Smarter approaches to a stellar rating on Google Play – Google I/O 2016
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Smarter approaches to a stellar rating on Google Play – Google I/O 2016

August 15, 2019


FERGUS HURLEY: Hey, everyone. My name is Fergus Hurley. I’m product manager
on Google Play, focused on app excellence. RICARDO GOVONI: And I’m Ricardo,
engineering manager on Play. SHAINIEL DEO: Hi,
I’m Shaniel Deo. I’m CEO of Halfbrick Studios. FERGUS HURLEY:
Great and we’re here to talk to you about five
new products we’re announcing at this year’s Google I/O to
help you achieve a better app rating on Google Play. So what we’ve found through
a lot of data analysis, feedback from users,
feedback from developers, is that there’s two major
components to achieving a high rating on Google Play. One is technical app quality. And the other is
listening to users and interacting with them
to be able to have them feel that you’re giving
them what they need and having good experience. So first we’re going to jump in
to improving your technical app quality. Last year we announced
a Cloud Test Lab. And as you heard today
with Jason in the keynote, we now have Firebase Test Lab,
which has run, since last year, over a million tests on
a real physical Android devices in the
Google Data Center running developers
like yourselves’ apps. And if you haven’t
used it so far, go ahead and go to Firebase Test
Lab today, and start using it. You can use it from
Android Studio. You can use it from
the Firebase console. Or you can even use it
from the command line. Within Play we’ve
had an integration where you don’t have to
write any custom scripts. And we will give you a report
back of how your app performs on 10 plus physical devices. And we’re now updating
that this year with the Pre-launch Report. Before I jump into what exactly
is in the Pre-launch Report, hands up if you have an
app on Google Play today. OK, and keep your hand
up if you tested your app on more than 10 physical
devices with your latest version that you pushed out. OK, I’m impressed
with some people here. Now keep your hand
up if you were able to get those results
from those 10 devices within an hour. OK, we got one person that’s
[INAUDIBLE] down the back who is impressive. And I’m here to show
you how all of you can have your hand
up to that question if you’re ever asked again. So, with the Pre-launch Report
we have three sections today. the Crashes section
shows you how your app performs when
a robot is interacting with it for about five minutes
on real physical Android devices, representing a range
of devices and form factors. And here you can see
that we show you, over time, how your
latest versions are impacted by the robot
interacting with them. You can see at 453, a
few older versions ago, the app wasn’t doing so well. And a vast majority of devices
were experiencing a crash. And with the latest few versions
it was doing pretty good, until the last version, which
had two crashes detected. As you scroll down this
part of the report, you can be able to see the
details on the devices that were tested. You going to be able
to click on any device, and you’re going to be able
to see the stack trace, if there was a crash,
the log cache, the device configuration, a video
of the robot interacting with your app, and lots
of other information to help you with actually
fixing the issue that has been detected. Now we know this, all the
developers in this room never have crashes. So we thought, how can
we make the report still valuable for you guys? And so we are introducing
the Screenshots section, where we show you usability
issues that are potentially occurring with your app. So here we show
you what your app looks like on different Android
versions, different models, different screen sizes,
different screen resolutions, and even different languages. So you can be able
to see if there’s any issues when your app
runs in Arabic in right to left language. You can see when you’re going
for the emerging market, you can see what your
app looks like in Hindi. When you’re going
to look at languages that have longer
strings, like German, you can be able to see what
it looks like in those. And as you can see
in this example here, there is a layout issue
that’s occurring in German. And I’d encourage you to have
your designers go through and have a look at
these results as well. Because it is really
valuable for them to be able to see
what that app looks like on all these
Android devices with not much work for them. The final part of the Pre-launch
Report is the Security section. And this is where we put
Google’s security team to work for you. And where we show you
known vulnerabilities that we detect in
your application before you launch it out to
the 1.2 billion Android users. For developers who don’t
have lots of resources and want to be able
to get quick testing, this has been a really
valuable resource for them. Now it doesn’t replace
all your testing, but it’s a really good
