Google Play

Google starts pulling unvetted Android apps that access call logs and SMS messages

Posted by | Android, Apps, computing, Google, Google Play, google search, Mobile, privacy, product management, Security, smartphones, SMS | No Comments

Google is removing apps from Google Play that request permission to access call logs and SMS text message data but haven’t been manually vetted by Google staff.

The search and mobile giant said it is part of a move to cut down on apps that have access to sensitive calling and texting data.

Google said in October that Android apps will no longer be allowed to use the legacy permissions as part of a wider push for developers to use newer, more secure and privacy minded APIs. Many apps request access to call logs and texting data to verify two-factor authentication codes, for social sharing, or to replace the phone dialer. But Google acknowledged that this level of access can and has been abused by developers who misuse the permissions to gather sensitive data — or mishandle it altogether.

“Our new policy is designed to ensure that apps asking for these permissions need full and ongoing access to the sensitive data in order to accomplish the app’s primary use case, and that users will understand why this data would be required for the app to function,” wrote Paul Bankhead, Google’s director of product management for Google Play.

Any developer wanting to retain the ability to ask a user’s permission for calling and texting data has to fill out a permissions declaration.

Google will review the app and why it needs to retain access, and will weigh in several considerations, including why the developer is requesting access, the user benefit of the feature that’s requesting access and the risks associated with having access to call and texting data.

Bankhead conceded that under the new policy, some use cases will “no longer be allowed,” rendering some apps obsolete.

So far, tens of thousands of developers have already submitted new versions of their apps either removing the need to access call and texting permissions, Google said, or have submitted a permissions declaration.

Developers with a submitted declaration have until March 9 to receive approval or remove the permissions. In the meantime, Google has a full list of permitted use cases for the call log and text message permissions, as well as alternatives.

The last two years alone has seen several high-profile cases of Android apps or other services leaking or exposing call and text data. In late 2017, popular Android keyboard ai.type exposed a massive database of 31 million users, including 374 million phone numbers.

Powered by WPeMatico

Millions of Android users tricked into downloading 85 adware apps from Google Play

Posted by | Android, Apps, Google, Google Play, online marketplaces, privacy, Security, smartphones | No Comments

Another day, another batch of bad apps in Google Play.

Researchers at security firm Trend Micro have discovered dozens of apps, including popular utilities and games, to serve a ton of deceptively displayed ads — including full-screen ads, hidden ads and ads running in the background to squeeze as much money out of unsuspecting Android users.

In all, the researchers found 85 apps pushing adware, totaling at least 9 million affected users.

One app — a universal TV remote app for Android — had more than five million users alone, despite a rash of negative reviews and complaints that ads were “hidden in the background.” Other users said there were “so many ads, [they] can’t even use it.”

The researchers tested each app and found that most shared the same or similar code, and often the apps were similarly named. At every turn, tap or click, the app would display an ad, they found. In doing so, the app generates money for the app maker.

Some of the bad adware-ridden apps found by security researchers. (Image: Trend Micro)

Adware-fueled apps might not seem as bad as other apps packed with malware or hidden functionality, such as apps that pull malicious payloads from another server after the app is installed. At scale, that can amount to thousands of fraudulent ad dollars each week. Some ads also have a tendency to be malicious, containing hidden code that tries to trick users into installing malware on their phones or computers.

Some of the affected apps include: A/C Air Conditioner Remote, Police Chase Extreme City 3D Game, Easy Universal TV Remote, Garage Door Remote Control, Prado Parking City 3D Game and more. (You can find a full list of apps here.)

Google told TechCrunch that it had removed the apps, but a spokesperson did not comment further.

We tried reaching out to the universal TV remote app creator but the registered email on the since-removed Google Play store app points to a domain that no longer exists.

Despite Google’s best efforts in scanning apps before they’re accepted into Google Play, malicious apps are one of the biggest and most common threats to Android users. Google pulled more than 700,000 malicious apps from Google Play in the past year alone, and has tried to improve its back-end to prevent malicious apps from getting into the store in the first place.

