Note: Effective 08-26-2015 Free App of the Day (FAD) has been replaced with Amazon Underground.
Farkle Dice - Free and Farkle Dice Deluxe (Ad-Free) are two popular and well-reviewed apps in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Developed by Smart Box Games, the apps present a fast-paced dice game and offer both solo and social gaming experiences.
Smart Box Games was one of the first developers to join the developer program after the Amazon Appstore launched in March.
Why did Smart Box Games act so quickly to join a brand new store? Todd Sherman, president of Smart Box Games, said that as a small, independent game company, “Our priority is to make sure the games have beautiful art, professional sound effects, and music, and are programmed to be stable and responsive. We typically have limited resources for marketing. The Amazon Appstore gives developers like us a chance for success by offering customers multiple ways to explore and find games.” He added, “For example, you can navigate the store by Top 100 Games, or by category, or through widgets powered by Amazon’s recommendation engine such as ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.’ Plus, the first year fee for the developer program was waived.”
Within a few weeks of its publishing, Farkle Dice - Free skyrocketed to the top of the Board Games category and soon climbed the charts under the Top 100 Free Bestselling Games.
Amazon featured Farkle Dice Deluxe (Ad-Free) on July 23 as the Free App of the Day, a daily promotion in which we make a premium app available to our customers for free and prominently promote the app on Amazon.com and in the Amazon Appstore.
We set an expectation of approximately 75,000 downloads for the Free App of the Day promotion with Farkle Dice - Deluxe. “Our actual downloads far exceeded that expectation, and we were thrilled by the exposure and the comments from new players,” Sherman said regarding the result of the promotion. What does it mean for Smart Box Games to have so many new users? “As part of a long-term monetization strategy, we plan to contact those newly acquired users via the messaging function within Farkle Dice - Deluxe when we release our new game later this year.”
Why are release notes important?
Release notes are a valuable developer tool that can be used to provide a better customer experience. Customers are becoming more aware of and interested in changes to their apps—they want to know why they should take the time to download app updates and what changes may be happening on their device(s)!
Release notes let your customers know what changes you are making to your app and it keeps them in the loop regarding bug fixes, app enhancements, permission changes, etc. Providing release notes may also speed up the turnaround time on app updates as it advises our testers what to look for when testing your update.
Where do release notes show up?
The release notes appear on the product detail page for your app in a section titled “Latest Updates”.
Where do I enter my release notes?
You can enter release notes for your app through your Developer Portal account. Go to the App Details Page for the app and you will find the Release Notes field in the section titled Upload Binary. (Note that the field will not appear until after you have uploaded your APK.)
How do I format my release notes?
The Release Notes field will automatically make each new line a bullet on your product detail page. Simply enter each release note as a new line and we’ll do the rest.
Oceanhouse Media, Inc., a leading mobile app publisher, is quickly becoming a very popular developer in the Amazon Appstore for Android. The company only recently started publishing to the Amazon Appstore and already has over 50 high-quality and consistently high-rated apps available.
Michel Kripalani, Founder and President of Oceanhouse Media, made the choice to partner with Amazon prior to the launch of the Amazon Appstore for Android, “The decision to sign-on to the Amazon Appstore was based on Amazon’s track record and we felt the customer base would be an excellent reach to our target demographic.”
Oceanhouse Media, Inc. is definitely seeing success! While the company heavily promoted via email, social, and online merchandising, The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Seuss hit number one in the Top 100 Paid apps on the Amazon Appstore.
On an ongoing basis, Oceanhouse Media does numerous promotions to drive traffic to their apps—and this has been a key to their success. The company is active on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and also utilizes a blog and newsletter to promote their apps.
There are quite a few merchandising placements on the Amazon Appstore as well which help drive success for Oceanhouse Media: app discounts, Facebook updates, email campaigns, cross-promotion with non-app products, and a callout on the main page of the Amazon Appstore.
Oceanhouse Media is pleased with the results. “When co-marketing kicks in, sales are tremendous,” Michel says. “When we partner together, good things happen.”
Michel’s advice to other vendors is to come up with a high-quality product that has brand recognition—something that makes customer and distributors (like the Amazon Appstore) take notice. Michel adds, “We’re extremely hopeful for the future and thankful to be a partner [with the Amazon Appstore].”
