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Showing posts tagged with Engagement

July 03, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

Fire proactively brings your apps and content to customers with the enhanced home carousel.

Fire’s home screen includes several capabilities to help customers do things quickly. Beyond fast and predictable navigation with the right and left panels and the app grid, the home carousel helps customers get right back into your app.

A description...

Weather app showing the next three day’s weather

In the screenshot to the left, the built in weather app is shown within the home carousel.

Each app has the ability to show a list or grid of information and actions in the carousel widget. You can see this right below the weather app’s icon. Because it gives you nearly half the screen, an app can easily show three items on the screen and the customer can scroll to more.

The Weather app has designed their widget to show the weather for the next three days. You can see the day, the temperature and a visual forecast. Tapping the Weather app widget triggers the action associated to it, which takes you straight to that day’s weather in the app.

You can drive customer engagement for your app by designing a widget to have the information and actions that are most interesting to your customers.

 

 

Grabbing Your Customer’s Attention

The carousel widget enables you to expose content related to your app without the customer needing to launch your app. You customize the user interface to keep customers informed even when they’re not in your app and then, give them easy access back into your app.

Developers often track engagement metrics like 1-day, 7-day and 30-day retention and they work to increase the number of people that use their app day to day. Of course this starts with interesting content, but it’s also important to draw people back into the app using a devices services like Game Circle and Notifications . Now, with the release of Fire, there are two new ways to augment your app: Firefly and the Active Carousel Widget.

The Active Carousel Widget contains a list or grid and you can also configure it to show more information when the customer uses peek. The examples below show how a widget might look as a simple list or with more detail like icons, descriptive text or star ratings.

A description...A description...A description...

Beyond seeing information from your app, customers can also tap an item in the widget to launch your app. The widget communicates with your app through intents that you define. Your app manages all changes to the widget, including the information shown and the behavior it invokes. When the customer taps an item, they are taken directly to the right place in the app – it can start an activity, or broadcast the intent.

Macintosh HD:Users:cutsinge:Downloads:duke pics:notification.png

Your app can also display a numeric badge on your icon for things like unread messages, new deals or fresh content.

So, with Fire, you have more ways to attract your customer’s attention and to engage with them.

What Developers are Already Building

Zillow

A description...

Zillow shows a list of nearby and recently searched homes

Zillow is a home and real estate marketplace helping customers find and share information for making home-related decisions and connecting with professionals. 

 

The Zillow widget shows an updated list of open houses in the area and up-to-date details on homes from a customer’s saved searches.

 

This is a great example of bringing engaging information to the surface. When customers notice an interesting house, they can tap it and be taken right to it’s listing within the app so they can immediately learn more it.

 

Zillow also integrated with Dynamic Perspective, the right and left panels and peek.

 

 

StubHub

A description...

StubHub shows a list of recently viewed events

StubHub allows fans to buy and sell event tickets.

 

In StubHub’s widget, customers can see recently viewed and upcoming events. They can tap to see all the details. So, you can imagine a scenario where a customer was browsing upcoming shows but wasn’t really ready to make a purchase. With the design that StubHub chose, customers will be reminded of events and given the opportunity to get right back into the app to make a purchase.

 

StubHub also extended Firefly so that they can connect people to events when they’re listening to music. If you’d like to learn more about Firefly and how StubHub integrated with it, you can read about them in the Firefly blog post.

Terraria

A description...

Terraria shows a list of active worlds

Terraria is an action-packed adventure game that recently came to Fire TV and Kindle Fire.

 

They use the widget to give customers one tap access to their saved worlds. If you’re building a game, you may choose to do something like this or show leaderboard and achievements or even things such as which friends are on-line.

 

Terraria took full advantage of the new APIs in the phone. They support the Right and Left Panels  to give customers one-handed shortcut access to their inventory. They used Dynamic Perspective to enable looking around the map and zooming just by moving closer or farther from the screen.

 

The designs for each of the examples above are intentionally different. They’re tailored to that app and it’s customers. Because this is about how you can engage with your customers, it’s important to think through the scenarios that would interest and bring them back to your experience.

Creating and Managing a Carousel Widget

For carousel widget development, you’ll be interacting with the HomeManager to create a widget, update a widget, react to taps, define the empty widget behavior and add numeric badges to your app icon.

Here’s an overview of the code you’ll need to create a widget. Please see more detail in the SDK documentation.

//Instantiate your widget

	GroupedListHeroWidget listWidget = new GroupedListHeroWidget();

//create list entries

ListEntry listEntry = new ListEntry();
listEntry.setVisualStyle(SHOPPING);
listEntry.setPrimaryText("Hello, world!");
listEntry.setPrimaryIcon(ICON_URI);

//add your list entries to a list

List listEntries = new ArrayList();
listEntries.add(listEntry);

//add your list to a group and add the group to the widget

Group group = new Group();
group.setListEntries(listEntries);
listWidget.addGroup(0, group);

//finally, add your widget to the Carousel by replacing the default system widget

private HomeManager mHomeManager;
protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
  super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
  // ... create widget
  mHomeManager = HomeManager.getInstance(this);
  mHomeManager.updateWidget(listWidget);
}

You can then update the content of your app widget at any time. If the widget is in focus when you update it, the new data appears immediately. Otherwise, the new data appears the next time the widget is created. If you are using a list display, you can add, update, or remove items from the list incrementally without forcing a refresh of the entire list. Incremental updates are animated. 