Yet the search and mobile giant continues to battle rogue and malicious apps, pulling at least 13 malicious apps in a sweep in November alone.

Powered by WPeMatico

Consumer advocacy groups call on FTC to investigate kids’ apps on Google Play

Posted by | android apps, Apps, children, coppa, family, FTC, Google, Google Play, kids, Mobile, Policy, privacy, Security | No Comments

A coalition of 22 consumer and public health advocacy groups, led by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), have today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking them to investigate and sanction Google for how its Google Play Store markets apps to children. The complaint states that Google features apps designed for very young children in its Play Store’s “Family” section, many of which are violating federal children’s privacy law, exposing kids to inappropriate content and disregarding Google’s own policies by luring kids into making in-app purchases and watching ads.

Google Play ‘Family’ section

Google first introduced its “Designed for Families” program back in 2015, which gives developers of kid-friendly apps meeting certain guidelines additional visibility in the Play Store. This includes a placement in the Family section, where apps are organized by age appropriateness.

To qualify, “Family” apps must abide by specific content policies, Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement and the Designed for Families DDA Addendum. The apps also must meet the Designed for Families program requirements. Legal compliance with federal privacy laws, including COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule), are among the requirements.

COPPA is designed to protect children under the age of 13 by giving parents control over what information sites and apps can collect from their kids.

Above: Google Play store showcases children’s content in its own dedicated sections

COPPA violations

But the new FTC complaint claims that Google is not verifying COPPA compliance when it accepts these apps and, as a result, many are in continual violation of the law.

“Our research revealed a surprising number of privacy violations on Android apps for children, including sharing geolocation with third parties,” said Serge Egelman, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement shared by the group. “Given Google’s assertion that Designed for Families apps must be COPPA compliant, it’s disappointing these violations still abound, even after Google was alerted to the scale of the problem,” he added.

TechCrunch asked the coalition if it had some idea about how many apps were in violation of COPPA, and were told the groups don’t know an exact number.

“From our survey — and more comprehensive analyses like the PET Study — it seems fairly prevalent,” Lindsey Barrett, Staff Attorney at Georgetown’s Institute for Public Representation, told us.

“The PET Study found that 73 percent of the kids apps in the Play store transmitted sensitive data over the internet, and we saw apps sending geolocation without notice and verifiable parental consent, and sending personal information unencrypted,” Barrett said. “Further, under COPPA, children’s PII cannot be used for behavioral advertising. Yet, many of the children’s apps we looked at were sending information to ad networks which say their services should not be used with children’s apps,” she added.

Other harms

The apps also engage in other bad behaviors, like regularly showing ads that are difficult to exit or showing those that require viewing in order to continue the current game, according to the complaint. Some apps pressure kids into making in-app purchases — in one example, the game characters were crying if the kids didn’t buy the locked items, it notes. Others show ads for alcohol and gambling, despite those being barred by Google’s Ad Policy.

Above: disturbing images from TabTale apps

The coalition additionally called out some apps for containing “graphic, sexualized images” like TutoTOONS “Sweet Baby Girl Daycare 4 – Babysitting Fun,” which has more than 10 million downloads. (The game has a part where kids change a baby’s diaper, wipe their diaper area, then rub powder all over the baby’s body.) Others model harmful behavior, like TabTale’s “Crazy Eye Clinic,” which teaches children to clean their eyes with a sharp instrument, and has more than one million downloads. (The game is currently not available on Google Play and its webpage is down.)

The complaint also broadly takes issue with apps that use common SDKs like those from Unity or Flurry (disclosure: Flurry and TechCrunch share a corporate parent) to collect device identifiers from the children’s apps.

“Nearly three-quarters of the apps in the Family section transmit device identifiers to third parties,” reads the complaint. “There is no way for us to know for sure what the device identifiers are used for. Since many of the apps send device identifiers to third parties that specialize in monetizing apps and/or engaging in interest-based (behavioral) advertising, it seems unlikely that this information is being used solely to support internal operations,” it says.

Above: Strawberry Shortcake Puppy Palace was called out for aggressive monetization efforts. Strawberry tells kids to buy things to keep the puppy happy — the implication is if you don’t pay, you’re making puppies sad.

The groups say that Google has been aware of all these problems for some time, but hasn’t taken adequate steps to enforce its criteria for developers. As a result, the consumer advocacy groups are urging the FTC to investigate the Play Store’s practices.

The coalition had previously asked the FTC to investigate developers of children’s apps aimed at preschoolers who were using manipulative advertising. But today’s complaint is focused on Google.

“Google (Alphabet, Inc.) has long engaged in unethical and harmful business practices, especially when it comes to children,” explained Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “And the Federal Trade Commission has for too long ignored this problem, placing both children and their parents at risk over their loss of privacy, and exposing them to a powerful and manipulative marketing apparatus. As one of the world’s leading providers of content for kids online, Google continues to put the enormous profits they make from kids ahead of any concern for their welfare,” Chester said.

Apple was not similarly called out because a similar analysis has not yet been done on its app marketplace, Josh Golin, executive director at CCFC told us. In Google’s case, he explained, two major studies found widespread issues with the Play Store apps for kids. One from Berkeley researchers found widespread COPPA non-compliance; the other, by University of Michigan researchers, found children’s play experience was often completely interrupted and undermined by aggressive marketing tactics.

The complaint comes at a time where there is increased scrutiny as to how tech companies are misusing and abusing consumer data and violating privacy. Kids game have already been the subject of some concern. And this morning, an NYT investigation into Facebook revealed it had shared more of users’ personal data than disclosed with major tech companies, following a year of data scandals.

The issue of data privacy is an industry-wide problem. Tech companies’ failures on this front will likely lead to increased regulation going forward.

Not all the named developers were immediately available to comment this morning. We’ll update if comments are provided. (Update: TutoToons says they removed the inappropriate content from the app after becoming aware of the complaint. They urged parents and child advocacy groups to reach out to them directly in the future.)

Google says it’s taking the complaint seriously. It has removed thousands of apps from its Designed for Families program this year, and rejects a third of applications.

“Parents want their children to be safe online and we work hard to protect them. Apps in our Designed for Families program have to comply with strict policies on content, privacy and advertising, and we take action on any policy violations that we find,” a Google spokesperson says. “We take these issues very seriously and continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children from our platform,” they added.

The full complaint is below.

 

Powered by WPeMatico

US mobile app stores had their biggest day ever on Black Friday 2018

Posted by | app-store, apple-app-store, Apps, black friday, black friday 2018, Google Play, Mobile, sensor tower | No Comments

Black Friday wasn’t just a boon for e-commerce retailers, it helped the mobile app stores break new records, too. According to a new report from Sensor Tower, the combined consumer spending across the U.S. Apple App Store and Google Play on Black Friday 2018 reached $75.9 million — a record for the most ever spent in a single day on both stores.

The App Store accounted for most of that figure, however, with U.S. consumers spending a record $52 million on Black Friday. That’s a 31.6 percent increase in spending over last year’s shopping event, when consumers then spent $39.5 million.

It’s also notably higher than Christmas 2017, when spending reached $39.8 million — typically a strong day for app purchases and in-app sales, as consumers unwrap new iPhones.

The App Store’s $52 million was more than double the $23.9 million spent on Google Play during the same time.

Sensor Tower attributes the increased spending to a variety of factors, largely driven by mobile gaming. Game makers this year got in on the Black Friday action by offering players discounts on in-app purchases and other special bundles.

On the U.S. App Store, mobile gaming accounted for 68 percent of Black Friday spending, with consumers spending $35.4 million on games. That’s a 63 percent increase from the week prior, the report notes.

