AWS announced a great new service for developers today that allows you to stream your graphics and computationally-intensive apps in the cloud to a wide variety of devices, including tablets and mobile phones. Check out Jeff Barr’s post for all the details and we’ll provide more details on the benefits for mobile developers in an upcoming post.
Until now, submitting your PC or Mac digital software or video games for sale on Amazon has been a largely manual process. In sharp contrast, submitting a mobile app to the Amazon Appstore for Android has always been completely self-service; to submit a mobile app for approval, you click-through our distribution agreement, supply a title, description, list price and display imagery, upload your binary, and voilà! Even the tax information we are required to collect can be entered online.
Simple and Consistent
You can say goodbye to this disparity as of now. In addition to HTML5 mobile apps and mobile apps for Android (including Kindle Fire), you can now submit your PC and Mac digital software and video games to be sold on Amazon. You can start the process at https://developer.amazon.com/welcome.html. Ingestion has been streamlined and automated to match the mobile app submission process, making the UI more uniform and significantly improving the developer experience.
At present, the distribution portal supports only US sales from Amazon.com of digital PC software and games, but we working hard to add international support.
We’ve also updated our distribution agreement to cover PC and Mac software and video games, and renamed the agreement the “App Distribution and Services Agreement”. You can review the updated agreement here.
Like mobile app developers, digital PC software and games developers need a valid Amazon account to log on to the our portal. You can use your existing distribution account to upload a PC and Mac, digital software and video game in our portal If you don’t have one,
A) I don’t believe it, and
B) It’s easy to set up.
Just go to our portals welcome page and click the big green button labeled Create an Account.
Log in to your account from the welcome page above and you’ll see a dashboard view like the one below showing unit sales for each mobile app, digital software product or video game. This list will be empty, of course, until you actually submit an app, so hover over the Add a New App button to see a pop-up menu of supported product types. Select PC & Mac to create a new entry and present a form where you can enter general information about the digital software or video game to be sold, like title, platform, and minimum system requirements.
After you’ve filled in the required fields and clicked Save, a green checkmark should appear on the General Information tab. This confirms that the new product has been registered successfully and you can proceed to fill in information on the other tabs. You can do this in any order (once the general information tab is complete), but keep in mind that all tabs must have a green check before you can complete the submission process.
Continue to fill in the product information, tab by tab. It’s a good idea to pay close attention to the details here, since much of this information will be displayed on the product page seen by Amazon customers. Make sure that what you enter is accurate and compelling; this is your opportunity to let your work shine. It’s always good to spend a little extra time on the description, and be sure to include several screenshots. They really make a difference to customers.
Once you’ve completed all the data entry and each tab has a green check, you’re ready to complete the submission. A new Submit App button will appear below the data entry area.
After you complete the submission, you’ll be directed to the My Apps page, which lists all the products currently associated with your account. The status of each will also be displayed so you can keep track of its progress through the submission pipeline..
You may be required to complete one additional bit of data entry after you submit, before the product summary screen above is displayed. If your digital software or video game will use product keys to unlock content or functionality, you can indicate that on the last data tab. In that case, you’ll be required to upload keys that Amazon can distribute to paying customers, though not until you actually complete the submission. Then you’ll be directed to the Key Management page to complete the upload.
Unless they also created PC or Mac digital software or video games to be sold on Amazon, most developers probably never even realized how manual that submission process was, especially compared to releasing applications on the Amazon Appstore for Android. Today’s update and unification of the ingestion processes should greatly streamline the process for selling your PC and Mac digital software and video games on Amazon. Set-up will be easier and deployment faster.
If you haven’t submitted digital software or video games to Amazon before, now’s the perfect time to get started. If you have comments or questions, please let us know; your feedback helps us make our services better.
Are you considering making your Android app available on the Amazon Appstore but aren’t sure what it’s going to take to get your app ready? Here’s some good news, while we know that 75% of the Android apps we’ve tested just work on Amazon Appstore, we now have an easy way for you to find out if your app is part of the other 25% and, better yet, understand what you need to do to get your app ready.
Starting September 27th, we are opening a private beta of a new offering, The Amazon App Testing Service. This service will allow you to test your app before submitting it to the Amazon Appstore, and will give you feedback on what (if anything) you should change. We are looking for developers who are interested in giving the service a try and providing some feedback before we go live. As a participant you will have pre-release access to the test tool, and you can enter your feedback on a short web-form. If you choose to submit tested apps to the Amazon Appstore, we will prioritize your apps in our submission review process.