If you’ve seen or heard of the movie Rio, you may have seen that Blu isn’t in his cage anymore – no mirror, no little bell. He’s ready to hit the beach. And with Blu gaining his freedom, Rovio has released an updated Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android with 30 new levels and, you guessed it, Blu is a playable character filled with feathered fury.
What does this mean for you?
The more customers we engage, the more opportunities we have to monetize your apps. When we launched, we had the Android version of Angry Birds Rio exclusively in the Amazon Appstore. As part of our launch marketing we advertised the Amazon Appstore and leveraged an Android exclusive of Angry Birds Rio as a hook across Amazon.com online, in mobile advertising, in social outlets, and more. The results have been tremendous.
There will also be another marketing campaign surrounding the update of Angry Birds Rio exclusive on the Amazon Appstore. Angry Birds Rio has a large and loyal fanbase, many of whom will come to the Amazon Appstore get the update and ultimately purchase other apps.
When to consider updates:
There are many things to take into consideration when updating your app. Here are some high level things to consider:
<p>We’d like to clear up some confusion about conflicting versions of our developer agreement. There are both PDF and plain text versions on our developer portal, and these versions didn’t agree. The PDF version was correct; the plain text version was old. This has now been fixed. The old plain text version was outdated and didn’t show the updates we made to the agreement last November, including that the definition of list price applies only to the app’s current price on a similar store. Thanks for making the store a success.</p>
The manifest of your Android app provides essential information about the app to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Your app must include an “AndroidManifest.xml” file in the root directory.
The Amazon Appstore uses the app manifest file to ensure we merchandise apps appropriately. Prior to submitting your app to Amazon, please ensure the manifest is packaged with your app and includes the following elements and data:
• VersionName: A string value that represents the release version of the application code, as it should be shown to users. The value is a string so that you can describe the application version as a <major>.<minor>.<point> string, or as any other type of absolute or relative version identifier. There is a hundred-character maximum on the length of the version name string.
• Uses-sdk: Tells us which OS the app runs on.
• Uses-configuration: Tells us which configuration is required by the app. (This element may be left empty if nothing is required.)
• Uses-feature: Tells us which features of the phone are used, such as the camera. (This section may be left empty if there are no required features.)
• Supports-screens: Tells us if the app supports large and/or high-intensity screens
• Uses-permissions: These are Android permissions and are required by the platform. (This should NOT be present if your app does not require permissions.)
Below is an example manifest structure with required elements in red:
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
<intent-filter> . . . </intent-filter>
If you do not have any data for a certain element--for instance, if your app does not utilize any permission--you should remove that element entirely instead of leaving it empty. Empty elements can cause issues in the ingestion process. Also, make sure your app only requests permissions that it actually needs to function properly. Unnecessary permission requests can cause a spyware or malware concern from a customer’s perspective.
If your manifest does not comply with this set of rules, it may be rejected directly by the Developer Portal or in the app approval phase.
You can find more information about the AndroidManifest.xml File on the Android Dev Guide:
With the rise in popularity of bar code-reader apps, QR Codes have become a convenient way of transferring text from media to mobile devices. A report published recently by MGH indicates that a growing number smartphone owners use the two-dimensional images to gain access to products and promotions.
A QR Code is a square, black and white image that contains standardized patterns to store text, in the same way that bar codes contain patterns for alphanumeric characters. The amount of encoded text can vary depending on the size of the QR Code image, but typically the text encoded is relatively short and takes the form of a URL. You may have seen the following options on our Get Started page to quickly give you access to the Amazon Appstore on your Android device:
As mentioned in a previous post, you can link directly to apps in the Amazon Appstore with a mobile-friendly URL. The URL can be represented as a QR Code, which can then direct potential customers on your website or blog to your app on the Amazon Appstore mobile client. For instance, the following link and corresponding QR Code will send users to the detail page for the Amazon MP3 App for Android:
The following URL will invoke a search to find MP3 related apps on the Appstore:
Any QR Code generator that meets the ISO requirements will suffice. Some websites that can do this for you include Delivr, bit.ly, the URL shortening site, and Google.
