It’s October again, which means it’s almost time for Halloween! This is one of my favorite holidays, so it was a no-brainer to make a 2012 update for my pumpkin carving app for Android, aptly named Pumpkin Carver.
This year, however, I decided to try a few new things. I’m always about trying new tactics, especially since there are so many things to explore in the world of Android app development. Hopefully these new experiments will improve income from this line of apps.
I have implemented IAP, or In-App Purchasing before, but not in my own personal apps. I decided this was a great opportunity to try this out.
And of course, since I never just focus on Google Play, I implemented both the Google Play and Amazon IAP libraries. This will be a good opportunity to see how the two markets compare for in-app purchases.
In fact, the relatively small user base of these apps (and the seasonal appeal of Halloween) may not be large enough to bring in great results from in-app purchasing. It will, however, give me insight into how Amazon and Google in-app purchases work, and tell me where to focus in the future.
I considered also doing the Samsung Apps IAP as well since that market has been treating me very well. However, their library required a few extra permissions (such as SMS billing to support other payment methods) which means I would need to create a separate project to deploy the app there. I work hard to minimize the number of projects I need to create for one-off deployment targets. I’ll see if the high traffic from Samsung will justify the effort.
How did I handle in-app billing for both markets? I implemented both billing solutions in the same project, and used the same techniqe as the Android Market Manager to easily build two separate APKs for Amazon and Google. Each APK will execute the appropriate billing code when the user initiates a purchase. It wouldn’t be too hard to add additional billing libraries, but the extra permissions are where things get sticky.
Going High-Definition to target newer Android tablets
I also updated the paid version of Pumpkin Carver to be high-definition.
With new content and high-resolution images for all of the pumpkins, the newly retitled Pumpkin Carver Pro HD rings in around four times as large of a download as the previous version. I was a bit hesitant to increase the app size, since many believe that larger apps get less downloads. However, even at almost 4MB this app isn’t really in the big leagues for download size. Plus, the data on decreased downloads was for free games, and we know that paid apps are perceived differently.
The HD (High-definition) angle was already in the works, but seeing the launch of the Kindle Fire HD (and the larger Kindle Fire HD 8.9″) as well as the upcoming launch of the Nook HD and the Nook HD+ has convinced me that these commercial giants have decided that 2012 is the year of High-Definition. And if consumers have an “HD” Android device, they’ll want content to match.
By the way, if you didn’t get a Nook or a Kindle Fire previously to test your apps with, now is a good time to get one – at the same prices the old ones launched for. I already have an older tablet in each line, but I should update soon because emulating the extremely high resolution of the new HD devices in the emulator will be a PAIN.
Also note that Pumpkin Carver Pro on Nook (a now-closed app store) has done better than on any of the other platforms. I would welcome a change on Google Play, but for now the free app is the stronger performer there by far. I still release both versions to most platforms, but put less attention to poorly performing platforms.
Hopefully I’ll have positive information to report here after October. Also, if you have any related experiences or suggestions, share them with us!
And if you have Halloween updates for your Android (or other mobile) apps, get them out now!