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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!

May 14, 2013

siwapin

Adding advertising to your apps is easy. Integrating ads doesn’t require a major redesign of your app and has minimal impact on your app’s functionality.  It is as simple as making space for the ad on the screen.  The Amazon Mobile Ads API (Beta) enables you to display high-quality ads provided from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network in a matter of minutes.  This article explains how to place ads into an existing app using the Amazon Mobile Ads API.

Set Up Your Payment Information

First and foremost, submit your payment information through the Payment Information Page and your tax information through the Tax Identity Interview. You can skip this step if you have already submitted this information through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal. This is required to receive ads.

Retrieve Your Application Key

The Amazon Mobile Ads API utilizes a unique Application Key to identify and interact with an app.  Every app will have its own Application Key.  If your app is already on the Distribution Portal, you can find your Application Key on the app’s detail page.  Otherwise, create a new app and fill in the “App title” and “Category” fields.  Locate the Application Key value and set that aside.  We will use that later to register with the Amazon Mobile Ad Network.

Application Key

Incorporate the Amazon Mobile Ads API Into to Your Project

Next, you will need to add the Amazon Mobile Ads API to your project.  For the purposes of this example, we will use Eclipse.

Download the Amazon Mobile Ads API (Beta) from here (this should link to our API landing page which has the file for download and the legal verbiage) and unzip it locally.

Add the JAR to Your Project

Modify the build path of your project and add the amazon-ads-<x.y.z>.jar found in the zip under the /Ads/lib folder.

  • In the Eclipse project explorer, right-click on your project and open the properties
  • Navigate to Java Build Path in the left pane
  • Choose the “Libraries” section
  • Press the “Add External JARs…” button
  • Choose the amazon-ads-<x.y.z>.jar from the zip

Java Build Path

  • Choose the “Order and Export” section
  • Check the box on the amazon-ads-<x.y.z>.jar

Order and Export

Add the amazon_ads_attr.xml to Your Project

This step is required to set up ads through the xml layout.  Copy the amazon_ads_attr.xml file from the zip located in /Ads/res/values/ into your project’s res/values/ folder.

Add the amazon_ads_attr.xml

Modify the ApplicationManifest.xml

The Amazon Mobile Apps API requires the following permissions and activities:

  • Add the following permissions to your manifest

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

  • Add the following activities within the application tag

 <activity android:name="com.amazon.device.ads.MraidBrowser" android:configChanges="keyboardHidden|orientation"/>
<activity android:name="com.amazon.device.ads.VideoActionHandler" android:configChanges="keyboardHidden|orientation|screenSize"/>

Place the Ad in Your Project Layout

Now that the project is set up to use the Amazon Mobile Ads API, the next step is to add an ad to the application layout. 

  • Open the layout xml you want to display your ads on from your project’s res/layout folder
  • Add the following namespace to the parent layout filling in with your package name

xmlns:Amazon=http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/<my.package.name> 

  • Add an AdLayout into your layout and configure the adSize attribute.  You can find the supported ad size values here
  • Set the layout_width and layout_height to match the adSize.

<com.amazon.device.ads.AdLayout
        android:id="@+id/adview"
        Amazon:adSize="1024x50"
        android:layout_width="1024dp"
        android:layout_height="50dp"/>

Modify Your Activity Code

Now we can call the Amazon Mobile Ads API to load ads.

Import the Ads Classes

import com.amazon.device.ads.*;

Register with Your Application Key

Time to put that Application Key to work.  In your activities onCreate, call the AdRegistration method to register your app and then call the Amazon Mobile Ads API to load an ad.  Please note that you may only use an Application Key to display ads on the specific app for which it was issued. 

//Register App with the Ad Network
AdRegistration.setAppKey(getApplicationContext(), APP_ID); 

  //Load ad on to AdLayout
adview = (AdLayout)findViewById(R.id.adview);
adview.loadAd(new AdTargetingOptions());

Publish Your App

Submit your app to Amazon to display ads to your U.S. users and follow the attribution guidelines set forth here. The Amazon Mobile Ads API can also be used with apps that are distributed through any Android stores. Apps that use the Amazon Mobile Ads API may be distributed through any Android store as long as they are distributed through Amazon.

Congratulations!

Your app is ready to display high-quality ads from the Amazon Mobile Ad Network.  This is the simplest of configurations but the Amazon Mobile Ads API has several features for customizing your   ad layout, ad targeting, error handling, debugging, and more.  Read more about the many features of the Amazon Mobile Ads API (Beta) here.

