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Google Play Movies & TV

Google Play Movies & TV picks up account switcher, new navigation drawer and improved timeline scrubbing

Design falls in line with other recent Google apps while adding a few new features Wednesdays are turning in to "Google app update" days, and the second one of today (behind Keep) is Google Play Movies & TV. The update is making the same interface changes here as we have seen on other recent...
Google Play Activity page

See all of your ratings and +1s in Google Play on the web

A new menu item is showing up for some users in the Play Store on the web, giving you a look at all of your +1 and comment activity in the store. This reflects a change that was added to the Play Store on Android back in December, letting you have a broad look at all of your Play Store engagement...
Nexus 5 camera

Android camera app reportedly getting portrait and effects improvements through Play Store

To be updated independently of Android, gaining custom filter support The Android camera app will soon be split off into the Google Play Store and is looking to get an update with a refreshed UI and new effects. Manufacturers have put a lot of effort into expanding the capabilities of their...

Google Play Store - Top Articles

Nexus 5 camera

Android camera app reportedly getting portrait and effects improvements through Play Store

To be updated independently of Android, gaining custom filter support The Android camera app will soon be split off into the Google Play Store and is looking to get an update with a refreshed UI and new effects. Manufacturers have put a lot of effort into expanding the capabilities of their...
Google Play

UK closes tax loophole on digital downloads, Google Play prices likely to increase

New rules see standard VAT of 20% to be paid from January 1 2015 Buried within the recent Budget, it seems that UK Chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that digital content downloads will pay tax based on the country they are sold in. In other words all content from Google Play, Amazon,...
Android Central

Hangouts 2.0 now rolling out with SMS support

New version lets you use Google's IM app to send and receive texts As promised at last week's Google+ event, the new version of Hangouts capable of sending and receiving text messages is now rolling out through Google Play. The update to brings things up to speed with the version of Hangouts on...
Google fixes Heartbleed

Google updates back-end in light of Heartbleed vulnerability

If you've been online at some point in the last 36 hours, chances are you've heard of 'Heartbleed', a flaw in OpenSSL that has exposed data to theft on approximately 2/3 of servers in use around the globe over the past two years. It's not known how bad the damage may be, but the revelation of the...
Yeezus

Kanye West's 'Yeezus' leads Google's holiday deals

As is prone to happen this time of year, Google's got a bunch of holiday deals in order on Google Play. The savings spans across just about every category, from Kanye West's "Yeezus" album free for a limited time. The Star Wars: Tiny Death Star game has an exclusive  Google Play bundle available,...
Galaxy Note 3

Samsung offering U.S. Galaxy Note 3 owners $50 Google Play credit

If you've got a U.S. Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung's running a promotion until Jan. 6 that'll allow you to claim $50 of free Google Play credit. Simply hit up the promotion site, enter your details — including phone number, address, email and IMEI — and you'll be able to score $50 credit to use...
Google Play Store 4.6.16

Google Play Store 4.6.16 now rolling out with new password options, batch app installing

A few interface and wording changes make the app a little more friendly A new version of the Google Play Store is rolling out to a wide number of people this week, bringing with it a few new options in the settings and some visual tweaks that make the whole app run a bit smoother. Nothing will...
Sense 6 apps

HTC Sense 6 apps hit Google Play ahead of new HTC One launch

BlinkFeed, HTC Service Pack and SenseTV listed on Google Play, complete with screenshots We're just hours away from the expected arrival of the new HTC One (M8), and we're starting to see signs of the final preparations being made for the phone's launch. HTC has this morning released three new...
Moto G Google Play edition

Moto G Google Play edition now on sale for $179

Same great phone at a budget price, with a slightly different take on software In yet another quiet release, Google has just put up the Moto G Google Play edition for sale at $179 for the 8GB model. That mirrors the price that Motorola has been selling it directly, but this version will follow...
Google Play Movies

Google Play Movies comes to dozens of new countries, Play Music expands to 4 more

63 countries now have Google Play Movies, with 25 now having Play Music as well Well it turns out Google has been busy signing deals to expand Google Play Movies, as the content choice has just expanded to 38 new countries around the world today. And the new countries truly are around the entire...

