Google’s yearly conference, Google I/O, highlights new updates coming to the Google and Android ecosystems. In 2019, Google introduced several changes to the Google Play Store that give app owners more options when it comes to feature and app updates, store listings, and data.
Dynamic app delivery
Last year Google introduced App Bundles, which functioned as a way to cut down the size of apps. Having a smaller sized core APK and adding modular extension bundles helped reduce app size by an average of 20%. In 2019, they introduced a couple of new additions to help give developers and publishers more control over their app’s rollout.
- Background feature updates: Now apps can have features installed in the background depending on if they’re needed. This will cut down on install time and also download size.
- Targeted feature delivery: Features can be delivered conditionally to users depending on the country, device features, or minimum SDK version.
Selective app delivery
Google introduced a new in-app updates API that allows users to update an app without ever closing it. This comes with two options:
- Immediate update flow: A mandatory app update. This locks the app until the user updates it.
- Flexible update flow: An optional app update. This allows the user to continue to use the app while updating in the background.
This gives those releasing an app more control over how users can interact with their mobile app without interrupting the user’s experience unless necessary.
More app listing customizations
App listings are essential to attract users. Google has introduced more customization options to allow app owners to have more control over their app listings:
- By install state: App owners can now customize their app listing depending on if a user has not yet installed the app, if they have the app installed, or if they have uninstalled the app. Personalized content helps with acquisition, retention, and re-engagement of users.
- For pre-registration and pre-registration rewards: This follows pre-registration being available to all developers.
App rating and review improvements
A big change this year is related to app ratings and reviews.
- Recent reviews have more weight in an app’s star rating: This long awaited change helps to represent the current state of an app instead of giving equal weight to older versions that might have been buggier, for example.
- Suggested replies to app reviews: App owners can still respond with custom replies, but will also be shown three suggested replies to user reviews.
More robust app analytics
Data is necessary for any app’s growth. Google now provides stronger insights to help apps grow and become more successful.
- Acquisition and churn data: This includes data on install method and returning users, and includes automatic change analysis and metric benchmarking. Data is aggregated and deduped over periods from hours to quarters.
- App size data: This includes data about download size, the size on a device after install, and how this compares to competitors over time.
- Custom competitor data: App owners can now create a custom set of 8-12 competitors to compare their app against. This will allow them to see the median value of the set and the difference between your app and your competitors when it comes to Android data as well as public metrics like app rating.
- Lookalike app data: Another addition is the ability to compare your app’s growth against a generated set of around 100 similar apps. This data focuses on marketing insights with business-sensitive metrics like conversion rate and uninstall rate.
These are the major Google Play Store changes that we’ve seen in 2019. Overall, they align with industry trends toward personalization and customization based on comprehensive user data.