Adding a Numeric Badge

// Pass a value (int) to the HomeManager’s updateNumericBadge method.

mHomeManager.updateNumericBadge(38); //numbers over 99 are shown as 99+

// hide numeric badge by setting value to zero

mHomeManager.updateNumericBadge(0);

Reacting to User Taps

At the time you create an item you can define an intent that gets sent when that item is tapped. You can optionally include extra string data that identifies your item to give the receiving activity the ability to know which item was tapped. Use the item's setContentIntent(HeroWidgetIntent) method to set an intent.

HeroWidgetActivityStarterIntent intent =
  new HeroWidgetActivityStarterIntent(
    FULLY_QUALIFIED_CLASS_NAME,
    EXTRA_STRING_DATA
  );
listEntry.setContentIntent(intent);

If you use a HeroWidgetIntent intent, you need to declare a broadcast receiver in the AndroidManifest.xml. A broadcast receiver registered at runtime does not receiveHeroWidgetIntent intents. (See example Manifest and broadcast handling code)

Using the API Simulator Tool

The Fire Phone SDK includes an API Simulator tool for developers who do not have access to a Fire phone. The API Simulator enables you to test basic app features, such as side panels and home carousel widgets using a regular Android device or emulator.

The API Simulator Tool page explains, step by step, how to configure your app for use with the API Simulator and test your app's use of Peek, Tilt, panels and the home carousel widget on a stock Android device or emulator.

Now Is the Time to Submit Your Apps for Fire

Create immersive apps that respond to the way a customer holds, views and moves the phone. We have updated Appstore Developer Select, Amazon Mobile Ads API, and Amazon Testing Services with more incentives:

  • Amazon Developer Select: Optimize your apps for Fire phone and get enhanced merchandising and 500,000 Amazon Coins incentives for your customers. Get the details here.
  • Amazon Mobile Ads API: Developers earn $6 for every thousand interstitial ads displayed across any supported device in August and September (up to one million impressions per app per month) when they distribute their apps on Fire phones and send the first ad request from a qualified app. Get the details here.
  • Amazon App Testing Service: Most Android apps just work on Fire mobile devices. Test your app's compatibility in 90 seconds by dragging and dropping your Android APK into our testing tool. Sign up for a free developer account to test your app's look and feel on devices and get the results within 6 hours.  Test your app now.

Now is the time to submit your apps and games! Apps that are submitted by July 18 and approved will be in the Amazon Appstore when Fire ships on July 25.

Fire Developer Resources:

Get a free Amazon Appstore developer account

Fire Getting Started Guide

SDK downloads

@PaulCutsinger

 

June 25, 2014

Paul Cutsinger

Fire, the first smartphone designed by Amazon, introduces a new technology called Firefly which enables customers to quickly identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Customers simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover useful information and take action in seconds. 

With the Firefly SDK, developers can build apps that recognize real world objects—music, movies and more—and let customers interact with them. As a developer, you can create more immersive experiences that increase both engagement and the frequency of app use. The Firefly SDK comes with built-in recognizers and databases for products, music, movies, URLs, and websites, as well as built-in actions such as dialing a phone number, looking up an object on Amazon or going to a website. Developers can use the Firefly SDK to take advantage of the built-in recognizers, databases and actions.

A New Way to Engage with Customers

An important success metric for any app is engagement, a measure of how frequently and how long people use your app. You need to find ways to bring customers back day after day. Building a Firefly-enabled app is a new technique you can use to get customers to discover your app, sign up and then to come back frequently.

A Firefly-enabled app delivers actionable options (for example, customers can buy concert tickets for a recognized artist) or supplemental item information (for example, the amount of calories in a drink). Customers then have fast and easy access back to your apps, services and brand when they’re actively engaged and interested.

How Developers are Already Using Firefly

Here are a few examples of how iHeartRadio, StubHub and MyFitnessPal have made use of Firefly to give their apps greater exposure to both new and returning customers. All of these examples start when the customer activates Firefly. They do this by pushing and holding the Firefly button on the left side of Fire. Once an item is identified, a list of actions showing the Firefly-enabled apps is offered.

iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio enables customers to listen to live radio stations, create their own artist or song-based custom station from a catalog of more than 19 million free songs, or tune in to thousands of shows and personalities on demand for free. When paired with Firefly, the customer can identify a song with one button press and then directly launch iHeartRadio to create their own station based on that artist.