If you love those birds and hate those pigs like we do, you will be pleased to hear that an all-new installment of the quirky bird pack is coming soon. The Android version of Angry Birds Rio, the follow up to the smash hits Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons, will launch exclusively in the Amazon Appstore.
What does this mean for you?
More traffic, more customers! The Angry Birds franchise has been downloaded over 100 million times – the Android installed base is over 30 million . When we launch the Amazon Appstore, we will be teaming with Rovio to drive those customers to the store - which means more traffic to the Amazon Appstore and more customers for you.
In preparation for our store launch, we launched the Amazon Appstore for Android Facebook page and @amazonappstore Twitter handle today. We’ll use these communication vehicles to engage customers, and we encourage you to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay abreast of our consumer-focused messaging. We will continue to post developer-centric news you can use on this blog and the @AmazonAppDev Twitter handle.
The Amazon Appstore is launching very soon. If you have not yet submitted your app, we encourage you to do so now to ensure your product is ready for launch!
We’ve been sharing a lot of information about best practices for uploading your app(s) to the Amazon Appstore for Android, along with details on what the store will look like when we go live (which is soon).
Developer Carmen Delessio’s success story may offer inspiration on how to take advantage of these two resources and submit new apps to the Appstore. Delessio is an Android app developer who has leveraged Amazon SimpleDB and AWS SDK for Android to build some of his apps.
In September of 2010, Delessio heard about the Sprint 4G App Challenge and decided to enter his updated version of BFF Photo Pro. Two months later, Sprint sent him an award notification.
"At first, I literally did not believe it and began to check the info," Delessio said."I verified and was incredibly happy to learn that I was one of the five winners of $50,000."
His success has propelled him to continue developing new Android apps, with AWS providing a crucial backbone for his code. Along with BFF Photo Pro, Delessio has leveraged the AWS SDK and SimpleDB to build BFF Search, which allows users to easily search for people, topics, and events on Facebook. Both of his BFF apps will be available on the Amazon Appstore.
He's also used the AWS services to build NYC Parks, an app based on the XML datasets available to the public by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. While swearing he's not contest crazy, Delessio entered the app in the NYC BigApps 2.0, a competition that seeks to make New York "more transparent, accessible, and accountable."
"We are in a place right now where your work, and the recognition for your work, defines your opportunities more than any other time that I can remember. It's a real meritocracy," observed Delessio, who is currently working with a Major League Baseball (MLB) data set to build an app that allows users to search for all the MLB games they’ve attended and share their stats over their social network. "This plays into the strengths of AWS; you have a great opportunity to make great apps with low expense. Structured data fits into SimpleDB well, and the AWS SDK allows you to access it and build (your app) with integrity: I don't have to think very much how it works, it just works."
If you own a Kindle, you’ve experienced the power of having a Digital Locker and the ability to download your purchased content to just about any device. The notion of “buy once, read anywhere” will now also apply to your Android apps purchased through the Amazon Appstore.
Customers who purchase an app will retain an entitlement to their app even if they decide to replace their current Android device and/or purchase new devices, as long as the new devices meet the installation requirements of the app. This provides insurance to customers that their purchased apps will be available for use on all supported devices, even if the customer has uninstalled or otherwise removed those apps in the past.
The digital locker service combined with a robust Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution not only make managing apps easier for customers, they also address one of the biggest concerns developers have: unauthorized copying and distribution. An authorized user can now install your app on any of their supported devices; however, if you chose to apply DRM on your app at submission time, your app will not run on unauthorized devices.
Any app that has Amazon DRM applied to it will require users to have installed and signed-in to the Amazon Appstore client to access the app. When an app is accessed by the user, it will verify with the Amazon Appstore device service as to whether the user has an entitlement to the app. If the user does not sign in or does not have an entitlement to that app, then the app will not be usable. However, any user can gain an entitlement by purchasing the app through Amazon.
We will be posting more updates on Amazon DRM over the next few weeks on the Amazon Appstore Developer Blog. We will cover additional topics, such as sharing data between apps and signing your app after Amazon DRM has been applied.
Update: In response to your questions, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide a few clarifications.
