Android Police

Apps/Games

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Politicians finally realize loot boxes are thinly veiled gambling, introduce bill to combat

U.S. senator Josh Hawley has announced the outline for a bill that could apply new consumer protections to video games played by minors. Specifically, it targets games played by those younger than eighteen years of age and aims to prohibit several forms of abusive monetization practices, such as loot boxes and pay-to-win elements. The goal is to have the Federal Trade Commission enforce the bill's proposed rules by treating the distribution of any offending games as unfair trade practices.

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24 temporarily free and 24 on-sale apps and games for I/O Wednesday

Good afternoon, and welcome back to some app sales. It's been a crazy week with Google I/O – the fatigue is real – so I took some time this morning to rest, which is why this is so late in the day. You'll have to forgive me, especially since there's not a whole lot good to be had today.

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Google Play Store now has 98% fewer apps using SMS and call permissions

One of the Google's main focuses in Android recently has been cutting back on permissions, for better or worse. The Play Store has been more restrictive on applications allowed to use SMS and calling permissions, which famously crippled apps like Cerberus and Watch Droid. Google announced today at I/O that the number of apps using these permissions has dropped by 98% in recent months.

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[Update: Restored] Kiwi Browser removed from Play Store due to YouTube background playback

Chromium-based Kiwi Browser attracted widespread attention last month after it added support for desktop Chrome extensions. The app recently vanished from the Play Store, and while some assumed it was due to the browser's new extension support, it was apparently removed due to its ability to play YouTube videos in the background — functionality that is supposed to be reserved for the native YouTube app with a Premium subscription.

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Tencent pulls PUBG from Chinese market, ready with China-friendly replacement

Reuters has reported that Tencent has pulled PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from the Chinese marketplace. In an effort to retain its lucrative player base in China the studio has shifted focus to a similar title with an anti-terrorism-theme called Game for Peace. Luckily for Tencent, Game for Peace was approved for monetization in China last month.

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[Update: June launch] ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion expansion coming to Android this year

The mobile port of the ROME: Total War – Barbarian Invasion expansion landed on the iPad back in 2017, and today Feral Interactive has announced that it's finally coming to iPhone and Android users sometime later this year. The central premise of this expansion revolves around the final years of Rome, and it will be up to choose whether you should defend the empire or lead the troops that aim to destroy it.

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MX Player adds Chromecast support, but only for its online streaming content

If you're getting too giddy about the title of this post, I'll start by advising you to hold your horses. MX Player, one of the most popular video players on Android, has finally added Chromecast support, but it's not exactly where and how we wanted it to be. The feature is available inside the app, though only for online streaming content (which is currently limited to India).

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Google's complete redesign of the Play Store for Android TV will arrive later this year

During a Google I/O talk about the current state and future direction of Android TV, Project Lead Anwar Haneef spoke about making the humble TV the heart of the smart home. One of the upcoming improvements he briefly showed off was the long-awaited update to the Play Store app for the platform.

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[Update: Spreads to Samsung, LG] Google Lookout uses AI to help visually-impaired people navigate the world

I can't imagine having to navigate today's world while visually impaired. From streets to people to items, and even trivial things like preparing a sandwich or knowing the proper toilet sign in a restaurant, it would all be infinitely more difficult without sight, and I have a lot of admiration for those who have to handle these situations every day. Smartphones can make some of this easier, especially with AI at the helm. If Google Lens can identify a dog's breed from a photo, there's nothing stopping it from using the same tech to help visually-impaired people, and that's where Lookout comes in.

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Android's built-in security key now rolling out to all Android 7.0+ devices

Last month, Google started testing a new way to use Android phones as a two-factor authentication keys. While cloud-based 2FA has been available on Android for years, the new method is hardware-based. The new feature is now rolling out to all Android 7.0+ devices worldwide.

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