The team at iHeartRadio utilized the Firefly SDK’s built-in music recognizer and music database to identify songs.  They built their own Firefly action to create iHeartRadio Custom Stations based on the artist and song that Firefly recognizes. “Our integration allows listeners using Firefly to seamlessly discover music in a whole new way,” said Brian Lakamp, President of Digital for Clear Channel/iHeartRadio.  “The Firefly SDK implementation enables music lovers to quickly dive into an iHeartRadio custom experience featuring a variety of songs similar to the one they just heard with just a touch of a button.”

StubHub

StubHub allows fans to buy and sell event tickets. StubHub used the Firefly SDK to let customers identify songs playing in the background and take various actions. “StubHub used the FireFly SDK and the built-in song recognizer, added a Firefly database of concerts and created a ticket purchase action so when customers hear a song in the background they can find out if the band is playing in their area and buy tickets,” said Brendan Weinstein, Android Development Lead at StubHub. “We extended the experience further by using the Dynamic Perspective SDK to bring users right into the concert—letting them look around a stadium or arena to get the feel for the specific seat they are interested in.”

This is a new way for customers to use the StubHub services. When they use Firefly to identify a song or an artist, they have direct access to the Firefly-enabled StubHub app and can be browsing upcoming events before the song is even over.

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a free and easy health and fitness system that helps you attain fitness goals. Using Firefly’s built-in product recognizers, the team at MyFitnessPal has added custom actions to give customers nutrition information and to help them easily track their daily calorie intake.

When a customer scans a physical product, barcode or QR code for a food item, MyFitnessPal’s actions and extra information about that food are offered to the customer. They can then tap the item and go directly and add that food item to their diary in the MyFitnessPal app.

Improved discovery of your apps and services

In all of these examples, the app and its services were activated in the context of the customer’s activity. They didn’t need to open an app and navigate to the right screen. Instead, they were able to identify a song, product, barcode, QR code or movie soundtrack, and then launch directly into the app they wanted to use.

Firefly-enabled apps have more options for bringing in new customers and then engaging with them more frequently. Better engagement leads to higher customer satisfaction and ultimately, to better revenue.

Start Building now

The SDK for Firefly includes the library, developer guides, docs and several samples to get you going.

Additional Fire Developer resources:

Paul Cutsinger

@PaulCutsinger

 

June 19, 2014

Peter Heinrich

Were you able to attend Amazon’s Pre-Conference Developer Day at GDC 2014? Video recordings of all the sessions are now available online, so it’s not too late to learn how Amazon can help you build, engage, monetize and distribute your game.

Cross-Platform Services by Amazon Support You All the Way

Amazon hosted a day of pre-conference sessions at GDC 2014.  Amazon experts demonstrated how AWS and Amazon’s mobile services can simplify every stage of game development including: building the backend, expanding to additional platforms, and scaling to handle more players.  The day also featured customer case studies that revealed best practices around: game architecture, game design, cloud technologies, and monetization strategies.

The sessions videos and supporting slides are shared on our GDC 2014 page.  The sessions posted include:

  • AWS Architecture — Nate Wiger, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services: Mobile, AAA, and MMO game companies alike are leveraging AWS to build cost-effective, scalable online games.  Learn how game studios are using AWS services such as Elastic Beanstalk, DynamoDB, Amazon S3, CloudFront, and ElastiCache to build online games that can scale from 1,000 to 1,000,000 users, while paying only for what they use.  Finally, Nate shares some thoughts about the future of cloud gaming based on worldwide trends.
  • Game Analytics — Nate Wiger, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services:  Free to play is now the standard for mobile and social games.  But succeeding in free-to-play is not easy:  You need in-depth data analytics to gain insight into your players so you can monetize your game.  Learn how to leverage new features of AWS services such as Elastic MapReduce, Amazon S3, Kinesis, and Redshift to build an end-to-end analytics pipeline.  Plus, Nate shows you how to easily integrate analytics with other AWS services in your game.
  • Engaging Your Audience with Mobile Push Notifications — Jon Turow, Senior Product Manager, Amazon Web Services & Mike Pesce, Senior Manager, Amazon: Mobile push notifications are a fast and universal way to engage and retain players.  Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) provides one simple API for fast, reliable, scalable, inexpensive push notifications to Apple, Google, and FireOS devices.  In this session Jon and Mike cover how to use Amazon SNS to publish cross-platform notifications and then, architectures and techniques for utilizing game data to send the right message, to the right player, at the right time.
  • Amazon AppStream – New Gaming Experiences Using the Cloud for Game Streaming — Collin Davis, GM of Amazon AppStream, Amazon: In this session you’ll see how AppStream, Amazon’s low latency application:  streaming service, can help you create new compelling gaming experiences across many platforms.  Collin details how one team used the flexible platform to remove device constraints and enable new gameplay experiences.  You’ll see a tablet demo that exhibits a massive scale and streams from AWS to the tablet to create one single “hybrid” game that goes beyond what you could do on a tablet alone.
  • What's Working in In-App Monetization — Mike Hines, Developer Evangelist, Amazon: In this session we share data and tips that Amazon has gathered from the top 50 revenue-generating apps that use IAP. Then we look at some innovative mobile ad ideas and explore the re-discovered future of in-app monetization…e-commerce. 
  • A/B Testing with Air Patriots — Paul Cutsinger, Developer Evangelist, Amazon & Russell Carroll, Senior Producer, Amazon: A/B Testing is about using data to challenge assumptions and test new ideas, often leading to increased engagement and monetization.  In addition to showing you the latest cross-platform testing services at your disposal, we discuss the "happy accident" that the Air Patriots team made. It was unexpected and led to an increase in both retention and monetization.
  • Large Scale HTML5 Games on Desktop, Mobile & Tablets with KANO/APPS — Jesse Freeman, Developer Evangelist, Amazon & KANO/APPS: Join us as we explore the current and potential future landscape of HTML5 games with our guest speakers from KANO/APPS, makers of Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra, Zombie Slayer and more. We discuss how they transformed the iconic Flash game Free Rider into a thriving online HTML5 destination. We also demonstrate how Amazon enables publishing these kinds of HTML5 games to the Kindle Fire.

