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Google Play Store updated to v4.9.13, introduces Material Design and other improvements

Posted by wicked July - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Nexus 7

Material Design was all the hype at Google IO. And of course – it is probably the biggest Android design alteration we have seen in years. The graphic intensive and cleaner look is to be spread across the whole UI, and the Google Play Store is finally taking all these design elements to the streets.

If you thought the previous major update was substantial, you will be blown away by version 4.9.13. The navigation and overall UI is left nearly untouched, the main difference here is in the details. To be more specific, things get a bit whacky once you get to app/content pages. This is not bad, though. The new design looks great, it just happens to have a slight learning curve.

store-4.9.13

For example, change logs are now only visible to those who have apps installed, images and trailers are a major focus (they take a huge part of the top area) and app descriptions now go full-screen. In addition, small details like the app’s size and version have been moved out of the way and taken to the app’s description. The +1 and sharing button have also been relocated below the featured reviews.

The focus and general way we shop for applications and other content have definitely been kept in mind with the new design elements. It feels much more… personal, if you wish. Images and videos blend into the background and buttons. The robotic details are taken off the main viewing area. It’s just so much cleaner and simple now.

The new Google Play Store is ready to head out the door and has been reaching devices starting today. We know how impatient you can be, though. If you must try it out now, you can always download the APK file and install it manually. Test it and let us know how it is treating you!

Google Play Store gets a partial Material makeover

Posted by wicked July - 23 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

An inevitable change is coming ever since Google revealed its new Material Design aesthetic at Google I/O 2014 last month. Although the rest of Android 4.4 will remain stuck with the Holo-based design, Google has begun to eat its own dogfood and applied its new design principles on its own apps, starting with Google Play Store.

The changes in the latest 4.9.13 version of Google Play Store isn’t exactly earth shattering and is, in fact, quite incomplete. Google seems to be implementing visual changes piecemeal and in this round has focused on applying it to individual app pages before using it on the entire app interface. That said, the changes are immediately visible and not so subtle and you will quickly see the focus on graphics, flat icons, and paper metaphors that are the hallmarks of Material Design.

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Almost immediately, when you tap on an app, you will be greeted by an app’s banner or video, if it has either one. If not, the usual icon and app name will be at the top. Although each app page is still separated into sections, they are no longer as delineated as in the previous Google Play Store version. You could say that, at least for the main content, they all reside in the same sheet of paper, separated only by thin lines. Individual reviews, in fact, don’t even have line separators and just flow together as a whole. New to this layout is a row of buttons, of course in Material Design fashion, that are shortcuts to various sections like ratings, app category (Tools, News, etc.), Google+ contacts who +1′ed the same app, and Similar apps. Unfortunately, you won’t see any of the paper-like animations and depth levels detailed in Material Design, since that would most likely require Android L‘s theme engine.

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As always, updates to Google apps happen in staggered waves but, unlike common apps, you don’t have to do anything to get this update. However, you can always query the server to check if an update is available, by tapping on the Build Version in Settings, or, if you really want it now, you can download the Google Play Store 4.9.13 APK from the link below.

Download: Google Play Store 4.9.13 (APK)
SOURCE: +Google
VIA: Android Police

Wacom Bamboo Paper app expands to Android, Amazon and Windows

Posted by Tom July - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

The Wacom Bamboo Paper notebook simulator is no longer only for iOS users – it has launched on the Google Play Store, the Amazon App Store and Windows Store.

Do you still have that stylus you bought for those heady two weeks of playing Draw Something against everybody you ever met?

Dig it out and get sketching and making notes – the app is free but additional brushes, backgrounds and notebooks are all in-app purchases.

The basics, however, are fine for sketching ideas.

 

Via pocket-lint

Q2 2014 app stats: Google Play improves all around, still trails iOS in revenue

Posted by wicked July - 20 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

app stats
Q2 of 2014 is in the books and that means it’s time to look back at the app stats and see how well the Google Play Store did over the last three months. More importantly, we’ll take a look and see how it fared against the rival iOS in terms of downloads and revenue. Let’s get started.

1. Downloads

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The stats
According to App Annie’s latest numbers, the Google Play Store increased its download numbers by 60% from Q1 of 2014 while iOS saw a 45% increase of theirs. The Google Play Store is up over 150 million downloads while iOS is hovering around 100 million.
The takeaway
Google has increased their lead over iOS in terms of downloads. App Annie attributes this to the explosive growth of emerging markets. More specifically, Thailand, Brazil, and India are largely responsible for the growth which shows that Android is doing better in emerging markets.

