Google Playtime is an event organised for Google Play apps and games partners. With inspiring talks, group discussions and pre-booked one-on-ones with members of the Google team, it's an opportunity to learn about the latest Google product updates, experience new technologies and of course, play in the ball pit during the breaks.
The day, hosted at Kraftwerk (a quirky, warehouse event space) started with a waited breakfast in the registration queue and continued to a smooth registration process where we were treated to the space and activities of the Google Playground.
The hospitality continued inside with much-needed coffee and snacks, a great space for some early-morning product chats before getting seated for the opening film and keynote.
The opening keynote
The opening film ‘Playtime 2017: Changing lives with Android and Google Play‘ featured the stories of inspirational Google developers creating meaningful, life-changing services and applications across health, communication & education with the Google Play Store.
The keynote covered the latest advances in the Play Store across Games, Play Console, Android Vitals, The Google Play Security Award, beta testing and machine learning, with one clear message for product management:
Understand and act at every step
Kobi Glick, Product Manager for Google Play
Google Play Store
- A ‘Don't forget to try' section promotes recently-installed apps
- The Android Excellence Programme showcases apps and games that deliver quality user experiences on Android
- Google Play Security offers reviews, feedback & rewards
- The second edition of the Indie Games Contest has been launched
- You can now offer video examples for recommended games
- New sections have been created for premium (paid for) and sale games
- Android Instant Apps available for game sampling
Play Console & Android Vitals
- Android Vitals available for tracking app quality & performance
- Play Console available for release management, analytics & pre-launch reporting
- New: Country-targeted rollouts now available
Following a great kick-off, we stopped off at the ball pit in the Playground for some silliness.
The day was packed with a great selection of talks across three tracks: Apps, Games & Innovation. It was tough to choose which sessions to attend and even more tricky to pick favourites but I've given it a go!
Talk #1: Quality over quantity: Why quality matters
Alexey Kokin (Partner Development Manager, Google Play) and Riccardo Govoni (Engineering Manager, Google Play) spoke through ways to improve your user experience, engagement and retention using Android Vitals, Material Design and other app quality best practices.
Android Vitals is an initiative by Google to improve the stability and performance of Android devices. The Play Console helps developers to log metrics around stability, render time, and battery usage. The Android Vitals dashboard helps developers to better-understand the performance of their app and alerts them when their app is exhibiting bad behaviour.
The initiative also rewards developers for product excellence.
- Performance Get featured in New, Updated & Editor’s Choice collections for high-performant apps
- Technical excellence Get rewarded for well-designed, apps of exemplary quality
- Stability Get recognised for low ANR & crash-rates
Talk #2: Of flying lamborghinis and gummy bear robots
Franz Blach (Design Director, IDEO) and Fabian Herrmann (Senior Design Lead, IDEO) explained their research approach when exploring opportunities in emerging technologies, specifically Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Digital Assistants, and Ephemeral Apps.
We want to shift design from what technologies are capable of to what we are enabled to do as humans
Alexey Kokin and Riccardo Govoni, IDEO
They explained how ‘tapping into user’s imaginations’ through specially designed exercises could help to inspire new product ideas that deliver real value.
The IDEO card pack 'Human-Centred Design Prompts for Emerging Technologies' suggest possible design approaches to problem-solving in new technologies with a clear reminder:
The promise of all new technology has always been to expand our abilities as humans
Alexey Kokin and Riccardo Govoni, IDEO
Talk #3: Impactful research methods to supercharge your app or game
Ross McLachlan - UX Researcher, Google Play talked through the latest research methods being used in the Google Play team to increase engagement and customer satisfaction through 3 key product questions:
- Strategy What shall we build?
- Design How shall we build it?
- Evaluate Did we succeed?
- Listen to your users, ask open questions and discover things you don’t already know
- Collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to increase empathy and understanding across the team
- Deep-dive into key feedback areas for behavioural analysis and technical app health
The event finished up with a networking happy hour with cocktails and wine to accompany the product discussions. All in all, an incredibly well-organised event with quality content and a talented group of app creators! Thanks to all at Google for a great day!