way to be able to enhance your existing QA and
testing of your application, as the Flinc team
has identified. To be able to get access
to the Pre-launch Report, you just need to go to the
Play Developer console, click on the Pre-launch
Report tab, which replaces the previous Cloud
Test Lab in the Play Developer Console. And you can click to opt in. From that point on,
when you upload an APK to your alpha or
beta channel we’ll generate a pre-launch
report for you within an hour of
uploading your APK. And so yeah, we think that this
is really, really valuable. In the past we’ve found that
60% of the top 1000 apps on Play are already running alpha
and beta channel testing. And if you’re not
doing it today, we highly encourage
you to do so. Great, so the Pre-launch
Report fits into the before you launch your app
and trying to figure out if there’s any issues with it. But, as you all
know, it’s always that there’s issues
that occur in the field. And that’s where we have tools
now for live in production too. So, as you’re
rolling out your app, you should use stage rollouts
if you don’t already. And this is where you can be
able to roll it out to 1%, 5%, 50% of your Play audience. And be able to see how new and
existing users are experiencing the latest version of your app. And as you do
that, you should be able to monitor
your crash reports. We encourage developers
to use ProGuard to be able to obfuscate their
code when they release an APK. If you are a ProGuard
user, you can now be able to upload your ProGuard
mapping file to the Google Play Developer Console and have
your stack traces deobfuscated for you when you actually go
to look at any crashes that have occurred out in the wild. As you heard Jason
today in the keynote, we now have a full
cross-platform crash reporting tool for iOS and Android called
Firebase Crash Reporting. This is part of a
much larger suite of analytics and notifications. So if, let’s say, Sundar
is using your app, and he experiences a crash. Then you can be able to see
how his engagement in your app has changed. And you can be able to send
him a notification when you fixed that issue
that he is experiencing. This is completely free. And it’s available
starting today. So if you use this,
your ProGuard mapping files that you upload
as part of Play will also work for the
Firebase Crash Reporting. All you have to do
is link your account. So we’ve gone over, in
terms of technique app quality, the Pre-launch
Report before release. And when your live in
production, the Crash Reporting part. I’m going to hand
it over to Ricardo to talk about the
new three tools that we have available
for customer interaction. RICARDO GOVONI: Cool. So Fergus told you
how you can focus on improving your app technical
quality with the tools that we have announced. But listening to your
users is equally important. And we could say, the
customer is always right. So you should really focus on
listening and understanding what your users are telling you
to make your application great. But it’s not only a matter
of making your users happy. It can also have a significant
impact on your performance of your app. Gamevil, a popular
game studio, they focused on improving the
quality of one of their app from 3.3 stars to 4.1. And over the same period, they
observed that their revenue increased by 160%. So this is pretty significant
and a good incentive to make your applications great. Aviary tells us that
it’s never too early to start collecting
feedback from your users, even when you’re app is
still in development, even when you’re still not live. And these can have a significant
impact on your development speed, your iteration speed,
and how quickly you can launch your app in production. So for these, we have a
few announcements to make. The first one is
I’d like to announce Early Access in Google Play. So this is a new program that
allows users, early adopters, to find apps that are still
in development straight from the Play Store. As part of Early Access, if
you are using an open beta, if you’re running an open beta,
even if your app is still not in production, users will
be able to find and opt in to your app,
to your open beta, straight from the store listing
page of your app in the Google Play Store. And this is a great way also to
start collecting early feedback from these users
and help them help you improve your
quality of your app, collect that early feedback
while you’re still developing your app and really make it
great from the moment you’re ready to go to production. In fact, until now
it was the case that if you were running
a private beta or an alpha and beta, users would
not be able to review or rate your app. As part of Early
Access, users will be able to write a private
feedback that is directed only to you developers. And it’s a way for
your early adopters to give feedback on how you can
improve your app while you’re getting ready for your launch. They can go to Play Store, to
your store listing section, and just leave feedback there. It’s private. It does not affect