May 14, 2013

Mike Hines

As developers, we’re occasionally (okay, maybe more than occasionally) stuck in the middle between designers who ‘know what works’ and executives who ‘know what they want.  Even in smaller shops, it may not be clear which user experience will more often result in the desired behavior. Beyond simple use tracking, testing two different options to determine which works better usually meant two separate APKs and a lot of data mining and management to see which was the best.

Amazon has changed that with the release of the A/B Testing Service, where developers can run experiments within one APK. You define the variables to test in each of two variations, and then decide what percentage of downloads will get each variation. The app then collects data and allows you to make an informed decision about which variation you want to enable. These variations could vary from the speed of the ball in a game, or the message displayed while trying to upsell an In-App purchase item like extra lives. It’s easy to configure and integrate the A/B Testing Service with your app and it’s also free for any developer distributing their apps on the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program for Android.

In this post, you will learn how to integrate A/B testing into your app. For our example, we will use the “Snake Game”. In the traditional game, the speed of the snake increases every time it is fed.  We will run tests to figure out the optimal speed increment in order to ensure that the game is neither too easy nor too hard for the player and that the player is always engaged.  In our case, a successful test would be if 70% - 73% of players are able to feed the snake 20 times before the snake collided with the boundary or the snake itself. This will give us objective data on whether the increment was too high, too small, or just right.

Creating your test

Once you have identified your test, you can create an A/B test by going to the Mobile App Distribution page to create it.

In our example, we will create a project called “Snake Speed Project” and an A/B test called snakeSpeedTest. We will use this to test out various increments in the speed of the snake until we find the optimal one.

To configure an A/B test you will need the following information:

  1. Name of the test
  2. Event name to count the number of views
  3. Event name to count the number of conversions
  4. Variable name for each variation
    1. Variation A
    2. Variation B
  5. Distribution percentage

In our example, the test would look like the screenshot below:

AB Testing Setup Form

For more details on how to setup an A/B test, please visit the startup guide.

Integrating the API

Now that you have a test set up in the Mobile App Distribution page, you’re ready to integrate it into your application. For this, you will need to download the SDK.

After downloading the SDK you will need to integrate it into your project. For more information on how to setup your project, please visit Integrate the SDK.

To initialize the Amazon Insights SDK, you will need to obtain the following from the Mobile App Distribution page:

  1. Application key – Which can be retrieved by going to your “My Apps” dashboard and selecting the app. One of the properties available in the General Information is the Application Key.
  2. Private Key Which can be retrieved by going to the  app’s A/B testing page and click on “View Private Key”.

You can now initialize the SDK using these two keys.

// Configure the Amazon Insights SDK
AmazonInsights
    .withApplicationKey(YOUR_APPLICATION_KEY)
    .withPrivateKey(YOUR_PRIVATE_KEY)
    .withContext(getApplicationContext())
    .initialize();

Now that your application is initialized, you can start receiving different variations for your test. In our case, it is the increment by which to increase the snake speed. 

//Get a variation allocated for the “Snake Revive Project” experiment and
//retrieve the speed variable.

ABTest
    .getVariationsByProjectNames("Snake Speed Project")
    .withVariationListener("Snake Speed Project",new VariationListener() {
        public void onVariationAvailable(Variation variation) {
 
          speedMultiplier = variation.getVariableAsString("speedMultiplier",
           "feedingTime");
            //... increase speed.

    }}

); 

 After you have successfully retrieved the variation, you would need to notify the Amazon A/B Testing Service of a successful view. You can do that by simply adding the following code. (Note that snakeSpeedIncremented is the same event we added in the A/B testing portal page for counting views)

 // record when the snake is fed for the first time only (visit)
CustomEvent
    .create("snakeSpeedIncremented")
    .record();

 Once the game ends by either the snake colliding with the boundary or itself, we will check the count of the how may times it was fed. If it was more than 20, then we will record a successful conversion. (Note: snakeLevel20Reached is the same event we added in the A/B testing portal page for counting conversions)

 // record if number of feeds is more than 20.
if (noOfFeeds > 20) {
    CustomEvent
        .create("snakeLevel20Reached")
        .record();

}

 Once you have incorporated the SDK and deployed it through the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program, you now start collecting data.

