Google gives your Android apps more room to breathe

Google Play app search

Google just introduced a low-key change that could make a big, big impact on the Android apps you use. The search giant has doubled the maximum initial download size for apps from 50MB to 100MB, giving developers more headroom before they have to rely on post-install downloads like the ones you often see for large games. That will not only spare you from rude surprises when you're launching apps for the first time, but allow for more complex apps than were possible before.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Android app makers can experiment with Play Store listings

Google Play Store Developer Pages

Those rumors of Google letting Android app developers experiment with what you see in the Play Store? Yes, they're true. Creators can now conduct tests to see what pricing works best, or whether one icon color is more alluring than others -- you'll only view one of each while the test is ongoing. Also, app makers are getting Developer Pages (shown above) that showcase all of their apps, so you'll have a one-stop shop for everything from your preferred brand. If all goes well, you'll find more Android apps with prices you're willing to pay, and you won't have to scrounge quite so much to get every app you need.

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Google adds pre-registration and alerts for Android apps

Starting with Glu's Terminator Genisys: Revolution mobile game, you can now pre-register for apps from the Play store. Now if a developer wants to drum up some interest before an app release, they can stick a placeholder page in the store where users can sign up and receive an alert on their phone when the app is actually released. This is obviously handy for users, but it can also help devs gauge interest in their apps before they're released.

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Via: Android and Me

Source: Terminator Genisys: Revolution (Google Play)

Android developers will get to experiment with app prices

Google Play on a Galaxy S6 Edge

When you make a mobile app, you usually have to find out the hard way what will sell. You can't fiddle with pricing for just a few people, for instance. All that could change very shortly in the Android world, however. Sources for The Information claim that Google is introducing a feature that lets Android developers try different versions of the same Google Play Store page. You could not only see different previews of the app, but different pricing -- the creator could charge you $2 for that hot new game, but ask $3 from others to see if they'll accept higher pricing.

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Source: The Information

Google’s staring down the barrel of a Russian antitrust probe

It's only been two days since Russian search giant Yandex accused Google of anticompetitive mobile shenanigans, and the country's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has already leapt into action. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today that Russia's antitrust body is kicking off a probe investigating how Google requires some smartphone makers to preload its apps onto their devices before they hit store shelves. If those deals are found to have run afoul of Russian law, Google could be on the hook for some hefty fines and might even have to change how it licenses Android to device makers.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

Google is testing Hangouts-based customer service

Google isn't exactly known for interacting directly with its customers, but according to TechCrunch, the company wants to change that -- if you're looking to a buy a new gadget. Apparently, Mountain View has started testing a service on the Play Devices page that connects you to a Google Device Expert through Hangouts. Remember Helpouts, that portal the company introduced in 2013 where you can get lessons or ask for advice from professionals for a price? It's somewhat similar as they both go through Hangouts, but consultation for this service is thankfully free. You'll simply have to navigate to Devices' Help section and choose Video call to ask actual human reps about the smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks the company's selling. Curiously, it doesn't include Nest and its products Dropcam and Protect, so you're on your own if you're in the process of automating your home.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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Via: TheNextWeb

Source: TechCrunch

Microsoft’s Office preview for Android tablets is now available to everyone

PowerPoint on an Android tablet

If you've wanted to try the preview of Office for Android tablets during its brief history, you've had to request to join a Google+ group. That's not the hardest thing to do, but do you really want to participate in a special club (and in some cases, sign up for Google+) just to try some productivity apps a little early? As of now, you don't have to. Microsoft has posted the previews of Excel, PowerPoint and Word on Google Play, so you can download them like you would any other app. The only major requirements are that your slate runs at least Android 4.4 KitKat and that you're comfortable with less-than-polished software. You may not want to finish an important report with these releases, then, but it's now easy to experiment with the new Office suite before it's completely ready.

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Via: Office Blogs

Source: Google Play (Excel), (PowerPoint), (Word)

Amazon’s Android app has quietly been removed from Google Play

When Amazon updated its primary Android app with an "Apps & Games" section, it was a milestone in third-party distribution: finally, you could access Amazon's library of applications without side-stepping Google Play. It didn't last long -- Amazon's app store mysteriously disappeared from Google Play this week. Well sort of, the URL for the Amazon app's product page is still active, but it's no longer searchable from within Google Play. Why the sudden return to the status quo? It's exactly what you'd expect: Google didn't like facing competition from within its own app store.

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Source: Android Police, TechCrunch

T-Mobile’s data-free streaming adds Google Play Music and more

Google Play Music was absent from T-Mobile's Music Freedom options... until now. After a public vote to see who should be next, Mountain View's streaming library will no longer gobble your data on the UnCarrier's network. Google's music service is among 14 others, including Xbox Music and SoundCloud, that won't count against that monthly allowance when you're in need of some tunes on-the-go. Of course, Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and ten others were already given the free pass, so with the recent additions, that total now tallies 27 in all. The full list of today's additions awaits on the other side of the break.

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Source: T-Mobile

Nokia’s simple yet smart Android launcher reaches Google Play

Nokia Z Launcher beta

If you've been eager to put Nokia's adaptive Z Launcher home screen on your Android phone, you'll be glad to hear that you don't have to jump through quite so many hoops to give it a try. The ex-phone maker has released a free beta version of Z Launcher on Google Play. You'll need to live in the right region to give it a shot, but you no longer have to sign up for a testing spot and hope you get lucky. This edition should work with many phones running Android 4.1 or later, although Nokia is still promising full support only for the Nexus 5 and recent Galaxy S phones. %Gallery-slideshow244725%

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Source: Nokia Z Launcher, Google Play