The second of three webcasts on the benefits of the Amazon Developer Program shed extra light on the technical side of getting apps into the Amazon Appstore. Join us for the third Webcast on Thursday September 4, or read a recap of the first webcast or listen to the recording. And don’t forget we added two webcasts for our APAC developers next week at a convenient Hong Kong Time.
Mike began with some of the features that will be familiar for developers who are used to building for BlackBerry devices.
A lot stays the same.
You can still target API level 17 as it will capture all Amazon devices currently in-market.
Video encoding stays the same, revenue sharing remains at 70/30, and any work you’ve put into optimizing battery life will all still work.
James hopped in to reiterate that this is a very good opportunity for end developers to reach a different set of end users using preexisting EPK files.
Mike then picked up with what has changed and a couple of ‘gotchas’.
One of the things that’s going to be fairly easy to adapt to is the Amazon Appstore’s API for in-app purchasing. For consumables (things you use once, like power-ups), entitlements (things you keep), and subscriptions are all included in the in-app purchasing API.
Mike acknowledged that push messaging still needs work, and that’s underway. For now, you’d be looking at implementing a third-party messaging system like Urban Airship.
There’s a clean solution for maps – both BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore use API reflection for Google Maps 1.0 functionality and a lot of successful BlackBerry developers are using web-based mapping tools.
Mike explained that the process for developing and submitting applications for BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore are very similar. You check your app for compatibility, make required adjustments, fill in your app metadata, attach the APK and publish to the Amazon Appstore.
Ninety percent of apps go live in less than half a day.
Tons of preexisting APK files just work, and sometimes a couple tweaks are necessary. The testing tool can be found at developer.amazon.com.
One of the really great programs for developers is the Amazon Appstore Developer Select Program that helps you in getting additional downloads and driving people to engage with your app on a deeper level. You can get 25% off Amazon services to scale your business, a critical boost to smaller developers looking to go big with their projects. Amazon wants to be a part of it.
Also, there are extra developer benefits for those targeting Fire Phone and Fire T, including an extra 500,000 ad impressions, for total of 1 million.
The Amazon API stack is awesome. Each service is its own independent JAR file. So, you can import the Game Circle JAR file into your code, and then instantiate one of the Game Circle objects. This way, you don’t have to include API files you don’t want. The Game Circle Library really allows you to drive users to deep engagement with your app and creates more opportunities for in-app purchasing.
With leaderboards and achievements, as well as WhisperSync, giving rewards (for beating a boss, finishing a level, or completing a particularly difficult stunt) is a perfect way for developers to connect with their users.
Because many Amazon users have pre-authorized credit cards on their accounts, the in-app purchasing API from Amazon is very good at converting consumables, entitlements and subscriptions.
All you have to do is add your in-app purchase catalogue to the portal so the system knows what you have for sale, describe what you sell, and initiate the in-app listener which will notify you of all purchasing activity. Amazon keeps track of everything and will always send responses for successful purchases and also for problems or double purchases (so a customer doesn’t accidentally buy something twice).
Mike unabashedly gave details for his favourite API: A/B testing.
Do you have three ideas for a line of text? Hard to decide what difficulty level you should start with? Run some A/B testing to see which generates the longest running time and which has the highest rates of in-app purchasing. It just makes sense.
The biggest gotcha is still the not-so-elegant device messaging system. It’s being worked on and there will definitely be a blog about it as soon as a better solution is available. Mike and his colleagues contribute regularly to the Amazon App Developer blog and he recommended subscribing.
As a final treat, Mike reminded developers that the key to getting into the Developer Select Program was strong code. He also mentioned a super-secret link to a contact for developers who have a good app with positive reviews: Contact Amazon and let them know about your success and there’s a good chance you’ll be featured. Amazon wants to help you and remain a part of your success, so the sky’s the limit.
The third of three webcasts will focus totally on the questions developers have based on the first two and any issues there may have been with submitting APKs.