Building for Billions

Posted by Sam Dutton, Ankur Kotwal, Developer Advocates; Liz Yepsen, Program Manager


These are common warnings for many smartphone users around the world.

To build products that work for billions of users, developers must address key
challenges: limited or intermittent connectivity, device compatibility, varying
screen sizes, high data costs, short-lived batteries. We first presented
and related Android and Web resources at Google I/O last month, and today you
can watch the video presentations about Android or the Web.

These best practices can help developers reach billions by delivering
exceptional performance across a range of connections, data plans, and devices. will
help you:

Seamlessly transition between slow, intermediate, and offline

Your users move from place to place, from speedy wireless to patchy or expensive
data. Manage these transitions by storing data, queueing requests, optimizing
image handling, and performing core functions entirely offline.

Provide the right content for the right context

Keep context in mind – how and where do your users consume your content?
Selecting text and media that works well across different viewport sizes,
keeping text short (for scrolling on the go), providing a simple UI that doesn’t
distract from content, and removing redundant content can all increase
perception of your app’s quality while giving real performance gains
like reduced data transfer. Once these practices are in place, localization
options can grow audience reach and increase engagement.

Optimize for mobile hardware

Ensure your app or Web content is served and runs well for your widest possible
addressable market, covering all actively used OS versions, while still
following best practices, by testing on virtual or actual devices in target
markets. Native Android apps should set minimum and target SDKs. Also, remember
low cost phones have smaller amounts of RAM; apps should therefore adjust usage
accordingly and minimize background running. For in-depth information on
minimizing APK size, check out this series
of Medium posts. On the Web, optimize JavaScript CPU usage, avoid raster
image rendering, and minimize resource requests. Find out more here.

Reduce battery consumption

Low cost phones usually have shorter battery life. Users are sensitive to
battery consumption levels and excessive consumption can lead to a high
uninstall rate or avoidance of your site. Benchmark your battery usage against
sessions on other pages or apps, or using tools such as Battery Historian, and
avoid long-running processes which drain batteries.

Conserve data usage

Whatever you’re building, conserve data usage in three simple steps: understand
loading requirements, reduce the amount of data required for interaction, and
streamline navigation so users get what they want quickly. Conserving data on
behalf of your users (and with native apps, offering configurable network usage)
helps retain data-sensitive users — especially those on prepaid plans or
contracts with limited data — as even “unlimited” plans can become expensive
when roaming or if unexpected fees are applied.

Have another insight, or a success launching in low-connectivity conditions or
on low-cost devices? Let us know on our G+

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