work.

Q: when i was a|b testing, i noticed delays in getting the variables  in my app as well as viewing the results in the portal... why is there a delay? what is stopping from real-time measurements on the portal?
A: The call to the Insights service updates asynchronously, and results are not posted to the server real-time.  It is reasonable to see some delay before the results appear in the portal.  When offline, the service batches all collected data and saves it until the customer’s device connects with our service.

 

Don’t miss out on our next webinar event: 
Tips & Tricks: How To Test, Submit, and Earn Revenue with Your HTML5 Mobile Web Apps
on November 7th, 2013 @ 10:00 AM
Pre-register here!
 

 

October 11, 2013

Mike Hines


Click here  to watch the exclusive webinar replay on YouTube!
 
Following up on the latest in a series of webinars covering Amazon devices, game services, and mobile applications, here’s a list of questions we collected during and after our presentation on the Amazon Maps API.
 
Q: Can we see some best practices about creating apps that support both Google and Amazon maps, if possible without doubling the codebase? So long story short: is there a way to hide the map implementation like behind a Factory pattern, or something like that, or we have to work with two separate projects?
A: You could create a common map library using a factory pattern. Others may prefer maintaining separate code bases, dependency injection...etc. Unfortunately, there is no single good answer. It depends on the goal and scope of your team.
 
Q: Can we use Amazon maps on regular Android apps?
A: No, at this time the Maps API does not support non-Kindle Fire devices.
 
Q: Is it preferred to save that geocoding locally so we dont make lot of calls?
A: Yes, avoid excessive network operations would improve the performance and battery consumption of your app.
 
Q: If our app has a map in it, is there a way to support the Kindle devices in China and Japan?
A: The Amazon Maps API is supported in countries where Kindle Fire tablets are sold, except for China and Japan
 
Q: Is there restrictions on how many geocoding calls we can make?
A: At this time, there are no specific usage quotas or limits for the Maps API. However, we reserve the right to throttle or shut down your application in the event we reasonably believe your use of the Maps API exceeds typical or expected usage and/or creates material technical burdens on our (or our partner’s) systems.
 
Q: What's the benefit of using Amazon Maps over Goolge Maps API?
A: Google Map API requires Google Play Service, which is not available on Kindle Fire tablets.
 
Q: Can we do geocoding of an address outside of the mobile app?
A: No, at this time the Maps API does not support query outside of a mobile app.
 
Q: How does Amazon Maps compare with Google Maps with respect to features?
A: The Amazon Maps API offers interface parity with the Google Maps API v1. At this time, the Amazon Maps API does not support Traffic, Street view, and Trackball gestures.
For more information, please visit https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/maps/faq.html
 
Q: Can the maps be cached locally?
A: No, at this time the Maps API does not support map caching.
 
Q: Is there a way to get Amazon Maps in a Fragment?
A: At this time the Maps API does not support fragments.
 
Q: Pretty cool maps, who is the map data provider? TeleAtlas, NAVTEQ?
A: Nokia. 
 
Q: There are several build targets in the amazon api(in eclipse, 3 only for API level 17). If I build on e.g. Kindle Fire 7(3rd generation) will it be ok for e.g. Kindle Fire HDX 8(3rd generation) as well?
A: Yes, the 3rd generation of Kindle Fire tablets are compatible with API level 17
 
 
Don’t miss out on our next webinar event: 
Integrating GameCircle in Your Android & iOS Games
on October 16th, 2013 @ 10:00 AM
Pre-register here!
 
 

 

 

September 27, 2013

Peter Heinrich

Amid all the hoopla around GameCircle’s expansion to iOS and a major update to Whispersync for Games, you may not have noticed two other powerful features were also released recently. The GameCircle team quietly added support for bulk creation of leaderboards and achievements on the Mobile App Distribution Portal, as well as the ability to internationalize them in up to eight languages besides US English. Both have been popular feature requests.

Internationalization means that GameCircle will display the title and description of your leaderboard or achievement in the language appropriate to your player’s locale, provided they have specified it in their mobile device settings. You can provide translated descriptions in any or all of these languages:

 

You enable these alternative versions by selecting them from the Add a Language dropdown list on the Leaderboard or Achievement view for your game. To view your game’s leaderboards, for example, go to the GameCircle configuration page and follow the View link in Leaderboards column.

