Hands-on With Google Play Developer Console — A Must-Have for the Engaged Publisher
The Google Play Developer Console has long been the “one stop shop” for developers to publish apps, view sales, reviews, analytics, and more. Google’s new Play Console application is a fresh new way for developers to interface with this console on mobile.
Through interactive graphs and fine grained notification controls, this app provides developers the ability to interact with their customers with even greater ease. Let’s take a closer look at what this app has to offer.
Play Console allows you to log in directly with your Google developer account. Adding an account is very simple and quite familiar for anyone that’s used any of Google’s other apps, such as Gmail. Rather than having to login to the developer console each time you want to check your app’s performance, you can now store your account directly on your device for quick access. Once you’ve logged in, you are presented with a list of all of the applications in your Google Play Developer Console. They are grouped by Published apps, Unpublished apps, and Starred apps. Starred apps are a way to flag the apps are most important to you (this will be important later on in the notifications section)
After selecting an app you are presented with a traditional card style interface with some information about your app. You can tap on any of these cards to drill down further. Google’s done a good job providing a clean and flexible interface. You can choose to display a 7 day, 30 day, 60 day, or 90 day timeframe on the graph. There is also a table underneath the graph that shows you various distributions statistics of these installs. You can look into the distribution of installs by Android version, app version, country, and language.
Google has similar interfaces for crash statistics. You can see a graphical layout of crashes and ANRS over the past month. There is an additional toggle to show crashes from the current version of your application only. You also have a similar interface to see a revenue breakdown over time (both in graphical and tabular formats).
This next feature is the portion I was most excited about: reviews! The app has a very clean and information-rich presentation of reviews for your application. When you drill into the reviews card you can see a complete list of reviews sorted by recency. After clicking on an individual review you can see information about it such as when it was posted, and how many stars you received. You also can view a plethora of statistics about this customer’s situation, including the version of the app they were using, what version of Android they have, what device they are using, and other various technical statistics that can help with troubleshooting.
From here you can easily reply to the reviews directly from the app. Like much of the app it’s a clean but no-frills interface, and it’s really a pleasure to use. Once you’ve added your review you can also edit it at any time. Replying to reviews on this app is a breeze and it’s one of the most useful features. My most common use of this application will definitely be quickly checking and responding to any new reviews as needed.
The final and most promising feature of Play Console is found in the settings menu. You can configure the application to send you notifications for certain circumstances. You can choose to receive notifications for all apps or for a subset of apps (starred apps). From here you have several options. You can choose to receive Business critical notifications such as an app becoming blocked or suspended. App updates coming live can also send you notifications. You can also be notified by Review updates when a user updates their review of your app after you’ve replied.
I tested the review update notification and it was pushed to my phone almost instantaneously. It contained all the relevant information: my reply, the customer’s updated review, and the ability to jump in and reply back again. This feature could be amazing for app developers, but it’s usefulness is severely limited as it only informs you when a review to which you had previously responded is already updated. Many small app developers would love to be notified whenever a review is posted, so that they can take action appropriately and respond in a timely manner. Even medium traffic applications may want to be notified whenever a one or two star review is posted.
In summary, the Play Console application brings a lot to the table. With a clean and familiar design as well as quick access to a lot of information, it’s clear that this will be a useful tool in any developer’s arsenal. The app is so good, however, that the user begins to yearn for just a couple of enhancements to truly unleash the potential. It could really use an expansion on the current review notification system to allow developers to be even more in touch with their user base. Even so, Play Console makes it easier than ever for developers to interact with their customers, which is a win for the entire platform.
You can get the Play Console application here! What do you think, will it be useful to you?