Other categories saw a boost, too, including Food & Drink and Sports — both reflective of the leisure time consumers had over the holidays. Food & Drink grew 34 percent while Sports grew 49 percent, Sensor Tower found, with top apps like NYT Cooking and ESPN: Live Sports and Scores benefiting from the surge.

Though the Black Friday shopping holiday is heavily associated with the U.S. because of its ties to Thanksgiving, the sales event is making its way around the world, too.

On the mobile app stores, that meant worldwide consumer spending saw a jump this year, as well.

The firm found that $117.3 million was spent by App Store users outside the United States on Black Friday, bringing the global total to $169.3 million, up 18.4 percent from 2017. The spending outside the U.S. was up 13.9 percent year-over-year, but that’s lower than the U.S.’s year-over-year growth of 31.6 percent between Black Friday 2017 and Black Friday 2018.

Also of note: While Amazon had its biggest day ever on Cyber Monday 2018, Cyber Monday didn’t perform as well on the app stores. In the U.S., app revenue was up about 20 percent versus the previous Cyber Monday, to reach an estimated $37 million.

Powered by WPeMatico

A look at the Android Market (aka Google Play) on its 10th Anniversary

Posted by | android apps, App Annie, Apps, Google Play, Mobile | No Comments

Google Play has generated more than twice the downloads of the iOS App Store, reaching a 70 percent share of worldwide downloads in 2017, according to a new report from App Annie, released in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the Android Market, now called Google Play. The report also examined the state of Google Play’s marketplace and the habits of Android users.

It found that, despite the large share of downloads, Google Play only accounted for 34 percent of worldwide consumer spend on apps, compared with 66 percent on the iOS App Store in 2017 — a figure that’s stayed relatively consistent for years.

Those numbers are consistent with the narrative that’s been told about the two app marketplaces for some time, as well. That is, Google has the sheer download numbers, thanks to the wide distribution of its devices — including its reach into emerging markets, thanks to low-cost smartphones. But Apple’s ecosystem is the one making more money from apps.

App Annie also found that the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region accounts for more than half of Google Play consumer spending. Japan was the largest market of all-time on this front, topping the charts with $25.1 billion dollars spent on apps and in-app purchases. It was followed by the U.S. ($19.3 billion) and South Korea ($11.2 billion).

The firm attributed some of Google Play’s success in Japan to carrier billing. This has allowed consumer spending to increase in markets like South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, as well, it said.

As to what consumers are spending their money on? Games, of course.

The report found that games accounted for 41 percent of downloads, but 88 percent of spend.

Outside of games, in-app subscriptions have contributed to revenue growth.

Non-game apps reached $2.7 billion in consumer spend last year, with 4 out of the top 5 apps offering a subscription model. The No. 1 app, LINE, was the exception. It was followed by subscription apps Tinder, Pandora, Netflix and HBO NOW.

In addition, App Annie examined the app usage patterns of Android users, and found they tend to have a lot of apps installed. In several markets, including the U.S. and Japan, Android users had more than 60 apps installed on their phones, and they used more than 30 apps every month.

Australia, the U.S. and South Korea led the way here, with users’ phones holding 100 or more apps.

The report also looked at the most popular games and apps of all time by both downloads and consumer spend. There weren’t many surprises on these lists, with apps like those made by Facebook dominating the top apps by downloads list, and subscription services dominating top apps by spend.

App Annie also noted Google Play has seen the release of nearly 10 million apps since its launch in 2008. Not all these remain, of course — by today’s count, there are just over 2.8 million apps live on Google Play.

 

The full report is available here.

Powered by WPeMatico

Google improves Android App Bundles and makes building Instant Apps easier

Posted by | Android, android studio, Apps, Developer, Firebase, Google, Google Play | No Comments

Google is launching a number of new features for Android app developers today that will make it easier for them to build smaller apps that download faster and to release instant apps that allow potential users to trial a new app without having to install it.

