It's no secret that Google struggles to foster Android on any device that isn't a phone. It's getting Samsung's help in rethinking Wear OS after years of stagnant market share, for instance. The tech pioneer might have a simple solution, though: give developers a financial incentive to support other platforms. Ars Technica notes that Google is starting the international rollout of a Play Media Experience Program that cuts the company's share of PlayStore app revenues to 15 percent if Android developers support audiovisual experiences across a range of platforms, including tablets, watches and smart TV devices.
If a developer wants more take-home revenue, it has to support all the platforms in a given category. A video app maker has to integrate with Android TV, Google TV and Google Cast. An audio app creator has to support Wear OS, Android Auto, Android TV and Google Cast, while a reading app maker has to optimize for tablets, foldables and the Entertainment Space experience.
Developers also need to have at least 100,000 monthly active installs on Google Play as well as a "strong" rating on the store. A small studio making knockoff apps couldn't just game the system by throwing in barebones support for other devices.
It's not clear how well this will work. Ars pointed out that Google has inconsistent platform support within its own apps, let alone among third-party teams. Microsoft also didn't have much luck paying developers to write Windows Phone apps. There may be considerably less work involved here, though, and the program could be rewarding if a company already has strong demand for its Android apps. If it does work, you might see more and higher-quality apps for all the Android devices you own.