2. Revenue

app stats
The stats
Unfortunately, Google’s explosive download growth has not translated to the same amount of revenue growth. As per the norm, iOS continues to dominate the Google Play Store in overall revenue with about 80% more revenue than Google Play. iOS revenue is up about 45% from last quarter and has just over $100 million in total revenue while Google Play saw over 30% growth and around $60 million in total revenue.
The takeaway
Even though iOS actually expanded their advantage over Google Play in this category, the important stat is that both markets grew over 30% from last quarter. This means the emerging markets that have fueled Google’s growth in terms of downloads have also contributed greatly to their growth in revenue. Both Apple and Google garnered considerable revenue from Asia (namely Japan) but Apple ultimately ended up with the advantage thanks to their dominance in China.

3. Top countries: Downloads

app stats
The stats
The top five countries that contributed to Google Play’s downloads in Q2 2014 were the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, and South Korea.
The takeaway
Brazil and India have gone from emerging markets to download juggernauts in the Google Play ecosystem. Brazil holds its spot at number two but India has shown a surge of growth that has put them back at number three. You may be wondering why we didn’t post the iOS numbers and that’s because they’re identical to what they were last quarter. And last year, for that matter.

4. Top countries: Revenue

app stats
The stats
The top five countries that contributed to Google Play’s revenue are Japan, the United States, South Korea, Germany, and Taiwan.
The takeaway
Despite having very strong numbers in emerging markets, we see just how small of an impact the download surge has had on revenue. Despite seeing what amounts to a renaissance in app downloads in Brazil and India, neither country made a blip in the top five in revenue. At a glance this may be alarming but with emerging markets, the revenue will come over time rather than suddenly. It is worth noting that Taiwan is new to the top five and that Japan managed to make it to number one on this list despite not making a blip on the downloads chart. Again, we didn’t include iOS stats here because they’re exactly identical to last quarter and last year.

5. Top app categories: Downloads

app stats
The stats
The top categories in terms of downloads in the Google Play Store were games, tools, communication, entertainment, and social.
The takeaway
There isn’t much to take away here. These stats are pretty much the same from last quarter with tools and communications switching places. There really isn’t anything here that doesn’t make any sense.

6. Top app categories: Revenue

app stats
The stats
The top categories in terms of revenue in the Google Play Store were games, communication, social, tools, and travel & local.
The takeaway
Once again, there isn’t much to takeaway here. These are the categories where people are spending the most money. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that games is in the top spot.

7. Key takeaways

Here are a few of the big takeaways for the Q2 app stats.

  1. Both Google Play and iOS improved dramatically in app downloads from Q1 2014.
  2. Consequently, both Google Play and iOS improved dramatically in app revenue from Q1 2014.
  3. Google Play outpaced iOS in downloads while iOS outpaced Google Play in revenue. This is nothing new.
  4. Brazil, India, and Thailand are top dogs in the emerging market game with Indonesia and Vietnam not far behind.
  5. Games contribute the most to revenue and downloads on both Android and iOS.
  6. Japan is outpacing everyone in revenue growth on both iOS and Android.
  7. With Google introducing Android One later this year and focusing more on emerging markets, it’s clear that Google wants to put the emerging markets on the forefront of their growth efforts. Thus, we can expect countries like Brazil, India, and Indonesia to continue to grow by leaps and bounds.

There is still half of the year left to go and the all-important holiday season is still on the horizon. It’ll be interesting to see how everything pans out come Q1 2015.

Timberman is here to frustrate you, waste your time

Posted by wicked July - 19 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

Remember that time when all you could think about was get that bird flying (flapping? *wink*) through those darned pipes? We are not heralding the return of the app-which-shall-not-be-named, but as much as mindless casual gaming is concerned, Timberman is probably set to give you sleepless and frustrated nights again.

So what is it about Timberman that has made it an overnight sensation, with over half a million downloads and counting? Well, there’s the 8-bit graphics, the repetitive game play, the frustratingly incremental and unforgiving learning curve, and it is highly addictive – is this starting to sound familiar now?

timberman-screen

So how is the game played? Well, the “timber man” chops down trees. The idea is to chop on one side of the tree or the other, and you tap on one side of the screen or the other to make sure our timber guy is not hit by those pesky branches, as chopping on the endless tree brings them down. I’m sure I’m explaining it wrong, but when you give Timberman a whirl, you’ll get it at once.