Learn More

For more information about developing cross-platform games with Amazon, working with the services discussed in the videos, and expanding to additional devices such as Kindle Fire and Fire TV, visit our developer website and the AWS gaming page.

To register for a free developer account, click here.

-peter (@peterdotgames)

 

June 17, 2014

Russell Beattie

The Cordova Push Notifications Plugin is a project that lets hybrid web app developers create apps that respond to custom push notifications from services such as the Apple Push Notification Service (APNS), Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and most recently Amazon Device Messaging (ADM). This enables hybrid web apps to be notified when an online service has information for it - such as a personal message, sports score or appointment - even if the app is not currently running.

If you're unfamiliar with Amazon Device Messaging, it's a simple, efficient and free messaging service from Amazon that lets developers send push notifications from the cloud to Kindle Fire devices, helping app creators more deeply engage with their customers by keeping them up to date and involved.

You can find the plugin, and complete documentation on the Cordova PushPlugin Github repository, but here are the basics on getting started using the plugin for Amazon Fire OS.

Overview

Macintosh HD:Users:beattier:Desktop:cordova_adm:adm-cordova.png

Amazon Device Messaging works similarly to the other push notification services and has three main parts involved in the process:

  • Your server sends notifications (messages, updates, scores, etc.) to the ADM Servers to be routed to the client apps.
  • ADM Servers queue and route notifications to client apps.
  • Your  app receives the notification on a device.

The Cordova Push Notifications Plugin allows your hybrid web app to use JavaScript to register with the ADM Server and receive notification events when sent from your server.

Please note that ADM only works with Fire OS devices and the Cordova Amazon Fire OS platform target. For more information about setting up a Fire OS Cordova project, please see our earlier blog post,  Building Higher Performance Cordova-based Fire OS Apps By Implementing Amazon WebView Support.

ADM Credentials

In order for your server to send notifications to your app, both the server and app, need to be authenticated/registered with the ADM Server:

  1. Create a sample Cordova app for the Amazon Fire OS platform so you have the app name, package name and the debug build ready.
  2. Create a developer account on the Amazon Developer Portal if you don't already have one
  3. Fill out the New App Submission form and turn Device Messaging switch to ON.
  4. Create Security Profile to obtain ADM credentials for your app.
    Note: For development, you can use the MD5 signature of the debug apk created by Cordova build process found in <project_path>/platforms/amazon-fireos/ant-build.

You will need to make note of the OAuth Credentials (Client ID and Client Secret) to be used on your notifications server and the API Key to be used in your client app. These can be found on the Security Profile Management pages in the areas marked in green below:

Macintosh HD:Users:beattier:Desktop:cordova_adm:credentials.png

Below is a graphic which shows a general overview of the authentication process and how your client app and your server to authenticate and register with the ADM Server:

Macintosh HD:Users:beattier:Desktop:cordova_adm:authentication2.png

Install Push Notifications Plugin

Once you have created an initial Cordova app for the Amazon Fire OS platform, use the standard plugin command from your project directory to install the Push Notifications Plugin.

cordova plugin add https://github.com/phonegap-build/PushPlugin.git

This will download the plugin and install it in your app's project directory. There will be a new folder called <com.phonegap.plugins.PushPlugin> inside your project's plugin directory.  This folder contains: the source files for the plugin, an Example directory that has a sample web app you can use to receive ADM notifications on the client, and a Node.js script you can use to send notifications, simulating what a server would normally do.

Before you can start testing notifications, you will need to follow the steps below to download and install the ADM support libraries and add the proper credentials to your project.

