Family Link is Google's solution for giving children under the age of 13 access to its services. Parents have to set up their kids' accounts and are responsible for what they do on the web and their phones. There are also control instruments that allow parents to impose restrictions like bedtime and daily app limit timers, and get an exact breakdown of what children are using their devices for. Needless to say, kids hate the service, and they're vocal about it: The Family Link app for kids has a staggering 1.4 rating average on the Play Store, as pointed out by our regular tipster Anthony (thanks!).
If the name Maple Media doesn't ring a bell, it might be time to put the Californian company on your watchlist. Over the past few years, the startup has purchased many popular Indie Android apps like the podcast player Player FM, the photo collage maker Pic Stitch, and a whole bunch of games.
According to a TechCrunch investigation, the company's goal is to optimize existing IAP revenue streams and add its advertising network to its purchases, all while optimizing the apps thanks to shared code and developer expertise across the lineup. It looks like the latest product to become part of Maple Media's portfolio is Klinker Apps' PulseSMS, a Pushbullet competitor focused on cross-platform text message synchronization.
Google, much like Portal's fictional Aperture Laboratories, engages in pretty much perpetual testing for... basically everything. Latest up on the A/B block is the in-app purchase interface. A handful of our readers are seeing a new dialog resting at the bottom of the screen, rather than Android's previous floating and centered confirmation.
Vector Unit has enjoyed a pretty good reputation on Android for a good while now. Not only have they released some pretty popular titles but they have also gone out of their way to support the Android platform more than most. Things like Play Games achievements, leaderboards, and cloud saving have all been a standard for the studio since their inception. Making sure to provide HID controller and Android TV support is also a big plus for them. When you take all of this into consideration, it is no surprise that they have gone on to perform exceedingly well, and deservedly so.
The Play Store team is killing us. Over the past couple of months, we've seen so many server-side tests for interface changes that we've lost track of them all, and which ones are official and which ones are still not available to everyone. Just today we discussed a significant improvement that could have apps and games show up separately on the Store, and now we're back with another change.
The in-app purchase dialog, the one that pops-up whenever you tap on a paid item inside an app or game, might be getting an overhaul soon. Instead of the old pop-up window showing up in the middle of the screen, this new IAP menu covers the bottom of the display and uses the Play Store's new shade of green along with a big Buy button akin to the new wide buttons in app listings on the Store.
The original Badland was a beautiful adventure game with interesting physics, gorgeous graphics, immersive soundtrack, and enough charm to land it on my personal list of 15 hauntingly beautiful dark and atmospheric games. The game was done so well that we forgave its late arrival on Android compared to iOS, applauded it for implementing cloud save and immersive mode for gameplay, and even lauded its implementation of free to play. This is a direct quote from Ryan's review of Badland:
You don't even have to drop any cash to play this game – 40 full levels for free?
Match-three games are inherently derivative at this point - there's only so much spin you can put on a genre so played-out that even your grandma is probably getting a bit bored swapping kitty cats for lollipops in a landscape best described as the pink-and-yellow paletted fever dream of a six-year-old. But if you're looking for yet another match-three indulgence that sits in at least one of the more desirable mid-outer circles of hell, you might enjoy the latest take on the genre from one of its earliest innovators, Pop Cap, in the form of Bejeweled Stars.
If you're an avid tabletop role playing game enthusiast, it's almost impossible that you haven't heard of Pathfinder. This re-organized variant of the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, published by Paizo and supplemented with a huge variety of extra modules, literature, and lore, has quickly become one of the most popular tabletop RPGs on the market. The publisher has created a few satellite properties for Pathfinder, including novels, comic books, and a licensed card game called Pathfinder Adventure.
The last two Rayman games to grace Android, Rayman Jungle Run and Rayman Fiesta Run, are some of the best examples of the genre on the Play Store. Now the developers are branching out by bringing Rayman back to his platforming roots. The third game in the series, Rayman Adventures, allows for more direct control of the 2D characters as they run around the screen. That makes stages bigger and less linear, encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny. You know, like an adventure.
Most apps on the Play Store are free, and those that are paid usually cost somewhere between one and five dollars. The top price for applications and in-app purchases in the US version of the Play Store before today was $200 (which usually wasn't actually seen except for IAPs for freemium games). Last night, the Play Store developer support page for paid apps was updated, and in nearly every territory where paid apps are supported, the top limit was increased by two to three times.