your overall operating. It’s available only to you. On your side as a developer,
you can go to the Play Developer Console. And you will find that in
the Ratings and Review page, there is a new section, which
is called Beta Feedback. In here, are you
can find everything that your early adopters
have shared with you. And you can use
filters and search to obviously navigate
through this feedback. And you can reply to
them to start engaging in a conversation with them. So we hope that this is going
to be a great way to increase the amount of early feedback
that you get while your app is still in development. So let’s add another tool
to what we mentioned so far. Beta feedback, very
helpful we expect, we hope, as one of
the tools that you will use while you’re still
in the early development phases of your app. At some point you’re
ready to go to production. And now the game changes. You’re going to get a lot more
reviews, a lot more feedback. And it becomes important
to be able to sift through these reviews and
early identify what matters, where you should spend
your attention, what are the bits that your
users are telling you that are really important. And so we have a few more things
to help you out with this. First, as you already know,
in the ratings section of the Developer
Console, you have access to an indication
of your overall operating, historical trends, how
it is changing over time, and drill downs and
breakdowns on how your rating changes
across countries and across application versions. But what we really
focused on is making the reviews part even better. We really want to be able
to capture the most of what your users are telling you
and make it available to you in the easiest way possible. So we have a few
things to announce. First, in the Reviews part
of the Developer Console, you will find Highlights. Highlights are salient
snippets that we have extracted from user reviews. They are available to you
in the Developer Console. And they are also
visible to your users straight from the Play Store
in your store listing page. They are a great
way to understand what captures your
users’ attention and also what signals users use
to decide whether to install your application or not. One new thing that
you will find is Topics, again, in the reviews
part of the Developer Console. What we have done is we
are using machine learning and natural language processing
to look at all the reviews that are being
submitted for your app and identify peculiar topics
that are specific to your app. For example, if your are
a language learning app, you might find that your
users find it really difficult to learn Klingon. Or they might comment
on the quality of your spoken translations
or the availability of an offline mode for your app. If you’re a car
racing game, people might comment on the
quality of the graphics or the difficulty
of the game play. For each topic that
we identify, you will be able to observe
the distribution of ratings and the volume of reviews that
mention that specific topic. And also, we give
you an indication of how big of an effect
user reviews and ratings on that specific topic have
on your overall app rating. So the more they’re read, the
bigger the opportunity that you have to really focus
on addressing your users’ concerns on that specific topic
and increase your overall app rating. And we hope that this
will be a great way to help you prioritize
your attention and really focus on the
things that matter most for your users. But we have one more thing. We also have Benchmarks. So what we did,
again, we used machine learning to look
at all the reviews that have been submitted in the
Play store for all of the apps. And we identified eight
common traits, common aspects, that we think pertain
and can be quantified for any app in the store, from
its design, its usability, the stability in back of the
apps, the speed of the app. And for each of these
topics, we quantify how you score on those topics. What is your rating on
those specific topics? And again, how
much your users are talking about these aspects. And as I mentioned before,
you get an indication of where you should focus
your attention with a factor rating, which tells you
where you have the biggest opportunity to capture a good
chunk of your rating score back. Groupon was one of our testers. And they have great
feedback to say how much it helped them
prioritize their work and focus on what
really matters. But you don’t really have
only to trust our words. We can look at some data. So one thing that we
did is we looked at all our English reviews
in the Play Store, where we could identify
at least one topic. And here is what we found. For all the reviews that are
one star, in 50% of the cases, people will be complaining
about the stability and bugs of the app. For all the reviews that are
five stars, 65% of your users will be praising the speed,
design, and usability of your app. You can go to Developer Console
