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Last Updated: October 17th, 2012

A new Google Play Store v3.8.15 apk started rolling out to Android devices today, but upon running through its UI, I was unable to uncover anything different from the versions before that. Yet the apk size gained a few pounds kilobytes, and not knowing what the 300KB of code and resources added was killing me. Not to worry, a few minutes later, I decoded both 3.7.15 and 3.8.15 and compared their contents.

Play Store Gift Cards

What I found inarguably points to Google gearing up to finally release redeemable Play Store gift cards - something we've been anxiously waiting for since the Android Market started supporting paid apps. Earlier this year, Google renewed our hopes by adding the ability to have a Play Store balance for those who purchase a Nexus 7. This put us one step closer to gift cards, but there was still nothing concrete. What I have here today is more than concrete - it's solid evidence.

One additional interesting detail regarding gift cards popped up in the code - the Play Store is now set to intercept links to play.google.com/redeem, which currently returns a "404 page not found" error.

Update #1: Mathias Tillman was able to get a screenshot of the Redeem Activity by compiling a hacked apk.

Update #2: Shen Ye used Mathias' apk to get a few more showing the wishlist and the new menu. Check them all out below.

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Wishlist

In addition to adding the ability to redeem Play Store gift cards, Google is going to add a wishlist where you can add apps, books, TV shows, movies, music, and magazines. I'm not sure what exactly the point of this wishlist would be (maybe later it can turn into a cart), but presumably you'll be able to add the aforementioned types of content into a list and then buy later, perhaps after redeeming a gift card (this would explain why the two features are being added together).

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The Evidence

Here's a long list of assets and strings that were all added in Play Store 3.8.15 that was released today. I'm just going to release the kraken and let those of you who understand code (or if you don't, just read the English-looking bits) soak it all in.

New Icons

ic_menu_market_redeem.png

image

ic_menu_market_wishlist.png

image

ic_apps_added.png, ic_books_added.png, ic_magazines_added.png, ic_movies_tv_added.png,

image image image image

These are in addition to ic_tv_added.png and ic_music_added.png that were already present in 3.7.15:

image image

And last but not least, there seems to be a new Play Store icon (the file gplay_graphic.png is new), though I'm not sure if it's actually new to the Internet. I don't recall ever seeing it in the wild, but I may be wrong.

image

Layout Resources

These were added in 3.8.15:

These were changed:

  • details_section_music.xml, generic_creator_details.xml: now with added <include layout="@layout/details_wishlist" />.
  • details_wishlist.xml: now with added <ProgressBar android:id="@id/details_wishlist_progressbar" />. Presumably, this will keep track of your progress adding or buying things in your wishlist.
  • menu/base.xml: now with added <item android:icon="@drawable/ic_menu_market_redeem" android:id="@id/redeem_item" android:title="@string/redeem_gift_card" />. Looks like a new menu item is coming next to Accounts, Settings, Help, etc.

String Resources

These were added in 3.8.15:

  • <string name="redeem_gift_card">Redeem</string>
  • <string name="balance_label">Google Play balance</string>
  • <string name="no_balance">0.00</string>
  • <string name="gift_card_code_hint">Gift card code</string>
  • <string name="invalid_gift_card_code">Invalid gift card code.</string>
  • <string name="gift_cards_not_supported">Google Play gift cards are not valid in your country.</string>
  • <string name="menu_my_wishlist">My Wishlist</string>
  • <string name="keep_shopping">Keep shopping</string>

Android Manifest

These lines were added in AndroidManifest.xml, the main file that describes how the Play Store application works:

  • <data android:scheme="http" android:host="play.google.com" android:pathPrefix="/redeem" />
  • <data android:scheme="https" android:host="play.google.com" android:pathPrefix="/redeem" />

Conclusion

If you, like me, have been waiting for gift cards for a long time, rest assured that they're coming. I don't know when, but we're likely close if Google decided to unleash the hounds and release the Play Store apk in the wild. My guess is that they will either wait for an event or announce it after the latest Play Store has trickled through to everyone (days? weeks?).

As someone who runs a lot of giveaways, I've also wanted an ability to gift individual apps rather than gift cards, but I don't see any indication that this ability is coming at all.

