YouTube Kids has proven to be a popular way for parents to give their children access to a limited collection of YouTube content, even if that collection occasionally includes videos depicting suicide and cannibalism (oops!). The service has slowly been expanding its global reach, and now Google has added 11 more nations to the availability list.
Continuing its expansion across the globe, YouTube's paid Premium membership is making its way to my neck of the woods. The service is now available in eight new countries in the Middle East, most of which are in the GCC area. If you live around here, you probably didn't expect Premium to come to us this "soon" after its international launch, so the news is a nice late-night surprise.
Earlier this year, it was rumored that Spotify would arrive in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) sometime in Q4 2018. It seems the speculation was true, as Spotify has now launched in a handful of MENA countries — but only to those with invites.
YouTube has allowed offline downloads of videos for several years now, but only if you were lucky enough to live in a country where it's supported. (I know India at least had the function in both the full YouTube app and in YouTube Go.) Now the option seems to be rolling out to more countries. One tipster in Iraq told us about it and I was able to confirm it on my device and several of my friends in Lebanon. Other AP team members in the US, UK, and Japan don't have it, so this appears to still be a geo-limited function with what could be a Levant-only rollout, a Middle Eastern one, or a wider one for more countries.
Getting to 500 million downloads on any platform is no easy feat. Many companies have taken their sweet time to reach that number: Twitter and Viber only made it to 500 million Play Store installs a year ago, and Snapchat, the company everyone is talking about these last months, cracked through the 500 million Android installs this past March. You must have a smash hit app or service and keep that going for a while to reach this number, and this is why only a few manage to do it.
The latest app/game to reach that number is Pou. Wait, back up a second.
It's always a happy day when one of Google Play's entities rolls out to new countries because it means more users will be able to benefit from the entertainment options that were available to others before them. But it's especially a happier day when one of said countries is Lebanon, because I live there and because we're usually one of the last countries to get anythingfrom Google.
But today we're celebrating because Google Play Movies has officially landed in Lebanon and 10 other countries. All of them are Middle Eastern, except for Vietnam — Chào! Here is the full list:
On a new Android device (or an old one), opening up the Play Store is the quickest way to get your hands on a digital book. Thing is, that's only the case if you live in a supported country. Today Play Books are making their way to nine countries throughout the Middle East.
While we still wait for newer products like Play Movies or Play Books to reach a wider audience, Google's been hard at work bringing a slightly more useful product to additional countries: Google Maps with Navigation. After bringing voice navigation to India, nine more new countries are being added to the supported list for the Navigation beta. Including the following:
United Arab Emirates
Unfortunately, the service will require Android 4.0 or higher. This is likely due to Arabic script API incompatibilities with older versions. Though, it's a little unclear on just when all the necessary features would've been added (for example, bi-directional text was only added in Jelly Bean).