In our case, we determined that 95% of the players reached level 20 for both test increments, which suggest that the game play was easier than our target. We ran additional rounds of tests by doing launches with new increments and found that the 1.65 multiplier was the optimal level of difficulty, as the conversation rate was around 71%. Refining the increment amounts to do new rounds can be done by just going to the A/B test page. No new APK is required.

The Start your first A/B test guide tells you how you can start an A/B test, view results, and end a test.

As you can see, setting up and integrating Amazon’s A/B Testing Service is simple and straightforward. The best part is that it’s free for developers of the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program.

February 20, 2013

alexbow

As part of our series of “how to” blog posts, we’d like to provide updated instructions on how to update your app and app’s metadata using the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal. Whether you’re submitting new screenshots, an updated description, or a totally new version of your app, these instructions will guide you through the process of getting the updates to your users.

Updating Metadata (screenshots, descriptions, etc.)

  • Go to the My Apps section in the Distribution Portal.
  • Click on the current live version of your app.
  • Click the “Description” or “Images & Multimedia” tab, depending on what you would like to update.
  • Click the “Edit” button (in the bottom right corner).
  • To remove an existing image, tap the “X” in the top right corner. To add a new image, click the “Upload Image” image.
  • Click the green “Save” button in the bottom right corner.
  • Click the “Submit App” button.

Updating to a New Version

  • Go to the My Apps section in the Mobile App Distribution Portal.
  • Hover your pointer over the app for which you are creating an updated version, and then choose “Add Upcoming Version” from the menu on the right.
  • If no metadata updates are required with the new version, tap the “Binary File” tab, then tap the “Upload Binary” image.
  • Review and certify your app for Export Compliance.
  • Click “Release Notes”, and then click “Edit”. Add in release notes. Click “Save”.
  • Click the “Submit App” button. 

December 19, 2012

lisamar

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program and wanted to review some of the basics, since so much has been updated in the past year. If you’re new to the Mobile App Distribution Portal and you’re looking to sign up and start submitting apps,the first step is to create a Distribution Portal account. Here’s how:

1.  Go to http://developer.amazon.com/

2.  Click on Mobile App Distribution

1_developer_amazon_com_resized

3.  Click on Create an Account

2_welcome_resized

4.  Enter your e-mail address and ensure the I am a new customer radio button is selected

5.  Click Sign in using our secure server 

3_create_acct_or_sign_in_resized

6.  Complete the fields on the Registration page and click Create account

4_registration_resized

7.  Complete the fields on the 1. Profile Information tab-note that a red asterisk denotes required fields

Optional Fields

  • Developer description - You may enter a company description in this field that will appear on the web and mobile detail pages for your apps
  • Customer support email address, phone, and website - You may provide customer support contact information


8.  Click Save and Continue 

5_profile_info

9.  Review and accept the Mobile App Distribution Agreement by clicking Accept and Continue 

6_mobile_distribution_agreement_resized

10.  Complete the fields on the 2. Royalty Payments tab as applicable and click Save and Complete 

7_royalty_payments_resized

Welcome to your Mobile App Distribution Portal account. You are now ready to submit your apps.

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of the Amazon Appstore for Android and wanted to review some of the basics, since so much has been updated in the past year. If you’re new to the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal and you’re looking to sign up and start submitting apps,the first step is to create a Distribution Portal account. Here’s how: go to http://developer.amazon.com, click on "Mobile App Distribution".

 

November 20, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

TashaKim, Public Relations Manager, GAMEVIL, is our guest blogger for this post.

 

GAMEVIL is a leading mobile games publisher and developer headquartered in Seoul, Korea,with branches in Los Angeles, California, and Tokyo, Japan. GAMEVIL has expanded their global presence over the years through an ambitious lineup of internal and third party titles localized in eight different languages. GAMEVIL specializes in mid-hardcore mobile games and prides itself on their strong following of players who enjoy their RPG-based titles.

 

At GAMEVIL,we believe that localization is one of the most important steps during post-game development. Correctly localizing a product not only promotes accessibility toa wide range of players across the world but also establishes global brand awareness. Our games are localized in over eight languages through in-house translators as well as third-party companies. Due to the geographical closeness and cultural similarities, our games are heavily popularized in Asia. Japan, in particular, holds a high percentage of downloads and monetization. We believe this is in part due to the localization of our content into the Japanese language and culture. 