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Attention, people of Earth! Somehow in the 1,000 or so words written yesterday on the Version 1.3 update to the official Android Central App, we managed to leave out another change — and this one actually affects the website as well as the app. 

The blog for some time has used the "Get it on Google Play" badges to link to apps. We've now implemented it in the same way in the app, which is a more consistent design. But we didn't stop there. Now we're using that badge to link to anything in Google Play. Books, magazines, TV shows and movies, music — anytime you see that badge, it'll take you to the listing in Google Play. In the app, on the blog, and straight to the listing. Done.

And if you haven't already (what are you waiting for?!?!?) be sure to check out the latest version of the Android Central App!

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The Android Market website, circa Feb. 2011

For better or for worse, Google does what Google does — we're going to have to adapt

I'm seeing a lot of hate about the new Google Play web redesign. It seems like no matter what Google does with it, haters gonna hate, and Google can't please everyone. We get it — change is not always a good thing, and it makes people uncomfortable. But love it or hate it, it's here and you're stuck with it.

The biggest complaints I'm hearing are about permissions, the "My apps" list, and filtering reviews by device. Now I don't claim to know why Google does the things it does, but to me there's an easy explanation about each of these changes. I like the easy explanation, because usually, it's also the right explanation. Occam's Razor and all that.

Hit the break, let's talk.

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The same great design available on Android devices has made its way to the Google Play website.

That fresh, new card interface design that we've grown to love in the Google Play app has now made its way to the website. All the content is still there, they've just made it a bit easier to navigate and made it look a lot more modern and in-step with Android's new design language.

You can still rent and purchase videos, buy books and devices, subscribe to magazines, and even install Android apps right to your phone or tablet from the site. Now it's easier to discover content and navigate with big blocks that hold all the information you need. Differences include much bigger screenshots for Android apps and other content, and it's all done up in Google's webP format for speedy loading. There's even a menu sidebar on the left like we've seen in the new style of Google apps. It's a big change, but we're liking what we see. Check it out and see if you feel the same.

Source: Google Play; via +Google Play

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Free eBook and eight great apps to get new 'shutter bugs' started with photography

As it regularly does, Google Play is highlighting a specific subject with a content promotion and this time the focus is on photography. This week's focus is kicking off with a free eBook from the Play Store -- "Android Photography" by Colby Brown is a 104 page book focusing (pun, I know) on the basics of controlling your phone's camera, which settings to use and how to shoot in different situations.

The book also gives tips on which third-party apps to use to help your photography skills, and Google Play is helping out by offering a full list of popular apps for "shutter bugs". Popular apps like 500px and Camera Zoom FX make it into this list of 8 apps focused on viewing and taking photos.

When you go to "purchase" the book from the Play Store at the link above, don't be alarmed if you're asked to enter your Google Wallet information or get GW set up, it's a necessary process for having the book linked to your account. Happy shooting!

More: 'App Focus: Photography' | 'Android Photography' by Colby Brown

Android Central Photography Forums

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A set of apps that show off the highest quality of design and function on Android today

Every so often Google Play will put up "collections" of apps that fall into a certain genre or fit with a current season or holiday. This time the Android Design Team is taking time to highlight 11 apps that have taken design to the next level with the "Beautiful Design Summer 2013 Collection". In a blog post detailing the criteria for the collection, the team explains what makes an app "beautiful":

"Transitions are fast and clear, layout and typography are crisp and meaningful, and design touches that delight you in surprising ways are sprinkled throughout."

They have made up a list of 11 apps that exemplify these ideals -- Pattrn, Pocket, Timer, Eye in Sky Weather, NY Times, Grand St., Pinterest, Press, Expedia, Flipboard and TED -- of what great Android design looks like. And that doesn't mean that every one of these apps follows Android's Design Guidelines pixel-for-pixel, either. They're called guidelines and not requirements for a reason, because Google thinks that it is possible to make an app feel coherent to the Android aesthetic while still keeping its own personality.

The team encourages all Android developers to take a look at these apps to get a feel for the design details necessary to "separate good apps from great ones." For users, you may want to grab a download of some of these as great examples of what is possible with Android apps today.

