Good news, European readers: physical gift cards for the Google Play Store are coming to more of you soon. Google updated its list of supported countries for gift cards today, marking Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden as "coming soon." We can't say exactly when - a few other countries like Greece, Poland, and Portugal got the same treatment earlier this month, and they're still marked as coming soon instead of linking to the relevant page.
Google sells a lot of games, but often, the ones downloaded from the Play Store require Internet access even in single-player modes. (Square Enix, Gameloft, we're glaring at you.) So for the latest promotion, they've decided to highlight games that don't require such frivolities. You can play them on a train. You can play them on a plane. You can play them in a box. You can play them with a fox.
Update: After we reached out to a Google representative, the company gave us the following statement:
We’ve been working closely with the European Commission and consumer protection agencies for the last few months to make improvements to Google Play that will be good for our users and provide better protections for children.
The representative was unable to comment on potential changes for the Play Store in the US or other non-European locations.
Google's recently launched Android Wear platform had a bit of a rough weekend when it ran into an unexpected snag regarding paid apps – it couldn't install them. It turns out that the behavior could be traced to a Play Store security feature that was responsible for encrypting paid apps to make them more difficult to pirate; but in doing so, it had also made it impossible to extract and install any micro-apps contained within the apk.
Google's hot new item, Android Wear, is barely out of the box, but there's already a pretty big issue deserving of a place in our Bug Watch series. The initial rush of native Android Wear apps is starting to roll into the Play Store as developers get their hands dirty with the freshly released SDK. So far, most of these apps have been given away at no cost, but the few that have attempted to charge a fee have run into a wall.
It's raining wearable apps. After Google, Delta, Duolingo, and IFTTT updated their apps with Android Wear functions, it looks like the floodgates have opened. The Google Play Store now has a page dedicated to apps that include support for Wear, including Google's own apps and the ones we've already covered. The page is propagating through the Play Store right now, so you might not be able to see it quite yet.
Google is slowly expanding support for developers all over the world, and while devs in hundreds of countries can publish Android apps on the Google Play Store, only a small subset can charge money for them. After extending support to eight new countries last month, Google has added another nine today, bringing the total up to 54. Here are the new additions:
- Belarus (US Dollars)
- Chile (Chilean Pesos)
- Colombia (Colombian Pesos)
- Costa Rica (Colón)
- Egypt (Egyptian Pound)
- Kazakhstan (US Dollars)
- Kuwait (US Dollars)
- Nigeria (US Dollars)
- United Arab Emirates (Dirham)
To be clear, customers in these countries could already download and/or pay for Android apps on Google Play, and developers could already upload free apps, but after today they can charge for apps and in-app purchases and collect revenue from a Google Play Merchant account.
If you want in on the action, head to the Google Play Developer console and set up a Merchant account for $25 USD (or your local equivalent).
Google Play for Education is an Android thing, not a Chrome thing. But considering the fact that Chromebooks' low prices and web-connected nature make them perfect terminal PCs for schools, it makes a lot of sense to bridge that gap. Today Google has done so, making the Google Play for Education page and app delivery system work for Chrome apps, Play Store books, and other content. It should be a familiar and relatively easy way for teachers and administrators to get things done.
If you're still on the fence about picking up a Google Play Edition of the LG G Pad 8.3, Sony Z Ultra, or HTC One M7, you may have run out of time. All three devices are presently showing as out of stock on the Google Play Store. History tells us that once devices go out of stock on the Play Store, they often tend to remain in that state indefinitely.
If dramatic price drops and expanded software capabilities haven't convinced you to shell out for NVIDIA's Android-powered gaming machine, maybe a little free Play Store credit will do the trick. This referral link for NVIDIA's SHIELD store will net you a $25 Google Play Store credit for purchasing the SHIELD, which is still going for its reduced $199 price. C'mon, you know you want to.
You don't have to spend any of that $25 on games, but if you were so inclined, it could buy SHIELD versions of Valve's Portal and Half-Life 2, and maybe a movie and a cheap album to take advantage of the device's impressive audio.