Google has taken to the Android Developers Blog to outline big plans for the Play Store over the next year with a renewed focus on safety, discovery, and quality. For starters, the search giant is continuing work to find new ways and places to surface app advertisements to prospective users. In addition to more traditional advertising, improvements are planned for the Play Store's various test tracks such as its early access and staged app rollout features as well as the app pre-registration program. The company hopes to bring Google Play Instant Apps, which allows users to try out an app before downloading it, to users in more ways and places while also making those experiences easier to build. The 'Start on Android' program, which serves as an application optimization guide for new developers to the OS, will be expanded as well. Changes are also on the way with regard to how the Google Play Store surfaces those since most apps are discovered via browsing rather than searches.
Tying into the upcoming discovery aspects of Google’s ad and Play Store platforms, the company also says that it will continue putting further emphasis on high-quality applications. Recent changes to how applications are recommended to users are just the start of that, as are the expanded device and games testing tools included with its pre-launch report offering for developers. Further optimizations for those tools should be expected moving forward and a greater emphasis on quality control with regard to which apps Google Play recommends to Android users. The final piece to that puzzle is, of course, app security. Google says that its Google Play Protect program and the associated machine learning models and techniques will only improve over the course of the next year. Moreover, the Google Play Security Rewards Program in conjunction with Hacker One will continue as the company seeks to discover and eliminate as many vulnerabilities and security concerns as possible from the Play Store.
While the company did not provide specifics for the upcoming changes, each change will build on top of improvements over the past 12 months. Covering just a few of the achievements enabled by those, Google says that its Play Console tools have already reduced app crash rates by as much as 70-percent and ‘not responding’ errors by as much as 95-percent. Coupled with security enhancements implemented by both developers and Google, security has similarly been improved and users are now up to nine times less likely to install malicious software from the official Android app store. On the other hand, the Play Store's discovery features have improved the number of visits to the app market by 30-percent and Google has recorded around 250 million installations from pre-registration apps alone since its launch. Simultaneously, improvements in app bundling and delivery tools have brought app sizes down by an average of 65-percent.