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Apple, Google Ramp Up Developer Guidance

In advance of their upcoming developer conferences, Apple and Google have been ramping up their developer guidance and education efforts -- and perhaps portending more changes to come.

Both companies continue to battle for market and developer mindshare in the lucrative mobile app development arena, where each has carved out an informal positioning of sorts. Apple's App Store is often seen as the more higher-end offering -- befitting the company's elite consumer goods image -- where developers can make more money. Google Play, meanwhile, is often described as offering more reach for developers with a slightly higher app inventory more geared toward more free (or "freemium") or lower-priced wares.

In advance of its annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco in June, Apple last week updated its developer site in a quiet move that was reported by several sites. "Apple today updated its Web portal designed for developers with a new section entitled 'Making Great Apps for the App Store,' aimed at helping developers grow their businesses and reach more users with their apps," MacRumors reported last week.

A new Developer Insights site promises to help "Apple developers share how they approach finding success on the App Store and what they've learned along the way."

It includes a Planning section where developers can "Learn how to plan and build your business on the App Store, take advantage of exclusive features and capabilities, monetize your app, and engage users worldwide." It features advice on app discovery, choosing a business model, using the "freemium" approach, engaging audiences and growing customers and more.

A Guidelines section includes guidance and best practices dealing with app review, human interface guidelines, marketing guidelines and using Apple Pay and Apple Wallet. Finally, a Submissions section, with links to download Xcode 7 and the latest SDKs, OS updates, review guidelines, app optimization tips and app submission information.

The revamped developer site came shortly after Bloomberg reported "Apple Inc. has constructed a secret team to explore changes to the App Store, including a new strategy for charging developers to have their apps more prominently displayed." Apple declined to comment on that report, said Bloomberg, which also reported "In addition to paid search, the team is trying to improve the way customers browse in the App Store. The new search team hasn't been working long and it's unclear when any new changes will be introduced."

Google, meanwhile, is trying new things in advance of next month's Google I/O show, having long published advice on topics such as building app UIs, capitalizing on the techniques of gamers.

The company last week announced new Google Play Awards would be featured at the conference for the first time to provide developer advice by example.

"Google Play has seen tremendous growth over the past year, reaching more than 1 billion Android users across 190 countries," exec Purnima Kochikar said last week. "As a way to recognize our incredible developer community and highlight some of the best apps and games, we're kicking off our first-ever Google Play Awards."

"The program will showcase five nominees across 10 award categories and feature them in a dedicated collection on Google Play," Google said. "Nominees were selected by a panel of experts on the Google Play team based on criteria emphasizing app quality, innovation, and having a launch or major update in the last 12 months."

Various categories highlight how to provide: a unique experience while growing installs; artistic design and innovative gameplay in games; superior implementation of material design concepts; better user experiences through the early adoption of new technologies; and many more.

The new guidance-by-example effort follows on the company's traditional stream of published advice dealing with moving from OAuth 1.0 to OAuth 2.0, experiencing virtual reality art in the browser, Android developer patterns and much more on its Developers Blog.

As can be seen by the topics, Google's developer focus goes much beyond mobile apps, as it also has a large stake in Web development, where it is the champion of "Progressive Apps" as a way to bring Web app experiences up to the same level of mobile apps.

Along with its Web development and Android guidance, it even provides a section for learning Google APIs for iOS.

Newly published details about the Google I/O conference starting May 18 in Mountain View, Calif., show sessions on material design improvements, new developments in Android, gaming, DevTools on RAILs and many more. For those who can't attend, Google is organizing I/O Extended events at various locations around the world.

"I/O Extended events include a variety of options for developers -- from live streaming sessions to local demos, to hackathons, code labs and more, the I/O Extended site says. "These events are hosted in your neighborhood by local developer communities."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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