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, Playbook for Developers.
With the new app, Google wants to make it easier for developers of all sizes to find the information they need to create great apps and games and grow their businesses.
From printed book to app
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. At its core, the Playbook is a tailored list of the latest articles and videos from Google experts and across the web to help developers grow a successful business on Google Play.
Working with the team at ribot is an enjoyable, simple process thanks to their original thinking, exemplary design, and innovative approach to development.
After seeing our work and our material design articles on Medium, Google approached ribot to collaborate on the project. Google Play already offers printed booklet to help developers build great apps. Articles in the booklet cover topics ranging from material design, to Google sign-in, to Nearby APIs, to AdWords campaigns, and much more.
Google’s idea with the app was to offer all this useful information to developers in a more practical way than a printed booklet, so that it could be easily kept up to date and so that it could contain articles and videos curated from across the web in addition content from Google’s experts.
Onboarding and personalisation
One of the benefits the app is personalisation. You can tailor the information within the app according to your objectives.When users sign-in, they can choose subjects they are interested in such as design, marketing, games, testing, etc. Articles, videos and blog posts are shown under ‘My Playbook’ based on which tags they choose.
Tracking your reading progress
The app keeps track of your reading progress with a percentage displayed in ‘My Playbook’. By displaying a user’s progress against a goal, the effort made to achieve that goal should increase. See the Goal Gradient Effect.
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 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 Playbook exemplifies the latest material design guidelines through its use of interface patterns, colour palette, and animations.
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 while the app was performing different tasks. 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 Android development 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. A content management system, Prismic is used to host the content that is displayed in 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.
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.
The app will occasionally notify users when there is new content in the app that could be useful to them. Users can switch notifications off with a toggle in the left hand navigation.
The new 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.