Install Amazon Device Messaging Library

The push notifications plugin needs the support files found in the ADM API. Follow these steps to download the SDK and install the library files in your Cordova project:

  1. Download the Amazon Mobile App SDK and unzip.
  2. Create a folder called ext_libs in <project_path>/platforms/amazon-fireos folder.
  3. Copy amazon-device-messaging-x.x.x.jar into the <project_path>/platforms/amazon-fireos/ext_libs
  4. Create a new text file called ant.properties in the <project_path>/platforms/amazon-fireos folder, and add a java.compiler.classpath entry pointing at the ADM library. For example:
    java.compiler.classpath=./ext_libs/amazon-device-messaging-1.0.1.jar
    
  5. Create a new text file called api_key.txt in the <project_path>/platforms/amazon-fireos/assets folder, and copy the API Key you obtained in the Credentials section above. Note: Be careful not to add any extra spaces to the text file.

Create Sample App

Here's a basic web app that can be used to test receiving notifications on the client. Create new index.html and index.js files in your project's www directory and copy the markup/code below.

The index.html page is simply a container for the messages to be displayed on the device:

index.html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
	<title>ADM Test</title>
</head>
<body>
	<h1>ADM Test</h1>
	<pre id="container" style="word-wrap:break-word"></pre>
	<script src="cordova.js"></script>
	<script src="index.js"></script>
</body>
</html>

The index.js script uses the PushPlugin to display notifications received on the client.

index.js:

var container = document.getElementById("container");
var pushNotification;

document.addEventListener("deviceready", handleDeviceReady, true);

function handleDeviceReady(){

    pushNotification = window.plugins.pushNotification;
    pushNotification.register( handleSuccess, handleError, {"ecb":"handleNotification"});

}

function handleNotification(e) {

    log("**** EVENT RECEIVED: " + e.event );

    if(e.event == "registered"){
        if(e.regid.length > 0){
            log("REGISTRATION ID:  <br>" + e.regid);
            log("<a href=\"mailto:?subject=ADM%20Registration%20ID&body=" + encodeURIComponent(e.regid) + "\">Email Registration ID</a>");
        }
    } else if(e.event == "message"){
        if ( e.foreground ) {
            log("FOREGROUND NOTIFICATION");
        } else {
            if ( e.coldstart )  {
                log("COLDSTART NOTIFICATION");
            } else {
                log("BACKGROUND NOTIFICATION");
            }
        }
        log("MESSAGE: " + e.payload.message );
        log("TIME: " + e.payload.timeStamp );
        log("URL: " + e.payload.url );
    } else if(e.event == "error"){
        log("ERROR: " + e.msg );
    }
}

function handleSuccess(result) {
    log("Plugin Success: " + result );
}

function handleError(error) {
    log("Plugin Error: " + error );
}

function log(msg){
    container.innerHTML += msg + "<br>";
    console.log(msg);
}

Notes about the JavaScript:

  • The handleDeviceReady method will use the pushNotification object to register the client with the ADM Server. This requires that the api_key.txt file contains the correct information.
  • The Registration ID that is returned to the client is used by your server to send notifications to the correct device/app combination. The ID is very long, so there's a link to email the ID to yourself to be used in testing.
  • The notification event has a flag to tell your app whether it was in the foreground, background or not started when the notification arrived.
  • The ADM notification event contains a payload object consisting of arbitrary fields populated by your server. In this example, the server will send a message, timestamp and URL, but each app can be different.
  • If there are errors with authentication or other issues such as connectivity problems, the app should log to the screen any error messages sent to your app.

Once you have your client app ready, use Cordova's command line to install the app on your test device (usually using the "cordova run" command). If you have set up everything correctly, the app will start, authenticate with the ADM Server and display the Registration ID unique to your device/app to be used by your notifications server.

Test ADM Notifications

Normally, you will have a dedicated server which sends app notifications via the ADM Server, using the Registration ID to uniquely identify each instance of your app running on a specific device. Your app will be responsible for getting the Registration ID from each registered device to your server.

For testing purposes, we are instead going to use the pushADM.js Node script found in the <project_path>/plugins/com.phonegap.plugins.PushPlugin/Example/server folder. This script acts in place of your server, authenticating with Amazon and then pushing notifications to the ADM Servers to be delivered to your app. (Node is a prerequisite for Cordova, so you should already have it installed on your system.)

Before we can use the script, we need to add in your OAuth Credentials and Registration ID. Here is a snippet from the top part of the test script that you will be editing:

pushADM.js:

// Client ID and Client Secret received from ADM portal
var CLIENT_ID = ""; 
var CLIENT_SECRET = "";

// Registration ID, received on device after it registers with ADM server
var REGISTRATION_IDS = [""];

// Message payload to be sent to client
var payload = {
        data: {
            message: "PushPlugin works!!",
            url: "http://www.amazon.com",
            timeStamp: new Date().toISOString()
        },
        consolidationKey: "my app",
        expiresAfter: 3600
};
...

Edit the pushADM.js script :

  1. Copy the OAuth credentials - Client ID and Client Secret - you obtained in the Credentials section above into the CLIENT_ID and CLIENT_SECRET variables.
  2. Copy one or more Registration IDs from a registered app into the REGISTRATION_IDS array. Note: You can fill this var with IDs from multiple devices for testing. Using the sample app above, you can email the Registration ID to yourself and then copy/paste it into the test script.
  3. Optionally edit the payload object with custom values to be sent to your app.