 

Adding an additional language is not reversible, but you specify which ones to publish, so there’s no harm done if you change your mind or add the wrong one: simply don’t publish that version of the title and description.

Once you add a language, you will see a new corresponding line item for each leaderboard or achievement, which is independently editable.

Providing alternative versions for each title and description, while straightforward, may become unwieldy when you are translating for a lot of locales, or just have lots of leaderboards or achievements. In fact, as the number of leaderboards and achievements goes up, entering all of the other information required to create them definitely makes manual entry time-consuming.

This is where GameCircle’s new bulk upload facility becomes really handy. Rather than create each achievement individually, for example, you can create a file of comma-separated values (CSV) defining all of your achievements at once. From the list of Achievements for your game, click the Bulk Add Achievements button.

On the page that appears, download a CSV template via the click here link. Open the template and fill in the columns as appropriate, then save it locally. See the Create Multiple Achievements section of Implementing Achievements for more information on each column. You will notice, for example, that there are separate columns for each possible translation of title, locked description, and unlocked description. Icon ids for locked and unlocked versions of the achievement are shared across all languages.

Before you can upload the CSV file defining your achievement (or leaderboard) metadata, however, you must upload the icons it refers to. GameCircle provides an Icon Gallery for this purpose, which allows you to add, delete, and rename icons individually or by dragging and dropping them on a web page. You can view the Icon Gallery for your game from the GameCircle configuration page. See Using the Icon Gallery for more information.

Once the icons have been saved and the CSV file updated to reflect your achievement metadata, you’re ready to upload. Click Choose File and navigate to the file you just edited, and then upload it.

Mobile apps and games distributed through the Amazon Appstore for Android are available in nearly 200 countries worldwide, and now GameCircle allows you to provide title and description translations for several of them. Entering the metadata that defines your achievements and leaderboards also got easier, now that you can upload it as a CSV file. Added in response to developer feedback, these features were designed to complement each other and make working with GameCircle fast and simple.

 

August 21, 2013

Mike Hines

As readers of this blog, you probably already know that Kindle Fire devices run Android. While these devices may not look like Android because we use an Amazon-designed launcher, they are Android indeed. The original Kindle Fire released in 2011 runs Gingerbread (API level 10) and the Kindle Fire devices released in 2012 run Ice Cream Sandwich (API level 15).

What you may not know is how easy it is to get your existing Android apps up and running in the Amazon Appstore on Kindle Fire and other Android devices. We recently tested more than 1,600 app submissions to the Amazon Appstore Android tablet apps on Kindle Fire. In our tests we found that more than 75% of these apps just work on Kindle Fire devices with no additional development required.

While some developers may choose to just submit their Android apps, others may also decide to integrate Amazon APIs like In-App Purchasing, GameCircle or Mobile Ads to provide a richer customer experience and monetization.

We’ve seen Android apps like ‘Match the Pics’ take minutes to get submitted to Amazon and others like ‘Temple Run’ easily integrate Amazon APIs with their apps.

“Publishing our content on the Amazon Appstore was extremely easy since our Android games just worked on Kindle Fire. Creating the developer account and submitting the first app for review took a matter of minutes, and the app got published the next day.”        Appoh

"We've integrated with Amazon's In-App Purchasing and GameCircle APIs, which was a breeze. We've seen significantly higher customer engagement with Temple Run since the integration, making the few, short steps worth it.”         Imangi

You may be asking, why don’t 100% of Android APKs submitted run on Kindle Fire? Of the minority that doesn’t get to the store on their first try, some reasons for failure are:

  1. App functionality doesn’t match the product description. We’ve found that this is the top reason.
  2. For apps designed to run on phones, the app loses state or data when it receives a message or phone call. The app should preserve its state when receiving or placing text messages and phone calls.
  3. The icons don’t match. Sometimes, the icons submitted in the developer portal don’t match the icons included in the application. They need to match.
  4. App stability or failure to launch. One in 20 of the app failures is stability related. For example, because the SD card path is not necessarily the same for all devices, assumptions about the SD card path can cause failures. Another common example is failing to include referenced libraries.
  5. Not replacing unsupported APIs with the Amazon equivalent API.
  6. Security. One example we’ve seen is writing plain-text login credentials to the log. Apps need to be secure for customers.
     