Interested? Shoot an email to AppTestingServiceemail@example.com and we’ll get you signed up. Easy as that.
Amazon just announced our new Kindle Fire tablets and Fire OS 3.0! Here are the device specs:
With this launch we are offering some impressive hardware at very attractive prices. But for customers, it’s not all about the hardware; the experience matters. With these devices, we’ve made hundreds of enhancements to the platform to make tablet technology easy to use and accessible to a much broader range of customers.
So what does this mean to developers?
Graphics Direct Texture
The Fire OS graphics system is customized to quickly load large graphical assets like the high-resolution cover art in the Fire OS home screen. Graphics Direct Texture enables the Carousel and the Fire OS media libraries to include detailed images and still load quickly and scroll smoothly.
Things to consider about graphics:
New Device IDs
We recommend that you use capability detection to determine which features to support and which layouts to use.
If you have been using specific device detection to detect device-specific features or capabilities such as screen resolution or otherwise alter the behavior of your app you should be aware that each of the three new devices has a new model number, and you will need to update your Device ID list or switch to capability detection. You can find specifics on the Kindle Fire Device and Feature Specifications.
Things to consider about Device IDs:
New Camera Options
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9” now comes with forward and rear facing cameras and will respond to Android Intents accordingly. The 8MP camera on the back of the device has a flash accessible from your app via the Camera object. You can also use MediaStore.ACTION_IMAGE_CAPTURE or MediaStore.ACTION_VIDEO_CAPTURE to capture images or videos without directly using the Camera object.
All new devices support TYPE_ACCELEROMETER and TYPE_GYROSCOPE. The HDX devices with the 4G WAN option will also support TYPE_MAGNETIC_FIELD and TYPE_ORIENTATION for compass functions and have GPS onboard to support accurate ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION. The two HDX devices will also include an Ambient Light Sensor.
Things to consider about camera and sensor options:
All three Fire Tablet support Dolby Digital+ processing, and no action is required for your app to benefit from this feature. Coupled with Kindle Fire’s new display features the addition of Dolby Digital makes Kindle Fire a very compelling platform for gaming and media apps.
Development and Debugging
Brand-new 2013 Kindle Fire emulators enable you to target the latest Kindle Fire devices even if you don’t have one on hand. The Amazon AVD Launcher streamlines creation of compatible Android Virtual Devices so you can get your apps running in the emulator faster than ever.
All of the new devices run Fire OS 3.0 and feature Amazon’s unique user-friendly interface, which we have optimized extensively to improve performance. Fire OS is based on Android 4.2.2 (API level 17), so Android compatibility is high, often requiring no additional development work. In fact, 75% of the Android tablet apps that we’ve tested run on Fire OS with no code changes.
Other APIs now available include Bluetooth gamepads and joysticks as Human Interface Devices (HID), and multiple user support. Allowing multiple users makes family use easier, especially in conjunction with child-friendly Free Time.
In addition, this release opens Fire OS to a whole new class of Enterprise applications. With user partition encryption and secure connections to enterprise Wi-Fi networks, your application can better protect user data on-device and during transfer. Kerberos authentication and a native IPSec VPN client allow you to connect securely to corporate intranet websites from your app.
Customers Love Kindle Fire
New customer-facing features and UI improvements enhance the user experience overall and better position your content with consumers. A redesigned Home Screen with Carousel and Grid views, for example, allows users to customize the display, while QuickSwitch gives them the ability to move between apps with a single swipe.
With Second Screen, users can fling content from their tablet to their TV, and new download prioritization ensures data transfers in the background don’t compromise device performance, degrade playback, or interfere with the foreground application. X-Ray for Music, Movies, and TV lets customers explore their media in new ways, while Reading Mode makes books on the Kindle Fire even more enjoyable.
One of the most innovative features in this release focuses on helping customers have a great experience every time, even when things are working quite right. Fire OS 3.0 delivers revolutionary live tech support via video, available 24x7, 365 days a year. The Mayday button is built into Quick Settings and connects customers to an Amazon Tech Advisor, who can guide a customer remotely through any feature. As the resident tech support guy for my extended family I can say I’m pretty excited about this feature.
Better integration with third-party applications means customers can spend more time with the Kindle Fire. This release adds support for Facebook contacts, events, and photos, for example, and enables printing of documents created with Microsoft Office. Conversation view in Email improves usability, and Screen Reader, Explore by Touch, and Screen Magnifier raise overall accessibility.
You benefit from these features without having to do anything in your own code. In addition, customers who purchase a new Kindle Fire will receive 500 Amazon Coins that they can spend (and you can receive) just like cash in the Amazon Appstore. Learn more about these and other consumer enhancements here.
