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Coffee with a Googler: Bullet Time with the Cloud Spin Team

Oct
24
Posted by Laurence Moroney, Developer Advocate

As part of Google Cloud Platform’s Next roadshow, the team decided to make a demo that anybody could get involved in, and the concept of Google Cloud Spin was born. The idea, influenced by the ”bullet time” scenes from The Matrix was simple — build a rig of cameras, have them take a number of pictures, and stitch them together into an animated GIF that looks like this:

Coffee with a Googler caught up with the team responsible for this demo to talk about how they built it, what technical challenges they faced, and how they used the cloud to managed the number of camera and create an animated GIF like the one above.

There was so much great information for developers in the exploration of this project, that we’ve split our interview into two episodes. The first, with Ray Tsang, Developer Advocate, who tells us about the ins and outs of setting up a number of phones to take a pictures to create a spin. From their original prototype (having lots of googlers holding up selfie sticks) to their final version (shooting videos that are synchronized on an audio signal, controlled by events in Firebase), it’s a fascinating conversation. In Part Two of our conversation, we will talk about how those videos had the right frame extracted, and the frames assembled into a cloud spin is coming soon!

To learn more about this project, visit the Google Cloud Platform blog.

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Virtual currency: Sources and Sinks

Oct
23

Posted by Damien Mabin, Developer Advocate

More and more mobile games base their economic model on virtual currencies and free to play, yet there are plenty of pitfalls to be aware of while developing your game. One of these pitfalls is having an unbalanced economy. Sources and Sinks, a handy feature included in the Play Games Services toolset, is specifically designed to help measure the balance of your game’s virtual economy.

It helps you visualise in one simple diagram the state of your current in game economy. In diagram 1 (below), along the x-axis (time), and y-axis (amount of virtual currency), we see 2 curves:

  • One showing the amount of virtual currency earn by players (orange line)
  • The other one showing the amount spent by players (green line)

Diagram 1: Poorly Monetizing Economy

What do the curves in the diagram tell us? In this case, that our game is likely not going to monetize well. Users are spending less currency than they are earning: resulting in a surplus. There is no sense of scarcity for the user which may indicate that your players do not understand how they can spend currency or that there is value to them in doing so. It would be a good idea in this case to re-evaluate how much content is available to spend virtual currency on and how discoverable this content is to your users. Alternatively, you may want to consider decreasing the amount of in game earned currency is available (inflation can be a bad thing). Ultimately, you want your curves to change as demonstrated in diagram 2 (below).

Diagram 2: Balancing economy

That’s a lot better! Now your users are spending more than they earn… Wait! How is that possible? Two reasons: Players are spending the stock of money they accumulated before your changes. Moreover, there is another important point not to forget: you should not track in the above diagrams the amount of virtual currency the user purchase through in app purchases. If you wait a few more days, you should see the 2 curves converge a bit; the delta of them being the amount of virtual currency users purchase through IAP:

Diagram 3: Stabilised economy

With play game services you can get this visualisation with 2 lines of codes! It works on iOS and Android and doesn’t require the user to sign in to Play Games. What you will have in your Android or iOS app is something like this:

You can find more information about the integration here.

Once the client integration done you can go into your Play Store Developer Console to visualise the curve. Go into the “Game services” section, and click on “Player analytics->overview.”

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Google Developers teams up with General Assembly to launch Android Development Immersive training course

Oct
22

Posted by Peter Lubbers, Senior Program Manager, Google Developer Training

Today at the Big Android BBQ we announced that we have teamed up with General Assembly (GA), a global education institution transforming thinkers into creators, to create a new Android Development Immersive training course. This 12-week, full-time course will be offered beginning in January 2016 at GA’s New York campus, and in February at GA’s San Francisco campus and will roll out to additional campuses over the course of the next year. It is the first in-person training program of its kind that Google Developers has designed and built.

The Google Developer Relations team teamed up with General Assembly to ensure the Android Development Immersive bootcamp provides developers with access to the best instructors and latest and greatest hands-on material to create successful app experiences and businesses. To effectively reach over a billion of Android users globally, it's important for developers to build high-quality apps that are beautifully designed, performant, and delightful to use.

