In times past, we've seen Google add new countries to its list of supported territories for Google Maps Navigation shortly before we see the update itself rollout. Today, there's been a pretty huge change to that document that added 10 new nations including Bulgaria, Estonia, Ghana, Iceland, Ivory Coast, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Senegal and Slovakia (for some reason Singapore appears to have been added to the list, even though that nation already has Navigation).
It's hard out there for a photo app these days. After the runaway success of Instagram, a lot of imitators popped up thinking that if they offered the same "snap, filter and share" features, users would flock to them, as well.
Sadly, this means that we have legions of piss-poor imitations without any clear alternatives; as the filter features became more ubiquitous, they almost provoke a roll of the eyes when announced.
What's in this version:
- New feature: Google+ Communities
- Support for full resolution photo uploads via Instant Upload
- Subscribe to any circle for notifications
- Support for time zones in Events
- Basic profile editing
- Integration with Google Now to send birthday wishes to friends
- Support for animated GIFs
- Express your mood via animated images in posts
- View and explore Photo Sphere images (Android 4.2+)
- Add the Google+ widget to your device’s lock screen (Android 4.2+)
Google has been pretty consistent over the last several months about bringing new features to its up-and-coming social network.
Mobile advertising is an unavoidable part of the Android experience - in fact, some would make the case that it's the whole reason for Android coming to exist in its current form. But that doesn't meant that it can't be improved. So Google's AdMob team has been looking at ways of making delivered ads both less intrusive and more functional, namely by cutting down on unwanted activations.
According to the post on Google's Mobile Ads Blog, accidental and non-intentional taps on the ad space are one of the biggest problems they've had to deal with.
Google Currents is not the only Android app the company updated today as many first-party apps saw relatively minor updates through the Play Store this afternoon. Basically, the next time you check your app list be prepared to wait on those updates to download.
If you are one of the few still using a Google TV device, the PrimeTime and TV Search apps have been updated. PrimeTime comes with bugfixes and faster access to the channel guide.
It seems like we can't go more than a week or two without hearing that one of Google's content services has rolled out to a new country. Today, Russia is getting in on the action with Play Books and Movies now available throughout the country. You can purchase books like normal, and movies are available both for rental and purchase.
Prices for movie rentals start at around 49 rubles (USD$1.60) and purchases start at 99 rubles (USD$3.22).
In an update to version 4.2.16, Google's YouTube app has received a (thankfully) refreshed UI for ten-inch screens, along with some bug fixes. The "revamped" UI seems to be the only thing of note in this update (though if there are any hidden goodies, you can be sure Ron will tell us about them soon), but it makes for a great refresh. For the sake of comparison, we'll take a look at a few before and after shots.
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
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.
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.
I hope you like Google Now, because it looks like this product is here to stay for a long time. As we speak, Chrome developers are working on bringing Popular Science's Innovation of the Year to the desktop, instead of keeping it trapped just on your phone or tablet. As it turns out, a "skeleton" framework is already in place for the search product to move in.
Google's not being shy about the existence of this product, but also isn't in a hurry to announce it, either: