Barcode Detection in Google Play services

Posted by Laurence Moroney, Developer Advocate With the release of Google Play services 7.8 we’re excited to announce that we’ve added new Mobile Vision APIs which provides the Barcode Scanner API to read and decode a myriad of different barcode types quickly, easily and locally. Barcode detection Classes for detecting and parsing bar codes are […]

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Develop a sweet spot for Marshmallow: Official Android 6.0 SDK & Final M Preview

By Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Whether you like them straight out of the bag, roasted to a golden brown exterior with a molten center, or in fluff form, who doesn’t like marshmallows? We definitely like them! Since the launch of the M Developer Preview at Google I/O in May, we’ve enjoyed all of your participation and feedback. Today with the final Developer Preview update, we’re introducing the official Android 6.0 SDK and opening Google Play for publishing your apps that target the new API level 23 in Android Marshmallow.

Get your apps ready for Android Marshmallow

The final Android 6.0 SDK is now available to download via the SDK Manager in Android Studio. With the Android 6.0 SDK you have access to the final Android APIs and the latest build tools so that you can target API 23. Once you have downloaded the Android 6.0 SDK into Android Studio, update your app project compileSdkVersion to 23 and you are ready to test your app with the new platform. You can also update your app to targetSdkVersion to 23 test out API 23 specific features like auto-backup and app permissions.

Along with the Android 6.0 SDK, we also updated the Android Support Library to v23. The new Android Support library makes it easier to integrate many of the new platform APIs, such as permissions and fingerprint support, in a backwards-compatible manner. This release contains a number of new support libraries including: customtabs, percent, recommendation, preference-v7, preference-v14, and preference-leanback-v17.

Check your App Permissions

Along with the new platform features like fingerprint support and Doze power saving mode, Android Marshmallow features a new permissions model that streamlines the app install and update process. To give users this flexibility and to make sure your app behaves as expected when an Android Marshmallow user disables a specific permission, it’s important that you update your app to target API 23, and test the app thoroughly with Android Marshmallow users.

How to Get the Update

The Android emulator system images and developer preview system images have been updated for supported Nexus devices (Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 & Nexus Player) to help with your testing. You can download the device system images from the developer preview site. Also, similar to the previous developer update, supported Nexus devices will receive an Over-the-Air (OTA) update over the next couple days.

Although the Android 6.0 SDK is final, the devices system images are still developer preview versions. The preview images are near final but they are not intended for consumer use. Remember that when Android 6.0 Marshmallow launches to the public later this fall, you’ll need to manually re-flash your device to a factory image to continue to receive consumer OTA updates for your Nexus device.

What is New

Compared to the previous developer preview update, you will find this final API update fairly incremental. You can check out all the API differences here, but a few of the changes since the last developer update include:

  • Android Platform Change:

    • Final Permissions User Interface — we updated the permissions user interface and enhanced some of the permissions behavior.
  • API Change:

    • Updates to the Fingerprint API — which enables better error reporting, better fingerprint enrollment experience, plus enumeration support for greater reliability.

Upload your Android Marshmallow apps to Google Play

Google Play is now ready to accept your API 23 apps via the Google Play Developer Console on all release channels (Alpha, Beta & Production). At the consumer launch this fall, the Google Play store will also be updated so that the app install and update process supports the new permissions model for apps using API 23.

To make sure that your updated app runs well on Android Marshmallow and older versions, we recommend that you use Google Play’s newly improved beta testing feature to get early feedback, then do a staged rollout as you release the new version to all users.

Interactive watch faces with the latest Android Wear update

Posted by Wayne Piekarski, Developer Advocate

The Android Wear team is rolling out a new update that includes support for interactive watch faces. Now, you can detect taps on the watch face to provide information quickly, without having to open an app. This gives you new opportunities to make your watch face more engaging and interesting. For example, in this animation for the Pujie Black watch face, you can see that just touching the calendar indicator quickly changes the watch face to show the agenda for the day, making the watch face more helpful and engaging.

Interactive watch face API

The first step in building an interactive watch face is to update your build.gradle to use version 1.3.0 of the Wearable Support library. Then, you enable interactive watch faces in your watch face style using setAcceptsTapEvents(true):

setWatchFaceStyle(new WatchFaceStyle.Builder(mService)
    // other style customizations

To receive taps, you can override the following method:

public void onTapCommand(int tapType, int x, int y, long eventTime) { }

You will receive events TAP_TYPE_TOUCH when the user initially taps on the screen, TAP_TYPE_TAP when the user releases their finger, and TAP_TYPE_TOUCH_CANCEL if the user moves their finger while touching the screen. The events will contain (x,y) coordinates of where the touch event occurred. You should note that other interactions such as swipes and long presses are reserved for use by the Android Wear system user interface.

And that’s it! Adding interaction to your existing watch faces is really easy with just a few extra lines of code. We have updated the WatchFace sample to show a complete implementation, and design and development documentation describing the API in detail.

