The reviews for apps on the Play Store are important, not just for potential users, but for developers and publishers as well: scores during the first few weeks of availability can make or break a new service or game. This being the case, it's disheartening to see a new trend among Play Store reviews: attention-seeking reviewers that give an app one star just so that their review will show up higher on the app's page.
If you've perused the Google Play Store on the web in the last few days, you may have noticed something missing: the Action Bar, wherein you usually find the drop-down links to app categories, top charts, the Play Store settings menu, and other important stuff. We've noticed it too, and we've got no explanation. In addition to making it impossible to browse apps by category or popularity on the web, it's blocking access to the links to My Orders, Settings, and the Android Device Manager, at least from the main Play Store page.
You don't have to spend much time on the Play Store to see that games are a big part of the service and the platform. Google has already done a lot to highlight gaming with Play Store categories and landing page promotions, but starting in February, developers and end users will have roughly three times as many categories to browse through. The new game categories are as follows:
- Role Playing
That's seventeen categories, up from the previous six (Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino, Casual, Racing, and Sports Games).
Nexus phones tend to be in extremely high demand just after release, but right now Google has one that's shipping in two days. If you order the white version of the Nexus 5 32GB at the moment, you can get it considerably faster than any of the other models... yes, perhaps even in time for Christmas. The Play Store shows it shipping in 1-2 days, meaning that UPS would be speeding it to you by Thursday at the latest.
Chromecast has been slowly but steadily adding support from major media apps since it launched: Hulu Plus, Pandora, and HBO GO have joined Netflix and Google's own Play Music, Play Movies, and YouTube. Apparently the Big G thinks this is enough to warrant a dedicated sub-section of the Play Store, as spotted by Google Operating System. Depending on your device and its resolution, it might show up on the main Apps page or necessitate a quick swipe to the left to open the Categories menu.
They've done it with the camera. They've done it with Touchless Control and Migrate. They've even done it with the FM Radio from the brand new Moto G. Now Motorola is moving even more of its proprietary phone apps into Google Play Land, presumably to allow for more frequent and reliable updates. Today Motorola Assist and Motorola Connect, both exclusive to the Moto X and Verizon's new Motorola DROID phones, are available on the Play Store.
Flaming red and safety vest yellow might accessorize well if you're a firefighter with an insatiable enthusiasm for Nexus hardware, but they'll stand out like a sore thumb for anyone else. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if you prefer your Nexus 5 protective case in a more subtle hue, Google just posted both black and grey versions of the bumper case to the Play Store.
Like the more flamboyant options, the grey and black cases are $34.99 each, and they cover everything except the screen and camera.
Google's long, slow journey towards bringing Play Store media to all corners of the globe has advanced another step today: the Movies section has opened up to Android and web users in Italy. Italian readers can check the Play Store on their phone, tablet, or PC to see what's available for rent or purchase. At present it looks like most of the major American studios are on board for the new territory.
It's about bloody time. Starting today, some of HBO's most popular currently-running original programming is available for purchase on the Google Play Store. For starters the fantasy drama Game of Thrones (seasons one and two), urban fantasy True Blood (seasons one through five), and political drama The Newsroom (season one) are available. Episodes are $2.99 for the dramas and $1.99 for The Newsroom, with small discounts for buying a full season.
You hear a lot of reports about malware and other undesirable third-party apps these days, especially from security researchers (and people who want to sell you something to make you feel safe). It's undeniable that malicious apps are a problem on an open system, but new data from Google indicates that the amount of actual harm being done might be negligible. QZ.com reports on a presentation from Google's Android Security Chief Adrian Ludwig at the Virus Conference in Berlin.