Android App Bundles, a feature that allows developers to modularize their apps and deliver features on demand, isn’t a new feature. The company announced it a while ago; there are now “thousands of app bundles” in production with an average file size reduction of 35 percent. With today’s update, Google is making some changes to how app bundles handle uncompressed native libraries that are already on a device. Those will lead to downloads that are on average 8 percent smaller and take up 16 percent less space on a device.

Talking about size, Google now lets developers upload app bundles with installed APK sizes of up to 500 megabytes, though this is currently still in early access.

In addition, App Bundles are now supported in Android Studio 3.2 stable and Unity 2018.3 beta.

While small app sizes are nice, another feature Google is announcing today will likely have a larger impact on developers and users alike. That’s because the company is making some changes to Instant Apps, a feature that allows developers to ship a small part of their apps as a trial or to show a part of the app experience when users come in from search results — and there’s no need to download the full app and go through the (slow) install procedure.

With this update, Google is now using App Bundles to let developers build their instant apps. That means they don’t have to publish both an instant app and an installable app. Instead, they can enable their App Bundles to include an instant app and publish a single app to the store. Thanks to that, there’s also no additional code to maintain.

Developers also can now build instant apps for their premium titles and publish them for their pre-registration campaigns, something that wasn’t previously an option.

Other updates for Android developers include improved crash reports that now combine real-world data from users with that from the Firebase Test Lab when Google sees those crashes under both circumstances. There also are updates to how developers can set up subscription billing for their apps and a couple of other minor changes you can read about here.

Powered by WPeMatico

Google’s Clock app can now wake you up with music from Spotify

Posted by | Android, Apps, computing, Google, Google Allo, Google Play, music services, Software, Spotify, TC, YouTube Music | No Comments

You probably never think about the Google Clock app on your Android phone. And unless you are one of those happy early risers, it’s not exactly an app that brings you joy. But every day, it wakes you right on time, with either some annoying chirps or other sounds that, over time, will stress you out. But stress no more. Google today launched an update to the Clock app that now lets you choose any song or playlist from Spotify to wake you up.

This works for any Android phone running Android 5.0 (Lollipop and up) and you don’t even need a premium Spotify account to use it. A free one will do just fine. This new feature will roll out globally over the course of this week. So if everything goes to plan, you’ll be able to wake up to the soothing sounds of your favorite metal band by next Monday, if not before.

Now, you may think that it’s a bit weird that Google is using Spotify here. Doesn’t the company have its own music service? Or maybe even two, in the form of Google Play Music and YouTube Music? And, of course, you would be correct, because it’s a bit odd to see that Google is supporting a competitor here. But then, Google’s plans for its music services feel about as coherent as those for its messaging services (remember Allo?).

Powered by WPeMatico

The World Cup led to a record-breaking number of app downloads and consumer spend in Q2

Posted by | App Annie, app-store, Apps, Google Play, iOS App Store, Mobile, sensor tower, world cup | No Comments

The second quarter of 2018 was another record-breaker for mobile app downloads and revenue. According to a new report this week from App Annie, there were over 28.4 billion app downloads worldwide across both iOS and Google Play in the quarter, up 15 percent year-over-year. That number is even more remarkable because it doesn’t include reinstalls or updates – only new app downloads. In addition, consumer spending in apps was up 20 percent year-over-year to reach $18.5 billion across iOS and Google Play combined.

This is the most money spent in apps compared with any other quarter before, the report notes, topping the prior quarter’s record-breaking $18.4 billion in app revenue, and 27.5 billion downloads.

Much of the download activity in Q2 came from Google Play.

On its app marketplace alone, global downloads topped 20 billion, up 20 percent year-over-year and widening the gap between itself and iOS by 25 percent points to 160 percent. (See below).

This massive download growth is attributable largely to India, says App Annie .

