When Android first came out, there were a lot of concerns about an open source OS. One of the biggest ones was, what if a company takes Android, strips everything Google out of it, and builds an entirely new platform on top of it? Well, Amazon seems dead set on making sure we know what that's like. The company has already built its own Appstore, content delivery services, and closed hardware on top of Google's baby.
Just a few days ago, we saw a hint that Google might be ready to expand its gift card program to the UK. Today, our suspicions are confirmed as the cards have started showing up at the distinctly British Tesco grocery stores. So far the only denominations confirmed are £10 and £25, though the support pages indicate that there are some £50 vouchers running around out there somewhere.
So far, Google has only seen fit to launch gift cards in the US and the UK.
A mere seven months ago, we saw the launch of Google's Play Store gift cards, a much wished-for addition to the store front that made gifting the store's digital content almost as easy as it should be. Unfortunately for international users, though, the cards were only destined for the US at launch. When "redeem pages" popped up in the UK's online and device-based stores in mid-December, many thought the cards would hit retail stores in time for the holidays.
I'm going to be up front: I want Glass. I'm thoroughly intrigued with the idea, I love the possibility of having an always-available camera that sees whatever I see, and completely hands-free Google sounds like a perfectly natural progression of the things like Google Now and voice actions. In the world where personal digital assistants seem commonplace, why should we not expect those things to be always accessible and visible?
Well, apparently there are a lot of reasons.
Sometimes, getting companies to admit what we all know is a huge game of cat and mouse. We all know, for example, that Motorola was still making phones before Google bought the company and still has to release some of those phones. We can also guess, based on the most recent Googorola announcements, that the hardware is good, but not really up to the standards we have come to expect from, say, the Nexus line.
There are a lot of security apps for Android that go a little ways into overkill territory. Whether you're talking about superfluous task managers or "virus scanners" that may provide some minimal protection while generating more fear than is warranted, Android has a persistent problem with companies applying a Windows-era mentality on a completely different OS. Secunia PSI, however, takes the cake for being one of the least effective apps on the Play Store.
Around a year and a half ago, Google removed access to paid apps from the Taiwanese Play Store after a complaint was issued claiming that the company violated a local law demanding a seven day return window. A surprisingly short court battle ensued and 8 months later Mountain View walked away with a $34k fine (you read that right), and a losing appeal. The company opted, at that point, to simply remain out of the Taiwanese market.
Google's no stranger to using web technologies to do cool, innovative things. In fact, some would say that over the last few years the company has pushed (or broken) the barriers of what a web browser is, and can be – just look at ChromeOS, for example. It's an entire OS based on the idea that you can live your digital life inside of a web browser. The thought itself is bold, but the execution could be game-changing as the OS grows and becomes more polished.
If you caught the announcement of Google Play Services 3.0, aka "Google+ Sign-In," you're already halfway up to speed on this. Google Play Services is an APK that many of Google's apps rely on to hook into Google+ and, just like the Play Store, Google has the ability to silently update it.
Andy Rubin, you coy devil. I suppose we could ignore those rumors about Google retail stores if you ask nicely and bat your eyes at us. That's what the head of Android would like us to do, anyway, as he spoke at Mobile World Congress stating that "Google has no plans [for a retail store] and we have nothing to announce."
Why not, though? This sure sounds like a good idea to a lot of us in the Android fan world.