Friday, September 2, 2011

Google Play App Description Markup

[Updated 25 Aug 2013: This article applies specifically to the "App Description" section of the application profile -- not verified to work in the "What's New?" section (thanks Mark Carter!)]

[Updated 22 Mar 2012:  Title reflects Google rebrand.  References to "Android Market" should be interpreted to mean "Google Play"]

When publishing our mobile app to the Android Market recently, I noticed that some publishers had application descriptions that were styled more richly than the publishing UI would have you believe is possible.  So I tried out a bit of markup.  As of the date of this post, the following describes what I found...

What Worked
  • Basic emphasis:  <b>, <i>, <u> all seemed to work as you might expect
  • Forced line breaks:  <br/> forced a line break where a simple carriage return in the publishing UI's editor would not
  • DNS names as hyperlinks:  when rendered after publishing, Android Market turned our site's DNS name (e.g. appendixk.thejameskearney.me) into a working hyperlink

What Didn't Work
  • URL Links: I tried to insert an href link (<a href="...">), but this simply rendered as text (with the first few characters of the tag stripped out)

Conclusion
The Android platform, its tools and development universe are flush with undocumented and underdocumented features.  Fortunately, that's just the sort of thing Appendix K was created for.  If you try other markup and get a definitive result, feel free to add a comment -- I'll update the post.  At some point, I hope Google will update the developer documentation and I'll be able to just link to that... :-)

10 comments:

  1. thx James - found this via stackoverflow, gave it a shot, and I now have some minimal styling in my app description :)

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  2. Glad you found it useful Steve -- good luck with the app!

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  3. So if I wanted to publish an an url like this with my app description http://blog.pre-pay-as-you-go.co.uk/2012/10/18/windows-phone-8-worth-its-w8-in-gold/

    How would I do it and keep the link looking tidy?

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    Replies
    1. I've not run into this requirement myself, so don't have first-hand experience to share.

      If you're just trying to get customers over to your site and you can't use a vanity URL (e.g. mysite.co.uk/myapp), you could use a URL shortener (e.g. goo.gl) to achieve this.

      If you're trying to increase keyword matching by including that specific URL in the description, then I don't know that you can do much to clean it up (as far as I know, the Play store still does not support using anchor tags in the app description field).

      Would be great to know how you eventually solve this...

      Good luck with the app!

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  4. URLs work without markup.. Just paste URL

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    Replies
    1. You're right Saif. I should have clarified that. What didn't work is creating clean hyperlinked text (via anchor tags)

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    2. Not working for me. http or https, no url is showing up as a link. Only text. :(

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    3. Hmm...Not sure why that would be Bikram. Can you post a link to your app in the Google Play Store? Readers may be able to help figure out why it's not working and offer suggestions to make it work.

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  5. Important to note that these tags work in the App Description but not the What's New section.

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