Run the pushADM.js script from a command line using Node:

node pushADM.js

The result on the command line should be a series of log messages which shows the script authenticating with the ADM Server and then sending a message. The app running on your Kindle Fire should then instantly show the message if it is in the foreground, or add a notification alert to the top bar if it is in the background or not running. You can run this script as many times as you need to test your app.

Here is what the of the sample web app above looks like after receiving a notification:

Macintosh HD:Users:beattier:Desktop:cordova_adm:Screenshot_2014-05-28-14-17-15.png

Summary

The steps above should give you a good start towards implementing ADM push notifications into your app. Once you have your app working, it will be very easy to customize the notification payload as you need to create compelling new apps and services for your customers.

If you have trouble, please make sure to check out the links below for information and support:

Good luck!

-Russ

 

 

May 14, 2014

Mike Hines

One of the questions we hear frequently from developers is which platform they should target first when building their app. Adrian Barritt, head of development at Barnstrom Games, along with his team asked the same question when planning their app The Chase. The Chase first launched in August of 2013 and was the first app that the team decided to launch in the Amazon Appstore. The app allows a team of four challengers to play against a machine to test their knowledge. When asked why they chose the Amazon Appstore, Adrian said that “the opportunity was huge, and [we] saw similar apps performing really well on the Amazon Appstore”. The team also mentioned that “it doesn’t hurt when you hear good things from others [Square Enix] and how impressed they were with the coverage they received” says Adrian.

Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Adrian to discuss how they got their app to rise to the top of the charts in the UK, and how they view their experience with Amazon Appstore. Here are some of Adrian’s observations:

500% Increase in Sales Upon Launch of Amazon Coins

“Our sales went pretty ballistic when Amazon launched Amazon Coins.” says Adrian. Amazon Coins are generally used by customers to explore and try out new apps. Customers can get Amazon Coins in a variety of ways such as purchasing or earning Coins for free. Developers can really benefit from this since there are a lot of customers waiting to use up their Coins on different apps. Barnstorm Games specifically saw their app benefit from this.

“Our sales went up 10-fold (1000%) for about a week during the Amazon Coins promotion when Amazon gave away a vast amount of Coins to their customers. Even after the promotion we saw a 500% increase in sales from what we used to get.”- Adrian Barritt

Part of Adrian’s strategy is understanding when consumers usually purchase apps. The team made sure that their app would be ready for launch before the holidays. As a result the team saw a “2000% increase on Christmas Day compared to our average sales we usually get per day”. Since then, the team continues to see a consistent increase of 200-300% in sales after the Coins promotion ended and is now consistently ranked among the top 3 apps in the UK.

“We are more than happy with our performance in the Amazon Appstore and our expectations have been exceeded” – Adrian Barritt

Amazon Coins

Transitioning the App to Google Play with Ease

One of the goals for Barnstorm was to expand their app onto more platforms. Since the team initially built their app on the Kindle Fire, they knew that Android would be a natural transition. So how was the process for transitioning the app over to Android? “The transition for creating an Android version was very easy since Kindle Fire was just designed that way.” says Adrian. You may recall that 75% of Android tablet apps that we tested just work on Kindle Fire with no additional development needed so it’s not surprising that Adrian said that “there was no additional work needed beyond supporting GameCircle and thinking what services to use. Other than that it was very simple.”

“Even though we are on Google Play as well now, the majority of the time the Amazon Appstore still performs better than Google Play in terms of revenue”.

Using GameCircle to increase Engagement

One service that Barnstorm is using to increase customer engagement is the GameCircle API. “With GameCircles’s achievement feature, it’s definitely helped us retain and engage our users” says Adrian. The team uses achievements to mark how well players are performing against others in “The Chase”, which has really improved average session length. After seeing the success with GameCircle, Adrian is currently looking into more services such as Amazon’s Device Messaging API to engage the audience even more by pushing out notifications to them.

  

Next Step for Barnstorm

The team has a new app that they just released in the Amazon Appstore called Tipping Point. The app is already topping the charts in the UK as well and the team has high hopes for it. Barnstorm also just participated in Amazon’s Free App of the Day program as well, helping them get even more exposure to customers.

Learn more about the tools used by Barnstorm Games

Amazon Coins

GameCircle

Free App of the Day

 

April 24, 2014

David Isbitski

Launched in 2010, Soundtracker by South Ventures USA, is described as an app that allows music to connect people by making it easy to discover and play music in real time with friends and anyone nearby. With Soundtracker you can create stations, chat with other users, listen and comment on their latest stations amongst other features. Available on the Amazon Appstore here as well as other platforms, Soundtracker has over 4 million downloads and 1 million active users worldwide across all platforms.

I had the chance to sit down with Daniele Calabrese, CEO and founder, to discuss their experience bringing Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore and how they’ve managed to leverage different Amazon Mobile Apps APIs to their advantage.

