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[I/O 2015] Google Is Working On Smarter Play Store Search

Besides new family-friendly and kid-friendly efforts on search and discovery in the Play Store, Google announced during its keynote today that Play Store search will be getting smarter overall.

Specifically, Google wants to more effectively surface apps when users search for vague or topical queries. The example given in the screenshot above shows the user searching for "shopping" apps. The Play Store then returns, of course, shopping apps. But those apps are then categorized intelligently into different sub-genres like Fashion and Coupons.

This may seem like a small tweak to most users, but - if Google is right - it will help introduce users to the right app when the user is not sure exactly what they're looking for, which is a good step in helping along discoverability in the Play Store as a whole.

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[I/O 2015] Google Opens Up A/B Testing For Play Store Listings For Developers

When it comes to getting users to your app, your Play Store listing counts for a lot. What users see (and read) when they reach your app's listing can make or break their decision to download or buy, so carefully crafting a good listing is important.

To that end, Google has announced that it will open up what amounts to A/B testing for Play Store listings, meaning developers can play with their listings by testing different screenshots, graphics, etc. to see what performs better and end up with the best possible listing.

To facilitate this, Google will add "Listing Experiments" to the Play Store developer console.

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Google Play Store Updated To 5.6.6 With Layout Changes And Possible Groundwork For Kids' Accounts [APK Download And Mini-Teardown]

There's a new version of the Play Store rolling out, and that means you're probably obsessively hunting for the APK. Well, we've got that. More importantly we've taken a look inside the APK to see if there's anything of note. There are some minor layout alterations, but also some interesting clues inside.

Left: older layout, Right: Newer layout

Left: older layout, Right: newer layout - ignore the Nexus S

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[Deal Alert] 12 Episodes Of Comedy Central Shows Are Currently Free In The Google Play Store

Google has decided to bless us with some free stuff, as they are apt to do. This time, you can own each of 12 episodes of shows on Comedy Central by just heading over there and grabbing them, free of charge. Each episode comes from a different program, which is probably just the network trying to give people a reason to get familiar with their offerings. Google, on the other hand, wants to remind you that the Play Store is a good option to buy this sort of thing.

Here's what's on offer:

  • Key & Peele, Season 4 - Episode 1: "Alien Imposters"
  • Big Time in Hollywood, FL, Season 1 - Episode 1: "Severance"
  • Nathan For You, Season 1 - Episode 1: "Yogurt Shop/Pizzeria"
  • Kroll Show, Season 3 - Episode 1: "Gigolo H-O-R-S-E"
  • Drunk History, Season 1 - Episode 1: "Washington D.C."
  • Workaholics, Season 1 - Episode 1: "Piss & S**t"
  • This Is Not Happening, Season 1 - Episode 1: "Brain on Drugs"
  • RENO 911!
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Combine Cute Little Critters And Their Powers In Cartoon Network's Mixels Rush For $2.99

I remember the Cartoon Network of the early 2000s, back when shows like the Powerpuff Girls, Johnny Bravo, and Ed, Edd n Eddy were the latest things out. But the channel has moved on to a new generation. These days I find myself writing about cartoons I've never heard of, like Steven Universe and Mixels. The latter apparently involves tribes of colorful creatures that defend Mixel Land from destructive things called Nixels.

Now there's a new game for Android called Mixels Rush... and it involves mixing Mixels to combat Nixels (what did I even just say?).

Mixels Rush requires you to get to the right side of a level before Major Nixel's Nixelstorm catches up with you.

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Hexy Launcher From SwiftKey Greenhouse Is A Weird Homescreen Replacement That Dumps Your Apps Onto A Hexagonal Grid

Android app drawers come in all shapes and sizes, but most stick to the same basic formula. There's a homescreen with apps, folders, and widgets. Everything else is tucked away inside the app drawer.

Well, that isn't the case with Hexy. This experimental third-party launcher takes the apps that would otherwise be in your drawer and dumps them all over your homescreen. There they reside in a sea of hexagonal tiles. If you've ever seen an Apple Watch and thought there's a method of managing apps I can get behind, here's your chance.

Hexy3 Hexy1

In the center of the screen there's a group of hexagons that contain your most used apps.

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HTC's Exclusive Mail App Arrives In The Play Store

Like other manufacturers, HTC has made it a thing to publish its stock apps to Google Play, allowing for easier updates. The latest addition is HTC Mail.

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Twitch For Android Gets New On-Demand Streaming Video, New App Icon, And A New Play Store Listing In The Latest Update

Why did the Twitch app move from its old Play Store listing at "tv.twitch.android.viewer" to a new one at "tv.twitch.android.app?" Beats me - maybe it's because the added functionality in version 4.0 makes it more of a "full" interface for the popular streaming game video service, as opposed to simply a viewer. You still can't stream video directly from your Android device, but now you've got access to the whole expansive collection of gameplay videos.

2015-05-21 16.36.18

In particular, that includes previously-recorded video sessions and highlights, which used to be off-limits to the Android app for some reason. Twitch calls these "on-demand" videos, which is an odd way of classifying videos that aren't actually streaming live right at this moment.

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eBay's Close5 Android App Lets You Buy And Sell Locally In San Francisco, San Diego, And Las Vegas

There isn't a person reading this site that hasn't already heard of eBay. The site has been around since the 90s and allows folks to buy and sell stuff all over the world. Now the company is working on a service that lets people sell exclusively in their local area. It's called Close5, and it's now available for Android. Unfortunately, most of us can't use it just yet.

Close5 currently only serves the San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego, and Las Vegas. The app provides the ability to sign in with your Facebook account, list an item, message privately with a potential buyer, and arrange a meetup in a public place to complete the sale.

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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Releases Moon Tours App To Satiate Your Lunar Curiosity

I imagine for the folks at NASA, the Moon has become kind of boring. The organization has been launching stuff at that floating rock since the 60s. It has sent rockets, people, and unmanned probes. And that doesn't even count the work others around the world have contributed to our understanding on the satellite. People have been staring up at that thing for as long as we've been a species.

Needless to say, quite a bit of information about the Moon has surfaced in that time. We've named craters, measured slopes, mapped minerals, and otherwise produced enough data to leave a person feeling lost.

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