“We are constantly looking at the economy and job market for what skills are most in-demand. Demand for developers who can address this market and build new applications is tremendous,” said Jake Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, General Assembly. “Developing this course in partnership with Google Developers allows us to provide students with the most relevant skills, ensuring a reliable pipeline of talented developers ready to meet the urgent demand of companies in the Android ecosystem, a key component of GA's education-to-employment model.”

Registration in the Android Development Immersive includes access to GA’s career preparation services and support, also known as Outcomes, includes assistance in creating portfolio-ready projects, access to career development workshops, networking events, and coaching and support in the job search process. Through in-person hiring events, mock interviews & GA’s online job search platform, graduates connect with GA’s hiring partners, which consists of close to 2,000 employers globally.

One of these employers is Vice Media. “I'm really excited to see the candidates coming out of the GA Android course. The fact that they're working with both Google and potential employers to shape the curriculum around real-world problems will make a huge difference. Textbook learning is one thing, but classroom learning with practitioners is a level we have all been waiting for. In fact, Vice Media is going to be hiring an apprentice right out of this course,” said Ben Jackson, Director of Mobile Apps for Vice Media.

Learn more and sign up here.

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Get your bibs ready for Big Android BBQ!

Oct
22

Posted by, Colt McAnlis, Senior Texas Based Developer Advocate

We’re excited to be involved in the Big Android BBQ (BABBQ) this year because of one thing: passion! Just like BBQ, Android development is much better when passionate people obsess over it. This year’s event is no exception.

Take +Ian Lake for example. His passion about Android development runs so deep, he was willing to chug a whole bottle of BBQ sauce just so we’d let him represent Android Development Patterns at the conference this year. Or even +Chet Haase, who suffered a humiliating defeat during the Speechless session last year (at the hands of this charming bald guy). He loves BBQ so much that he’s willing to come back and lose again this year, just so he can convince you all that #perfmatters. Let’s not forget +Reto Meier. That mustache was stuck on his face for days. DAYS! All because he loves Android Development so much.

When you see passion like this, you just have to be part of it. Which is why this year’s BABBQ is jam packed with awesome Google Developers content. We’re going to be talking about performance, new APIs in Marshmallow 6.0, NDK tricks, and Wear optimization. We even have a new set of code labs so that folks can get their hands on new code to use in their apps.

Finally, we haven’t even mentioned our BABBQ attendees, yet. We’re talking about people who are so passionate about an Android development conference that they are willing to travel to Texas to be a part of it!

If BBQ isn’t your thing, or you won’t be able to make the event in person, the Android Developers and Google Developers YouTube channels will be there in full force. We’ll be recording the sessions and posting them to Twitter and Google+ throughout the event.

So, whether you are planning to attend in person or watch online, we want you to remain passionate about your Android development.

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New Courses — Developing Watch Apps for Android Wear

Oct
21

Posted by Wayne Piekarski, Developer Advocate

We recently released a new Udacity course on Ubiquitous Computing with Android Wear, built as a collaboration between Udacity and Google. Android Wear watches allow users to get access to their information quickly, with just a glance, using an always-on display. By taking this course, you will learn everything you need to know to reach your users with notifications, custom watch faces, and even full apps.

Designed by Developer Advocates from Google, the course is a practical approach to getting started with Android Wear. It takes you through code snippets, and deep dives into sample code, showing you how easy it is to extend your existing Android apps to work on Android Wear. It also covers how to design user interfaces and great experiences for this unique wearable platform, which is important because the interface of the watch needs to be glanceable and unobtrusive for all day use.

This class is part of our larger series on Ubiquitous Computing across Google platforms, such as Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV, and Google Cast. Designed as short, standalone courses, you can take any course on its own, or take them all! The Android Wear platform is a great opportunity to add functionality that will distinguish your app from others; and this Udacity course will get you up to speed quickly and easily.

Get started now and try it out at no cost, your users are waiting!

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