 

Gamevil-1
 

Below are a few guidelines we learned in our experiences localizing to Japanese as well as other Asian countries that may help other developers:

 

Translation is Not Localization

There are countless outsourcing companies overseas that will offer a literal translation of the language, but because so many RPG titles hold a rich and deep storyline,a literal translation would render the story awkward, bland, and lose the interest of the player. At GAMEVIL Japan, we translate the game internally and often outsource to third-party translators as well. Then, we initiate a second round of in-house translations. This portion focuses more on the cultural nuances and idioms that might not have translated seamlessly.

 

Understanding the Culture: The Importance of Physical Presence

We believe that it’s not enough to simply localize into a language through text, but that a full immersion is the best way to understand a culture and what is relevant in the region. The staff members at our Tokyo office are Korean/Japanese who have a sound comprehension of the social and cultural nuances. As similar as East Asian cultures may seem, there are still dynamic differences linguistically between countries that require sensitivity and attention. Once a literal translation is done, GAMEVIL Tokyo will go through a proofread, cross checking the text of the original document and implement any necessary changes. This process usually consists of omitting phrases that are irrelevant and adding text that will vibe well with the Japanese gaming culture.

 

The Importance of Proofreading

One key aspect that remains an extreme priority in our localizing is in the final steps of proofreading. We check each line to make sure that the meanings and expressions held behind each word and phrase flows seamlessly. The last thing that you would want is to make your game seem foreign to native gamers. We will usually have at least three rounds of thorough review before the translation is released to the public.

 

Localize the Entire Experience

One common misconception is that localization simply ends with the text, but localization often applies to the whole game. We cater each game according to regions. For many of our titles, we will implement Global, Asian, and Korean servers to create an experience that is relevant and user friendly. In addition, we take a user’s environment into consideration. For many Japanese users, gameplay will take place during a commute on the subway or bus in addition to heavy gameplay at home. We try to focus on quick loading times to encourage gameplay during short sessions. For our strong RPG and sports titles, we create short side quests such as the Abyss system in ZENONIA® and Exhibition Mode in Baseball Superstars® that can be enjoyed in short sessions. Japanese users are also big gamers and enjoy the anime RPG-style of many of our titles. With an immersive storyline and high-quality visuals combined with a well-polished text, our titles have seen success in terms of downloads and purchases in Japan.

 

Gamevil-2
 

We want to put out a product that seems indigenous to the users as they play the game. Our end goal is to create a game that transcends language and cultural boundaries that can be enjoyed by people regardless of age,gender, and ethnicity.

November 18, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

CJ Frost, Technical Evangelist for Amazon Kindle, is our guest blogger for this post.

 

Kindle Fire tablets are designed to be rich content consumption devices. To make sure your app supports this goal and provides the best user experience, keep in mind that you are building for a tablet, not a smartphone. Many apps are derived from existing Android smartphone apps and do not scale well to the tablet form factor. Scaled apps generally do not look as good as dedicated tablet apps and are feature-limited when compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment. These scaled apps can also suffer from significant degradation in graphics quality as the UI and elements are dynamically scaled up, by the Android platform, to fit the screen.

 

Optimizing your app for tablets offers numerous benefits. It enables you to offer a rich,easy-to-navigate, and more detailed user experience, allows you to optimize user engagement, and can potentially improve your monetization opportunities.

 

To help you create the best user experience for both small and larger screened devices, we've put together a list of our top phone-to-tablet app development tips.

 

Exploit the real estate.

Apps that are scaled up from a smaller screen size generally do not look as good as dedicated tablet apps and are feature-limited when compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment.

 

Tabletizing-1
 

For example, many mobile phone apps are designed as lists of items (e.g., postings, photos) that link to new pages. When viewed on a Kindle Fire tablet, these apps appear feature-limited compared to a similar app designed specifically for a tablet environment. The lists do not fill the screen, nor do they take advantage of the potential user experience features.Apps designed to be multi-pane leverage the screen real estate so users can directly open content they'd otherwise page to on a phone app.

 

Tabletizing-2

 

For more information on how to design your app for larger screens, see the Android documentation on devicesand displays,planningfor multiple touchscreen sizes, and movingfrom multi-page to multi-pane designs.

 

Optimize for dynamic resizing.

Apps designed for phones tend to be created as portrait apps only. Apps designed for tablets are optimized to be viewed in portrait or landscape mode by providing orientation-specific layouts, as demonstrated in the Simple RSS Reader Sample,and re-size dynamically using the accelerometer to sense orientation.

 

Apps designed primarily for use on phones can also suffer from significant degradation in graphics quality as the UI and elements are dynamically scaled up, by the Android platform, to fit the screens of larger devices.

