General Mobile App

What gets an app featured on Google Play?

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Spreaker launched in 2010 as a product available only on the web, used mainly on desktop computers. But with the subsequent rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets, users wanted to also enjoy a similar experience on their mobile devices.

We released our official Spreaker Android app in September 2013, allowing our users to listen to their favorite podcasts, enjoy live streaming, and even create their own live and pre-recorded content. This has been a great source of feedback from our existing users as well as new ones.

As time passed, we realized that having one single app for both listeners and producers was actually an obstacle in giving a great experience for these two very different types of users. So in September 2014 Spreaker Studio for Android was born: a brand new app totally focused on content creators where you can broadcast live or record your episodes. Its interface allows you to mix voice, audio tracks, and multiple sound effects, as well as access statistics and manage shows and episodes.

How did getting featured actually happen?

One day in February of this year, this message from our CEO Francesco popped up in our internal Slack channel:

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Apparently, someone on Google Play’s team noticed our efforts and decided to award us with the “Top Developer” badge. We were really excited, because this public acknowledgment from Google was definitely the proof that hard work pays off. After that, everything happened very quickly: at the end of the same month, we were contacted by a Google Play Business Development Manager, telling us she tried our Spreaker Studio app, was very impressed, and that she would be happy to “nominate” us to be featured.

The process for becoming eligible for promotion on Google Play involves a technical and design evaluation by the App Review team, which started immediately. This is a very detailed review to verify that the app works correctly, is compliant with Android design and user experience guidelines, and that the store listing contains relevant information and appropriate artwork.

After a couple of weeks of work to fix the issues they had reported, and another final review by the team, we were ready. Spreaker Studio was officially featured for 6 weeks, starting the first week of May! And we got the party started! ?

What can you do to maximize your chances of getting featured?

The most important resource you can refer to is this Google guide: Essentials for a Successful App. Basically, it contains everything they consider to be valuable and that they check for during reviews. Consider it the Holy Bible for Android apps. In my opinion, the most important sections are:

User experience and visual design are two very important parts of a great app, and Material Design is a fantastic source of inspiration. Don’t ever fear losing your brand’s identity when adopting Material Design; if you look carefully through the specs, you’ll notice that most of the design rules won’t have any impact on it: material elements, spacing, font sizes, motion, interaction patterns. Adopt these parts and feel free to customize the rest according to your brand and your needs.

Don’t forget to monitor and reply to user reviews in the Play Store. If someone reports an issue or leaves a negative review, use the opportunity to understand what’s not working and what can be done to improve. Being engaged with your users is essential to establishing a solid rating, and it’s one of the first and most important elements checked by Google’s team when looking for new apps and contacting their developers.

Being able to distribute your app to early adopters to speed up the feedback loop is essential: it helps you to discover and isolate bugs before they’re shipped to your users and to validate the UX decisions you made during development. Leverage the Google Play Beta program to release your app to a subset of users and collect feedback from them.

In short: make a stable, good looking app, and strive for good solid ratings. It can take time, but eventually someone will reach out to you, because hard work always pays off.

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