and look at what the data looks like for your app. And we think that this is
going to be a great way for you to understand maybe where you’re
letting your users a bit down. And on the other side,
where your app is really, really shining. And it will be a great way
to improve your app rating. OK, so this is great. Now you understand
where you should focus your attention, what are
your users are telling you. The next up is to start engaging
in a conversation with them. Because I think an active
conversation with your users can make a real difference. With filters and
search functionality, you can drill down from
the topics and benchmarks that I mentioned before,
the specific reviews that contribute to them. And once you have identified
a review that you really need to take action
on, obviously you want to reply to your users. Because it’s really
important to start addressing their feedback. But one thing that we
announced a few weeks ago is the ability to be notified
whenever one of your users update or change their
review after your reply. And this is a great way to
stay in touch with your users and the ones that are willing
to engage in a conversation. And it can really
have an impact. In fact, we have seen
great adoption over time. As of today, 40% of
Play top developers have enabled this feature
to be notified whenever one of your users, to
which you replied to, comes and update the review. So you can stay in touch
with what they’re saying. So if you’re not using yet,
go to the Developer Console today and give it a try. You will start receiving
e-mails and notifications whenever your users
change their review. So you can stay
on top of things. Engaging with your users
in an active conversation and replying to their
reviews is really important. It’s a crucial part
of your app quality. Users are really expecting these
from any developer these days. And in fact, we’ve
seen great adoption of the functionality of being
able to reply to your usera’ reviews over time, 92%
growth year over year. “The Guardian,” a popular
newspaper in the UK, considers replying to
reviews an invaluable part of their customer
management experience. So if you’re not replying
to your users yet, go ahead and start doing that. Because I’m pretty
sure all of you want a bunch of five star
loyalists for your app as well. But replying to your users
from the Developer Console can be quite cumbersome if
you have a ton of reviews. And we have heard
from many of you that you would like a
way to be able to deal with your customers at scale. So starting today,
we have a new API available among the
API’s part of the Play develop experience that
lets you fetch and reply to your users’ reviews with just
a handful, a couple of lines of code. If you’re not in the mood
of writing a couple of lines of code, we also have
integrations, zero effort, available out of
the box with some of the most popular customer
management solutions out there, like Zendesk
and Conversocial. So if you’re using
Zendesk, for example, you can just go to
your Zendesk account, with a couple of clicks
link it with Play, and start receiving your
reviews directly in Zendesk. Integrate them with your flow
in there, reply from there, and see them be propagated
live in the Play Store within seconds. Responding to your users,
let me say once more, is really, really important. Here is another data
point that we noticed. Users that come and update
their star rating after you have engaged with them,
after you have responded to their review,
on average increase their star rating by 0.71 stars. And this is pretty
significant because it’s the difference between
a four star app and a 4.7 star app, which can
be really, really massive. So we’ve covered a
ton of stuff so far. From while you’re
still developing your up to when your live,
from telemetry and crash reporting to managing
user reviews. I would like now to have
Shaniel as the CEO of Halfbrick, creator of great apps like
Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, give a demonstration
of how they’re using the feature in their own world. SHAINIEL DEO: Thanks Ricardo. Hey, guys, I’m going to give
you a few demonstrations of how we’re using some of
these tools at Halfbrick. Just to give you guys
some idea of what I’m trying to do with reviews in
customer service at Halfbrick. We have a goal where we try
and have all of our apps at 4.5 stars or greater. So it’s a pretty lofty goal. And I guess it’s one that we’re
trying to find new ways to sort of hit. So I’m going to show you
how we’re using the Zendesk integration as well as
the Pre-launch Reports and the reviews analysis tool. So who uses Zendesk here
for their customer support? OK. And who actually replies
to their Google Reviews. OK, a lot of people. That’s really great. So one of the things that
I’m going to show you is how easy it is to pipe in
all of your Google Play reviews into Zendesk and then
actually reply to them. So I’ll start off by creating a
new review for Jetpack Joyride. So let’s go ahead and do that. So I’m filtering out four
