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.
Filed under: Tablets, Software, Mobile, Microsoft
Via: Office Blogs
Source: Google Play (Excel), (PowerPoint), (Word)
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.
Filed under: Cellphones, Misc, Mobile, Google, Amazon
Source: Android Police, TechCrunch
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.
Filed under: Cellphones, Internet, Mobile, T-Mobile
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%
Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile, Nokia
Source: Nokia Z Launcher, Google Play
After years of development Disney unveiled its digital movie service on iOS earlier this year and today it's coming to Android too. When it launched, Disney Movies Anywhere had an unprecedented deep link to iTunes, and now on Android it's sharing a similar tie with Google Play. For users it's apparently as seamless as can be -- as long as they have a Disney account, any movies they unlock will be viewable on either family of devices (or the DMA website). The agreement covers access to around 400 Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies, and to make the sign-up worth your while, Disney is throwing in a free copy of Wreck-it Ralph for anyone that signs up and links an account.
Going cross-platform makes Disney's KeyChest-based system much more appealing -- and conveniently timed for the launch of Nexus Player / Android TV -- but we're still waiting to see if a tie-up with the likes of Amazon or Ultraviolet can fulfill the promise of unlocking a single copy in one store or with a Blu-ray / DVD purchase, and then being able to watch it anywhere, on any device. The Android app isn't live yet, but you can check out a demo video for now (embedded after the break).
Filed under: Home Entertainment, Internet, HD, Mobile, Google
Source: Disney Movies Anywhere (YouTube), Disney Movies Anywhere
Google's latest Play Books update for Android makes the app a lot easier to use for reading non-fiction e-books. See, Play Books is perfect if you're just reading something from cover to cover. But if you're using it to read text or reference books for school, or maybe even cookbooks (materials you usually flip through to find the page you're looking for), then it can be infuriating to use. Now, the latest version comes with a handful of features to change that, including one called Skim Mode that makes it easy to skim pages, as you can see after the break. Another feature called Quick Bookmarks lets you jump between the parts you've bookmarked, while the last one called Notes & Highlights is especially useful for students, since it lets you highlight text (say, quotes or important info you want to remember later) and take notes while reading. If you desperately need these features to get you through the next semester, head over to Google Play to download the app's latest version.
Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Mobile, Google
With how many of Google's core apps are getting the update to its new, flatter Material Design lately, the release of Android L can't be too much further away. While we wait for that, however, the Google Play redesign leaked not too long ago is available for sideloading right now, as spotted by Droid Life. With it, the "What's New" section's been moved back to the top of the store and you'll now be able to create device-specific profiles (like one for phones and another for tablets) for restoring a custom set of apps per gizmo-type. If you'd rather not wait your turn for the update from Mountain View, DL has the APK, while Android Police has a smattering of screenshots if you want an advance look of what you're getting into. If you haven't started a betting pool for when Android L will hit, now just might be the time.
Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Software, Mobile, Google
Source: Droid Life, Android Police
Let's say you're perpetually late to the party and are only just now getting around to checking out Star Wars: Tiny Death Star. Well, sadly your 11-month tardiness isn't doing you any favors here: Disney is pulling the app from both Google Play and the App Store, as spotted by Gamezebo. An anonymous source told the site that Tiny Death Star and Star Wars Assault Team are getting the axe with the intent to retire them and focus on other titles instead. Ian Marsh, co-owner of Death Star developer NimbleBit, revealed to Gamezebo that the delisting is as much a surprise to him as it is to everyone else. Speaking to Pocket Gamer, he said that he hadn't been told of any of this by Disney before it'd happened and that Mickey and Co. likely no longer felt the game was worth the cost of upkeep anymore. Death Star was a "significant source of revenue" for Marsh and his team, which he says makes this sting that much more.
Filed under: Cellphones, Gaming, Software, Mobile
Source: Pocket Gamer, Gamezebo, iTunes
Google may have already given Android's Play Store a big makeover this summer, but it's not done yet -- there's another revamp coming this year. Android Police has posted shots of a pre-release Play Store 5.0 update that's very clearly guided by Google's Material Design concept. While it's not quite as dramatic an overhaul as what we saw a few months ago, it's still a pretty noticeable change. Swaths of bright, solid color are everywhere, and there's even more of an emphasis on title pictures. You should get some extra function to go with this form, too; code buried in the update hints that you'll get to restore apps on a per-device basis, making it much easier to recreate your setup from an old phone. It's not certain just when the new Play Store will go live, but it's reasonable to presume that you'll see it around the same time as the similarly-styled Android L update.
Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Mobile, Google
Source: Android Police
You may remember that Google Play Music All Access on Android briefly got public playlist searching back in August, only to lose the option a short while later. Well, it's back -- and this time, it appears to be here to stay. Much like Spotify, the update Play Music app now lets you find others' carefully curated mixes and stream them on the spot. If you need a ready-made party playlist or just want to find out what your friends are listening to, you only have to visit the playlists section and start typing. The feature may take a while to hit your phone, but Android Police has a download if you can't wait to check out others' tastes in tunes.
Filed under: Cellphones, Internet, Mobile, Google
Via: PCWorld, Android Police
Source: Google Play