Since your app will most likely just work with zero development effort in the Amazon Appstore, it seems like a no-brainer to create a developer account – at zero cost - and submit your app. Take a look at what one of Amazon’s Appstore developers says about how easy it is to set up your account and submit your Android app.

Some of the details went by fairly quickly in the video. Here’s a comparison summary of the assets in a Google Play submission and how they transfer to an Amazon Appstore submission.

It’s really not hard to have your app fly through testing. Just open a developer account on the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal today. You can then start submitting your existing APKs to the Amazon store, exposing them to new customers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.

Click here to get started.

August 13, 2013

Peter Heinrich

Amazon GameCircle and the other game services we offer are designed to make mobile game development easier, but knowing where to start may still be difficult. To offer a bit of guidance, I thought it might be worthwhile to take a small, simple game and walk through the process of extending its functionality, one service at a time. Together we’ll gradually add features over the course of several posts, each one focusing on a specific way Amazon services speed development or reduce code complexity. At the end of the series, we’ll have a working game application that shows these services in action and demonstrates how you might incorporate them into other projects.

As the title implies, this post will kick off the series with a look at GameCircle, which supports leaderboards, achievements, and Whispersync for Games, a powerful mechanism to synchronize local and cloud data. Games have been saving progress and celebrating player success since the beginning, so GameCircle seems like a good place to begin our journey.

Prerequisites

Note that this blog series assumes that you are comfortable developing for Android using Java and Eclipse, and that your development environment is set up and working properly with the Android Developer Tools (ADT). Some Amazon services are available only on Kindle Fire, so that will be our target device throughout the series. You must install the Kindle Fire SDK add-ons in order to use those features. For more information, see the Get Started section of Kindle Fire Development Resources.

Importing the Monster Tag Project

Before we begin, we need a simple game that will serve as the base for our experimentation and improvements. Monster Tag displays a horde of monsters and asks the player to tag them as they bounce around the screen. Every time a monster is tagged, it gets startled and speeds off in another direction. The faster a monster is moving when it’s tagged, the more points are awarded to the player.

To import the Monster Tag project into Eclipse, download and extract the source bundle to a convenient location, then choose File | New | Project… from Eclipse’s main menu. Expand Android and select Android Project from Existing Code, then click Next

Click Browse… to navigate to the temporary location where you extracted the source code, then click OK. Check Copy projects into workspace and click Finish

Once the project has been loaded successfully, you will see it in the Package Explorer:

Launch the application in the debugger for the first time by selecting the MainActivity and choosing Run | Debug As | Android Application from Eclipse’s main menu. You should see a lot of little orange guys flying around, daring to be tagged.

Establishing Trust

We have a basic game application running, but we’re still not ready to integrate GameCircle and use it to track high scores online. The GameCircle service won’t accept connections from just any mobile application—it authenticates requests to ensure they’re coming from trusted apps. Every app or game that wants to access GameCircle (and some other Amazon services) must have an “API key,” which is associated with a security profile for that app. The key tells GameCircle that our app is trustworthy.

To establish a security profile and obtain an API key, we must first let Amazon know about our game, which we do on the Mobile Application Distribution Portal. Sign in or create a developer account there if you don’t already have one. (If you’re creating an account for the first time, you’ll be asked to supply some basic information and agree to some terms and conditions. If you intend to create paid apps, you’ll have to provide some extra info, as well.)

Once you’ve logged in, go to the Apps & Services tab and hover over the Add a New App drop-down, then select Add new Android App. Now we can tell Amazon the details of our game:

Generating a Security Profile

After clicking Save we could add more details, such as pricing, icons, and screenshots, but for now we’ll skip those steps and jump right to creation of a security profile. Follow the Security Profile link that appears under the app title on the next screen, then click the Create a New Security Profile button.

You’ll be asked to name the security profile. Note that you can share security profiles between applications, which we’ll discuss in a later post. For now, we’ll assume only Monster Tag will use this one, so we’ll name it accordingly:

Creating an API Key

Now we have a security profile, but no API key has been associated with it yet. Follow the API Keys link that appears after the profile name, then fill in the required fields and click Generate.