Do I have to use Amazon DRM if I sell my app through Amazon.com?
No, it is not required. When you submit your app you can choose to offer your app DRM free or you can apply Amazon DRM.
Do customers need to have internet access to use an Amazon DRM-enabled app?
No. Once an app is installed, a user can use the app without having internet access.
How can you verify that the user has an entitlement to the app without internet access?
During the installation process for an app, the Amazon Appstore client downloads a small token that grants the user the right to access the application. A valid token permits the user that purchased the app to access their app offline. The Amazon Appstore client will periodically communicate with Amazon servers to refresh the token.
As an app developer, you know the importance of using external services and APIs offered by other developers. Leveraging third-party software eliminates unnecessary coding on your part and allows you to quickly bring higher-quality, feature-rich apps to market. An app can leverage the features of other apps to handle various types of requests. One common example is using a browser to handle user requests to hyperlinked text displayed in your app. Another example is launching a third-party social networking app to authenticate your user. Although on the surface these integration points appear similar-- the reality is that they can be very different. The difference lies in the mechanism used to invoke the external app.
In the first scenario, when a user clicks on a hyperlink, the action will automatically invoke an intent, which is sent to the Android system to process. The intent, which encapsulates an operation to be performed and contains the necessary data to send to the operation, acts as the glue between two or more loosely coupled Android apps. The Android system matches the intent to one or more activities, services, or receivers that have registered with the system. In the case of a hyperlink, typically the default browser activity will handle the intent. However, if more than one intent handler is able to process the operation (such as when a user clicks on an e-mail address), the system offers the user the option to select the intent handler they are interested in using. In the example below, an e-mail handler and the copy-paste handler are invoked after a user clicks on an e-mail address within a browser.
The important thing about the first scenario is that your app does not concern itself with who handles the intent, and no data is shared between the two. Your app will defer to the user to make the appropriate selection.
In the second scenario, you will have a more tightly coupled dependency on the authentication service provided by the third-party social networking app. This means that you do not want just any social networking app to authenticate your user. Instead, you are looking for a particular app, and if that app does not exist, you will respond accordingly.
However, before this dependency can be created, your app will need to be able to share data with the service provider. This is done by signing your app and obtaining the appropriate security key(s) from the third party to access its API. Depending on the requirements of the service provider, you can then either bundle its library with your app or require that the third party’s app be installed on the device.
At runtime, if you cannot resolve the dependency to the third-party app (i.e. it’s not installed), then you will want to provide the user an opportunity to install the app. This can be done by launching an intent from your app to an Amazon Appstore URL:
String url = "http://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/dl/android?p=com.amazon.mp3";
Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW);
The above example links the intent to the Amazon MP3 app. To link to a different app, you can simply take the package name (“com.amazon.mp3”) and replace it with the one for the app you are depending on. The Amazon Appstore mobile client will be configured to handle URL intents of the following pattern:
The invocation of the intent will then provide the user the option to view the app page through the Amazon Appstore mobile client.
From there, the user can take advantage of Amazon’s 1-Click purchase feature to download the app (paid or free). After the user installs the third-party app, they can go back to your app’s activity and continue from there.
The following list includes some other helpful links you can use to make requests to the Amazon Appstore:
Since the official launch of the Amazon Developer Portal, we have received tons of positive feedback regarding the developer registration and app submission process. However, with the large volume of activity, it’s not surprising that developers have a few questions that are not directly answered in our FAQ. We’ll take this opportunity to answer some of those questions:
Are you required to submit a video along with other multimedia content, such as icons and screenshots?
Although compelling videos can be helpful to customers when they are deciding on which app to buy, they are not required.
The only multimedia files that are required are:
The maximum size for each image is 3Mb. More information about multimedia files can be found here. If you have submitted your app and see the status “Incomplete (Missing Multimedia)”, then it is likely that you did not submit one or more of the required images. If you believe you have submitted all multimedia files and are still seeing this status, we encourage you to contact our support team.
What is the maximum video size that you can upload for an app?
The maximum size for a video is 30Mb. There is a 3Mb limit for video files submitted through the Developer Portal’s web console. If you want to submit a video that is greater than 3Mb (but under 30Mb), please use your FTP account. The process to create an FTP account and submit your app video is described here.
