Google Play Store

Spotify Lite available on Android: very basic functionality

Spotify Lite available on Android: very basic functionality

There is definitely an ongoing and rather encouraging trend of app developers, from Google to Facebook, creating “lite” versions of their apps for users in less privileged markets. The latest to jump on that train is Spotify with the unexpected arrival of Spotify Lite on Google Play Store. But while Google’s Go and Facebook’s Lite apps try to compromise very little from their services’ main features, Spotify Lite is almost all about compromises, making it a pretty barebones music streaming player.

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Google Play Store adds ‘security metadata’ DRM to all Android apps

Google Play Store adds ‘security metadata’ DRM to all Android apps

A small but significant change was made to the Play Store this week, and it affects all Android apps. Google is now adding a "small" string of security metadata to all Android APKs, which is designed to ensure the apps are authentic and have come from the Play Store or other approved source. In other words, it's DRM (digital rights management), but Google's intent is to improve the security of the Android platform by making it harder for fraudulent apps or those with malicious code to be installed.

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Google Play Subscription Center: know what you pay for

Google Play Subscription Center: know what you pay for

Long gone are the days when a mobile app can only either be free or not free. In addition to the much-maligned “freemium” apps, there is also the case of apps that require recurring payments, a.k.a. subscriptions. Keeping track of those manually can be a bit inconvenient, especially with our human tendency to forget or make mistakes. That’s why Google is rolling out a new Subscription Center for the Google Play Store to help both users and developers keep their relationship, and payments, alive.

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Google Play security will extend to apps shared offline

Google Play security will extend to apps shared offline

Issues of control aside, there are technical and practical benefits to getting your Android apps from Google Play Store instead of third-party repositories or, worse, free-floating APKs. The biggest problem with that, however, is that installing apps, or even just browsing, requires an Internet connection, which might not be available at all times in all markets. Realizing that their ideal scenario doesn’t exactly reflect reality, Google is now taking steps to make sure that apps downloaded from Google Play Store and shared offline can be verified as safe and treated like any normal Google Play Store app.

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Google Play Protect’s AI works but needs to get better fast

Google Play Protect’s AI works but needs to get better fast

Android has a bit of a conundrum when it comes to ensuring the security of apps. It's open ecosystem means it gathers thousands if not millions of apps, a staggering number that no human team can sufficiently monitor and curate. That is why Google has always advocated the use of AI and machine learning in screening apps, which it has formally branded as Google Play Protect. But while it has some good news to share about the efficacy of the system, those same numbers show that Google's AI needs to go to cram school ASAP.

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iTunes App Store versus Google Play Store: fortress or bazaar

iTunes App Store versus Google Play Store: fortress or bazaar

There’s no arguing that Facebook made a massive blunder in the way it handled the Cambridge Analytica situation. It has caused many big names in many industries, ranging from tech to advertising, to pull out their support or chide the social networking giant. Apple, who has been painted as the poster boy for protecting customer privacy, naturally criticized Facebook’s behavior. But in explaining how Apple would have done it differently, Tim Cook pit the company’s practices and philosophy against those of more “open” app and content markets, like Android’s Google Play Store. But which strategy is the right one to take, especially in this day of rampant privacy violations? As you might expect, the answer isn’t clear-cut.

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Google Play Services start blocking uncertified Android devices

Google Play Services start blocking uncertified Android devices

The Android platform is open source (though more like open source dump) and there’s no way to close that door anymore. Google, however, has found a way around it through its oh so essential Google Play apps and services. While OEMs had to comply with Google’s rules and certification requirements to officially ship with these, some have found ways around that, usually by side-loading GApps, as the bundle is called, themselves or telling users how to do so. Now it seems that Google is closing the door on that method but users of custom ROMs need not be too worried because Google is surprisingly giving them a special pass.

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Google Play audiobooks bakes Assistant into Amazon rival

Google Play audiobooks bakes Assistant into Amazon rival

Google has added audiobooks to Google Play, offering cross-platform playback and voice control with the Google Assistant. Launching in 45 countries from today, the Google Play audiobooks will support nine different languages. Users with Android and iOS devices will be able to access them, though that's not all.

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LightsOut adware infects utility apps, bypasses Google Play Store checks

LightsOut adware infects utility apps, bypasses Google Play Store checks

Utility apps are a dime a dozen in Google Play Store, but if you’re not careful, you might install one that has some unwanted payload inside. That is the unfortunate situation that a few million Android users may have found themselves in after downloading and installing some random flashlight or utility app, which left them exposed to ads in inappropriate places. And their only fault is to have presumed that since the apps are from Google Play Store, they must be safe to install and use.

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Google 12 Days of Play sale: 99c movies, app deals, Pokemon GO holiday packs

Google 12 Days of Play sale: 99c movies, app deals, Pokemon GO holiday packs

Google has launched its 12 Days of Play sale on the Google Play Store, giving Android users nearly two weeks to get some app goods at a discount. The deal also slashes prices on other digital items, including subscriptions for other services like TuneIn's premium plan and HBO NOW. As the sale's name suggests, it'll be live for 12 days, ending on January 2, 2018. Here are some of the best deals you can get.

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Google’s Black Friday deals include some must-see price cuts

Google’s Black Friday deals include some must-see price cuts

While many companies announced their Black Friday deals last week, Google made us wait a little while longer. With the clock winding down, Google revealed the offers it will have on Black Friday today, and it might surprise you to learn that many of them revolve around Google Play. Sorry to say it, but if you were hoping to see discounts on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, there won't be much for you this year.

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These Chromebooks now fully support Google Play Store

These Chromebooks now fully support Google Play Store

The speculation around Google’s unified operating system for Android and Chrome OS have mostly died down again, just as the fervor around Android apps on Chrome has similarly lost steam. That doesn’t mean, however, that Google has forgotten about its promise, though. With the launch of its new Pixelbook Chromebook, questions about the versatility of these devices come up again. And by happenstance, Google seems to have gotten the ball rolling again, enabling full and stable Android app support for 17 more Chromebooks.

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