The app is free, it’s ad supported, and there are a LOT of ads. You can pay to get rid of the ads. There is one thing we will bet on though – that you will either be cursing us or thanking us for telling you about this game. Here’s to many hours of mindless tree chopping, at least until that bird returns (possibly in August, yikes).

DOWNLOAD TIMBERMAN HERE: Google Play Store

Europe fights against ‘free’ label for apps with IAP

Posted by wicked July - 19 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

By the end of September, the European Union has reached an agreement with Google that it will stop using the “free app” label for programs with “in-app purchases” (IAPs) in the Google Play Store. The EU has been concerned that the label “free” is misleading for those apps that push their sales within the app itself, and has asked Google to back them on this.

European users have voiced their complaints that these “free apps” with in-app downloads have the potential to be misused by users, especially if the target audience of the said program are children. Parents have seen some of their kids charge hundreds of real-world money in charges for sales pushed within games and other such apps enough that the concern has reached the highest levels of government in Europe.

This resulted in the EU making their claims strongly to Google and indeed Apple against this kind of disingenuous labeling of programs. In response, Google has committed to change how apps with IAPs are listed – and will no longer list apps as “free” if they have IAPs.

Google is also planning to require authorization for purchases in apps with IAP content. Google is also expected to come up with new guidelines for developers in avoiding “direct exhortation” of children to download or purchase in-app sales. The last guideline should provide an interesting look on how app developers go about their in-app marketing. As for Apple? Well, the EU said that “regrettably,” Cupertino has not responded in a fashion that had “concrete and immediate” solutions.

VIA: SlashGear

Games with in-app purchases won’t be called “free” from this fall

Posted by wicked July - 18 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Google Play Store in app purchases iap

Games in the Play Store that feature in-app purchases (IAPs) won’t be labeled as free anymore, as part of a set of measures that Google agreed to implement at the request of European authorities.

Last year the European Commission asked Google and Apple to find ways to protect consumers, and in particular children, from raking up inadvertent in-app purchase charges. Now the Commission announced that Google will make several changes to the Play Store by the end of September 2014, including:

  • The word “free” won’t be used at all when it comes to games with IAPs
  • Google will develop guidelines for developers to “prevent direct exhortation to children as defined under EU law”
  • “time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws”

These changes are already on the way at Google, said the EC in a statement today.

Earlier this year, Google introduced the option to password protect every in-app purchase, and added indicators for apps that use IAPs to the Play Store app and web version.

In the same statement, the Commission criticized Apple for not coming forward with a set of similar measures, though the Cupertino company has promised to tackle the issue.

Google, Apple, and Amazon have repeatedly come under legal fire over in-app purchases, both from consumers who were unhappy with the huge bills they had to pay due to lax protections and from regulators in the US and other countries.

Back in March, a woman sued Google over the $70 worth of virtual currency that her 5-year-old bought in Marvel’s Run Jump Smash, while the FTC recently sued Amazon for not doing enough to protect consumers against IAP bill shock. The FTC also asked Apple to refund millions of dollars to users over the same issue.

It’s not clear yet if Google will enforce these measures worldwide or only within the EU. We will update this post with new information when we learn more details.

Google Play Store revenue to surpass Apple’s app store by 2018

Posted by wicked July - 18 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Although Google’s Android platform has long surpassed iOS in terms of its worldwide user base, there is still one area where Apple has managed to keep its nose out in front – store revenue.

However, according to Radio Free Mobile analyst Richard Windsor, revenue generated by the Google Play Store is expected to surpass that of Apple’s App Store by 2018.

Google Play Store vs Apps Store revenue 2018

Over this time period, not much is expected to change in terms of consumer purchasing habits or spending. Previous research into the various app revenue types for Android and iOS have shown that freemium apps continue to the preferred app type amongst consumers on both Apple’s and Google’s platform, this trend is expected to consolidate on the Android platform this year.

Apple customers will continue to display a slight preference for paid apps and those with in-app purchases, when compared with Android users. However, the gap appears to be closing, with fewer iOS customers purchasing paid apps than last year, with more users switching to the freemium model.