Other New Features
The following improvements are not device or OS related, but are relevant nonetheless.
In the last several months, Amazon has added new APIs that:
Things to Consider:
As you develop your first app for the new generation of Kindle Fire Tablets, here are some things to consider.
We are looking forward to sharing more details about Fire OS 3.0 in a blog post soon. We will also share additional details and implementation suggestions for the new features in future blog posts, but in the meantime, you can find excellent documentation on the new device on our developer portal: https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/fireos.html
Mobile app and game developers, we want to hear from you! Please complete our brief survey to help define the session content offered at AWS re:Invent 2013 as part of a dedicated track on app and game development for mobile devices. We’ll also use your input to guide the agenda of our pre-conference bootcamp, which will combine presentations with hands-on coding for a full day of intense instruction.
Register now for AWS re:Invent 2013 and join us in Las Vegas, November 12-15. Read more about the sessions and activities we have planned, and don’t forget to tell us what else you’d like to see at the conference.
Today we announced the availability of Free-to-Play store in Germany.. If you have built a PC, Mac or Browser-based game, you may be want to list your game and in-game items on our new Free-to-Play store in Germany. Doing so will get your game in front of millions of potential customers in Germany and Austria.
After you set up your game and in-game items for sale, they will be surfaced in Amazon’s personalization and recommendation widgets.
Customers can enjoy the convenience of purchasing in-game currencies, starter packs, characters, etc. using their Amazon accounts. For German and Austrian customers, this means they can use their bank accounts (Girokonto) or their credit cards to purchase.
With this announcement, we are releasing our App Commerce SDK, which enables customers to create an account with your game right from Amazon.de. Customers can then send in-game currency or virtual goods directly to their game account. Included in the App Commerce SDK is our In-App Purchasing API for PC, Mac and Web-based games. This API allows customers to purchase virtual goods from your in-game storefront using their Amazon accounts.
To get your game and in-game items in front of millions of customers in the US, UK, and now Germany and Austria, go to the Free-to-Play store developer page to learn more. You can also contact Amazon at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to publish your Free-to-Play game on Amazon.
Until today, developers have only had three methods to monetize their apps or games: selling them outright, going “freemium” with in-app purchasing or subscriptions, or using mobile ads. Starting now, Amazon has created a new method for developers to monetize: the Amazon Mobile Associates API, currently available for Android (including Kindle Fire). The Mobile Associates API allows developers to sell real products from the millions of items at Amazon, whether physical (i.e. toys, clothing) or digital (i.e. eBooks), from inside their apps or games while earning up to 6% in advertising fees from those purchases. The Mobile Associates API is an extension of Amazon Associates, our successful web-based affiliate program created in 1996, paying advertising fees to hundreds of thousands of affiliates worldwide.
Sell a single item from Amazon in your app or game: The boss at the end of a stage in your game is a giant three-headed wolf, sell the popular “Three Wolf Moon” t-shirt from Amazon
Showcase a category of goods from Amazon in your app or game: Your app is based on improving nutrition over time, offer health-related products like vitamins, supplements, etc. or the Kindle edition of The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss from within your app
Bundle a purchase of a physical product from Amazon with digital content within your app: Sell a toy version of one of the characters in your game, then automatically enable them to play as that same character
Here’s how it works: a customer initiates a purchase from within your app and is then presented with a dialog box showing the product details and cost. The customer can then complete the purchase using Amazon’s 1-Click purchasing, and then the items will be shipped directly from Amazon to the customer’s doorstep. You’ll earn up to 6% of the total purchase, added to your app distribution earnings.
Alt12 is the developer of “Pink Pad” and “BabyBump”: “Our custom solution to sell physical products within our apps took us 6 months to develop, and required complex relationships with more than 20 vendors. With the Amazon Mobile Associates API, it took us only 3 days, and provided us a better in-app shopping experience for our customers, while allowing us to offer a greater selection of products.”
Days of Wonder integrated the API into their game “Ticket to Ride”: “Customers are now able to purchase a physical expansion pack of our board game and then are delighted to get the digital version now for free. We can do this through the digital bundling functionality provided by the Amazon Mobile Associates API.”
Integration is simple. Initilize the Mobile Associates API, and tell us what you’re selling--you can choose to supply a specific set of ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number), search terms, or use the Amazon Product Advertising API to query a list of ASINs and product information. Then, initiate the purchase. We’ll take care of the rest!
We’ve posted a Quick Start Guide, sample code, and documentation here—start earning more with the Amazon Mobile Associates API today!