 

For more information on how to design your app for dynamic resizing, see the Android documentation on supportingdifferent screen sizes.

 

Design for interactivity.

Apps designed for phones are intended to be used with one hand and provide single-point touch elements with larger touch targets to accommodate thumb navigation. In contrast, apps designed for tablets are developed using multi-point touch elements that can accommodate tablet users'normal two-handed pinch-zoom and swipe actions, providing a richer and more dynamic user experience.

 

For more information on how to design your app for interactivity, see the Android documentation on making interactive views.

 

Increase your reach.

Apps designed for phones tend to provide a static representation of non-interactive content. Apps designed for tablets offer additional opportunities for interactivity and can help you extend the reach of your business by including partner content, such as ads or additional game offerings, as well as interactive applets, in a multi-pane design.

October 29, 2012

Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program

Kate Shoaf, Marketing and Public Relations leader at PlayTales, is our guest blogger for this post.

PlayTales is a world leader in children’s bookstore apps, that has expanded internationally, with offices in the USA, UK, Spain, Romania, and China. Founded in 2010, PlayTales develops and distributes interactive playable storybooks for children within the world’s leading children’s bookstore app for smartphones and tablets.

International distribution has become a prominent part of PlayTales’ business plan as we’ve realized the international market can open the door to millions of downloads for our apps. Although we developed the app with the intention of mainly distributing in the USA, China and the UK have become some of our top downloaders. We´ve developed and localized our app to cater to the needs of our various international customers.

Based on our experiences, there are several things developers should consider as they prepare and launch their applications:

Language options

A unique feature of our app is the several language options users can choose. The selected language of the application is based on the settings of the user’s device, but within the application itself, you can choose to view the stories in a different language. For example, all of your menus and links are in English, but you can easily view all stories in their Spanish version, French version, Italian version, and so on. We know our target users are interested in exposing their children to various languages so we’ve developed our app to make this possibility easily attainable.

Playtales-1


If you look at this screen shot, you’ll notice that all menu items are in English, while the books are available in Spanish; a unique feature that caters to our target user.


Playtales-2


There is no substitute for a native speaker

Anyone can learn a new language, but when it comes to common phrases and appropriate expressions we’ve found that working with native speakers is the best method for localization. At PlayTales we translate our stories into eight different languages and there is no substitute for working with a native speaker. When translators become a part of your localization team, they understand the message and product quality you are trying to develop within your app.

Keep an eye on currency

With the current economic crises going on it seems that currencies all over the world are constantly on a roller coaster of changing value. Because our books are available in so many different countries, monitoring exchange rates has become an important pastime within the office. We deal with Dollars, Euros, Yuan, and Pounds and the constantly changing exchange rates have kept us on our toes. It is important to monitor the currencies you deal with because you can lose business if your prices are too high, and also miss opportunities to generate more revenue if your prices are too low. Monitor your money and don’t lose out on business because of this common mistake.

Playtales-3

Direct contact with multilingual tech support

It’s almost impossible to release an app that is absolutely perfect. Listening to the comments of users can really help work out the kinks and improve your app. Within all PlayTales accounts, users have the option to directly contact our tech/localization team in whatever language they want. Because our translators work in-office, we are able to efficiently respond to everyone that contacts us in their native language. If you are going to have a multiple language app, make sure that your users can communicate with your tech team in their preferred language.

Adapt your app

Adapt your app so that it can be accessed by potentially everyone. PlayTales started out as an app only accessible through iOS devices. But as tablets like the Kindle Fire were released, it became obvious that adapting our apps to function on these devices was necessary. After teaming up with Amazon, we’ve seen a great increase in our number of downloads. Amazon’s submission module makes submitting localized features such as texts, graphics, and user interfaces a simple and quick process. Using Amazon as a distribution platform has made our app easily attainable for tablet users and has given us a chance to enter a market we hadn’t considered before. Remember that iTunes is not your only resource; you can develop and adapt your apps to function on almost any device and consequently tap into new markets.

Distributing internationally is becoming a necessity for many developers who want to stay on top of the market. Know your target users and develop your app accordingly, remember to use native speakers to help with localization, monitor exchange rates, offer tech support in various languages, and adapt your app to a changing market. Following this advice may help you find the international success we’ve experienced. New technologies are spreading to every part of the world, and along with it the newest applications. Take advantage of this opportunity and go global. 

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