App store front revenue by type

Instead, a simple explanation of the increase in Google’s revenue is that the sheer size of its market share is leading to more income. The latest market share statistics show a continued swing away from iOS towards Android in some of the world’s largest markets, and that Android now holds over 80 percent of the market in emerging economies like China, and a similar trend can be seen in some European countries.

Android vs iOS sales 2013 and 2014

The IDC has forecast that the average smartphone selling price will fall to $335 this year, half the price of an iPhone 5S. Appetite for a wide range of handset specs and sizes, combined with a falling average price is certainly a major factor in Google’s growing market share, and this trend is expected to continue over the next decade.

However, it is not just cheaper hardware prices driving Google’s market growth. Android’s ecosystem has grown and matured over the past several years, which has drawn in additional investments in app development and put Android on an equal playing field with the once dominant iOS. We are seeing fewer and fewer apps built exclusively for iOS, and the time taken to port apps between platforms continues to fall. Henry Cipolla, chief technology officer of app analytics and marketing at Localytics, suggests that Google’s improvements to backwards compatibility and its software development tools has helped to reduce the development problems associated with fragmented hardware.

App development on Android is technically more challenging due to its fragmentation … but since Google improved backward compatibility that simplifies writing one app for many Android versions it is less of an obstacle

Per customer, Google will likely continue to generate less revenue than its rival, even into 2018. However, the continued growth and appeal of the Android operating system, both to consumers and app developers, looks set to result in Google catching up with, and surpassing, Apple in terms of total revenue generated from apps.

Star Trek fans rejoice, your favorite Android Wear watch face is ready!

Posted by wicked July - 16 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 7.45.12 PM

We know how fierce Star Trek fans can get, making Android Wear’s latest watch face the source of much excitement to spread across the world. Simply named “Starwatch”, this exciting Android Wear watch face is based off the popular series.

More specifically, the watch face contains a design based on the show’s main operating system UI. It was called LCARS, which stands for Library Computer Access/Retrieval System. It may not help you save the universe, but the LCARS-based watch face will definitely give you some style and turn some heads. At the very least, it could be the best conversation starter between Star Trek fans.

StarTrekComputer

Aside form what could be the coolest design around, the Starwatch features the time and date. All other features are baked into your usual Android Wear experience, so there was no need to get into much detail here. It’s a simple and fun application.

By the way, some of you may not know how to go about installing this watch face. All you have to do is install the app with your smartphone. Once paired with your Android Wear smartwatch, the icon will not appear in your app drawer. Instead of looking for it there, just head over to your Android Wear watch faces. Starwatch will be there if the device is paired to your smartphone.

You can get the watch face for free, straight from the Google Play Store. So don’t waste any time. Engage!

Dino Hunter now available at Google Play Store

Posted by wicked July - 14 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

If ever you get interested in a dinosaur shoot ‘em up game for your Android device, now is probably the best time as any to download “Dino Hunter: Deadly Shores” from the Google Play Store. From the same guys who want you to shoot up deer in Deer Hunter, this new game is a prehistoric hunting extravaganza for those who want to know what it felt like to hunt these huge lizards.

Not to burst your Jurassic bubble though, you will not be hunting the dinos with spear and stones, but with a kick-ass hunting rifle. The game mechanics are pretty easy. The game will provide tasks for you and your rifle to complete. It starts with killing a Velociraptor – you know, those intelligent smaller meat-eating lizards that you would have to kill before they kill you – and then the game moves on from there, until you’re hunting a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Of course, “kill one young stegosaur” may not be everyone’s cup of tea for casual gaming, and so we say up front that this – like the game’s predecessor Deer Hunter – may be an acquired taste. But hunting is a legit way of life for some, and putting majestic and huge dinosaurs on your screen is just a little bit cool. Of course, you get to upgrade your guns in game as well. One of the highlights of the game is getting absolutely awesome hunting guns.

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But if you’re thinking that this is an Android port of the wonderful PC game “Carnivores” and its sequels, we’d advise you to not get your hopes up. It is one thing to go around hunting dinosaurs, but classic adventure game this is not. Still, if it works for you, then hey, it’s a free country – grab the game free at the source link. We do assure you that no dinosaurs were hurt in the making of this game. *wink*

SOURCE: Google Play Store

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