There are definitely a few features lacking in the way paid content is handled in Google Play – gift codes and free-to-paid app transition, for starters. According Google's GDC announcement, the company isn't addressing those issues in particular, but some other features are coming to Google Play in the form of some new developer options and support for in-game gifts.
Our friends across the pond will no longer have to resort to importing a Chromecast from the US as of March 19th. That's apparently the day Google's streaming dongle is set to hit shelves in the UK. At least one retailer already has the device in stock and has alerted employees to the impeding launch.
Google has updated its support pages and started sending out emails to alert users of Google Wallet to an upcoming change in the way NFC payments work. As of April 14th, tap and pay will require KitKat or higher. Older devices will no longer be supported after that date.
The reason for the change is Google's desire to only use Host Card Emulation (HCE) to make NFC payments work. That feature was introduced in Android 4.4, so it's the end of the line for Jelly Bean and earlier devices.
It's a foregone conclusion at this point that Google is getting into the wearables game with a smart watch sometime this year. The specifics for the device are still somewhat hazy, but now we have an idea what the specs might be thanks to noted leaker of things, @evleaks.
More Google (LG) smartwatch specs: 1.65" IPS LCD @ 280x280, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, processor TBD.
— @evleaks (@evleaks) March 13, 2014
According to @evleaks, the device is being made by LG and will have a 1.65-inch LCD running a resolution of 280x280.
There comes a point in a person's life when he or she may be looking for a new device of some sort, and trying to fulfill multiple roles at once could be important. For example, a tablet/laptop hybrid may be sought after by someone who doesn't have the disposable income to justify having one of each. These types of devices – like recently-announced ASUS Transformer Book Duet – are, in my opinion, a great option in that situation.
One more app that took part in Update Wednesday yesterday is the official Chromecast app, which helps users set up their new Chromecasts to work with their phone or tablet. The app got bumped from 1.3.10 to 1.5.3 and while Google has published its own short change log, we of course couldn't resist doing a quick teardown to see if there were any other goodies. First though, here's what Google says is new.
A new update to the Google Wallet app is rolling out today to all Android devices running v4.0 or higher. It's not just a maintenance update this time – Google has added a new feature called Orders. Can you guess what it does? Yes, it tracks online orders, but it tracks virtually all your orders, not just those made with Wallet.
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.
It's no mystery that Google has been poking around wearable gadgets for quite some time. The list of projects seems to keep growing as we hear about rumors of an LG-made smartwatch, another prototype watch designed by Motorola, and of course, Google's own Glass. Earlier today at SXSW, Sundar Pichai took to the stage to announce plans to release a brand new SDK for Android-based wearable devices in about two weeks.