Not all apps are created equal, and most of them will be confined to the sad, shadowy corners of the Google Play store. These days, they have a lot of company.
Sundar Pichai, head of Android and Chrome at Google, recently announced that Google Play features over one million apps available for download. As of July, there have been over 50 billion app downloads.
So, how do you get your mobile app into the Google Play store?
Android offers a comprehensive checklist for app developers to help them get prepared and published. It begins with information about the publishing process, privacy policies, advertisements, etc. You will then test your app to be sure that it meets the quality requirements set down by Android, and determine it’s content rating (everyone, high maturity, etc.)
Next you will decide which countries you would like to deploy your app in, and whether it will be free or paid. A detailed guide is provided for creating a beta release to test the app, as well as tips for cleaning it up and promoting it. Finally, you will publish the polished version of your app and learn how to provide support for the people who will use it.
It’s all well and good to create and publish a mobile app to the store, but how do you actually get featured by Google Play and get the downloads you are looking for?
Dan Galpin and Ian Lewis of Google suggested that developers keep these suggestions in mind if they want to be chosen for a featured spot:
1. Apps should have high-res graphics, at least 720p.
2. Apps should deliver as painless an experience as possible to the user. They should be friendly, not playing noises at inappropriate times, etc.
3. Apps should have minimal permissions needed to run, and those that change wi-fi settings, calendar info, or send messages probably won’t be featured.
4. Apps need to be very reliable, and should be thoroughly tested on as many devices as possible.
5. Apps should be made available in as many languages and locations as possible, making them easier to find and usable by more people.
Galpin and Lewis also go over a few things that will keep you out of the app store:
1. Apps should not change or remove the default Android buttons. They are there for a reason, and are designed to be easily accessible in any situation.
2. Apps should not use a payment provider other than Google.
3. Apps should not download other apps, as if it were an app store.
4. Apps should not offer to give users in-game prizes and rewards for giving a five-star review of the app. This blatantly disregards and cheats the app rating system.
In addition to this advice, developers trying to come up with a good concept for an app should know that the Google Play store loves to show off their latest innovations. Building an app that makes use of new features, design improvements, development tools, or widgets will catch their eye. The developers at One Louder used this method, incorporating some small changes into their app, and they were invited to be a part of the Google booth at the Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona early in 2013.
There is no guarantee, no absolute checklist that you can follow to ensure that your mobile app is featured by the Google Play store. By following the above guidelines, however, and with a little luck, you can take some major steps to give yourself the best possible chance of being one of the chosen few.