Want to learn how to integrate the Amazon Mobile Associates API? Don’t miss out on our next live webinar event:
Mobile Associates Program: What It Is And How It Can Boost Your App Profits
on September 17th, 2013 @ 10:00 AM.
As readers of this blog, you probably already know that Kindle Fire devices run Android. While these devices may not look like Android because we use an Amazon-designed launcher, they are Android indeed. The original Kindle Fire released in 2011 runs Gingerbread (API level 10) and the Kindle Fire devices released in 2012 run Ice Cream Sandwich (API level 15).
What you may not know is how easy it is to get your existing Android apps up and running in the Amazon Appstore on Kindle Fire and other Android devices. We recently tested more than 1,600 app submissions to the Amazon Appstore Android tablet apps on Kindle Fire. In our tests we found that more than 75% of these apps just work on Kindle Fire devices with no additional development required.
While some developers may choose to just submit their Android apps, others may also decide to integrate Amazon APIs like In-App Purchasing, GameCircle or Mobile Ads to provide a richer customer experience and monetization.
We’ve seen Android apps like ‘Match the Pics’ take minutes to get submitted to Amazon and others like ‘Temple Run’ easily integrate Amazon APIs with their apps.
“Publishing our content on the Amazon Appstore was extremely easy since our Android games just worked on Kindle Fire. Creating the developer account and submitting the first app for review took a matter of minutes, and the app got published the next day.” Appoh
"We've integrated with Amazon's In-App Purchasing and GameCircle APIs, which was a breeze. We've seen significantly higher customer engagement with Temple Run since the integration, making the few, short steps worth it.” Imangi
You may be asking, why don’t 100% of Android APKs submitted run on Kindle Fire? Of the minority that doesn’t get to the store on their first try, some reasons for failure are:
Since your app will most likely just work with zero development effort in the Amazon Appstore, it seems like a no-brainer to create a developer account – at zero cost - and submit your app. Take a look at what one of Amazon’s Appstore developers says about how easy it is to set up your account and submit your Android app.
Some of the details went by fairly quickly in the video. Here’s a comparison summary of the assets in a Google Play submission and how they transfer to an Amazon Appstore submission.
It’s really not hard to have your app fly through testing. Just open a developer account on the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal today. You can then start submitting your existing APKs to the Amazon store, exposing them to new customers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.
Click here to get started.
To make sure your web app works great on Kindle Fire and Android devices, you can use the Web App Tester, which you can get from our store here. The Web App Tester allows you to test your web app in a production-like environment before submitting it to Amazon, and offers a suite of tools to help with on-device debugging of your web apps, ensuring that they’ll work great on Android and Kindle Fire.
Kindle Fire web runtime
Kindle Fire’s web runtime is based on the open source Chromium project, and is GPU-accelerated and optimized for fluidity to make sure your web apps run smooth on Kindle Fire, just like a native app. The new runtime supports the latest HTML5/web features and includes standards-based extensions that give you access to offline storage and location sensors. Read more about the updated web app runtime here.
Get started today
Web developers with HTML5 apps and mobile-optimized web sites can easily get started at the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal. Once you’re logged in, go to “My Apps”, hover over the green “Add New App” button and click “Add new Web App”. More information on how to prepare and submit your web apps is available here.
Amazon has started distributing Amazon Coins, which can be used to buy Kindle Fire apps and In-App Purchasing (IAP) items (except subscriptions). Starting today, every U.S. Kindle Fire owner is getting 500 coins ($5) to spend on apps, games, and IAP items. Customers will also be able to buy more coins from Amazon at a bulk discount of up to 10%. As customers use their coins, you will have the opportunity to make money and monetize your Kindle Fire app.
If you don’t have an app for sale on Amazon yet, it’s easy to get started. Based on our testing, over 75% of Android apps submitted to us work on the Kindle Fire, without any additional development required.
Soon, Amazon will open distribution in nearly 200 additional countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, South Africa, South Korea, and even Papua New Guinea and Vatican City. For consumers, this means that they’ll soon be able to access a large and growing catalog of apps and games from Amazon, and for developers, this means you’ll quickly have a much larger audience to download and enjoy your apps and games.
In addition to the new distribution, we’re also adding the ability to price your apps in CAD (Canadian Dollars) and BRL (Brazilian Reals) today. The ability to submit localized descriptions is also available today for Brazil (Portuguese), and will be available soon for Canada (French and English).
