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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're the type of person that has to flash developer previews and sign up for every beta program available, being the first to try new apps is probably also pretty high on your list of things to do. Google has you covered. Announced last month during I/O, the Play Store is launching an "Early Access" program to give people like us a place to find apps that are mostly operational, but not quite ready for prime time. A few people found that they had early access to Early Access a few days ago, but now it looks like everybody is welcome to the club.