What video formats do you support? Your FAQ says MP4 H.264- so does this mean you don’t accept any other format?
We require your videos to be stored in an MP4 H.264 encoded format. This is to ensure an optimal visual and performance experience for your customers. Remember that these videos will not only be viewed on Amazon’s retail website, but also on mobile devices. If you upload videos that do not meet the requirements outlined in our FAQ, there may be a delay in your submission review, or your video may not be included on your final detail page.
If you have any additional questions as you go through the Amazon Appstore submission process, please do not hesitate to contact our support team.
While designing and building your apps, you may encounter the question: Should I create multiple versions of my apk for different devices? In most instances, the answer should be an emphatic no! Unnecessarily offering multiple copies of your apk to your customers will not only make your development process more complex and painful, it may also create confusion for your users. A well-designed app that follows the best practices guidelines will be deployable and usable on almost all Android devices.
Some common scenarios when developers think they need to create multiple apks, but really don’t, include supporting:
If you are concerned about your app being installed on an unsupported environment, follow the best practices guide for Android development to avoid such issues.
After appropriately defining settings in your Android manifest file, you will want to design your app to make the necessary runtime decisions at the lowest levels in your code. For instance, you may want to implement conditional user interface logic at the latest point possible, such as altering display and layouts based on device screen and density settings. This is an ideal way to not only lower the total lines of code you write, but it may also reduce the number of bugs in your app and reduce the size of your apk.
There are, however, a handful of situations that justify creating multiple apks. These include:
If you are offering your app for a different price to customers on a smartphone versus a tablet, then submitting a separate apk for each form factor makes sense. Furthermore, if the apk file size difference is significant and you want to avoid users of your SD version unnecessarily downloading MBs of HD images, then a separate apk may be appropriate. You should consider making this decision when your apk grows larger than 8 MBs. Under these circumstances, and others that we did not cover, you will need to submit each apk individually to the Amazon Appstore as separate apps.
In conclusion, unless your reason for creating multiple versions is well-justified, we recommend that you submit only one apk per app version.
Nobody enjoys rejection--especially when it involves the Android application you worked so hard on. Here at Amazon, we test every app that’s submitted. If you resubmit an app after it's been rejected, it will have to undergo our testing protocols all over again.
We test Android apps to help ensure a positive customer experience. We want our customers to feel secure that any app purchased from Amazon functions properly and does what it says it’s going to do. We certainly don't want to be prescriptive or pass judgment on your app. Our goal is to prevent any bugs that will get between you and your users.
Every submitted app undergoes a series of tests to ensure the app is stable, safe, and compatible with most mobile devices. Our testers use the following series of tests:
1. Linking: Does your app follow the linking guidelines found in the FAQ on the Developer Portal?
2. Stability and functionality tests: These tests involve a wide range of protocols:
-Does the app open within 15 seconds?
-Does the app have compliance with the major carriers?
-Does the app exhibit freezing, force closing, and other forms of instability?
-How does the app react to phone calls, text messages, and alarms?
3. Content issues: These tests ensure that the app has all the necessary and appropriate content. We watch for missing content, unreadable text, and incorrect graphics. We also check if the app complies with the Content Guidelines as outlined in the FAQ. These guidelines include policies regarding offensive content, copyright infringement, or illegal activities.
4. Security issues: All apps sold by Amazon must be secure and safe for any phone. Security tests include making sure the app does not store passwords without the user's consent, does not collect data and send it to unknown servers, and does not harm existing data on the device.
In order to save you time and help you avoid the hassle of recoding and resubmitting your app, we’re providing the six most common reasons we reject apps, along with tips to create and submit your app so it passes on the first submission.
1. Are the app's buttons all working?
Dead buttons will almost always result in a fail.
Do: Double- and triple-check those buttons to make sure they're doing what they need to do.
2. How does your app respond to phone call and alarm clock interrupts?
Let's say your app is a music player. What happens if someone calls you? Does the music keep playing while you answer the phone? Although you may love that Lady Gaga song playing on your app, you probably don’t want it blaring in your ear while you're on the phone. Neither will most customers.
