At the end of last year, Google promised a big Play Store reorganization during which the 8 existing game categories would be cleaned up and expanded to 18. Two of the categories (Widgets and Live Wallpapers) weren't even games at all - they somehow ended up there and bothered everyone who noticed ever since.
Good news, everyone! Well, everyone in four very specific European countries, anyway. After stretching the Movies section of the Play Store today, Google is also spreading Play Music to Greece, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden. Users in these countries should now be able to purchase songs and albums starting today.
Even better, all four new territories can access the all-you-can-eat All Access music subscription service. That's generally been the way it works - currently all twenty-five countries supported by Google Play Music also have access to All Access.
Google just pushed an update to the Play Movies & TV app with one big change – support for Play Movies in a ton of new countries. We count 37 in total, but the app's changelog says there are over 40. Either way, that's a lot of new places to get video from Google Play. That's in addition to the big Music expansion today. [Update: We spotted Aruba as well. It's been added to the list.]
There are many reasons to pick up a Google Play gift card. Whether someone's birthday is coming up, you don't have your own credit card, or just you want to force yourself to stick to a budget, gift cards can make it easier to scratch a Google Play itch. Google's gradually rolled out availability to a handful of countries around the world, and it looks like the latest locale to make the list will be Hong Kong.
Google Now is a powerful tool. A step toward Google's vision of a Star Trek computer in the palm of your hand, Now is built to serve up information that you need, exactly when you need it, without you asking for it.
To that end, the service has seen many improvements since its debut. It will tell you when your favorite teams are playing, when you need to leave to make it to the airport on time, whether your plane is delayed, and plenty of info about your destination and surrounding attractions, among numerous other things.
Google is really dropping the ball with regard to surfacing Chromecast enabled apps in the Play Store. Sure, there's that Chromecast app page, but that's just a tiny fraction of all the apps and games with support for Chromecast now that third-parties have been turned loose. Enter Cast Store, which aggregates a bunch of apps with Chromecast support.
Our friends across the pond will no longer have to resort to importing a Chromecast from the US as of March 19th. That's apparently the day Google's streaming dongle is set to hit shelves in the UK. At least one retailer already has the device in stock and has alerted employees to the impeding launch.
It's a foregone conclusion at this point that Google is getting into the wearables game with a smart watch sometime this year. The specifics for the device are still somewhat hazy, but now we have an idea what the specs might be thanks to noted leaker of things, @evleaks.
More Google (LG) smartwatch specs: 1.65" IPS LCD @ 280x280, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, processor TBD.
— @evleaks (@evleaks) March 13, 2014
According to @evleaks, the device is being made by LG and will have a 1.65-inch LCD running a resolution of 280x280.
One more app that took part in Update Wednesday yesterday is the official Chromecast app, which helps users set up their new Chromecasts to work with their phone or tablet. The app got bumped from 1.3.10 to 1.5.3 and while Google has published its own short change log, we of course couldn't resist doing a quick teardown to see if there were any other goodies. First though, here's what Google says is new.
Chromecast support came a little early to the Plex app, but it also came with a catch – only premium PlexPass subscribers could use it. That was only a temporary situation, as the developers added features and improved the feature. Now the preview period is over and everyone can enjoy Plex's excellent content streaming with Chromecast support without a subscription.