Finally, we're getting a wishlist, in case you were dreaming about being able to add apps, movies, etc. to a collection to buy later. I'm not sure anyone will care - the main news here is definitely gift card support.

Exciting stuff, isn't it?

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • http://www.bricewgilbert.blogspot.com Brice Gilbert

    I can't count the number of times I've wanted an app, but found out it cost money and decided to wait a little while before buying it. A wishlist is perfect for such situations.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Or maybe to keep an eye on it and see if it goes on sale.

    • PRJoslin

      The other point of a wishlist is to allow others to buy stuff for you. Most of the gifts I receive via Amazon came off a wis hlist. Many people feel a cash gift is too impersonal; a gift card is a little better, a wish list even more personal.

  • http://twitter.com/TheJauntyJester Jaunty Jester

    Finally is right, been waiting on this forever!

  • MicroNix

    This is exactly what is needed to get people to start buying more apps. Kids get iTunes gift cards all the time for b-days and Google has totally been missing out on this. I know my kids would not have purchased hardly anything if it wasnt for the countless gift cards they get. Get them into every grocery store Google!

    • AgustinRodriguez

      Couldn't agree more. 90+% of kids don't have a credit card.

      • http://twitter.com/cube1337 Felix

        In some countrys (like here in germany) thats even true for a quite high number of adults. Of course you may buy a prepaid cc but that's not the way you're motivating users to actually buy something.

      • adi19956

        The ones that do have a card mostly have Visa Electron debit cards and these aren't supported by Google

      • guavacode

        I'm a kid and while I have a debit card (that's backed by Visa) I still get iTunes gift cards for my birthday. Now that there are Google Play gift cards I'll finally be able to get ones that I can use to buy apps for my phone and rooted Nook tablet.

  • David Stallard

    I love it when you get all technical, Artem!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      It's the nerdy equivalent of talking dirty. I like to talk dirty.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        TMI. Just, TMI.

        • Dima Aryeh

          I donno, he piqued my interest.

  • ericl5112

    Definitely excited about the wish list functionality. I've been saving some to pocket instead.

  • Aleks

    Nice work as always Artem!

  • Matheus Eichelberger

    Now, just to be a nitpicker (and because more clarification always nice), as far as I could understand, you didn't exaclty decompile it, only unpacked it.

    Decompiling would mean turning the classes.dex file into the source code.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You're likely right, let's call it "decoded."

  • http://twitter.com/danihearne Cid Highwind

    I've been wanting this for ages. Birthday presents suck when all I get is vouchers, all for companies I have no interest in purchasing from. No doubt another US-Only feature though. Oh the joy of being British!

  • http://twitter.com/kuyanyan Yanyan | RR

    I hope those gift cards can be used in the US Play Store regardless of one's country. I wouldn't mind buying Play Store Gift Cards for music instead of iTunes Gift Cards

  • James Jun

    Wonder if this same system could apply to an app redemning as well. There are developers who like to give out free copies and the Humble Bundle would benefit from this as well.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Yeah, I mentioned this in my conclusion, but I doubt it. I really-really want this functionality.

      • James Jun

        But if the gift card redeeming has been worked out, I don't how hard it could be migrate it for apps as well. Or maybe it's more complex than I'm thinking it is.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I'm sure it's not very hard, but I don't know if Google thinks it's important enough in priority compared to other stuff.

  • Kenny O

    I love this type of detective work. Great piece. I think its a great move by Google, hope they add to "device" section of the store soon as well.

  • LiamBryant

    YES! I've been saying this for the longest time. This is the best thing to do to increase Play Store sales - many people are wary about putting their credit card into a system but if gift cards were available, it would provide a small amount of spending money with no negative consequences. And also, they make great gifts as well.

    • Himmat Singh

      You summed it up pretty well there.

  • Greg Sanders

    Yet again showing why Android Police is the only worthy website to follow.

  • br_hermon

    Wow... well done Artem :) I'm loving the AP exclusives lately ESPECIALLY this one!! Been waiting a while for htis :)

  • AgustinRodriguez

    Wow, Artem Is going all Sherlock Holmes up in here.