NOTE: What you enter in the signature field, below, will depend on your own development environment; you must supply the MD5 signature of your own debug keystore. You can find information about obtaining this value in the Debug application signature section of Getting Your OAuth Credentials and API Key. Typically this involves using keytool (installed as part of the JDK) from the command line:

keytool -list -v -alias androiddebugkey -keystore /path/to/debug.keystore

You should be asked to supply a password, which is “android” by default (no quotes). Check the output for the MD5 signature, highlighted below:

...

Certificate fingerprints:

         MD5:  D4:81:0C:AA:3D:45:DE:45:59:F2:BE:DE:95:A8:E1:65
         SHA1: A1:DF:DD:0D:89:77:81:24:E0:AF:47:AA:B6:55:B6:14:58:7D:4C:E4
         SHA256: 5:50:7F:6F:43:2C:3E:CD:D6:46:F1:F7:96:F2:ED:DE:E8:DD:3A:53:00
         Signature algorithm name: SHA1withRSA
         Version: 3

Adding an API Key to an Eclipse Project

Generating the API key will result in a long base64-encoded string. This is the magic value we need to include in our project to identify our app as trustworthy.

To add it to the project, create a new file called /assets/api_key.txt and paste in the value. Note that api_key.txt must be located in the /assets subfolder.

Enabling GameCircle Data for a Security Profile

Next, we must indicate that there will be GameCircle data associated with the security profile we just created, and that our Monster Tag game will use it. Go to the GameCircle configuration page, select the security profile we created and click Confirm.

Connect a Security Profile to the App

To connect our game to the correct GameCircle data, go to the My Apps tab of your profile, click the Monster Tag app, then follow the Security Profile link. Click the Monster Tag radio button and confirm the action by selecting Apply Profile on the dialog that appears.

Next Steps

Success! Our app is registered with Amazon, there’s a security profile associated with it, and we generated a corresponding API key and added it to our project. We’re ready to use GameCircle and it’s ready to accept requests from our mobile application.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll use GameCircle’s built-in leaderboard functionality to track high scores and let users compete with each other. Now that we have the app and security bookkeeping out of the way, it will be a cakewalk.

 

August 05, 2013

Mike Hines

In previous posts, we’ve touched on the eCPM benefits and ease of implementation of the Amazon Mobile Ads service. But easy to implement doesn’t mean inflexible. We’d like to cover some easy ways you can do Ad Targeting.

In addition to being able to specify the ad unit size, there are a number of targeting options you can include in the request that's sent to the Amazon Mobile Ad Network.

The properties you can send to get more accurately targeted ads are:

 Property

 Argument

 UserGender

 MALE | FEMALE

 GeoLocation

 true
 [this will return current lat/long position to Amazon, and you must declare  coarse_location and fine_location in you permissions request.]

 Age

 integer

For example, to get ads that are better suited to 35 year-old males in the use’s specific region, do the following:

public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
   ...
    AdTargetingOptions adOptions = new AdTargetingOptions();
    adOptions.enableGeoLocation(true);
    adOptions.setGender(AdTargetingOptions.Gender.MALE);
    adOptions.setAge(35);

}

Easy, isn’t it.

You can also customize the floor price for the ads you receive. For example, if you want to get ads that will pay no less than $0.85 per thousand ads returned, you can do that by setting Advanced Option “ec” to 850000 micro-dollars.

For example, add the following line to the example above:

adOptions.setAdvancedOption(“ec”, “850000”);

and you will only get ads with CPM => $0.85. 

Note: The Amazon Mobile Ad Network is designed to maximize your revenue opportunity at the default setting. Setting a floor price may limit your revenue potential as it might prevent several paid campaigns from running on your placement. Amazon recommends not setting this value.

You can also specify a list of advertiser names, advertiser product categories, or URLs that aren't appropriate for your customers. Use the restrictions page under the Settings menu item in your dev portal. Please note that blocking ads may negatively impact your revenue and fill rates, and restrictions currently apply to all of your apps with ads. 

How do you see your results? That’s easy too. Check it out on the Mobile App Distribution Portal Dashboard (your dev portal home page), or by clicking on Reporting and selecting either Mobile Ads Performance to see:

  • Requests
  • Impressions
  • Fill rates
  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • Revenue per thousand impressions (RPM)
  • Earnings

 

Or you can click on Mobile Ads Payments to see payments dispersed.

