The Apple vs. Epic drama probably isn't over yet, but the courts have come to one conclusion. While it's far from the victory Epic may have hoped for, the court has issued an injunction against Apple that should at least allow developers to point customers to non-Apple payment options. It's a small bit of good news for iOS developers, but it leaves us in Android land wondering: How might this affect Google's Play Store billing enforcement changes, which are set to kick in at the end of this very month?
Yesterday, Apple issued a press release that stated the company was willing to make a handful of changes to the App Store to try to wiggle out of a lawsuit regarding the App Store's billing policies. While many are positioning these changes as some long-awaited reversal of the App Store's anticompetitive practices, the strict facts of the concession are much milder. Apple has merely agreed that developers can tell users they can make purchases outside the iOS app. That's it.
Google's rumored crackdown on in-app purchases has just been formally announced. The company is planning to step up enforcement of its existing rules regarding purchases made inside apps on the Play Store. However, developers don't have to rush to accommodate these changes immediately; the company is granting a one year reprieve in light of current events before it begins policing things more intently.
Attention, parents: if you've used your Google account to buy apps, books, videos, or music on Google Play, your credit card information is stored. If you give your phone or tablet to your kids, they might be able to buy stuff that you don't necessarily want. That's a lesson that Ilana Imber-Gluck learned after her 5-year-old son spent $65.95 on Marvel Run Jump Smash. Unsurprisingly, she chafed at the experience, suing Google in a northern California court on behalf of herself and "all others similarly situated."
The central issue seems to be a 30-minute window after downloading an app, during which the user - whoever that might be - can rack up in-app purchases without supplying a password.
In Royal Revolt you play the role of the young prince, recently dethroned by his extended family. To reclaim your kingdom there is but one option: storm the castle! Conquer all 30 castles, and you will be restored to your throne. But beware, you will encounter dangerous magic, pointy arrows, and the dreaded in-app purchases during your quest.
The controls in Royal Revolt will take some getting used to – it's all tap to move, not thumbstick based. To make up for this you can enjoy the absolutely wonderful, fluid graphics. The game has a Pixar animation sort of vibe, and the colors are fun and vibrant.
Gameloft took its sweet time getting its games in the Google Play Store, but when the French developer finally got its act together it offered some great stuff. The Asphalt series of racing games has been a mainstay of Android for a while now, and the newest incarnation, Asphalt 7, has finally launched. Now that there are so many alternatives, should you still be revving your engine for Asphalt? Let's see.
The default control scheme is probably going to be familiar to anyone that has ever played a racing game on a mobile device. Your car will accelerate constantly, unless you press over on the left of the screen to brake.
If there's one thing that sets people off upon purchasing or downloading an app (games in particular), it's opening it up and finding it has in-app purchases.
And this is, generally, a good instinct for consumers to have - hundreds, if not thousands of mobile games blatantly take advantage of people's willingness to nickel-and-dime themselves out of money they would have never otherwise spent buying a game in the first place. Basically, see 50% of Zynga's business model (the other 50% being stealing other developers' games).
In fact, it was Zynga that sparked one of the most notable in-app purchase hate campaigns from users when it added consumable cheats (essentially) to Words With Friends that allowed players to gain advantages over their opponents for a fee.
About a year ago, Apple debuted in-app subscriptions on its App Store - now Google is following suit with the introduction of in-app subscription support on the Play Store. Developers can take advantage of this system very easily, by simply adding a subscription option to their apps with a price and billing period (subscriptions will show up for users in their Play Store under a new category). Google takes care of the rest - all subscriptions are auto-renewing, and can be managed by users through the Play Store interface.
Bigger developers can utilize an HTTP support API to hook in-app subscriptions into backend enterprise servers for validation and cancellation (read: DRM), as well as to make multi-platform subscriptions easier to manage.
It's no secret that the Android Market isn't exactly the easiest place to find what you want. Unless an app is super popular, brand new, or you know its exact name, you could end up wandering in that virtual mall like a small child whose mother forgot to tell them she was heading to the next shop.
AppBrain has been a popular way to deal with the poor organization of the Market, allowing users to search for apps in a variety of categories and giving suggestions for programs based on what is currently installed on users' handsets. Today, AppBrain added a new category: apps that use in-app billing.