Carriers and manufacturers have been slow to update their devices to the latest version of Android, with only 4% of devices running Android 4.2. The latest version of Android includes a variety of improvements to the keyboard, camera app, lock screen and the introduction of quick settings in the notification bar. The new keyboard added gesture typing as well as features like text-to-speech, voice typing, auto-correct, word predictions and more. Likely disappointed that most Android users couldn’t experience it, Google on Wednesday released the stock Android keyboard in the Play store for free. Regardless of whether you are running Sense, TouchWiz or another third-party user interface, you will now have access to the stock Android keyboard. The Google Keyboard is available for devices running Android 4.0 or higher and includes all the typing improvements found in Android 4.2.
Google’s Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai confirmed that Google has no plans to abandon its Nexus program. The executive confirmed at the AllThingsD: D11 conference on Thursday that Google will continue to make dedicated Nexus hardware with its manufacturing partners. He noted that the idea of the Nexus program was to not only “guide the ecosystem,” but also to push hardware to a new level. The news comes after Pichai revealed a new Google Edition of the HTC One that runs a stock version of Android. The smartphone will be the second non-Nexus device running stock Android that is offered through Google Play. The company previously announced a Google Edition version of the Galaxy S4 at its I/O Developers Conference earlier this month. Both phones will launch on June 26th.
Google has long been rumored to be developing a Game Center rival for Android smartphones and tablets. Information from a new Google Play Services file, which was obtained and broken down by Android Police, indicates that Google Play Games isn’t too far off. The service appears to include a number of interesting features such as multiplay support, cloud syncing, matchmaking and game invites, achievements, a leaderboard and even support for in-game chatting. All the social aspects of the service are expected to be managed by Google+, allowing users to chat and share achievements with specific friends and followers. Google is expected to announce its new Play Games service on Wednesday at its I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Earlier this year, Google began a trial program to allow select Android developers the opportunity to respond to their critics on the Play Store. The company announced on Monday that the ability to reply to app reviews has now been expanded to all Google Play developers. Ellie Powers of the Google Play team notes that ever since connecting Play Store reviews with Google+ profiles, the quality of reviews has “increased tremendously.” There are still some times when a customer is left unsatisfied, however, and allowing a developer to respond to feedback will only make for a better application. More →
Google on Friday changed one of its Play Store policies to prevent apps from being updated outside of its marketplace. The company states that “an app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism.” The change comes shortly after Facebook tweaked its Android application to allow users to update it without using the normal Google Play update system. It could be a coincidence, however it would appear that Google is worried that other developers might have followed suit and would therefore become less dependent on its Play Store.
The app stores for the four leading mobile operating systems have grown 11% from the fourth quarter in 2012 to the first quarter of this year, according to data from Canalys. Combined downloads from Apple’s (AAPL) App Store, Google Play, the Windows Phone Marketplace and BlackBerry World totaled more than 13.4 billion in Q1 2013, while revenue climbed 9% to reach $2.2 billion. App downloads remained strong in North America and Europe, however some of the strongest growth came from emerging markets such as South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia, which have benefited from a fast adoption rate of smartphones and tablets. Paid apps continue to remain popular in more mature mobile markets, though. More →
Google (GOOG) on Tuesday took the wraps off its redesigned Play Store for Android smartphones and tablets. In line with earlier rumors, the new marketplace includes brighter colors, larger images and an interface inspired by Google Now. Other changes include auto-update being enabled for all apps by default and the removal of the application download/installation screen. The Google Play redesign is meant to make finding new content through the company’s marketplace easier than ever before, with similar content grouped together and more recommendations. The new Google Play Store will begin rolling out to smartphones and tablets running Android 2.2 and above starting on Tuesday.
Earlier rumors claimed that Google (GOOG) is working on a redesign for its Play Store that would include brighter colors, bigger images and an overall cleaner look. Now, previous reports have seemingly been confirmed as YouTube employee Eileen Rivera posted a screenshot of the redesigned marketplace to her Google+ page on Sunday, Droid-Life reported. The image, which has since been deleted, includes a Google Play logo with a bone and dog dish, suggesting that the company is “dogfooding” the redesign with its employees. In addition to a brighter layout and larger images, the new Google Play Store is rumored to have all applications auto-update by default and will also no longer include an application download/install screen. Google is expected to unveil the redesign at its I/O Developers Conference in May. The leaked image follows below. More →
New licensing agreements with Google Play, Microsoft (MSFT) and other services helped musicians generate more royalties in the U.K. from digital music services than radio for the first time last year, The Guardian reported. Songwriters earned a total of £51.7 million in the U.K. (roughly $77.7 million USD) in digital royalties, an increase of 32.2% from £39.1 million in 2011. Digital music services are now the single biggest source of income for musicians in the U.K., surpassing radio and live events. Online licensing revenues have doubled in the county since the arrival of download and streaming services such as Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes Store and Spotify in 2008.
Google (GOOG) is reportedly working on a redesign for its Google Play store that includes brighter colors, bigger images and a cleaner look. According to Droid-Life, the redesigned marketplace carries the version number 4.0.16 and features a streamlined layout with inspiration drawn from Google Now. Other changes include the removal of the application download/install screen and it would appear all apps will be auto-updated by default, an option that can be turned off for individual apps. It is unclear when Google will release the redesign, though it could happen in the coming weeks. A leaked video walkthrough follows below.
An Australian app developer has discovered that Google (GOOG) is sending Android developers personal information of everyone who buys their apps from Google Play without permission. According to developer Dan Nolan, the company sent him full names, suburbs and email addresses of everyone who purchased his “Paul Keating insult generator” app. He explained that with the information made available to him, he could potentially “track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase.” More →
In the past year Google (GOOG) has taken steps to eliminate excessive trolling in its Play Store. The company recently integrated Google+ profile names and pictures with Android app reviews and even began allowing some developers to respond to users’ opinions. Google on Thursday revealed to The Next Web that the feature, which was originally for top developers only, has gradually expanded to “additional Google Play developers.” Not only will this help establish better relationships between app developers and their customers, but it will also allow developers to provide feedback and answer questions to critical comments or concerns. Trevor Johns, developer programs engineer at Google, previously said that “conversations are meant to be two-sided, and facilitating discussion between developers and users will ultimately yield better apps, to the benefit of everyone.”
The next time you log into Google (GOOG) Play to flame Justin Bieber fans by panning his latest single, beware: thousands of angry preteens will soon know who you are and what you look like. As TheAndroidSoul notes, Google has started adding its users’ Google+ profile names and pictures to Google Play user reviews, thus making it much harder for trolls to spam pages with anonymous negative reviews. Barring users who opt to create new Google+ accounts solely to bombard Google Play, the move should go a long way to curtail trolling by finally introducing some accountability.