Wi-Fi added to LG G Watch R

This release also brings Wi-Fi support to the LG G Watch R. Wi-Fi support is already available in many Android Wear watches and allows the watch to communicate with the companion phone without requiring a direct Bluetooth connection. So, you can leave your phone at home, and as long as you have Wi-Fi, you can use your watch to receive notifications, send messages, make notes, or ask Google a question. As a developer, you should ensure that you use the Data API to abstract away your communications, so that your application will work on any kind of Android Wear watch, even those without Wi-Fi.

Updates to existing watches

This update to Android Wear will roll out via an over-the-air (OTA) update to all Android Wear watches over the coming weeks. The wearable support library version 1.3 provides the implementation for touch interactions, and is designed to continue working on devices which have not been updated. However, the touch support will only work on updated devices, so you should wait to update your apps on Google Play until the OTA rollout is complete, which we’ll announce on the Android Wear Developers Google+ community. If you want to release immediately but check if touch interactions are available, you can use this code snippet:

PackageInfo packageInfo = PackageManager.getPackageInfo("", 0);
if (packageInfo.versionCode > 720000000) {
  // Supports taps - cache this result to avoid calling PackageManager again
} else {
  // Device does not support taps yet

Android Wear developers have created thousands of amazing apps for the platform and we can’t wait to see the interactive watch faces you build. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, or just a cool new watch face, check out the Interactive Watch Faces collection on Google Play.

Hungry for some Big Android BBQ?

Posted by Colt McAnlis, Head Performance Wrangler

The Big Android BBQ (BABBQ) is almost here and Google Developers will be there serving up a healthy portion of best practices for Android development and performance! BABBQ will be held at the Hurst Convention Center in Dallas/Ft.Worth, Texas on October 22-23, 2015.

We also have some great news! If you sign up for the event through August 25th, you will get 25% off when you use the promotional code “ANDROIDDEV25”. You can also click here to use the discount.

Now, sit back, and enjoy this video of some Android cowfolk preparing for this year’s BBQ!

The Big Android BBQ is an Android combo meal with a healthy serving of everything ranging from the basics, to advanced technical dives, and best practices for developers smothered in a sweet sauce of a close knit community.

This year, we are packing in an unhealthy amount of Android Performance Patterns, followed up with the latest and greatest techniques and APIs from the Android 6.0 Marshmallow release. It’s all rounded out with code labs to let you get hands-on learning. To super-size your meal, Android Developer instructors from Udacity will be on-site to guide users through the Android Nanodegree. (Kinda like a personal-waiter at an all-you-can-learn buffet).

Also, come watch Colt McAnlis defend his BABBQ “Speechless” Crown against Silicon Valley reigning champ Chet Haase. It’ll be a fist fight of humor in the heart of Texas!

You can get your tickets here, and we look forward to seeing you in October!

Get the Do’s and Don’ts for Notifications from Game Developer Seriously

Posted by Lily Sheringham, Developer Marketing at Google Play

Editor’s note: We’ve been talking to developers to find out how they’ve been achieving success on Google Play. We recently spoke to Reko Ukko at Finnish mobile game developer, Seriously, to find out how to successfully use Notifications.

Notifications on Android let you send timely, relevant, and actionable information to your users’ devices. When used correctly, notifications can increase the value of your app or game and drive ongoing engagement.

Seriously is a Finnish mobile game developer focused on creating entertaining games with quality user experiences. They use push notifications to drive engagement with their players, such as helping players progress to the next level when they’ve left the app after getting stuck.

Reko Ukko, VP of Game Design at Seriously, shared his tips with us on how to use notifications to increase the value of your game and drive ongoing engagement.

Do’s and don’ts for successful game notifications



Do let the user get familiar with your service and its benefits before asking for permission to send notifications.

Don’t treat your users as if they’re all the same – identify and group them so you can push notifications that are relevant to their actions within your app.

Do include actionable context. If it looks like a player is stuck on a level, send them a tip to encourage action.

Don’t spam push notifications or interrupt game play. Get an understanding of the right frequency for your audience to fit the game.

Do consider re-activation. If the player thoroughly completes a game loop and could be interested in playing again, think about using a notification. Look at timing this shortly after the player exits the game.

Don’t just target players at all hours of the day. Choose moments when players typically play games – early morning commutes, lunch breaks, the end of the work day, and in the evening before sleeping. Take time zones into account.

Do deep link from the notification to where the user expects to go to based on the message. For example. if the notification is about “do action X in the game now to win”, link to where that action can take place.

Don’t forget to expire the notifications if they’re time-limited or associated with an event. You can also recycle the same notification ID to avoid stacking notifications for the user.

Do try to make an emotional connection with the player by reflecting the style, characters, and atmosphere of your game in the notification. If the player is emotionally connected to your game, they’ll appreciate your notifications and be more likely to engage.

Don’t leave notifications up to guess work. Experiment with A/B testing and iterate to compare how different notifications affect engagement and user behavior in your app. Go beyond measuring app opening metrics – identify and respond to user behavior.

Experiment with notifications yourself to understand what’s best for your players and your game. You can power your own notifications with Google Cloud Messaging, which is free, cross platform, reliable, and thoughtful about battery usage. Find out more about developing Notifications on Android.