Do: Carefully test how your app responds to interrupts. A music player should definitely shut itself off for a phone call, or it will fail. A phone call or alarm clock should also interrupt a game. However, if your game makes the user start over from the beginning (without saving the player's place or at least the level the player is on), your app will fail. Web browsing apps also fall into this category. A phone call or alarm should not interrupt a download, for example.
3. Have you double-checked to make sure all your content is on every screen?
Blank screens = fail. If some of your screens come up black, or are missing content, you'll only confuse the customers. Every screen on your app must serve a specific purpose.
Do: Take a look at every screen in your app to make sure no blank screens come up.
4. Have you tested your app on all SDKs that you support?
Apps must support the SDK claimed in the app’s manifest.
Do: Be sure your manifest maps to the true SDK your app supports. This is specified in the Android.xml file here:
5. How does your app respond to flipping the phone from Portrait to Landscape mode, and vice versa?
Another important test is how your app responds to the user holding the phone vertically (Portrait mode) and horizontally (Landscape mode). Does your app smoothly transition to these modes? If your app is designed to be used in only one mode, does it still work smoothly when the phone is flipped to the other mode?
Do: Be sure your app doesn't crash just because someone is holding the phone the "wrong" way. If it does, your app will fail testing.
6. Are the text and fields in your app properly formatted?
Sometimes, we run into apps that have text on top of other text, which is almost impossible to read. We also have seen apps with fields that are too narrow or misaligned with the text, making filling out forms a confusing process.
Do: Make sure your text isn't top of other text and that your fields are properly aligned. Again, it is important to test your app on a variety of phones, as different models may format your text in different ways.
Give Your App a Second Chance
At Amazon, customer experience is our top priority and central to our company culture. We want to make sure our customers have a large selection of apps to choose from. For this reason, we really want to publish your app. More apps in our store result in a better customer experience, but we also want to make sure all of the Android apps in our store meet the standards our customers expect. For this reason, we encourage you to resubmit apps that have failed. In the rejection notices, you should receive a detailed explanation of why your app failed testing. More often than not, it's for one of the six reasons listed above. Once your app's errors are fixed, your app should easily pass testing the second time around.
If you have any questions regarding why your app failed, or how to prevent your app from being rejected, our account managers will be happy to answer your questions and help expedite the publishing process. You can contact them through the Contact Us page in the developer portal.
Last week we talked about what a detail page looks like over the fold in the Amazon Appstore for Android. This week, we’re going to dive into what customers see when they scroll down. Before we talk about what’s under the fold, here’s a look at the Airport Mania: First Flight app detail page over the fold.
While the first thing most customers see when they’re looking at apps is the title, icon, and price, what cinches the deal is often what’s in the details. So what does this mean for you? The content under the fold is invaluable in helping customers make decisions about what to buy/download and what to skip. It’s important to provide details including images and appropriate descriptions that show what your app can really do.
There are 5 key components of a detail page “below the fold.” The first two are are:
1. Product Details
2. Product Features
This is the “just the facts ma’am” section where we bottom line what the customer is getting, ASIN (Amazon Standard Item Number - this is your unique Amazon app ID similar to what a barcode is for products in stores), dates of note, and average customer rating. You’ll see we encourage customers to tell us what they think.
Here’s where we bottom line what your app is all about – we take this information directly from what you put into the Developer Portal, so it’s important to list accurate, helpful features. If a customer doesn’t have time to read the detailed description, they can get the gist from the Features.
3. Product Description
We use the Description you provided in the “Description” section on the Appstore Developer Portal as well as information that’s on your website (if applicable) to create a detail page with rich, helpful information about your app. We also like to include images in the Description when available (we pull these from the screenshots you provide with your app submission). An abbreviated version of this description is included on the detail page in the mobile store itself (stay tuned for a peak at a detail page on the mobile store!). If your app doesn’t sell itself, we hope the product description helps.
The final two sections are really all about you and the app requirements. They are:
4. Developer Info
5. Technical Data
We want to boost your brand. Here’s where you can talk about who you are and what your expertise is. We pull this directly from what you put in the Developer Portal.
As the name implies, this is where we put the technical info including app size and version.