Microsoft Introduces Playable Ads in Windows Apps


16 Mar , 2017  

Microsoft Playable Ads is a new solution for Windows developers looking to draw more engaged users to their applications. The company recently launched Playable Ads, a type of in-app ad that allows potential users to experience a new app before installing it.

Currently in preview, Microsoft Playable Ads allow customers to stream and interact with a new app or game for up to three minutes, without leaving the app they’re currently using.

That’s in contrast to traditional in-app ads, which take users out of their current app to the Windows Store, where they have an opportunity to install the new app. This diagram illustrates the difference between the two types of ads:

microsoft playable ads

Microsoft claims Playable Ads are more likely to attract engaged users than traditional ads: They’re less annoying, since they don’t take the potential customer out of the current app. And they give a more realistic sense of what an app is actually like, ideally increasing the number of people who actually use it after installation, rather than uninstalling it.

Developers subscribed to the preview can create Playable Ads by beginning a new ad campaign from the Windows Dev Center and selecting a call to action option called ‘Try Now.’ The option is available for ads targeting PCs and tablets running Windows 10.… Read more

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Answers to Your Burning Xbox Dev Questions

Paul Ballard

23 Sep , 2016  

How do I protect my Xbox in dev mode? Can I publish my non-game app to Xbox One?

Now that Microsoft is further opening up the Xbox platform to developers, you might have questions about either bringing an existing UWP app to Xbox, or developing directly for the gaming console.

Microsoft’s recent live video training and Twitter chat answered some of those questions in a bid to attract more developers to the platform. If you missed it, the company has posted a detailed recap online with video clips and an FAQ.

Questions range from the detail-oriented—frame rate limits, whether there’s a screen capture API for UWP—to the strategic (whether to build for Xbox first or build a PC/mobile app and convert it).

Session videos focus on XAML and web apps, design best practices and publishing to the Windows Store.

Microsoft last month announced that devs who’ve built games and apps using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK can publish them directly to the Xbox Store, opening up a marketing avenue that was previously unavailable to smaller, independent developers.




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Free Xamarin, and Other Goodies for Developers From Build 2016

Paul Ballard

1 Apr , 2016  

On Day Two of Build 2016, Microsoft made the announcement that developers have been hoping for since the company acquired Xamarin in February: Xamarin tools will now be free for all Visual Studio users.

Subscribers to both paid and free tiers of Visual Studio will have access, which lowers considerably the cost of developing native apps for iOS and Android in C# using Xamarin.

Microsoft also said it will soon open-source Xamarin SDKs for Android, iOS and Mac. “This includes native API-bindings and the basic command-line tools necessary to develop mobile apps,” Xamarin’s Nat Friedman further explained in a blog post. “It also includes our popular cross-platform native UI toolkit, Xamarin.Forms.”

That’s not the only new toy developers have to play with as of this week. Microsoft also released the first public preview of Visual Studio 15 at Build. The latest version of Visual Studio includes new style analyzers for C# and Visual Basic, a preview of a new JavaScript language service, and an ‘Open Folder’ feature that allows developers to navigate code bases without setting up projects and solutions.

There’s also a faster, lightweight install option. Microsoft cautions not to install VS 15 on your production environment, as it’s unsupported.… Read more

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An Easier Way to Access App Analytics

Paul Ballard

3 Mar , 2016  

Tracking your app’s metrics—such as number of downloads and failure rate—is, of course, crucial to improving its performance. But the process can be cumbersome.

Now, developers with apps in the Windows Store can access their analytics without having to log into Microsoft’s Dev Center, with a new Windows Store Analytics API.

The API can be configured to retrieve daily, weekly or monthly reports on app acquisitions, IAP acquisitions, ratings, reviews and app health, according to Microsoft. Developers must first have an Azure AD account linked to a Dev Center account. Obtain an Azure AD access token, use it to call the Windows Store API, set the data parameters you want to see, and you’re good to go. Data is returned in JSON format.

For complete instructions on how to use the API, read Microsoft’s blog post. There’s even more detail here.

How is this an improvement? Microsoft suggests using the API to easily share data with colleagues in marketing or finance, or if you want to run more advanced analysis yourself on the raw data. And cutting out the Dev Center login may just be a general time saver.

If you try the new analytics API, let us know how it went in the comments below.… Read more



Windows Store Algorithm Updated to Improve App Visibility

Paul Ballard

23 Feb , 2016  

Frustrated that your app doesn’t show up easily in Windows Store? Microsoft says it’s taking some steps to update the algorithm that decides which apps appear in search results.

