Although a bunch of cars now come with advanced navigation systems, these can rarely beat the simplicity and expansibility of Android Auto. Sadly, though, Google's in-car service isn't globally available, leaving many users unable to properly use their favorite services from their ride's dashboard. Thankfully, Android Auto is expanding to 36 more countries, making it seamless to get directions, play music, and interact with Assistant, thanks to native integration with your car's infotainment system.
Google Opinion Rewards is a great tool for earning some extra money you can spend on the Play Store, potentially financing almost any app you could ever want to purchase or your subscription needs. And now, Android users in Thailand can also finally take advantage of it, seven years after the app became available in the US.
Spotify has been working on proper lyrics support for ages. It likely takes this long to implement the seemingly simple feature in part due to licensing issues surrounding songtexts, which already led to a lawsuit against Google. Spotify seems to have finally found a suitable solution, as TechCrunch reports that the company is planning to roll out lyrics synced with music to 26 markets today. The US, Canada, and the UK aren't among these, though.
YouTube Music and Premium are continuing their expansion across the world. After adding eight Middle Eastern countries in September, the service is now spreading to seven more markets in Asia. Most notable among these additions is Indonesia, the fourth most populated country in the world, and a potentially huge market for Google.
Google took the unusual step of confirming the existence of its upcoming Pixel phone this year, but we don't expect the full Pixel 4 unveiling for another month. That hasn't stopped some people in Southeast Asia from getting their hands on the phone. We have no idea what they're saying, but you get a good look at the phone in these videos.
We take the ease of billing on the Play Store for granted here in the US, but many other countries don't have as many or as flexible options when it comes to picking up apps, movies, books, or music via the service. But for customers in Colombia, Tanzania, Thailand, Chile, and Peru, new payment methods are now possible. Conversely, France and Saudi Arabia have lost some options.
Google has another major event lined up for today, where the announcement of the Pixel 2, Google Home Mini, Pixelbook, and other devices will likely take place. It looks like more countries could get the chance to buy Google hardware (maybe including the upcoming products), because the Google Store is expanding to more nations.
Samsung expanded its mobile payment solution, Samsung Pay, to more countries across the world in 2016. After launching in South Korea and the US in 2015, the service became available in China, Australia, Singapore, Spain, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Canada, and more countries. Thailand was expected to join the fun in 2016, but the service was only available as a limited early access test starting October 2016. Now it's officially launching country-wide.
Thailand is transferring into a cashless society and the government seems to have already put in place an e-payment strategy, so Samsung Pay comes in at the right time for the country.
Of the different mobile payment solutions, Samsung Pay may as well be one of the most successful so far at expanding to different countries and implementing new features. After launching in South Korea then quickly following up in the USA (and later Puerto Rico) in 2015, it has come to China, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, and Spain.
These 7 countries will be joined by 3 more before the end of 2016: Malaysia, Russia, and Thailand. Samsung says this will bring the total of countries to 10 in 2016, which leaves a question mark regarding the promised availability of the payment solution in Canada and the UK also by the end of 2016.