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Summary:

After months with a sub-par user experience, the Google Play store is gaining needed improvements. Application updates comprised of just changed code now helps limit mobile broadband use while gift cards and wishlists are coming soon, per the latest version of Google Play.

Google Play store with gift card redemption

After announcing in June that Android app updates would be improved, Google has implemented its “smart app updates” feature. Android Police first spotted the change, which coincides with a new version of Google Play. Thanks to the new feature, mobile app updates won’t require a full download of the entire app; only the deltas, or code changes, are needed to update Android apps. Google is also readying support for gift cards and app or media wishlists.

The “smart app updates feature” is important because of the mobile broadband data plan limits many consumers use for their Android phone or tablet. App updates can certainly take place over free Wi-Fi connections, but one key feature of Android meant for convenience can actually impact broadband usage negatively: Automatic app updates.

When enabled, mobile apps are simply downloaded in the background whenever they become available, meaning users could be getting these over a 3G or 4G connection. Apple’s iTunes Store helps to manage bandwidth by limiting the size of app downloads over 3G or 4G, but I haven’t yet noticed delta updates for mobile apps.

Google’s implementation of “smart app updates” is another step forward to improving its Google Play store and one that’s needed. A key decision factor between Android and iOS devices is the app store experience as well as the amount of quality applications and media choices found in the store.

In June, Google added several new content partners for movies, TV shows and magazines, helping to showcase media with its Nexus 7 tablet. And although Google hasn’t officially announced this news yet, Google Play gift cards in $10 and $25 denominations have been spotted as well as a wishlist feature to help bring parity between Google Play and the iTunes store. Both of these new features were found in the code of the latest Google Play app by Android Police, so it’s likely just a matter of time before an official announcement and Google flipping the switch to activate support for gift card redemption and wishlists.

  1. We automated the app build process to allow for music experiences a few years ago. Apple would not allow us to embed music, thereby competing with iTunes. It would be interesting to know if Google feels that app-based music experiences could build on such a marketplace. We built it portably…

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  2. “Why the Google Play experience is about to rival iTunes”

    That wouldn’t be difficult, because the iTunes experience is extremely poor. Apple’s software is clunky, a monstrosity and a running joke in IT and software development circles. iTunes is also consistently the most expensive way to buy digital music, and the most restrictive too. iTunes is a joke which, like most Apple products, owes its success above all to amazing marketing.

    Have you tried Amazon.com?

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    1. I buy all of my music from Amazon.com; I have since they started up the MP3 store, mainly due to the price difference. Then again, I buy far less music than I used to. I’ve been subscribing to Rdio for nearly a year and prefer access to a larger library of tracks.

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    2. iTunes is for iPod/iPhone.

      Great product brought us to iTunes and not marketing.

      There is just this feeling that iPod should have songs only from iTunes.

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  3. Integration with G-Wallet could be interesting if the gift card’s funds can transfered and used outside the Play Store.

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    1. The gift card doesn’t work INSIDE the Google market (I still refuse to call it play,…I’m not 8yrs old, Google)

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  4. Why the Amazon experience will soon rival iTunes. This was the headline many years ago when Amazon launched their Amazon mp3 Store. Years later and iTunes Store still hold on to 70% of the market.

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  5. You do know that Apple announced Delta updates before Google did…right(WWDC)? Google brought it out first, but it’s coming with iOS6….

    iTunes is a great resource if you are accessing it directly from the iPad or iPod…though it’s terror if it’s on the PC or MAC. I really do think they just need to make it look like the iPad version.

    I will buy content from where it has the best price/convenience. The balance is very important. If I can get a redbox dvd on my way home from work for $1 and I have a DVD player already, I am not going to pay $5 to rent it on itunes.

    I will pay the itunes rate though if redbox does not have it, or if I do not have a dvd player where I am, or if I have to make a special trip to go out and get the DVD. People want easy, but they always want cheap. There has to be the perfect balance. iTunes offers a great selection and super convenient offering(since you can play it on almost any screen now)

    Google play is basically offering exactly what iTunes offers…it’s nothing revolutionary(iTunes did that already) but it just make sense for the market to follow it…because it work.

    Redbox and netflix have their place, but so does iTunes and Google Play.

    Just to mention Amazon…it’s just another offering, it all ties into what eco system you have devices to watch the content on. If you have a iPad and apple TV, you will most likely shoot for iTunes. if you have a Kindle or Roku you will shoot for amazon…if you have a android device you may go with google play. Apple has the lion share of devices. That’s why Amazon finally released their app for the iPad….they are all about selling content, so it doe snot make sense to limit their content audience if the number are favoring the ipad.

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    1. “Google play is basically offering exactly what iTunes offers…it’s nothing revolutionary(iTunes did that already) but it just make sense for the market to follow it…because it work.”

      Great, that paragraph probably inspired Apple to sue Google for having a store of its own… Apple seriously needs to stop being babies and accept that iOS has less than 1/5 of the market share and Android has almost all of it.

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  6. I’ve been harping on this for a while. The way Google is connecting EVERYTHING together (synergy) is going to make them a powerhouse. I’m in the music business so when an artist wants to know how to put songs on Google Play or how to sell music on google play I tell them the best company to roll with is ADEDistribution cause they already have a deal in place with google play. Plus, they are cheaper than most other distributors and work with independents. It’ pretty easy to promote across google now :)

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  7. When google put their google music programme they’ve been working on into Google play, they’ll have music, tv, movies and apps just like iTunes. All Google will have to do then is make it a downloadable programme like iTunes is and make it easy to use. Once that’s done, Iphone sales will drop as people have found that being able to properly sync your phone with your PC (instead of a random third party programme like Android users have had to do for a while) and people will realise that the similarly priced android phones have better tech inside and then there will be a proper market with proper competitiveness and more new ideas

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  8. Carson Loveridge Thursday, October 4, 2012

    256K AAC > 320K MP3

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