and five star reviews. So I’ll give it a
three star review. Hopefully this
will come through. So let’s see how we go. I think it’s worth more
than three stars by the way. OK, so for this particular
one I’ll just put in a review. Just say I’m addicted
to this game. But, I’d love to
save my high scores. OK, so let’s submit that. And I guess it’s going to take
a little time to submit it. But then it will take
a little bit of time to come through into
Zendesk as well. And if it doesn’t,
I have a backup one that I’ve created previously. So let’s see how we go. All right, maybe I might go
to the pre-generated one. Let’s see that. Hang on a second. OK, so this is a review there
that we put in previously. And it’s come
through to Zendesk. So what I’ll do is, for those
of you that have used Zendesk, you can set up macros that
allow you to reply real easily. So I’ve created one previously,
which is– let me see. So OK, the review that I put in
was about saving high scores. So this is pre-populated one is
about how to actually do that. So we’ll just go through. We’ll submit this as pending. And then we will click through
to the Google Play Store. And as you can see, the response
that I put in previously has come through straight away. So, you know, talking to
our customer support agents, one of the things
that I stress to them is I want them to reply to
pretty much every single one star review that comes in. And they were doing a lot
of this manually themselves. But after using this for
one week, one of the quotes that they said
was– you know, one of the statistics that
they really look at is that first touch
time statistic. And they said, when this feature
came through their first touch time statistic for the
initial week was implemented was still within their KPI,
which is less than 24 hours. So they were able to handle
all of their existing volume of support requests,
which is quite a number. I think Jetpack
has over 3 million reviews as well as lots
of tickets that come in. But they managed to
handle that as well as respond to the Google Play
reviews all within 24 hours. So it’s a really,
really amazing feature. And our guys really love it. So I guess that’s one side of
the equation, which is actually responding to reviews and
tickets as they come in. The other thing that’s
really crucial for us is to actually
analyze the reviews. And as part of trying
to hit 4.5 stars, we’ve created a
whole bunch of tools that our guys use to
actually try and make some sense of the reviews
that are coming in. So as I mentioned, Jetpack has
a lot of reviews every day. So if we jump across to–
just give me a second here. OK, that one’s frozen. If we jump to the
Developer Console– OK, so if we go to the
Reviews and Ratings. As you can see, here is
the reviews analysis tab. So as Ricardo mentioned,
there’s a number of things here. There’s the review
highlights, which is really good to
see it gives you a quick sort of idea of
what’s going on with the app. But the thing that’s more
important for our guys is the benchmarks
because really it goes to show you which
areas of your app are not doing so favorably. And as you can see here,
stability is obviously one of the biggest factors. And I guess the stats that the
guy shared clearly shows that. So, stability is
one thing, but it’s hard to figure out
what it is exactly. I mean you can look
at crash reports and various other things. But this tool really allows
you to drill down quite easily. So we can look at–
obviously, click on stability and see the various
reviews that come through. So there’s a number
of different reviews. I think one of the
things that I really like is the fact that you
can, obviously filter these. And once again. One of the go to’s is to look
at the one star sort of ratings. So if you look here,
most of it will be based around various crash issues. You can see, our
guys are actually replying to all
of these reviews. So, 17th of May, I think
that was yesterday. They’re just going
through and they’re responding to all of these. So, most of these reviews
are OK, the thing is buggy. And that can only
tell you so much. So one of the other areas
that’s really interesting is the topics that
people are talking about. And I know that with Star Skater
in particular, when we released it, one of the key issues that
we had was around the controls. And so you can see here
that actually controls is the number one factor
that’s affecting our ratings. So once again, you
can jump in and you can have a look at
control issues as well. So the filter that I put on is
already there, the one star. You can go through
and have a look at all of the different
issues that people are having with controls. Sometimes people just say,
OK, the controls suck. But other times you find some
really useful information in here as well. And it really allows
our guys to hone in on the key things
that are going to impact on improving their reviews. So once again, we have
