Playbook for Developers

An updated Android app for developers from Google Play

In October 2015 we were asked by Google to work together on a new project to help developers find success on Google Play. Google approached ribot to to help build a new Android app for mobile and tablet devices, the Playbook for Developers. The new version of the Playbook app for developers has just launched and you are invited to join the beta test of the new version.

Playbook

ribot are passionate about making people’s lives simpler. The chance to make a beautiful, intuitive app to help developers everywhere felt like a great fit. The Playbook launched as an open beta at Google I/O 2016 and has just been updated. The Playbook helps you stay up to date with news and gives you tips on how to grow a successful business on Google Play.


At its core, the Playbook is a tailored list of the latest articles and videos from Google experts and curated from across the web.


Working with the team at ribot is an enjoyable, simple process thanks to their original thinking, exemplary design, and innovative approach to development.

Dom Elliott, Head of Developer Comms, Google Play

Staying up to date with news and tips

Google originally approached ribot to collaborate on the project after seeing our work and our Material design articles on Medium in 2015. We’ve now worked together to launch the new version of the Playbook app in August 2017. Playbook helps developers build great apps with a guide to features and best practices, with topics ranging from material design, to Google sign-in, to Nearby APIs, to AdWords campaigns and much more. The beta is recommended for English language users, additional translated content will be added before coming out of beta.

Onboarding and personalisation

The new home screen is an area for featured content from Google, including a guide to features and best practices, latest blog posts, articles and videos featuring Google and other developers. Users can tailor the information within the app according to their objectives. Users can choose subjects they are interested in such as design, marketing, games, testing, etc. Articles, videos and blog posts are shown on the home screen.

Save & read later

You can also save content in the app to read or watch later. Articles written in the app (i.e. which isn’t content hosted on the web, like blog posts and YouTube videos) can even be read offline.


Material design

Material design is Google’s design philosophy, created as a single system to unify user experiences across platforms and devices under a rich set of design principles. The latest version of Playbook exemplifies the latest material design guidelines through its use of interface patterns, colour palette, and animations. For the latest version of Playbook, we redesigned the home screen and navigation to allow users to discover content more easily.


A delightful experience

One of Android’s design principles is to delight the user in surprising ways. In order to make the Playbook app a joy to use, we introduced some animated Android robots into the original app while the app was performing different tasks. We have redesigned the navigation and we hope these small touches will encourage the user to stay engaged with the app longer. At ribot we learn from behavioural psychology to design better products. One of our aims was to make this experience enjoyable so developers would repeatedly use the app. See the Peak End rule which inspired some of the animation in the app.

The technical details

The ribot team built a server specifically for the app. The server is built on top of Google App Engine and is built in Python using Django. Personalisation information and reading progress are stored on the server. The server polls google sources for daily posts and videos, and there is an admin panel for extra content to be input to the app. From launch the app supports 14 languages. We used a Model View Presenter architecture based in RxJava to build a robust and maintainable app. We also ensured the app worked correctly by automating tests that checked every area of the app and reviewing Google Play’s new pre-launch report in the Developer Console.

Playbook uses Google’s Firebase tool to send notifications. Notifications are both automatically triggered by the server for new content, and from the Firebase console for special announcements, catch error reports and to track user behaviour via analytics.


The project was managed from four locations: the Google Play teams in London and Mountain View, CA, the ribot developers in Brighton, and the ribot designer in Luxembourg.


Engagement

The app will occasionally notify users when there is new content in the app that could be useful to them.

In the latest version, consumers have detailed control over their notifications, they can personalise preferences and toggle different sections of the app within notifications.


Conclusion

The Playbook app makes it simpler for Google to share helpful content with developers, faster. It makes it easy for developers to stay up to date with content that’s specifically relevant to their business objectives. Developers can easily stay up to date with news and tips to succeed on Google Play.

The Playbook app helps developers make better apps and build better businesses in a simple, intuitive app. At ribot we pride ourselves on making experiences simple, let us know what you think. You can also send app feedback to playbookfeedback@google.com.