A couple of weeks ago Google updated their Play Store to version 3.9.16, adding a lot of new features, including an updated “installed apps” menu with the ability to multi-select by long-pressing any app in the list and then tapping more apps, allowing you to delete them all in one go, as well as a notification icon that alerts you to app updates and several other improvements. The update rolled out gradually, but by now should have reached all users.
Now, in quick succession, the company has issued version 3.9.17, which unfortunately doesn’t bring nearly as many enhancements, but still adds some minor updates. There are new XXHDPI 144 x 144 pixel icons for tablets and new icons account for the 120 KB jump in size over version 3.9.16. Beyond that it is likely behind the scenes bug fixes.
We haven’t heard yet if this update has begun rolling out to customers, but you can grab it now thanks to Android Police posting the .APK file. Download the file to your computer, plug in your device and move the file over to your phone or tablet. You can browse to it and install, but I find it easier to use an installer such as Easy Installer, which is free from the Google Play Store. You can download the .APK directly to your phone, but you will need to make sure it goes to the proper directory.
As I said previously, you won’t find much different here, but it’s certainly worth installing, especially if you have a tablet. Otherwise, the update will likely begin rolling out soon if it hasn’t already.
The Google Play Store, formerly known as the Android Marketplace, has finally launched it’s own Twitter account. It may sound like a pretty minor event, but it could actually be a fairly big deal for all of the Android device owners out there. Many businesses today have not only taken to Twitter to answer customer questions and handle complaints, but also to run promotions.
The latter is exactly how Google plans to use their new @Googleplay handle. According to Alex Dumitru over at Android Geeks the Mountain View company “will begin tweeting special promotions, updates and exclusive contents through its official Twitter live channel.”
The Play Store account already has over 28,000 followers, despite having posted only two tweets, and no deals, so far. It”s actually a bit surprising that it took Google this long to set up something that the Amazon App Store had from day one. Regardless, it’s better late to the party than never.
This Labor Day weekend, Google has been holding a $0.99 sale on apps in their Play Store. The sale is about to enter it’s final 24 hours, wrapping up on Labor Day, September 3rd. The sale isn’t across the board, but is a select 18 apps that were picked for an unknown reason, but it’s certainly a good group.
The sale list covers the gamete of app types – there are games, camera apps, utilities and productivity apps. All are regularly priced in the $1.99 to $3.99 range. Camera aficoanados will want to grab Vignette, one of the premier picture taking apps on the market, while gamers will rejoice at getting a deal on the likes of Gangstar Rio: City of Saints and Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation. For those looking for an alternative to Google Calendar, you may want to check out Business Calendar.
My recommendation though, is an app that I picked up over a year ago – Star Chart. This is hands-down the best astronomy app available. It uses your handset’s GPS to locate itself, the clock for timing, compass to know the direction it’s pointing and the accelerometer to tell it’s angle. All of this information is translated in real-time to show the user a map of the sky in whatever direction the phone is pointed. Want to know what that particularly bright point of light is? Open Star Chart and point your phone at it and it will display the object and it’s name.
To view all of the deals just visit the End of Summer Sale section in the Google Play Store.
Mass personalisation is one of the great benefits brought by the web. It’s no longer, “Any colour as long as it’s black,” but rather myriad options tailored to your individual circumstances. However sometimes the customisation goes a bit too far.
Take the Google Play Store app for example. As a customer I have only ever watched English-language films, read English-language books and generally been your typical English-speaking user. Consequently I was somewhat perplexed as to why I’d suddenly become a Spanish aficionado merely because I was using my tablet in Spain. Everything in the Play Store was being promoted in Spanish, which while interesting, wasn’t likely to encourage me to make a purchase.
For a couple of reasons, I think my IP address was being used to determine broad location (Spain) rather than GPS co-ordinates (Mallorca) but the point is somewhat moot; Google should not be switching languages based on location for existing users. Besides, in my Google profile under Language it says, “English (United Kingdom)”.
In some circumstances, it makes good sense for immediate localisation. Getting directions, looking for maps and finding nearby amenities would be obvious examples but not so much for watching a film or reading a book. Fortunately, I’d downloaded most of my holiday reading before leaving the UK, otherwise I’d be finding ”El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha” fairly hard going.
A couple of weeks ago Google implemented a major change to their Android Market by renaming it the Google Play Store to reflect the fact that it’s now more than just apps, but also contains music, books, games, and video. With this change Google apparently also plans to make the Play Store something that is bigger than just Android handsets and tablets by adding “Play” to the Google toolbar.
While access to the Android market has always been available from a computer – previously at market.android.com and now at play.google.com – bringing it into the Google toolbar makes it accessible to the millions of Google users who aren’t (yet) Android customers. That means millions more potential customers for Google.
In the past, Google has rarely made changes to their toolbar, but recently they have begun to experiment more often with changing around both the look and order of it. The “Play” option doesn’t appear to be available yet for all users so don’t panic if you don’t see it now, but keep an eye out over the next few days. Google usually rolls out these kinds of changes over a few days.