internal tools for this part. You know, these tools
in the developer console just save us so
much time, and particularly for our larger games where
there are so many reviews. It’s really hard. We don’t have the
machine learning to process all of
that information and give us the key insights. So it’s a really good tool. And I think we’ll see over
the coming months how it just helps us reach our
target of 4.5 stars. So OK, the last tool
that I wanted to show you is the Pre-launch Report. And we have an internal
queue QA team at Halfbrick And the way they
work is they wait until a build is being
submitted or uploaded before they start testing. And one of the first things
that they do is a smoke test. And so we can’t cover 10 devices
within a short amount of time. So this has been really,
really helpful for us. So you can see here the
latest build that they uploaded of Star Skater. Had a problem on the Nexus
5 with the Android version 5.1 so Nexus 5 with Android
version 4.4 was fine. But obviously, the
problem was with 5.1. So this saves a lot of time. Our guys don’t even
have to start QA-ing until they get a bill
that sort of passes some of the tests on these devices. So similarly with
the screen shots, one of the other tools that
we really invested a lot into was how to go about supporting
all the different aspect ratios and form factors of devices. So I might switch
to another app here. Let’s look at Dan the man,
which is still in Soft Launch. So quickly jump to
the Pre-launch Report. So it crashes, no crashes,
which is really good. Screenshots, so
we can have a look and see the various screenshots
in the different form factors. So, obviously this
is something that you can mess up quite easily. I don’t think we
currently support languages other than
English at this point. So we’re not really getting
a good read on that. But we can see, OK, all the
aspect ratios look pretty good. All the different form
factors look pretty good. So once again, this sort
of saves a lot of time. And we did build these
tools internally. But they’re not
integrated into everything around the Developer Console. So it’s not as
efficient for us to use. So the last thing, and this
one is really important for me because we have had issues
in the past with security for some of our apps. And typically, these are
some of our older legacy apps, which we released the last
update months and months ago. And now to come back and
actually fix those security issues is a real nightmare,
because the code base has changed so much and you have to
get the thing rebuilding again. So being able to upload and
get a security scan to say everything’s OK is great. Because if there is something
wrong you can fix it then and there not have to come back
to it months down the road. So this is another
really important feature that our guys use all the time. OK, so I guess that’s
a quick overview of some of these features. My main feedback really is that
these can help you really raise the quality bar for your
apps, and the resulting user reviews that you get. So I’d highly recommend
you check them out, get familiar with them, and
try and use them as much as you cam/ it’ll save you a lot
of time and allow you to hit your ratings goals that
you set for yourself. So thank you. I’m going to hand
back to Fergus. Thank you. FERGUS HURLEY: Thanks
so much, Shainiel. Great, thanks very
much, Shainiel. It’s always great to
hear from a developer. Because, as the app
and tool creators, we kind of are a bit biased. So thanks, Shainiel. So, we’ve gone over five
different tools today. And I really encourage you to
take advantage of all of them. Pre-launch Report for
early on development cycle, when you’re building that
latest version of your app, use Firebase Test Lab. Then [INAUDIBLE] check,
Pre-launch Report, then when you’re actually
in that phase as well, start doing beta testing and
have your private communication one to one with
your beta testers and without that impacting
your star rating. Then once you’ve launched,
start using Firebased Crash to monitor your app
out there in the wild to see if there are any crashes
that are impacting users and they are to see what
crashes are actually the most impactful to
the business metrics that you care about. So you can be able to prioritize
which crashes you fix. The reviews analysis
is really helpful to be able to understand
the reviews at scale and your functional areas
within your company. So your designers can go
in, read all the reviews about design. The person who is going to work
on the crashes and stability of your app can go in , read
all the reviews talking about crashes, without having to go
through all the reviews to find those ones about crashes. And the reviews API, so
your customer support team can be able to use their
existing workflow of whatever customer support tool
they use, Initial Partners or is Zendesk, and
Conversocial But I’m sure many will follow to be
able to respond to your views right there.

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