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Last Updated: December 18th, 2012

This contest is now over. You can find the winners in the Rafflecopter widget below.

It's the holiday season, and you know what that means: people are running around frantically trying to buy things. Among those things, you'll likely find a hefty supply of gadgets and gizmos, because this is the 21st Century, and everyone must have at least one techno-thingy. But there's a quandary when it comes to buying mobile devices: price.

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Sure, "in-app purchases" becomes a bit of a dirty phrase when we're talking about games that abuse the privilege, but they're a critical element of any profitable app ecosystem, and today Google's making a bunch of IAP features easier and smoother for developers and, by extension, you. Here are some of the new improvements.

Easier Purchasing Implementation

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Previously, if you bought an item in an app, the purchase was handled via an "asynchronous notification through a background service." This meant that the app would call out to Google to announce a purchase, but then have to talk to a separate service in order to find out how it went.

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It's becoming increasingly common for users to share files over mobile devices instead of more traditional methods. The biggest problem here is that there isn't really a "standard" form of sharing - unlike with emails, SMS messages can't handle file attachments, and MMS isn't the most practical way of sending most files (not to mention that not all phones can receive MMS messages). There are, of course, things like Dropbox and Google Drive that store files in the cloud and make them easy for users to share, but that can be a cumbersome process on a mobile device.

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Before you get too excited, let's start with the disclaimers. For starters, while yes, some users over on XDA managed to get LTE service working in very select AT&T markets, this probably won't work in your area. Also, this is not the intended use of your phone, so if you're not comfortable screwing with radios on your phone, you should probably skip the whole freaking out thing.

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So, here's how it goes.

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Update 2: Here's Google's response, though it's in the context of this being a Gmail outage, when it was pretty clearly an across-the-board service disruption:

On Monday, 10 December 2012, we experienced an issue with Gmail and some users experienced slow performance or errors. For everyone who was affected, we apologize - we know you count on Google to work for you, and we worked hard to restore normal operation for you.

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Baseball is America's game. There's nothing more classic than breaking out the old Louisville Slugger for a round of pick-up, and adding sexy nurses and super-deformed dark knights in no way detracts from the feeling of nostalgia. Such is the case with the well-established Baseball Superstars franchise, which Gamevil is bringing back for another round on Android. The 2013 release was previously restricted to South Korea, Gamevil's home country, but now it's available worldwide with plenty of language options.

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Dec
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Nike's highly popular Training Club app has arrived on Android, allowing you to get your fit on with your phone or tablet. Training Club is an audio-visual, quasi-interactive workout app that allows you to select a workout, guides you through the motions, and shows you what kind of progress you should be making. Like pretty much everything Nike digital, there are rewards that can be earned, and progress can be shared with your friends.

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Dec
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Back in the Gingerbread days, I swore by GO Launcher. I tried all the others, yet it was my go-to on every device before the Galaxy Nexus. Sadly, as much as I wanted to continue using it past Android 2.3, GO became basically obsolete on ICS and beyond.

You can't keep a good team down, so the GO Launcher devs are back with an incredible looking new launcher called Next Launcher.

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Dec
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One of the biggest problems with the Play Store is that, compared to certain other platforms, its international support for both products and payment systems is comparatively meager. This is, of course, one of the main reasons that earning revenue on Android seems harder for developers. Starting today, though, if you live in Australia and use Telstra, you have one more way to pay: carrier billing.

The rollout comes with special thanks to mobile payment platform Bango.

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Dec
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Amazon's Gold Box deals are some of my favorite discounts to check out every morning. In fact, outside of the Gold Box, the only other deal destinations I regularly visit are Amazon-owned MyHabit and TouchOfModern, a site full of inspiration and ultramodernism.

But back to the deal. If you've been eying Amazon's latest Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet (remember all those holidays that are coming at us fast?), today's Gold Box deal of the day should most definitely make it easier to pull the trigger.

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