It's been eight years since Google launched the Play Store, formerly known as the Android Market. Since then, the Android OS went on to achieve great things and became by far the most prevalent mobile operating system on the planet. Today, the Google Play Store hosts close to 2.5 million apps and the Android apps market as a whole is slowly reaching the point of saturation. The Mountain View-based tech giant is aware of that and has recently started rolling out changes to facilitate navigating the Play Store. After that consumer-friendly move, Google is now looking towards Android developers and ways to help them grow their businesses.
Google's team is currently looking into ways to infuse the Play Store with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. More specifically, the plan is to revamp the Play Store recommendations algorithms which would rely on AI solutions to learn more about users' habits and preferences and make better recommendations than they currently do. In addition to that, Google wants to expand support for numerous payment methods on the Play Store. Note that this doesn't only imply new payment platforms but could also mean the expansion of currently supported services to more territories. For example, while the Play Store officially supports PayPal as of mid-2014, it only does so in 20 or so countries worldwide, and it's been slow to add more territories to the mix.
Furthermore, during today's Playtime conference in San Francisco, California, Google announced numerous new developer tools aimed to help app makers monetize their creations. For starters, developers will soon be able to offer introductory subscription promos to new subscribers, i.e. give new customers a subscription discount for a limited period. Google announced this addition as a major feature, adding that subscriptions are by far the fastest-growing business model on the Play Store. The company is also planning to expand its pre-registration and Early Access programs, the latter of which has recently officially launched but still requires approval from Google. Indie developers will also continue to enjoy additional support from Google through the Play Store Indie Corner which is open to all approved applicants. Last but not least, Google announced a set of new beta APIs designed to help developers identify users who have requested a refund with the goal of offering better customer support to those individuals.
Looking at a bigger picture, Google revealed that the Play Store expansion to Daydream, Android Wear 2.0, and more Chromebooks will soon be completed, which the company believes will directly benefit Android app makers. In other words, while the AI-powered Play Store changes, added support for payment options, and new developer tools mentioned above are all designed to consequently assist Android developers, Google is primarily planning to help them cope with increased competition by expanding the Play Store ecosystem as a whole. It remains to be seen whether that strategy pays off but this certainly can't be bad news for developers of Android apps.