One of the more far-reaching Android Police stories this year was our exclusive write-up of Virus Shield, an impressively popular anti-virus app that managed to make it to the top of the Play Store's sales charts in less than a week, despite the fact that it did absolutely nothing. After digging into the app's code, Artem Russakovskii and various Android Police readers found that it was nothing more than a few images and a toggle.
Google's regular expansion of carrier billing, which lets customers charge apps and and other purchases to their next wireless bill, has been mostly focused on Europe for the last year or so. But if you're a customer of the Total Access Communication Public Company Limited of Thailand, better known as "DTAC," you now have the option as well. According to the support page for the Play Store's carrier billing, DTAC joined the list late last night.
Carrier billing for the Play Store is slowly, slowly making its way across Europe, which probably isn't much comfort for those who want it and still can't access it. If you happen to be in Germany and use the third-largest carrier in the country, you no longer have to wait. German carrier E-Plus was added to the list of carrier billing supporters yesterday.
For the uninitiated, carrier billing allows users to buy apps, songs, books, movies, and in-app purchases by charging the amount to their carrier bill instead of a credit or debit card.
Good news, everyone! Well, everyone in four very specific European countries, anyway. After stretching the Movies section of the Play Store today, Google is also spreading Play Music to Greece, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden. Users in these countries should now be able to purchase songs and albums starting today.
Even better, all four new territories can access the all-you-can-eat All Access music subscription service. That's generally been the way it works - currently all twenty-five countries supported by Google Play Music also have access to All Access.
Attention, parents: if you've used your Google account to buy apps, books, videos, or music on Google Play, your credit card information is stored. If you give your phone or tablet to your kids, they might be able to buy stuff that you don't necessarily want. That's a lesson that Ilana Imber-Gluck learned after her 5-year-old son spent $65.95 on Marvel Run Jump Smash. Unsurprisingly, she chafed at the experience, suing Google in a northern California court on behalf of herself and "all others similarly situated."
The central issue seems to be a 30-minute window after downloading an app, during which the user - whoever that might be - can rack up in-app purchases without supplying a password.
Owners of the Nickelodeon Edition of the kid-friendly Nabi 2 tablet have probably been somewhat jealous of their non-Nick counterparts, which got an over-the-air update back in December which added compatibility with the Google Play Store. Or maybe it's just the parents of the owners who care. In either case, the Nickelodeon Edition Nabi 2 now has access to the Play Store courtesy of the latest OTA.
In addition to the Google Play Store (accessible in "Mommy or Daddy Mode"), version 2 of the software adds Wings Explorer, a huge collection of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic lessons aimed at kids.
Were you excited to hear the Google Play is getting an expanded list of game categories? Well curb your enthusiasm - the switch to the expanded list was tentatively scheduled for "February," but as one reader noticed, the new categories haven't been implemented yet. The relevant Play Store support page has been modified, and now it says that the change will come sometime "around March."
Switching from the old list of just six categories to an expanded 17 (which contain the original six plus more specific sub-genres) would be a boon to both Android users and developers.
The list of cell phone carriers supporting bill payments for Google Play Store purchases is slowly (sloooooowly) growing. Today Google Play's official support page added Bell in Canada and Orange in Spain to the full list, bringing the number of compatible carriers in both nations to two. Previously only Rogers/Fido was supported in Canada and Movistar was supported in Spain.
This news might not be a surprise to some Bell customers - Canadian gadget site MobileSyrup reports that the carrier confirmed Google Play billing exactly one month ago, but for some reason it hasn't been added to Google's support page until now.
If you're a dedicated gamer who's wary of the ever-present freemium model (or an Android blogger who's tired of reaching for his phone for every app in the roundup), there's good news tonight. A recent adjustment of the Google Play Store website will let you know whether an app features in-app purchases or not. It appears just below the Install button, right next to the drop-down list of compatible devices.
This change mirrors the one made to the on-device Play Store back in December.
Root users get all the fun. Case in point: there's a debug menu built into the Play Store APK, and only those with access to root can sneak a look at it. This isn't exactly a secret - the debug menu has been there for quite a while - but one of our readers brought an easy method for displaying it to our attention. You'll need root, the flexible Xposed Installer, and the "All Apps In Play Store" Xposed module.