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Play Store app's "People" area, +1s on app pages may be getting phased out

It seems that two features of the Google Play Store app, the "People" area and the "+1" option on app listings, are disappearing. At this time, I've personally checked five of my devices, and only one which hadn't been powered on in months still had them.

There is a chance this is a bug or some kind of unforeseen consequence of Google making another change to the Play Store, but it seems much more likely that the removal of these features is completely intentional. Google+ doesn't get much love these days, and Google has dramatically reduced the prominence of it in its various other products, rebranded the "Sign in with Google+" button as just Google, and started to pivot the platform as a whole into more of a meeting place for interest-driven communities rather than a "social network." In light of that, killing off the more social-network-y features of the platform in connected products is only logical.

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Pokémon GO passes 100 million Play Store downloads in just a month

Holy crap, you people really like playing Pokémon. A combination of nostalgia, interesting augmented reality gameplay, straight-up social novelty, and (not least) being a free game has made Niantic's Pokémon GO rocket to 100 million downloads in the Play Store in just a month. Life isn't a race, but if it was, Pokémon GO would be so far ahead of every other game that they'd see it disappearing beneath the horizon.

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New Play Store carrier billing options in Estonia, Bulgaria, Ireland, Lithuania, and Qatar

It's been a while since we've seen any progress on the carrier billing front. Admittedly it's something of a niche feature - if you're using a smartphone there's a good chance that you also have a credit or debit card handy. But if for some reason you'd like to send your Play Store purchases to your wireless provider and pay them along with your bill at the end of the month, it's a handy option. Now it's available on a smattering of new carriers in Bulgaria, Estonia, Ireland, Lithuania, and Qatar.

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Play Store v6.9 includes sign of built-in app streaming, a VR purchase screen, a new API Level, and more [APK Teardown]

There's a new version of the Google Play Store rolling out to users right now, but it doesn't appear to be brimming with any big, bold new features. However, there are some interesting bits and pieces floating around inside of the APK that point to some of the things we can look forward to in the future. A teardown of v6.9 points to a built-in app streaming interface and a custom purchasing experience for Cardboard. There are also quite a few odd little tweaks to various other things. We're still looking for more changes, so hit the download link below and take a look around for yourself.

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Add-ons for Docs and Sheets are now on Google Play

Two years ago Google introduced extensions for Google Docs and Sheets. These third-party add-ons expanded on what the browser-based word processor and spreadsheet could do, often integrating them with online services. Now that functionality has made its way to Android.

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Family Library on Google Play is official and going live today

After nearly a year of rumors, teardowns, a vague announcement, and a false start, Google Play's Family Library is finally going live today. It will begin rolling out over the next few days to users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Other countries will surely join the list in time, but those will be the first. Family Library will allow up to six family members to share purchased content with each other without paying for additional copies.

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Google adds eight new categories to the Play Store, renames a couple more

We may all lament the state of app discoverability in the Play Store at times (it still sucks you can't do advanced searching), but at least Google is trying to improve the experience. Today it's added eight new categories and renamed two others, meaning apps will be better sorted into the relevant category, which will hopefully result in users being able to find what they're looking for quicker and easier.

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New Play Store tools help developers shrink the size of app updates

When it comes to mobile data, where customers almost always have a limited pool of access to work with, less is more. That's the principle behind the "delta" updates to apps that Google introduced way back in 2012, which in most cases allows the Play Store to download only the incrementally updated parts of an app rather than the entire APK. Now a new tweak to the delta update algorithm has made the updates themselves even smaller.

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Hey Google, a warez market called BlackMart has been in the Play Store for months and has over 100k downloads [Updated]

We occasionally see apps pulled from the Play Store for trivial (but valid) violations of the rules. Google has been more proactive about enforcing its guidelines, but it's often pointed out it could be more consistent. Case in point: there are, right now, two listings on the Play Store from a warez site called BlackMart that offers paid apps for free. One of them has been up for months and has more than 100,000 downloads. C'mon, Google.

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NBA Live Android game dunks into the Play Store

Last year EA released a companion app for the NBA Live console game that let you stick your face on a basketball player. This year, forget the gimmicks. You get a full blown NBA Live experience to play on your touchscreen.

NBA Live for Android has been undergoing geo-limited testing for quite the while now, with millions of people having already downloaded the title. Now it's openly available on Google Play.

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