Increasing Opportunity with Limited Work

Even though the app itself is available on various platforms, the reason why Daniele decided to bring the app to Amazon Appstore was simple. The “opportunity with Kindle was too good to pass on since we would be able to create an app for two platforms at once.” Daniele says that early on the team realized that the Android SDK was compatible with Kindle Fire, so they decided to build the apps in tandem. The team found out quickly that “the process in getting Soundtracker into the Amazon Appstore was very easy and the results from it has definitely paid off.”

“Monetization in the Amazon Appstore jumped 100% using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing API and Mobile Ads API in the first month since implementation” – Daniele Calabrese

 

Figure 1- Kindle Fire UI

Leveraging Amazon Mobile Apps SDK to Improve Engagement

Besides using Amazon’s In-App Purchasing and Mobile Ads API, Soundtracker also uses Amazon’s Maps API and Device Messaging API as well. For Soundtracker “being able to monetize and engage your users are the most important factor in choosing a platform” says Daniele. The team credits these specific API’s as “the reason why we were able to be so successful in the Amazon Appstore.” By integrating certain APIs you can also qualify for different programs. Daniele says the team is “excited to be admitted into the Appstore Developer Select program,” which provides the team with 500k mobile ad impressions, Amazon Coins rewards to customers, and more.

Figure 2- Nearby feature and push notification

Since Soundtracker detects where other users are, relative to their current location, notifying other users who are nearby is crucial for engagement. The team decided to use Amazon Device Messaging API and Amazon Maps API to help solve this issue. The device messaging and maps APIs allow users to really engage by integrating interactive maps directly into your app, as well as sending out push notifications from the cloud to the user. When your app relies heavily on social interaction, such as Soundtracker’s feature of commenting or discovering other users’ playlist selections, getting a user’s attention is one of the most important factors. By using these APIs, the team was able to see a consistent lift in engagement.                

“Engagement in the Amazon Appstore increased by 400% in the last 6 months. Number of sessions, length of sessions, and number of tracks streamed per user increased on a weekly basis.”- Daniele Calabrese

So how long did it take for the team to integrate all these APIs? Daniele says “the process for development and testing altogether took only a week and the process was very straight forward”.

Expanding into the Living Room with Amazon Fire TV

According to Daniele, “since performance has been successful with their current app on Kindle Fire” the team plans to expand even more into the Amazon ecosystem. The next step for the team is “integrating with Amazon’s music offering and getting their app on Amazon Fire TV.” Since the team has already qualified for Appstore Developer Select, the team can now qualify for the Appstore Developer Select Amazon Fire TV benefits as well by optimizing for the Amazon Fire TV. This includes enhanced on-device merchandising and a 500k Amazon Coins offer per qualifying app.

“I would recommend Amazon Appstore to other developers. Getting our app on Kindle Fire was very easy and it gives developers a great opportunity to distribute and monetize their apps.” – Daniele Calabrese

 

February 28, 2014

David Isbitski

We just gave our case study page a quick update to make it easier for you to navigate and find the developer stories that you are looking for. Check out the case study page to see what other developers are building and learn what they are doing to engage their users, promote their apps, and successfully monetize them.

Take a look at some of the developer stories that we’ve recently featured:

Developers like Sean Sheedy and his two sons Tommy and Ian love to participate in MoDevEast competitions. In their latest competition the team created an app that would let you playback a track that somebody else recorded and while it plays back you can record your own track. Sean mentioned that “It was a no brainer to port this over to Kindle. It basically ran right away. We basically did no work.” Since Kindle is Android, it’s just like any other Android environment using Eclipse. “In development, it’s really cool that I can plug the Kindle in, and it’s just like any Android device. That is REALLY nice,” says Tommy. Read the full article.

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AmazonDeveloperBlogs/legacy/mysingingmonster1._CB520510310_.png

When we spoke with Bryan Davis, the Director of Development of Big Blue Bubble, he shared some general strategy on how they generated 10%-15% better average revenue per user and 25%-30% better IAP revenue in the Amazon Appstore for My Singing Monsters. Davis tells us: “A very important aspect of monetization from free-to-play games is IAP (in-app purchasing). Our strategy is to go for volume, rather than chasing whales.” While average revenue per user (ARPU) is important, Bryan tells us that a high conversion rate is more important for Big Blue Bubble. Read the full article.

https://developer.amazon.com/public/binaries/content/gallery/drpandacropped2.jpg

Others like Tribeplay have been building apps since 2012 and created the series of games under the title Dr. Panda that first appeared on iOS and Android. According to the team, making their Android Apps available on the Amazon Appstore required little to no extra tweaking.” The team added thatone of the best things about the Amazon Appstore is that there wasn’t much work to get our apps on there. We already develop for Android, so getting our games on the Amazon Appstore was a real breeze.” The team ended up doubling their gross revenue in UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Read the full article.