The country was the biggest driver of download growth year-over-year in both absolute values and growth in market share. Indonesia also played a big role in Google Play downloads.

Meanwhile, the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia saw the largest growth in iOS downloads.

In particular, Google Play app downloads included growth in categories like games, video players and editors, and – not surprisingly, given the World Cup – sports applications. And on iOS, Sports apps were also the largest driver of global iOS downloads, followed by Finance and Travel apps.

The impact on the 2018 FIFA World Cup on sports app downloads was also highlighted last month by Sensor Tower, whose own analysis found that new installs of the five leading live TV on demand apps offering channels with the World Cup grew 77 percent during the first week of World Cup coverage, compared with the three preceding weeks (excluding the NBA Finals period).

Sports streaming service fuboTV saw the largest impact, growing at a whopping 713 percent and adding 309K new users in the U.S., while Hulu saw the smallest impact at 18 percent growth.

Single network apps grew, too, this earlier report said. FOX Sports downloads increased by 95x for the same period, while Telemundo Deportes En Vivo grew 444x, for example.

App Annie added that the top 3 sports apps in Android in the U.S. during the first three weeks of the tournament were Telemundo Deportes (#1), FOX Sports GO (#2), and FOX Sports (#3), in terms of average megabytes per user – an indication of users’ live-streaming activity. The apps were also new entrants to the top 10 list of apps by total time spent, compared with the three weeks directly prior.

In the U.K., over 6 million hours were spent in the top 10 sports apps on Android during the first 3 weeks of the World Cup, up 65 percent from the 3 weeks prior.

The World Cup also had an impact on consumer spending in apps in the quarter.

Sports apps on iOS were the third largest contributors to absolute growth in consumer spend and in market share in Q2, while Entertainment and Productivity apps were numbers one and two, respectively. In-app subscriptions for both Sports and Entertainment apps drove the consumer spending increases.

On Google Play, Games, Social, and Music & Audio apps saw the largest download growth, quarter-over-quarter.

However, despite the downloads and consumer spending in sports and TV apps, the charts of the top 10 apps by worldwide downloads and consumer spending look a lot like they usually do – with Facebook apps dominating the top 10 by downloads (Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram were the top  4).

And the top 10 apps by spending were still largely those subscription-based entertainment services like Netflix, Tencent Video, iQIYI, Pandora, Youku, and YouTube.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Posted by | android apps, app stores, app-store, Apple, Apps, developers, Google, Google Play, iOS apps, Mobile, mobile apps, sensor tower, TC | No Comments

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play.

This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon Appstore or Samsung Store, for example. In addition, Google Play is not available in China, but Apple’s App Store is.

Last year, consumer spending on the App Store reached $38.5 billion, again nearly double that of Google Play’s $20.1 billion.

As the new figures for the first half of 2018 indicate, consumer spending is up this year.

Sensor Tower estimates it has increased by 26.8 percent on iOS compared with the same period in 2017, and it’s up by 29.7 percent on Google Play.

The growth in spending can be partly attributed to subscription apps like Netflix, Tencent Video, and even Tinder, as has been previously reported.

Subscription-based apps are big businesses these days, having helped to boost app revenue in 2017 by 77 percent to reach $781 million, according to an earlier study. Netflix was also 2017’s top non-game app by revenue, and recently became ranked as the top (non-game) app of all-time by worldwide consumer spend, according to App Annie’s App Store retrospective.

Many of the other all-time top apps following Netflix were also subscription-based, including Spotify (#2), Pandora (#3), Tencent Video (#4), Tinder (#5), and HBO NOW (#8), for example.

And Netflix is again the top non-game app by consumer spending in the first half of 2018, notes Sensor Tower.

Game spending, however, continues to account for a huge chunk of revenue.

Consumer spending on games grew 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to $26.6 billion across both stores, representing roughly 78 percent of the total spent ($16.3 billion on the App Store and $10.3 billion on Google Play). Honor of Kings from Tencent, Monster Strike from Mixi, and Fate/Grand Order from Sony Aniplex were the top grossing games across both stores.