  • Palmer Nyako

    Finally. i don't know what took so long.

  • infogulch

    Two things:

    1: You're mixing up PREfix with suffix. This: android:pathPrefix="/redeem"
    Means: //play.google.com/redeem/AFTER/PREFIX
    NOT: //play.google.com/BEFORE/SUFFIX/redeem
    Think "Redeem now! Click this link: play.google.com/redeem/blergasdf1234thimbleturdorgasm99meatpoopypoopxv9donkeypie"

    2: How awesome would it be to be able to gift your friends and family an app directly? More personal than a boring gift card, and more immediate. THAT's what wishlists are for. Maybe nice for you, but meant for other people to gift to you! Think baby registry. :D

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You're right, just looked up the API docs to confirm.

  • http://www.shenye.co.uk Shen Ye

    Here's what it looks like if you hack the APK so you can access the redeem page.

    • http://www.webdewo.pl/ Maciej (DeWo) Wilczyński

      How did you "hacked" it?

  • HomerSp

    Small correction Artem, I didn't call the activity from adb (pm), I hacked the apk. If you're interested I can upload it.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Can you send it to me please and let me know what you've changed? artem@ap

      Thanks.

      • HomerSp

        Check your inbox, as for what I changed I simply had to "enable" them in /com/google/android/finsky/config/G.smali (look for finsky.wishlistEnabled and finsky.enable_redeem_gift_card_menu).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      @830154a6b3dc8a4d44f912c99f3d77ec:disqus Not sure if you saw the last reply, but the email is artem at this site's domain.

  • scuttlefield

    That means, soon Android Police can do gift card giveaways! ;)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That sounds like throwing cash around. Might as well just sent Paypals around. But yeah, probably, especially if Google will sell them at a discount.

  • Himmat Singh

    Wow. This is amazing. Can't wait to stock up on GP gift cards!

  • http://btwnworlds.tumblr.com/ Lou G

    Thank you for those saying you had to hack it; I was looking for the 'Redeem' page (yes, I got 3.8.15) and didn't see it. I hope they do this before Oct 16 (that's my birthday)..I'll just say "get me some google play gift cards!"

    • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.warne Tim Warne

      Oct.16th is my birthday also so hopefully it is before that date.

  • GazaIan

    MOTHERFUCKING FINA-FUCKING-LY!!!!!! YES !!!!!

  • bfk394

    The wish list could be a really cool feature to add to Google+. Imagine on your birthday some of your friends can gift you apps/music/videos you want! That's way better than 100 identical "Happy Birthday" messages.

  • Tee

    I only wish they could organize 'All apps' from My apps somehow sensible, alphabethical or starting from the latest. And after returning to the All apps-list, you'd come to the app you left in the list instead of the top of the list (of 200 apps or so).

  • cornandbeans

    Better late than never! I always had to use my dad's credit card to buy stuff...

    And after the long wait there is still no purchased apps list! Argh!

  • http://twitter.com/cube1337 Felix

    Google even talked about this at the I/O
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJdx_Wd_EOo&t=9m23s (until 10:15)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      They did mention Play Store balance and future opportunities at around 10:00. No details were given, however (unless they talked about it some more later).

      • http://twitter.com/cube1337 Felix

        That's absolutely correct but i think we don't know much more now either. I only thought this is another evidence for google planning this feature (even if this is pretty much sure already after your [great] research).

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    It would be nice to see the Wishlist giving the option to buy an app for somebody. It would definitely be a boon as it could give parents the ability to selectively choose what games they'd want to buy for their kids. Obviously, it could also be used to manage app giveaways. Now if Google just adds in the feature for developers to give away free copies for reviewers, it would make the process even better.

  • Mungo

    Best Android news of the year! Now, if only developers could give away free copies of their apps...

  • faceless128

    Wishlist AND Cart? AWESOME!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      There's no cart yet - that's just a wish item for now.