The algorithm “has been adjusted to give more weight to app quality signals such as the number of downloads and ratings,” according to a Microsoft blog post. The changes will “make apps easier to be discovered, specifically when searching by app name and related keywords,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft says that spam apps, and those that use misleading keywords, will continue to be blocked from showing up in search results. Users of the Store have noticed quite a bit of spam in the past, so perhaps Microsoft has managed to tighten up those filters.

Starting in March, app reviews created by Windows Insiders in the Slow ring will also start showing up in the store. In the past, Microsoft had hidden reviews from Insiders in order to prevent app developers from being penalized by bugs that users were seeing in new Windows builds. Reviews from Insiders in the Fast ring will continue to be hidden.

The changes come on the heels of a previous blog post in which Microsoft shared tips on how to maximize app visibility.… Read more



WishAppList Tracks Demand for Windows 10 Apps

Paul Ballard

9 Feb , 2016  

As Microsoft tries to encourage developers to build universal Windows apps, it’s suffered from what some observers have correctly called a chicken-or-the-egg problem: Developers don’t want to build until they know there’s user demand, but users may be shunning the platform until better apps are available.

Now, a new website aims to open up communication between Windows 10 users and developers, crowdsourcing information about which apps users would most like to see. WishAppList is simple: You create an account, then click to vote for apps you’d like to see on Windows 10. Users can select from both a list of popular apps and new apps in development. When apps reach a certain number of votes, WishAppList staff will pass that news on to publishers.

Vote counts appear publicly on the website, which also could make it a good place for developers to research which types of apps appeal most to Windows users.

On that tip, Microsoft itself offered some intel this past week in a report on Windows Store. Visitors to the Store are downloading Games more than any other app category, followed by Utilities & Tools, Photo & Video apps, Music and Social apps. The report also identified app categories and subcategories with the most opportunity for developers, based on a high ratio of downloads to available apps.… Read more

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How To,News

How to Make Your App Visible in Windows Store

Paul Ballard

21 Jan , 2016  

Windows Store has long been plagued with complaints about the low quality of apps, prevalence of spam, and the fact that popular apps are unavailable or missing key features. It’s a problem for Microsoft, which urgently wants to inspire more developers to build universal Windows apps.

In its quest to improve the quality of apps in the Store, Microsoft released some tips for developers last week on how to name and format their apps for maximum visibility.

Some of them are obvious: “Make sure you own the name, brand, icon and content.” “Build apps that offer more or different value than those already in the store.”

Others, however, specifically target common spam tactics and provide some insight as to how the Store’s search engine ranks apps. For example, rather than submitting multiple, related apps to the Store, Microsoft recommends consolidating as much content as possible into a single app:

Building a richer app will also help it have more opportunities to be considered to be featured in the Store, since a single app that has more content will have wider appeal compared to one app with less content.

Microsoft also advises limiting the number of keywords in app metadata and ensuring they are truly relevant to your app, rather than a jumble of popular search terms.… Read more

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Wintellect Blogs

Introducing Pic Me, an Exciting New Universal App for Windows

Jeff Prosise

9 Sep , 2014  

I’ve been working off and on for the last few months on a Windows app that I intend to publish soon in the Windows Store. Called “Pic Me,” the app sprang from a question my daughter asked me one night: “Dad, can you write an app that makes it easy to see all the photos I’ve been tagged in on Facebook and also lets me download those photos?” It sounded like a terrific idea, so I started laying down some code. I decided to make it a universal Windows app so it would run equally well on desktops, tablets, and phones. V1 is almost ready to submit for certification, so I thought I’d share it, source code and all, in case you’re interested in seeing how it’s put together and are interested in authoring universal apps of your own.

The screen shot below shows how Pic Me looks on a tablet and on a phone after I logged in using my Facebook credentials. (Try it yourself to see which photos you’ve been tagged in!) The login is accomplished using WinRT’s awesome WebAuthenticationBroker class, and if, after logging in, you want to log in as someone else to see what photos they’re tagged in, simply use the Switch User command in the command bar.… Read more

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Windows Store Apps Succinctly by John Garland – Get Your Free E-Book from Syncfusion

Paul Ballard

12 Oct , 2013  

Windows Store apps present a radical shift in Windows development. They place content and interaction above all else to provide users with immersive, intuitive application experiences. With Windows Store Apps Succinctly by John Garland, you’ll be guided through obtaining a developer license, to managing your application’s life cycle and storage, all the way to submitting your app to the Windows Store.
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