Recently, we announced new opportunities to monetize your apps on Amazon, including our new Mobile Ads API with competitive eCPM, and the fact that we will be distributing tens of millions of dollars worth of Amazon Coins to U.S. Amazon customers in May, to spend on apps, games or in-app purchases; and developers will receive their standard revenue share for these purchases. We offer tools to make implementing our APIs simple, including the new, faster Kindle Fire emulators, and the Amazon Mobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin.
If you’re new to distributing apps on Amazon, get started at the Mobile App Distribution Portal. If you already have apps on Amazon, no action needs to be taken.
Here's the full list of countries we’ll be distributing apps in:
At Amazon, we are always looking to make your experience developing Kindle Fire apps as easy as possible. We have two new tools to help:
Like most developers, you’ve probably sat around waiting for the emulator to start up, or you’ve found the experience of emulated apps slow to use. Although we believe it’s always better to use an actual Kindle Fire tablet to debug your apps, we understand that developers may need to use the emulator to test app compatibility. Wouldn’t it be nice if emulators weren’t so slow?
To demonstrate how much faster the new x86 images are, we used Air Patriots, a game from Amazon Game Studios, with lots of code and lots of assets. We ran it on the Kindle Fire HD emulator in different configurations, as well as on an actual physical Kindle Fire HD. The result? Faster startup and response time for the emulator, and the game play was nearly identical to that of a tablet. Here are the stats:
Kindle Fire HD emulator configuration on reference development computer
Time from app launch to accept user input
ARM system image, without using host GPU
ARM system image, using host GPU
x86 system image, without using host GPU
x86 system image, using host GPU
Kindle Fire HD tablet
To get the x86 system images for Kindle Fire, you can simply follow our instructions for setting up the Kindle Fire developer tools. There is no new or additional installation required. The x86 system images offer improved performance, especially when the experimental GPU emulation is enabled.
Since we introduced the Amazon Mobile App SDK Eclipse Plugin, we’ve received feedback that it really does speed up the time and effort it takes developers to adopt Amazon APIs. Today, the Eclipse plugin is out of beta. If you have not seen the plugin in action, check out our demo video:
Questions? Comments? Feedback? Tell us about your experience with the x86 system images and Eclipse plugin, in our forums.
Abu Obeida Bakhach is a product manager for the Kindle Fire developer tools and publications team, where he thinks of ways to make developers lives creating apps as simple as possible. Previously, he was at Microsoft in developer platform evangelism growing the Windows 8/phone ecosystem with open source frameworks. In his spare time, he keeps himself busy catching with his three children on cycling trips.
Last fall we launched Whispercast for Kindle, a free online tool that helps organizations easily manage their Kindles and distribute Kindle books and docs at whispercast.amazon.com. We’re excited to announce that recently Whispercast also began supporting distribution of apps from Amazon to Kindle Fire tablets. This means that schools, businesses, and other organizations can now easily procure and distribute apps in bulk to their users.
In the past, organizations would have to manually make a purchase through each of their user accounts--this was a lengthy and often laborious process. Now, an administrator can simply login to Whispercast, find the app they want to buy, and push it out to their managed Kindle Fire tablets. If their users have their own personal Kindle Fire, the organization can also use Whispercast to invite them to “opt-in” and gift Kindle Fire apps directly to their Amazon account.
For example, schools can now discover an educational app and purchase it for all of their students, Additionally, enterprises that want their users to access corporate e-mail using an app like Touchdown (from Nitrodesk) can easily distribute that app to all of their employees.
For more information about Whispercast for Kindle, click here.
Earlier this week, we launched a new feature in the Mobile App Distribution Portal, allowing you to easily see all customer reviews for your apps, by marketplace, in a single, unified location. This provides you the opportunity to review your customer reviews (and filter by marketplace and star rating), and use this feedback to build new features, identify potential bugs, and improve your app over time.
To access this new feature, go to “My Apps” in the Distribution Portal, hover over the app you’d like to look at the reviews for, and click “View current version” in the menu on the right. Under your app title in the header, click “Reviews”.
Starting today, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” is now available in Europe and Japan, in addition to the previously released Kindle Fire HD 7” and Kindle Fire (2nd generation). As a reminder, we have resources available to help you optimize your mobile apps for Kindle Fire tablets, including Kindle Fire HD 8.9”:
Kindle Fire is the best-selling, most gifted, and most wished-for product across the millions of items available on Amazon worldwide. This is another opportunity for your apps to reach new customers on Kindle Fire. If you’re new, get started at the Mobile App Distribution Portal. If you’re updating your app and optimizing for Kindle Fire tablets, send us a request to market your apps after they’re submitted.