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Google Play Pass is a subscription service ($4.99 per month) that offers access to a vast selection of apps and games minus any advertisements and in-app purchases. Seeing that this service recently expanded to ten new territories, I've dug up a few of the more recent and notable listings for our Play Pass roundup. Initially, Google offered about 350 or so apps and games, but at this point, we've tracked at least 538 of them, and the list keeps growing. Of course, Google being Google, many of these titles are somewhat lackluster, which makes it difficult to know if the Play Pass subscription is worth it.
If you're an avid mobile gamer or tend to spend a lot of money on apps regularly, you might already subscribe to Google's Play Pass — it allows you to access a selection of more than 400 apps without paying, free of ads and IAPs. The service has so far only been available in the US, but today, Google has announced it's expanding Play Pass to nine more countries this week.
Wink recently caused an uproar when it launched a mandatory subscription plan out of nowhere, hindering anyone unwilling to pay from controlling their smart home hubs after a meager 14-day heads-up. The troubled company since backtracked and gave an indefinite extension of its free service, but of course, the business still wants to tap into a recurring income stream. It has announced that the $4.99-a-month subscription will become mandatory starting July 27, though this time around, free users will be able to retain some extremely limited functionality — if you even want to call it that.
Google Photos has offered the ability to create and order photo books for years, but earlier this year, a new subscription option for photo prints was added. For $8 a month, ten of your best pictures from the previous month would be automatically selected, printed on cardstock, and mailed to you. However, after only four months, Google is ending the service.
After starting life as a social podcast platform from the founders of HipChat, Swoot is not only being renamed Podhero but its main mission is also changing. Getting recommendations from your friends is still part of the experience (if you want it to be), but the app is now a subscription service that divides what you pay among all the podcasts you listen to. According to the developers, 97% of podcasts don't make money, so this is their attempt to solve the problem and help podcast producers get paid.
Google has an interesting history of giving away copious numbers of its Assistant-powered smart speakers. For example, you've probably received one or more Home Minis if you're a subscriber to YouTube Premium (and again), Google One, Spotify, or Google Fi, just to name a few. Now they're raising the stakes by offering a free Nest Hub to some Nest Aware subscribers.
WarnerMedia has finally launched its new streaming platform HBO Max today, joining the other online entertainment services under the AT&T umbrella. The service comes with a number of original series on top of the content already available through the other HBO channels, like Game of Thrones, Westworld, Loony Toons, and DC Universe content. The US-exclusive service is free for HBO subscribers and will cost $14.99 a month for everyone else, with an option for a free seven-day trial.
Earlier this May, Wink announced out of the blue that it would charge customers $4.99 a month to continue using its services, or else their hardware would stop working. Following understandable customer backlash, the company first extended the cut-off deadline by a week, and has now indefinitely back-paddled, saying that it'll look for a new start date of the subscription.