About a month ago we spotted two new entries in the country availability listings for the new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio: Taiwan and India. Today both of those are coming true (though India is somewhat conditional - see below), and you can add Hong Kong into the mix. For both Hong Kong and Taiwan, the streaming gadgets are now available on their respective Google Stores. The Chromecast 2015 and Chromecast Audio are HK$349 (around $45 USD) in Hong Kong and NT$1445 ($44.75) in Taiwan.
In India, things are a little more complicated. The new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio aren't available directly from the Google Store.
The original Chromecast was a streaming sensation thanks to ease of use and a low price point. The second generation, while generally well-received, still hasn't made its way to all of Google's various international markets. The next countries to get a chance to buy the Chromecast 2015 and its little brother the Chromecast Audio appear to be India and Taiwan. Both countries were recently added to Google's official hardware availability page.
After launching in Japan earlier this month, Netflix is set to expand its Asian presence in early 2016 by adding 4 countries to its availability map. If you live in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, or Taiwan, you'll be happy to know that the video streaming service is coming to your neck of the woods (or rainforest) next year. At least you'll no longer be forced to VPN your way to the US to get Netflix working.
This expansion is part of the company's plan to reach more countries and more potential customers worldwide as quickly as possible. Italy, Portugal, and Spain are getting the service next month, and you can guess that more countries will be joining in later on.
A new update to Google Play's "Accepted Payment Methods" page has revealed a lot of changes to the direct billing section. First and foremost is the addition of 3 new carriers in Taiwan: Chunghwa Telecom, the country's leading operator with over 11M subscribers (according to Wikipedia), as well as Asia Pacific Telecom and T Star, the fourth and fifth ranked operators, respectively. These join previously supported Taiwan Mobile and FarEasTone Telecom, which have the second and third largest subscriber base in Taiwan.
The second change affects several countries and is merely a matter of designating operators by their official names instead of sticking with their parent companies or older brand names.
It may be taking longer than many potential customers would like, but Google is still working on bringing its goods and services to interested parties around the world. Today, those in New Zealand and Taiwan will be happy to find that the Play Store now has a "Devices" section in their countries.
For now, it seems that only the Nexus 9 and the Chromecast are available in these two countries, but this is still a promising development.
Thanks for the screenshots, Shaun!
If you're in New Zealand or Taiwan and haven't already got your hands on Google's latest tablet or trusty media streamer, head over to the Play Store and go wild.
With all the limited promotions, holiday sales, and convoluted pre-order schemes, you'd think that OnePlus would get it freakin' over with and just sell the flagship One phone directly to consumers already. And they will... for just one day. Considerably less than one day, in fact, since the promotion will actually only be available for two hours, 7-9PM Eastern Standard Time. That's in North America - in Europe it will go on sale at 7-9PM Greenwich Mean Time, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan it goes on sale from 7-9PM Hong Kong Time (presumably tomorrow, since it's already passed for the 20th).
Play Movies is hardly a one-stop-shop for all of your video consuming needs on a mobile device, but that doesn't mean it's not a convenient option to have around. People throughout nine countries predominantly concentrated in Europe can now choose to turn to Google to rent or purchase certain films. The service has expanded to new countries, many of which also recently received Play Music.
If you click on the red Play Movies icon on an Android device in Macedonia, what you will see should look something like this.
If you're in Ukraine, this is what the app will look like.
We've heard about the newest HTC Butterfly before from Japanese carrier KDDI, but now HTC is officially welcoming it into the Butterfly family. That's not a name you hear much in the US, but it's one of HTC's premier brands overseas. This device will be known as the J Butterfly HTL23 in Japan and the Butterfly 2 in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout Southeast Asia. It's a reasonably high end device, but it's not all metal like the M8. As a tradeoff, it's water-resistant.
As we saw late last week, ASUS is looking to bring its unique Padfone concept to different form factors and price points. Enter the Padfone Mini, a new entry in the series that retains the dockable phone-tablet hybrid idea but shrinks it down to make it more affordable. The phone itself isn't much smaller at 4.3", but the tablet dock now has a 7-inch screen instead of 10, not to mention a vertical orientation.
The hardware inside is decidedly mid-range as well, and the tablet dock roughly matches some of the least expensive slates in ASUS' lineup. The smartphone core uses a qHD screen, a 1.4Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, a disappointing 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (plus MicroSD card slot), and an 8 megapixel rear camera.