In an interesting bit of news this evening, it looks like Google has opened up merchant support to China, allowing developers to distribute free or paid apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions in over 130 countries.
The news comes in a post to Google's official Android Developers blog, which goes on to explain that Chinese developers distributing paid apps through the Play Store will receive payment via wire transfer to a Chinese bank account in USD.
Google encourages interested Chinese developers to register on the Play Store and set up their Wallet merchant accounts to get started.
This isn't quite the news some may have hoped for, though - the opening of merchant support to China does not mean that Chinese users have access to paid apps on the Play Store.
People all over the world can create apps and get them into the Play Store, where millions of users can potentially download their software. The thing is, not everyone is able to get paid for their work. To charge money for an app, you need to live in one of the supported places. Today seven areas have joined the list. This brings the number up to just over sixty.
Jordan (US Dollars)
Lebanon (Lebanese Pounds)
Oman (US Dollars)
Pakistan (Pakistani Rupees)
Puerto Rico (US Dollars)
Qatar (US Dollars)
Venezuela (US Dollars)
For clarification, residents could already download and pay for content in these areas.
There's been a quiet trend among user interface augmentations as of late: the swipe-out app and menu bar. SwipePad is probably the progenitor (and still my go-to app), and we've featured a handful of interesting alternatives, but Edge: Quick Actions deserves special attention. This little app has managed to outdo Google itself by making the Recents function (the right-most button on the default navigation configuration) obsolete.
How so? Instead of tapping a button and then tapping the app you want to switch to, Edge embeds the last five open apps into a quick-firing mini-launcher that comes across the screen as a ribbon.
Google, citing "ongoing challenges," will be ending the distribution of paid apps from Argentina in the Play Store effective June 27th, "at which point the apps will be unpublished."
Google's official statement on the issue (published on its Developer Support site) doesn't go into too much detail regarding the "ongoing challenges" involved in distributing paid apps from Argentina, and an email sent to developers (reported by Celularis) doesn't offer any more information, though both suggest that Argentine developers who are legally able to do business in another country transfer their applications to a merchant account registered in that country.
I know many of you have been longing for a way to filter the apps you've paid for into one convenient list. Neither the web nor the app Play Store currently allow this, despite years of outcry. Things are looking up, however, as I believe Google is finally paying attention.
You see, there is a little-known official channel with current top suggestions for Play Store-related features called Suggest a feature for Google Play. You can suggest your own ideas at the bottom, but it also contains a curated list of current top suggestions you can vote for by clicking Suggest it (I think it's a little ambiguous to have a Suggest it button in a list of existing suggestions - it should probably be called Vote for it).
As if there weren't enough contenders out there for music subscription service, Slacker Radio has updated its business model. You can still get the standard ad-supported radio station features that were always available. However the company has added a Spotify-like buffet option for $10/month. Pony up the dough and you can remove all ads and listen to as many tracks as you want.
The combination is pretty powerful, as one of the biggest complaints over Spotify is its discovery problems. Slacker Radio never really dethroned Pandora, but it did offer some stiff competition. There has been relatively little overlap between radio and subscription services.
At last, my collection is complete. Just the other day I received my invite to the beta of Redbox Instant. I was excited. The idea sounds great: it's like Netflix, but you also get four monthly credits at Redbox rental kiosks! Awesome, right? What's that? Verizon has something to do with it? Well, no matter. It's not exclusive to the carrier's handsets, so I'm sure it's nothing to worry about! I'm ready to get my hands all up on this thing.
Oh, how naïve I was.
I'm going to start by taking a look at the desktop site and the service as a whole, but don't worry, we'll get to the Android bit in its own section.
One of the bigger mobile games that still somehow manages to disappear under the marketing behemoth of Angry Birds is Cut the Rope. Now, the company behind that title has released a new adventure: Pudding Monsters. The basic gist is, there is red, gelatinous pudding in the fridge, and man is the guy who owns that fridge a jerk. He keeps eating all of these clearly-sentient and terrified desert creatures. Help them!
The game is played in stages, much like Cut The Rope, and requires some problem-solving skills to get the job done. You move, manipulate, and merge the wiggling piles of goo, all while avoiding dangerous baddies on the kitchen table until your googly-eyed friends escape to safety.
I've been waiting for an Android game that gets touchscreen real-time strategy right for a long time. And I think I may have found it in Desert Stormfront, just posted to the Google Play Store by "Age of Conquest" developer Noble Master Games. It's an old-school, sprite-based strategy game in the vein of Command & Conquer or Age of Empires.
But instead of dumbing down the complexity for mobile users, the developers have adapted the mouse-and-keyboard controls for gaming on a touchscreen - though I have to admit it works much, much better on a tablet than on a smartphone. For example, the common unit groups used in PC RTS games (Control-1, et cetera) are adapted into on-screen buttons, and the screen-filling menus are now dynamic, appearing only when you need them.
We've heard developers gripe that paid apps are very rarely successful numerous times in the past, be it because of piracy or because Android owners simply aren't willing to pay. About a year ago, we asked how many apps readers had purchased in the last month; 71% had purchased 2 or less, and 45% hadn't purchased any at all. But that was a year ago, and Android is a much more mature OS now. Time for an updated poll.