Beautiful Design Collection on Google Play

Source: Android Developers Blog

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The Google Play application on your phone or tablet is your gateway to all the content Google has to offer. You'll use it often, whether you're looking at apps, books, magazines or any other digital content you can buy or rent from Google for your Android device. Needless to say, it's important to take a quick check of the general settings to make sure you have things just the way you like them.

We've already looked at password protecting your account to protect against unauthorized purchases, and how to manage your automatic update settings to control the way you use your data. Those an important subjects, so they each get their own section in our primer on Google Play. But there are other settings as well, and you should take a minute and set things up. Jump past the break, and we'll have a look.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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Save two dollars a month by signing up before Monday

Attention music fans! Google Play Music All Access will move from $7.99 per month to $9.99 per month starting July 1. If you want to save $2 a month on the life of the service you'll need to act before Monday rolls around. Signing up is easy -- just point your browser here (or click on the link with your phone) and follow the instructions for a free 30 day trial to see if the service works for you. Next month, your Google Wallet account will be billed for $7.99 for the next 30 days. Things continue until you cancel the service through the Google Play store or the Google Play Music app.

We've had a good long look at the service, which you will want to read if you're not familiar with how it works. In a nutshell, your 8 bucks gives you unlimited access to every song in Google Play, and you can stream them, pin them to your Android device, or play them through the web player as often as you like. When you find something you like, you can add it to your music library if you like for easy access the next time you want to hear it. In addition, you have access personalized radio stations with unlimited skips, and can see smart recommendations based on your listening history.

$2 every month adds up over time, so be sure to act if you think you'll be interested. Use the 30 day trial wisely, and if the service works out for you you'll be saving a nice chunk of change in the long run.

Read: Google Play Music All Access will be my first paid music subcription service

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Those apps aren't going to update themselves ... by default, that is

One of the best parts about owning a smart phone is the limitless possibilities of installing apps that can do so much more than the phone can out of the box. The unfortunate downside is trying to keep up with the seemingly constant flow of app updates coming to your device every day. But you're in luck, as Android has had automatic updating of apps through the Play Store since back in the day when it was still the Android Market, and it's a simple process to get set up.

Head to the Google Play Store on your device, hit the menu button and go to "settings". If it isn't already set by default, go ahead and tap the "Auto-update apps" setting and choose the most appropriate setting for your needs -- no updates, updates only on Wifi, or all updates. Most people with limited data buckets will be best-off with the "Auto-update apps over Wifi only" option. Once you have turned on automatic updates of either kind, you can always turn off automatic updates for a particular app by navigating to its Play Store listing (from the "My apps" area) and tapping the menu button, then un-checking the "Auto-update" box.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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Proper beta testing with a feedback network to help squash bugs and improve performance

Facebook has had a rocky past of questionable app quality and a couple instances of side-stepping Play Store guidelines for updates, but the social network is hoping to correct some of those issues today by introducing a proper beta testing program for its app. In an effort to try and solve some of the issues associated with having an app that needs to be able to run on probably the widest range of hardware of any other app -- from the cheapest unlocked device in the developing world up to the Galaxy S4 -- Facebook will now enlist the help of beta testers to flush out bugs.

Somewhat surprisingly, Facebook will use Google's newly created beta testing feature tied to Google Groups, which it introduced at Google I/O this year. The process will be pretty simple -- just join the Google Group that Facebook has set up for its app beta testing, opt-in to the test and go download the latest version of the app from the Play Store. Further discussion about new versions and associated bugs will continue in a specialized Facebook group, where beta testers will have the ability to discuss issues directly with the developers.

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Developers can still sell and receive payment through Google Play, but a permanent solution isn't yet available

Backtracking on its previous statement that it would stop allowing developers in Argentina sell paid apps in Google Play, Google is extending the deadline to an undetermined date in the future. Google initially gave developers based in the country one month's notice that after June 27th, 2013 it would stop allowing them to accept payments for apps in the Play Store, regardless of the country which the purchaser was located. At the time nothing more than speculations of government regulation were to blame for the sudden change, and it doesn't look to be getting any clearer now.

In an update to its support article regarding the shutdown today, Google briefly explained that it will continue offering developers registered in Argentina the ability to make paid apps and receive payment through Google Play while they "explore more permanent solutions." While Google indicates that it will offer updates on the status of the potential shutdown going forward, there's no doubt that this will have some cooling effect on development coming out of the country.