  • http://twitter.com/alekhkhanna Alekh Khanna

    Holy cow, Wishlist ! Yay. Hope it's a publicly shareable wishlist. That would be more awesome ! :D

    • http://twitter.com/tobiasly Toby J

      Oh I guarantee you they'll allow you to share your wishlist on Google+!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Joecascio2000 Joseph Cascio

    But the real question is, have they added back the my purchases section so that I can see apps I have actually paid money for?

  • http://twitter.com/jackfifield Jack Fifield

    I haven't hacked my APK bit get this when going to play.google.com/redeem I'm in the UK.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

    Always cool to find things that shouldn't be found :D

  • David Keith

    as awesome as gift cards would be (even NFC gift cards) lets be honest. If Google makes it a reality Apple with sue for patent infringment because they probably have a patent that states "I award Apple with another vague patent and this time it will be about how you can buy *@&^ from the store with a Gift Card.. blah blah end of patent" lol sorry Samsung :(

  • Roberto Elena Ormad

    Wishlist will be part of your Google+ profile. Your friends/followers will be able to buy those items as a present.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      That would be a total rockstar move. Developers would seriously make a fortune with this.

      Just think, a bunch of people today are completely unwilling to spend $1.99 on an app, but the idea of buying somebody a $5 - $10 gift is seen as trivial. It's the perfect example of something people won't buy for themselves, but they'll love to get it from somebody else. Obviously a wishlist needs to have privacy settings (possibly multiple wishlists?), but attaching it to the G+ profile would be a wildly effective at promoting the functionality and a great way to quickly look up somebody's wishlist to surprise them with a little gift.

      This almost writes the marketing copy for Google when it comes time for Christmas.

  • b_to_the_randon

    Finally! A wishlist! So excited!

  • mgamerz

    About time...

  • jani jokela

    dosent showup wishlist in finland

  • Max

    Now, if they just let friends, relatives, etc. purchase (specific) apps that people put IN their wishlist, that would be phenomenal!

  • waleed

    i prefer to pay by my sim card just like what nokia did , its better choice in some country , however if the card cost 10$ they will sell it for 50$ just to get 10$ in play store .
    sorry for my english :)

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com/ Gregg L. DesElms

    Both ideas are EXCELLENT! I'm glad Google's finally giving them to us.

    The gift card is great, and will more easily allow me to make an app free for someone whom I want to have it, but who's hesitant to pay for it. I hope the gift card can be made app-specific, at the gifter's option.

    As for the bookmarking of an app for later installation, thing, that's one of the biggest reasons why I have an AppBrain account (there are others, but that's a big one). If I can start bookmarking in Google Play, then that's even better.

    Now if Google would fix the broken aspect of Google Play which limits the number of apps it'll say you have installed (or ever tried to install). It cuts off at I forget how many pages, but in my case it only makes it, alphabetically, to like the letter "p" or something like that. AppBrain definitely lets you keep track of all prior installations; lets you assign them to phones; lets you make lists. AppBrain, then, has huge utility, even if Google Play adds bookmarking.

    _______________________________
    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  • http://www.webdewo.pl/ Maciej (DeWo) Wilczyński
  • micax

    The big questions for game apps remains, though:

    Where is Google Games integration with Google+ integration for Android apps. It's hard to believe that it's been two years since GameCenter launched, and Google still hasn't managed to come up with a counter.

  • kayolhope

    Yes Yes Yes! About time on the gift cards! After post secondary schooling I came out broke credit wise therefore reply on iTunes gift cards or visa and/or mc. Now that I've switched from Apple to Google, the cards are a NEEDED.

  • juka

    Joao fontinha

  • Tim P.

    Just Googling around for this after noticing this only moments ago on Google Play on my Samsung Galaxy S - there are now six options on the menu; the third being "Redeem" with a neat little picture of a 'Google Play credit card'. Basically looks similar to the second image above, with a few minor differences (the account eMail address is shown in the top-right-hand corner, there's a £ sign, and a "Promotional Terms and Conditions" link below the GC TOS link).

  • Ron

    There is a draw back to the Google play cards. Even though they should be as good as cash or what ever. I learned the hard way. I purchased a $50 card with the thought that I could purchase a chromecast device.WRONG the cards are good for digital content only. I failed to take my magnifying glass to read the fine print on the back of the card.

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