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

Disney Movies Anywhere service comes to Android with a link to 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).

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Source: Disney Movies Anywhere (YouTube), Disney Movies Anywhere

Google makes Play Books more student friendly

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.

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Google Play on Android has its flattest design yet

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.

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Source: Droid Life, Android Police

Rebels aren’t taking ‘Star Wars: Tiny Death Star’ offline — Disney is

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.

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Source: Pocket Gamer, Gamezebo, iTunes

Android’s new flatter design is taking over the Play Store app soon

Google Play Store's Material Design makeover

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.

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Source: Android Police

Google Play Music on Android lets you find your friends’ playlists

All Access public playlists ain't nothin' to mess with

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.

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Via: PCWorld, Android Police

Source: Google Play

Google Play officially extends return window to two hours

While Google already had been offering an extended two-hour window for app and game returns, the outfit has officially acknowledged the change. Before the switch, Android users had 15 minutes to decide whether or not they wanted to keep software they'd just purchased. From the title's page in Google Play, options for Open and Refund are displayed during the 120-minute period following the initial download. Once that time is up though, you're saddled with it for good as Refund is replaced the Uninstall button. Don't expect to get multiple refunds for the same app, either. Once you've received your funds back, if you choose to splurge for the same selection again, you can't return it a second time.

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Via: Android Central

Source: Google Play Support Page

Brazilian judge tells Apple and Google to pull Secret from people’s devices

Secret on an iPhone

Secret's app is ostensibly meant for office gossip and getting transgressions out of your system, but it has also been abused by bullies wanting to intimidate and shame others. Well, one Brazilian judge is fed up with that misuse -- enough so that he's ordering Apple and Google to remove Secret not just from their respective local app stores, but from people's devices. Microsoft also has to yank Cryptic, an equivalent Windows Phone app. If the companies don't take action within 10 days, they face fines of 20,000 Reals ($8,876) per day. That's a drop in the bucket given their massive revenue streams, but it's reasonable to say that they'd rather not pay that much just to keep one title available in one country.

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Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Estadao (translated)

Google pulls Gaza-themed Android app from Play Store following outcry

Google sign

Google regularly screens Android apps in the Play Store, but it's usually focused on blocking malware and scams rather than the substance of the apps themselves. Today, though, it took the rare step of policing content by removing Bomb Gaza, a game that made light of the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. A spokesman would only tell Reuters that it pulls apps which "violate [the company's] policies," but the forced exit came not long after outrage from Play Store users who felt that the game trivialized very real casualties. Most likely, Google took the title down due to terms of service that forbid hate speech and abusive material; users can flag apps they find offensive, so it wouldn't have taken much to prompt action. While the move isn't completely surprising as a result, it's a reminder that Google will clamp down when software is virtually tailor-made for antagonizing entire cultures.

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Source: Reuters