Source: Google Support

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Two new categories arrive in the Play Store for Irish users

Google Play users in Ireland should now have access to both the Play Books store as well as a separate "Games" section on their devices starting today. As pointed out to us by one of our eagle-eyed readers, the Play Store in Ireland now offers four different sub-categories for users to choose from, adding to the previous availability of both paid apps and Google Play Music in the country. Unfortunately the Play Store for Ireland is still lacking both Magazines and Movies & TV, but it's a step in the right direction at least.

The Google Play Help pages, which have been updated today, also indicate that Play Books are now available in Ireland. We haven't tracked down an official post from Google indicating whether or not the full book catalogue will be available to Irish users just yet, but we would guess that the service would not launch without all of the proper deals in place.

More: Google Play Help; Thanks, John!

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Third-party group of educators to review each educational app submitted

Google announced on its Android Developers Blog that it is now accepting submissions for its Google Play for Education platform, which will bring education- and age-appropriate apps to schools. The system, which was announced last month, is a subset of the main Play Store that allows bulk purchasing and content curation of apps, books and movies for K-12 schools. Developers who have an age-appropriate app can now mark it for inclusion, where it will then be reviewed by a third-party group of educators.

This third-party will go through each app and determine its subject, grade level and whether or not it meets a set of development guidelines that have been set for the education system. The guidelines (found at the second source link below) indicate that apps, among other things, must not collect personally identifiable information or use student data for any noneducational purposes. Google also has strict guidelines for in-app purchases and advertisements, and encourages developers to submit apps that are either paid or free without ads.

The approval process is expected to take 3-4 weeks for any given app, and Google says that it is currently piloting the Google Play for Education program in schools across the country.

Source: Android Developers Blog; Developer Guidelines

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Money doesn't grow on trees. Take a few steps to password protect your Google Play purchases.

When it comes to things that cost real money, people tend to become a little more cautious. Nobody wants their child or kid brother accidentally buying a bunch of apps or in-app purchases from Google Play while they are supposed to be playing Angry Birds, and it's easy enough to do with just a few taps -- unless you've password protected your Google Play app.

With the password enabled, every time you try to spend money in Google Play, whether it be buying an app or book, renting a movie, or adding coins to your favorite game you'll need to enter your Google credentials to finalize the purchase. It's a great option, and one I suggest everyone enable. Luckily, it's easy to enable. Follow past the break to see how.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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Logging into free Wifi at Starbucks? Now you'll be shown a free trial offer for Google Play Music All Access

Starting this week, Starbucks and Google have partnered up to offer customers that connect to its free Wifi promotional deals to check out content from Google Play. For some time now Starbucks has been partnering with different companies -- most recently The Wall Street Journal -- to advertise on their free WIfi login page, offering different deals or showing promotional videos before you were able to log on. At many Starbucks locations customers will now see an advertisement (shown above) for Google Play Music All Access, promoting the features of the service and offering a click-through to a free trial. 

Clicking through offers customers a full browser page where they'll see the merits of the service and give them a chance to start the same 30-day free trial that has been offered since the service's introduction at Google I/O. It also offers the same $7.99 discounted price when signing up before June 30th, but doesn't seem to offer any special deal beyond that for Starbucks customers. The page also offers users a chance to check out the rest of Google Play -- Books, Magazines, TV and Apps -- in a nicely stylized format.

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Does Google Play cover all your wants and needs in the app department, or are you left wanting? Tell us in this week's poll

Kevin, Phil and the gang have been talking apps and app stores all week in Talk Mobile. They're sharing some pretty deep insight into the way apps, and the buying and selling of them, and most important of all -- availability.

Talk Mobile is a great way to see and discuss the general mobile atmosphere, but let's drill down a bit and focus on Android for this one. Google Play has over 700,000 apps. A lot of those apps are live wallpapers, themes, icon packs, and widgets. Those are all important, and we're not discounting them at all, but they're not exactly what we think of when we talk about apps. But even then, chances are Google Play has a whole lot of stand alone programs that will run on our phones and tablets, and our choices are pretty good. But can it ever be good enough?

