As we get closer and closer to Google I/O, speculation inevitably ramps up about what Mountain View will be unveiling this year to set the Android world on fire. The most likely plans involve boosting Play Store features and availability, given the recent push not only to expand into new countries, but to frame the Nexus line as a great content consumption platform. If Fortune is right, then Google may have a huge axe to swing in that battle with not one, but two different subscription music services coming soon.
Just a few days ago, we saw a hint that Google might be ready to expand its gift card program to the UK. Today, our suspicions are confirmed as the cards have started showing up at the distinctly British Tesco grocery stores. So far the only denominations confirmed are £10 and £25, though the support pages indicate that there are some £50 vouchers running around out there somewhere.
So far, Google has only seen fit to launch gift cards in the US and the UK.
In what seems to be a fairly arbitrary move, Google has trimmed the fat from the Play Store's Nexus 7 cover selection. The lineup, which formerly included pink, light blue, and gray, has been cut down to just the light blue color in the US, with the pink cover variant appearing outside the US. The gray cover has been axed completely.
Now that Andy Rubin himself has officially snubbed what were apparently rather strong rumors of Google opening its own retail stores in the US, there's a lot of humdrum floating around about whether or not a Google Store would actually make sense.
On the one hand, with its increasing arsenal of hardware products on the Play Store, Google definitely has a wide enough selection of toys to at least give a standalone brick and mortar location (or two) a shot.
A mere seven months ago, we saw the launch of Google's Play Store gift cards, a much wished-for addition to the store front that made gifting the store's digital content almost as easy as it should be. Unfortunately for international users, though, the cards were only destined for the US at launch. When "redeem pages" popped up in the UK's online and device-based stores in mid-December, many thought the cards would hit retail stores in time for the holidays.
As an addendum to the announcement of Google completing AOSP rollout for Android 4.2.2, I wanted to highlight a big milestone for the Nexus program - something that has never been the case before today.
After asking JBQ (not to be confused with JDQ39) a follow-up question, I was able to get some clarity on his earlier post and confirm that as of today, with the release of Android 4.2.2 binaries, we have for the first time ever Nexus devices that have 100% of proprietary binaries available.
As the old saying goes, "when it rains, it pours down binaries for Nexus devices." That old idiom is proven true once again today, as Google has just uploaded the latest batch of binaries to the Nexus Device download page.
The binaries essentially contain the proprietary hardware drivers that you won't find in AOSP for their specific devices. This go around it's for Android 4.2.2 (build JDQ39) for all of the latest Nexus gadgets: the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 Wi-Fi, Nexus 7 3G, Nexus 10, GSM Galaxy Nexus, and VZW Galaxy Nexus.
Sometimes, getting companies to admit what we all know is a huge game of cat and mouse. We all know, for example, that Motorola was still making phones before Google bought the company and still has to release some of those phones. We can also guess, based on the most recent Googorola announcements, that the hardware is good, but not really up to the standards we have come to expect from, say, the Nexus line.
Around a year and a half ago, Google removed access to paid apps from the Taiwanese Play Store after a complaint was issued claiming that the company violated a local law demanding a seven day return window. A surprisingly short court battle ensued and 8 months later Mountain View walked away with a $34k fine (you read that right), and a losing appeal. The company opted, at that point, to simply remain out of the Taiwanese market.
I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn't Eric Schmidt talking. The interview is pretty mediocre and feels scripted and robotic otherwise, but just watch what he says around 1:50.
It's now officially my #1 favorite Matias Duarte quote.
Update: Looks like the CNNInternational's YouTube video is not available in the U.S. of all places (I did not notice this as I was posting from Barcelona).