We plan to make these case studies a regular series, so check back every month for a new case study post, and learn more about how the Amazon Appstore is benefitting developers. If you’re interested in checking out other developer stories, visit our case study page. If you have a specific experience with your apps and games in the Amazon Appstore or integrating the Amazon Mobile Developer SDK that you’d like to share with other developers we would love to hear about it. Just email us your story at mobile-app-marketing(at)amazon.com and you just might end up on our website.

 

 

 

January 22, 2014

Mike Hines

Note: Effective 08-26-2015 Free App of the Day (FAD) has been replaced with Amazon Underground.

Getting the right exposure for your app is a key ingredient to making it successful. Amazon already has several programs which developers can leverage to help drive visibility to their apps, and developers who want even more visibility think outside the box to tailor their customer experiences to increase engagement with their apps. Tribeplay is one of those game publishers who did just that, by issuing a price discount promotion that drastically increased their revenue.

The team which is based out of China has been building apps since 2012 and created the series of games under the title Dr. Panda that first appeared on iOS and Android. According to Tribeplay, making their Android Apps available on the Amazon Appstore required “little to no extra tweaking.” Tribeplay added that “one of the best things about the Amazon Appstore is that there wasn’t much work to get our apps on there. We already develop for Android, so getting our games on the Amazon Appstore was a real breeze.”

 

 

 

 

The games are available worldwide, but the team wanted to increase sales in Europe so they discounted the price of their apps by more than 50% in select countries. By doing so, Tribeplay saw their gross revenue more than double in UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

So how did the team accomplish this? Tribeplay ran banners highlighting their price promotion, which caught the attention of customers in the Amazon Appstore. When the Amazon Appstore recognized that their app was trending in customer popularity, Amazon assisted by providing more visibility for the app. “The suite of tools for promotions and sales [that Amazon provides] to help market our apps on the Amazon Appstore more effectively are very valuable.” said Tribeplay, the creators of Dr. Panda. The team saw the app’s sales more than double during the time period, when they increased the visibility of their app. 

Aside from the sales uplift, Dr. Panda was also able to reach a new and unique developer audience on Amazon. “Amazon Appstore is a fantastic platform for us and continues to get better. Through Amazon we’ve been able to reach a whole new demographic and really succeed with them. The fact that the Kindle Fire device line is so integrated to the store has also been a great benefit for both developing and marketing our apps with Amazon customers in mind.” The teams recently joined the Appstore Developer Select program and integrated the Mobile Ads API and are excited to see how the results will turn out. By participating in these programs, the team will receive additional impressions for their app, home page placements, and customized ads for their app in the US.

So how can you increase visibility? Besides having your app perform well, you can ensure your app qualifies for the Appstore Developer Select program, or get your app featured in the Free App of the Day program. If you’re looking for something similar to what Tribeplay did with their promotion, check out the Developer Promotions Console, which allows you to easily discount your apps. Getting your app onto these programs only requires a couple pre-requisites and they all aim at providing visibility for your app. For example, for your app to qualify for the Appstore Developer Select program, it must utilize relevant API’s such as Amazon In-App Purchasing, Amazon Mobile Ads, and Game Circle that all contribute to enhancing the user’s experience in your app. If you need help with these requirements we have a lot of resources available as well. “The Amazon team has always been amazing with their help and advice. Questions we ask are always answered promptly and accurately, and any problems we’ve had have been solved super quickly.” says Tribeplay.

 

July 31, 2013

Daniel Winner

On July 9th, the Amazon Apps UK team was very pleased to present at Develop Brighton, one the leading events for the burgeoning UK games community, attended by over 1,600 games industry professionals from CEO’s to Student developers.

On one of the hottest days of the year, Matt Hatherly from the UK Apps team and I enjoyed meeting so many games developers the Hilton Metropole, at the Hotel Du Vin and on Brighton’s famous beach.

During our presentation we took the opportunity to share insights on how to develop, market and monetize mobile games that use In App Purchasing. 

The theme of our talk was that Games publishing is evolving from an art to a science, as so much more data is now available. We shared a number of tips & insights on how to monetize Freemium games, including:

1.     The more time you can keep customers engaged the more money you’ll make.

  • If you create a purchasing hook early on in the game you will take advantage of customers who want to spend on day one
  • Give customers a reason to come back by providing lots of content, depth and regular updates – Customers that come back, come back time and again and carry on spending not only days but weeks after the first download

2.     Finessing your range, selection and pricing of IAP items and the way you communicate to customers makes a big difference to monetization.

  • The more IAP items you offer for sale, the more orders you will get
  • Games with tutorials monetize much better than those without
  • The way you merchandise IAP items also makes a big difference – if you merchandise IAP items like a catalogue (with tiles for each item) your app will monetize better

Thousands of UK based game developers have added their Apps to the Amazon Appstore, including hit Freemium titles from Developers including New Star Games (New Star Soccer), Endemic ( Plague), Stick Sports (Stick Sports Cricket), and we look forward to welcoming many more to the store. 

The UK team will be participating in more Developer events during the course of the year and we hope to connect with more of the UK Games community then.

 

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