Have you ever wanted an app to do something and couldn't find a solution in Google Play? Or maybe an app you really want is exclusive on another platform. Here's you chance to be heard. In the sidebar to the right, as well as after the break, you'll find a poll where you can tell everyone if you've been able to score everything you want on Android. Be honest, and be sure to participate.

For the record, I had to vote no. I want an accessory and accompanying app to plug my guitar into the Nexus 10 and use it as an amp. I know why this isn't easy to do, but I still want it badly. Maybe one day.

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Installing Android apps to your phone or tablet from any computer with a web browser

Google is one of the biggest web service companies around. Their cloud-based apps and services can do some pretty wild and wonderful things, and we're about to look at one of them -- installing apps to your Android device remotely through the Google Play website.

All the complicated issues, like making sure apps are compatible and available for you, or keeping track of which device(s) you're currently using are done by Google behind-the-scenes, leaving us with just a few clicks needed to make some serious magic happen. All you need is an Android device registered with Google Play, and a computer with a modern web browser.

There's a complete video walkthrough of the process after the break, but we'll spend a few minutes and talk about it as well. This is the way I install almost all my apps, because I only have to find them once and can install them to any device I may have in service. It goes a little something like this.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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The Wishlist feature is a part of Google Play that doesn't get much exposure. Added in the fall of 2012 during the first Play Store refresh, it's a handy tool to help you keep track of all the stuff you want from Google Play. Apps, books, movies, TV shows, magazines and music can all be added to your Wishlist, and while there is no way to share your list with friends and family just yet, it does put everything into one easy to manage spot on your phone or tablet.

Adding and removing items is easy, you'll find the Wishlist icon at the top of every item in Google Play. It's like a toggle switch, so if an item isn't on your list tapping will put it there, and if it is on your list a tap will remove it. To manage your list, the Google Play app menu has an entry for its page, and a tap takes you there. From your Wishlist page you can buy, rent, install or delete any item.

The Wishlist hasn't made its way to the web interface yet, so this is something you'll need to do from your phone or tablet. We have a feeling that's going to change when Google releases the new Play Store website, but for now know that you need an Android device to take advantage.

We've got a short tutorial after the break that will help it all make sense if you're not following. Have a watch, then grab your phone and start making that list!

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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Google Play cards are a great way to buy apps and media, and redeeming them is easy

Google announced Google Play cards late last summer in the U.S., and have since been made available in Canada and the U.K. Of course, we all want them to be able to go global with the service, but there has been no word of when we can expect that to happen. In the meantime, if you're in a supported country, it's nice to know just how to apply the balance from a card to your Google account.

It's a pretty simple affair. You can find the gift cards themselves at retailers like Target or Walmart in the US and Canada,  and Tesco and Morrisons in the U.K. They come in $10, $15, $25 and $50 denominations in North America, and £10, £25 and £50 in the U.K. You'll find them next to iTunes cards in most retailers, and you buy them like any other item off the shelf from the store. Once you get them home, adding the balance to your account is easy.

Visit our Google Play mini-site for everything there is to know about Google Play

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New Play Music settings could cut your streaming data usage in half

The launch of Google Play Music All Access last month reminded many of us just how much data the app uses for streaming and caching. There were a few things you could do to try and limit your usage, but in the end Google was likely going to stream as high quality of music it could, data caps be damned. Google listened to some of the complaints coming its way about the data usage, and has released an update that gives users better options to limit data usage by lowering the stream quality in Play Music.

Rather than allowing the app to offer as high of quality music as possible given the current connection, users now have three settings -- low, normal and high -- to cap the quality, and therefore data usage, of streaming. We've done a little semi-scientific testing on the new settings, and have found them to be quite effective.

So, let's put things to the test.

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The stock 'Nexus' keyboard app, complete with gesture typing, is now available to all Android users through the Google Play Store

Google continues the movement of its core Android apps onto the Google Play app marketplace with today's standalone launch of Google Keyboard. That's the new name for the vanilla Android keyboard app included on Google experience (stock Android) devices such as Nexus phones and tablets. The Google Keyboard app includes the full range of typing features found on current Android 4.2 Nexus phones, only now you can install it on any Android device through Google Play -- assuming you're running OS version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or higher.

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