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Google Play Hot Air Balloon offline game released to the masses

Google Play Hot Air Balloon offline game released to the masses

This week the Google Play Hot Air Balloon offline mini-game launched into the wild. This game was in development for quite a while now, appearing in testing for months back in 2020 - now it would appear that it's ready to roll. If you'd like to give this game a go, make sure you've got the latest version of the Google Play store on your Android device - then disconnect from the internet.

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Google names the best Android games and apps of 2020

Google names the best Android games and apps of 2020

Today Google released a list of games and apps for Android that they named "best" of the year 2020. Included in the mix were categories like Best Competitive, Indies, Pick Up & Play, Game Changers, Everyday Essentials, Personal Growth, Hidden Gems, "Best for Fun", and "Best Apps for Good". As it is each year, this list of lists makes for a good first place to look for the apps and games that have the best chance at allowing users to make the most of their smart device experience.

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Android App Bundles could have a drawback for developers, power users

Android App Bundles could have a drawback for developers, power users

Android app packages or APKs are a mixed bag, literally and figuratively. They are often large because a single APK may contain all the data applicable for all variants of the app, even if some variants or architectures don't need the other parts. At the same time, that kind of packaging makes it trivial to redistribute APKs and sideload them outside of Google Play Store. Things will be changing next year once Google starts to enforce its new Android App Bundles (AAB) format and while it's generally a win for most end users, it could give developers and some users headaches as well.

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Google Play Music Store shuts down in YouTube Music transition

Google Play Music Store shuts down in YouTube Music transition

If there's one thing Google has been consistent with over the decades is that nothing is really permanent. It often changes names and brands but is also notorious for switching products or even discontinuing projects rather abruptly. Google's messaging services and apps have become the dominant example but the most heated discussions of late have come from Google Play Music users who are now being told that they can no longer buy tunes now that the Play Music Store has closed its doors forever.

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Google could enforce stricter rules for Play Store purchases

Google could enforce stricter rules for Play Store purchases

The fight between Apple and Epic Games over Fortnite and app stores is getting uglier by the day. The latter has recently formed a coalition of other developers slighted by Apple's App Store policy, calling for fairness in the app ecosystem. That coalition pretty much singles out Apple in its statements and curiously makes no mention of Google. That, however, could be changing soon if it is really moving to enforce a policy that will give it more cuts from sales made within its Google Play Store.

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Epic Games, Spotify form app fairness coalition against Apple, Google

Epic Games, Spotify form app fairness coalition against Apple, Google

Even while waiting for its day in court, Epic Games is taking its battle with Apple to another venue as well. As reported last month, Epic Games has formed a "Coalition for App Fairness" to fight against what it argues are anti-competitive practices prevalent in today's app stores. It has also finally got Spotify to formally commit to its campaign and has even gotten others to sign up as founding members. Unsurprisingly, that group is made up of app developers that have suffered from Apple's App Store policies in one way or another.

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Google Play Store sort of bans stalkerware Android apps

Google Play Store sort of bans stalkerware Android apps

Given its more open ecosystem, Android has become notorious for the rampant operation of all kinds of malware. Some of those even get past Google's own scrutiny in reviewing apps for the Google Play Store. Those covertly try to hide their less than innocent behavior but it seems that a certain class of software has been operating out in the open under Google's nose. Starting today, however, stalkerware apps are banned from the Google Play Store, except in cases when they're allowed.

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App store revenue cuts in Russia might be capped at 20%

App store revenue cuts in Russia might be capped at 20%

While the matter is still being debated in the US, both inside and outside of courts, Russia is already starting to take steps to cut down what has been an unwritten business practice when it comes to digital content distribution, especially in apps and games. A lawmaker has proposed reducing the amount that app store owners are able to take from sales and in-app purchases from the usual 30% down to 20% but adds one more requirement that Apple and Google might not be so keen on obliging.

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Epic Games sues Google over Fortnite removal over Play Store violations

Epic Games sues Google over Fortnite removal over Play Store violations

In just a few hours, the mobile app and gaming market exploded into a flurry of news, removals, and two lawsuits, all revolving around a single game: Fortnite. Epic Games, who has spoken out and moved against the status quo in the game and app store markets, made a daring move to implement its own direct payment system to bypass Google's and Apple's revenue split system. It isn't surprising that both Apple and Google have quickly removed Fortnite from their respective app stores but it's rather curious that Epic Games quickly sued both afterward.

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Apple App Store, Google Play Store face new rules in Europe

Apple App Store, Google Play Store face new rules in Europe

Apps, be it native or web-based, are the bread and butter of the smartphone experience, making app stores the gatekeepers to that mobile world. These stores have lately come under greater scrutiny, for their alleged anti-competitive practices, unfair revenue splits, or unreasonable decisions. The European Union has just published new rules that will make app stores give developers fairer treatment or at least a fighting chance at appealing their case.

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Microsoft and Google team up to improve web apps on Android

Microsoft and Google team up to improve web apps on Android

There are many operating systems available today, from Windows to macOS to Linux to Android to iOS, a bit far too many for developers, especially lone ones, to support equally. There is also no shortage of frameworks and tools, like Qt or Google's Flutter, designed to make that a little less painful but the one platform for that truly permeates all of these is the Web. That is basically the appeal of the new generation of web apps, called Progressive Web Apps, and two of the world's larger software vendors are working together to make PWAs more like first-class citizens of the Google Play Store.

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Android games downloads are about to get smaller, less convoluted

Android games downloads are about to get smaller, less convoluted

Although Android apps are naturally optimized for running on mobile devices with more constrained resources than even laptops, their packages traditionally weren't. Because Android apps often have to account for the myriad of configurations and Android phone hardware, those packages or APKs used to hold and download all of those different configurations and assets, regardless of your specific hardware. It was for that reason that Google introduced its Android App Bundle format and it is now extending that to Android's biggest space and bandwidth consumers: game assets.

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