App downloads were also up in the first half of the year, if by a smaller percentage.

Worldwide first-time app installs grew to 51 billion in 1H18, or up 11.3 percent compared with the same time last year, when downloads were then 45.8 billion across the two app stores.

Facebook led the way on this front with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram as the top four apps across both the App Store and Google Play combined. The most downloaded games were PUBG Mobile from Tencent, Helix Jump from Voodoo, and Subway Surfers from Kiloo.

Google Play app downloads were up a bit more (13.1 percent vs iOS’s 10.6 percent) year-over-year due to Android’s reach in developing markets, reaching 36 billion. That’s around 2.4 times the App Store’s 15 billion.

Despite this, Apple’s platform still earned more than double the revenue with fewer than half the downloads, which is remarkable. And it can’t all be chalked up to China. (The country contributed about 31.7 percent of the App Store revenue last quarter, or $7.1 billion, to give you an idea.)

Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that even if China was removed from the picture, the App Store would have generated $15.4 billion gross revenue for first half of 2018, which is still about 30 percent higher than Google Play’s $11.8 billion.

Powered by WPeMatico

Google Play now makes it easier to manage your subscriptions

Posted by | Android, Apps, developers, Google Play, Mobile, subscriptions | No Comments

Mobile app subscriptions are a big business, but consumers sometimes hesitate to sign up because pausing and cancelling existing subscriptions hasn’t been as easy as opting in. Google is now addressing those concerns with the official launch of its subscription center for Android users. The new feature centralizes all your Google Play subscriptions, and offers a way for you to find others you might like to try.

The feature was first introduced at Google’s I/O developer conference in May, and recently rolled out to Android users, the company says. However, Google hadn’t formally announced its arrival until today.

Access to the subscriptions center only takes one tap – the link is directly available from the “hamburger” menu in the Play Store app.

Apple’s page for subscription management, by comparison, is far more tucked away.

On iOS, you have to tap on your profile icon in the App Store app, then tap on your name. This already seem unintuitive – especially considering that a link to “Purchases” is on this Account screen. Why wouldn’t Subscriptions be here, too? But instead, you have to go to the next screen, then scroll down to near the bottom to find “Subscriptions” and tap that. To turn any individual subscription off, you have to go to its own page, scroll to the bottom and tap “Cancel.”

This process should be more streamlined for iOS users.

In Google Play’s Subscriptions center, you can view all your existing subscriptions, cancel them, renew them, or even restore those you had previously cancelled – perfect for turning HBO NOW back on when “Game of Thrones” returns, for example.

You can also manage and update your payment methods, and set up a backup method.

Making it just as easy for consumers to get out of their subscriptions as it is to sign up is a good business practice, and could boost subscription sign-ups overall, which benefits developers. When consumers aren’t afraid they’ll forget or not be able to find the cancellation options later on, they’re more likely to give subscriptions a try.

In addition, developers can now create deep links to their subscriptions which they can distribute across the web, email, and social media. This makes it easier to direct people to their app’s subscription management page directly. When users cancel, developers can also trigger a survey to find out why – and possibly tweak their product offerings a result of this user feedback.

There’s also a new subscription discovery section that will help Android users find subscription-based apps through both curated and localized collections, Google notes.

These additional features, along with a good handful of subscription management tools for developers, were all previously announced at I/O but weren’t in their final state at the time. Google had cautioned that it may tweak the look-and-feel of the product between the developer event and the public launch, but it looks the same as what was shown before – right down to the demo subscription apps.

Subscriptions are rapidly becoming a top way for developers to generate revenue for their applications. Google says subscribers are growing at more than 80 percent year-over-year. Sensor Tower also reported that app revenue grew 35 percent to $60 billion in 2017, in part thanks to the growth in subscriptions.

Powered by WPeMatico