While Google's been working feverishly to build out its Play Store, bringing it to other countries and expanding its offerings, the company's music store has been lacking one crucial feature that its competitors have: library matching. Where Amazon and iTunes can scan your current collection and add the songs to your online storage, Google has, until recently, required users to upload every individual track manually. A long and tedious process. In mid-November, the scan and match feature came out for Europe, and today it arrives for US residents.
Yesterday, the gift card redeem page went live in the UK's Google Play Store, suggesting that gift cards will be hitting the scene relatively soon. It looks like Google is already gearing up for launch, as the option just showed up in the mobile Play Store, as well.
Of course, there's still one major problem: Play Store cards can't yet be purchased anywhere in the UK. In fact, they're not available anywhere aside from the U.S.
Mobile advertising is an unavoidable part of the Android experience - in fact, some would make the case that it's the whole reason for Android coming to exist in its current form. But that doesn't meant that it can't be improved. So Google's AdMob team has been looking at ways of making delivered ads both less intrusive and more functional, namely by cutting down on unwanted activations.
According to the post on Google's Mobile Ads Blog, accidental and non-intentional taps on the ad space are one of the biggest problems they've had to deal with.
It seems like we can't go more than a week or two without hearing that one of Google's content services has rolled out to a new country. Today, Russia is getting in on the action with Play Books and Movies now available throughout the country. You can purchase books like normal, and movies are available both for rental and purchase.
Prices for movie rentals start at around 49 rubles (USD$1.60) and purchases start at 99 rubles (USD$3.22).
Sure, "in-app purchases" becomes a bit of a dirty phrase when we're talking about games that abuse the privilege, but they're a critical element of any profitable app ecosystem, and today Google's making a bunch of IAP features easier and smoother for developers and, by extension, you. Here are some of the new improvements.
Easier Purchasing Implementation
Previously, if you bought an item in an app, the purchase was handled via an "asynchronous notification through a background service." This meant that the app would call out to Google to announce a purchase, but then have to talk to a separate service in order to find out how it went.
One of the biggest problems with the Play Store is that, compared to certain other platforms, its international support for both products and payment systems is comparatively meager. This is, of course, one of the main reasons that earning revenue on Android seems harder for developers. Starting today, though, if you live in Australia and use Telstra, you have one more way to pay: carrier billing.
The rollout comes with special thanks to mobile payment platform Bango.
I hope you like Google Now, because it looks like this product is here to stay for a long time. As we speak, Chrome developers are working on bringing Popular Science's Innovation of the Year to the desktop, instead of keeping it trapped just on your phone or tablet. As it turns out, a "skeleton" framework is already in place for the search product to move in.
Google's not being shy about the existence of this product, but also isn't in a hurry to announce it, either:
There are no shortage of image editors on Android. Even Adobe, which makes the class-leading Photoshop, has a version of its editor on the platform. Today, though, Google gets one of its very own: Snapseed. You may recall this particular piece of software when it was demoed by NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at CES this year. At the time, it was only available on the iPad where it had won App of the Year in 2011.