We’re happy that we’ve been able to make targeting Amazon Mobile Ads easy and straightforward. Click here to see the Mobile Ads API video and to get the Mobile App SDK. We hope you’ll give it a try in your app today.

 

August 01, 2013

Peter Heinrich

Following up on the second in a series of webinars covering Amazon devices, game services, and mobile applications, here’s a list of questions we collected during and after our presentation on Amazon GameCircle, including Achievements, Leaderboards, and Whispersync for Games.

 

Does the developer have access to the GameCircle nickname?

Yes, you can call getLocalPlayerProfile(), which returns a structure containing player id and player alias (same as nickname/username). NULL is returned if the player is in guest mode (they have not logged in). Player id is unique for each player.

When updating Achievement Progress can you decrement it as well or does the GameCircleCient hold onto the latest highest progress value?

Achievement progress is strictly increasing, which means updates must be greater than the current value or they’ll be ignored. Note that you can reset achievement data for draft achievements (those that have not yet been published).

With the update, does GameCircle still support Kindle Fire 1?

Yes. The GameCircle system app must be updated to v1.1_1101110, however. This should have been delivered OTA. On KF2, the GC system app should be v2.5.2500310 or greater.

Can leaderboards/achievements be translated?

Not yet, but localization is in development and will be available in a future release.

Is the same game discovery mechanism on Kindle Fire available on all Android devices as well?

The dedicated Games Tab is built in to the games library on Kindle Fire only. It’s not available on other Android devices.

What is the minimum OS supported?

GameCircle supports API level 10 up to API level 16 on all Android devices.

Is GameCircle available internationally?

Yes, GameCircle works internationally. Players in China are limited to Guest mode for now, due to data storage requirements imposed by the Chinese government, but we will address that in a future release.

Is the old version of GameCircle still supported?

Yes, for legacy games. Games that have been published using GameCircle v1.x will continue to work. If you had a game in development when GameCircle v2.0 was released, you can proceed to publish it using the old version. Since the Mobile App Distribution Portal no longer provides direct support for GameCircle v1.x app whitelisting, however, you must contact us to add or update package name/signature pairs. See the Whitelisting Notice on the GameCircle configuration page for more information.

What happened to the FileSync and BlobSync from Whispersync?

We greatly simplified the Whispersync interface to make it easier to integrate and expand auto-resolution of data conflicts. As a result, we dropped support for the blob and multifile sync options. They were complicated to integrate and forced the developer to manually reconcile data on occasion (or to ask the customer to do so). The new Whispersync requires significantly less integration overhead and provides a better customer experience in most cases.

Can I migrate old Whispersync data to the new format?

Yes, there are two methods on the WhispersyncClient that can help in the migration process. migrateVersion1GameData() and unpackVersion1MultiFileGameData() will download and unpack data stored using the previous version, respectively. They’re only meant to be used by games that integrated Whispersync prior to July 1, 2013. See the Javadoc for more info.

Is there any way to integrate game circle in Air apps?

Amazon provided an Adobe Native Extension (ANE) for GameCircle v1.x, but none is yet available for the new version. We are actively researching an upgrade to the existing ANE, but don’t have an official timeline. Check back here or follow @peterdotgames for updates on the availability of a new ANE. In the meantime, you can continue to the existing extension with GameCircle v1.x for games currently in development.

Where can I learn more about Unity plugin for game circle?

Check out the Amazon Unity Plug-Ins page on the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal.

Do users need to login with Amazon account username and password to use the game services?

No, GameCircle now supports a Guest Mode for users who don’t want to log in to an Amazon account. In this case, data will not be synchronized to the cloud or across devices.

Is there a good game to play to check out the features?

There are many great games that include GameCircle features, including well-known blockbusters and high-quality indies. In the Amazon Appstore, look for the GameCircle badge to quickly identify games that use Achievements, Leaderboards, or Whispersync for Games.

 

Don’t miss out next webinar event: How to Integrate Amazon Mobile Ads and Lift Your App Revenues 
on August 15th, 2013 @ 10:00 AM.

Pre-register here!

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