Google Brings Ads to the Google Play Store

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Google thinks it has found a new way for app developers to get noticed in the Google Play store, while boosting the tech giant's own revenue in the process.

The upcoming launch of sponsored search results in the Google Play store is being positioned as a way for 1 billion Android users to discover new apps they may not have come across before.

"We are always looking for new ways to help you get your apps in front of potential new users," the company said in a blog post. "That's why, in the next few weeks, we will begin piloting sponsored search results on Google Play, bringing our unique expertise in search ads to the store."

Once the ads are active, searching Google Play for terms like "travel" or "shopping" will bring up the usual listings, topped by the new sponsored result—clearly labeled with the yellow "Ad" label.

Ads will start rolling out to a small set of Android users over the next few weeks. Initially, the program will only be available to advertisers already running Google search campaigns.

The company noted in its blog post that it paid out over $7 billion to developers with apps in Google Play over the past year. Apple, on the other hand, which doesn't run paid search ads in the App Store, dished out $10 billion in the past year, according to Re/code.

February 27th 2015 Android, Technology

7-Day Week View in Google Calendar for Android

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The latest update to the Google Calendar app for Android brings a lot of new features. You can see more events with the new 7-day week view and pinch-to-zoom, add Google Drive files to events, hide Google+ birthdays from the settings, show week numbers and import .ics files from other apps. The new version is gradually rolling out over the next few days.

The feature that lets you hide Google+ birthdays will also be added to the web interface next week. All the other features are already available in the desktop site.

February 27th 2015 Android

You Can Now Build Apps For Band, Microsoft’s Fitness Wearable

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microsoftband Microsoft is updating the Band fitness wearable today, building out its on-device feature set, launching a web portal so that users can better interact with their collected data, and releasing an SDK to allow developers to build apps for the gadget. Application updates are rolling out for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Read More

February 24th 2015 Android, microsoft

Own A Chromecast? Google Wants To Give You $6

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chrome-1 The Chromecast is already a damned great little device. Pretty much the only thing that would make it better is if Google randomly gave you free money for owning one.
What do you know! That’s what they’re doing today. Read More

February 7th 2015 Android, Google

13 Questions With Matt Rogers

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rogers-13q Welcome to 13 Questions, a series aimed at bringing a human face to notable figures in the world of startups, hardware, and tech. Ever wonder how your favorite designer learned to love tech? Curious what’s on your favorite VC’s bucket list? Want to see the person behind the media hype? 13 Questions is here.
Matt Rogers is the co-founder and VP of Engineering of Nest Labs. Before… Read More

February 7th 2015 Android, apple

Google Uses Hangouts As A Virtual Genius Bar To Sell Google Devices

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Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 14.59.58 In 2013, Google expanded its Hangouts video conferencing service into a commerce platform called Helpouts, where people buy and sell services like cooking or technical advice via live video. Now Google is transplanting a free version of that into its own business to help with sales of its products. It is now running a live video chat service for would-be buyers of Google smartphones,… Read More

February 7th 2015 Android, Google

New Adware Found In Google Play Apps With Millions Of Downloads

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mobile-malware A new report from security firm Avast out this morning reveals the discovery of a new form of malware on the Google Play store, which begins to display advertisements disguised as warning messages to end users when they unlock their Android smartphone. What’s interesting about this malware – or adware, as it’s better known – is that some of the applications where it… Read More

February 4th 2015 Android, malware, Mobile, security

Social Shopping App Depop Raises $8M, Hires Ex-Reddit GM To Break Into US Market

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Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 19.26.10 While eBay tries to get more social and local, and Pinterest deepens is position in e-commerce, a new mobile app out of London is building out a platform that combines all of those experiences together natively. Depop, a mobile app for iOS and Android that is part Instagram-style social network and part eBay marketplace, has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Balderton Capital… Read More

January 30th 2015 Android

Microsoft Wants You To Store And Manage Your Photos On OneDrive

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Microsoft Bing Maps' datacenter When Dropbox introduced Carousel, it made a bid to be the home for all your photos. Microsoft wants to make a similar pitch. Today, the company outlined new ways to import, manage and share your photos on OneDrive, its cloud storage platform. Again, it is far from the first company to do so, so we can view its efforts from a historical perspective. Read More

January 29th 2015 Android, microsoft

Weed Apps Are Dazed And Confused Over Apple’s Unpredictable Policies

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Weed tech companies have an Apple problem. They face uncertain rules when navigating its App Store policies, and now a petition is circulating asking the iPhone maker to lighten up.

These cana-businesses range from digital publications and social apps to investment funds and ad networks, all dedicated to the burgeoning legalized marijuana trade. Many are based in Colorado, where recreational pot is legal, but despite their legitimacy under the law, they're having a hard time getting approval from Apple for their apps. Pot tech entrepreneurs say Apple's restrictions are unpredictable, unfair and threatening the growth of a budding industry.

Apple is notoriously arbitrary in choosing the apps that will grace its digital store, and that store controls a major share of the mobile market and can make or break companies. Last year, it banned a game called Weed Firm, which let people virtually grow and sell pot. Now, apps like MassRoots, an Instagram-style social network centered on pot, say they have been banned because Apple doesn't seem to allow services that connect likeminded marijuana lovers. 

After it was kicked out of the App Store, MassRoots wrote a letter to Apple and began circulating an online petition this month. 

"We're a social network for cannabis that enables people to talk about the plant in ways most people don't feel comfortable on other social networks," said Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots. "I don't want grandma to see me taking bong rips on Facebook."

MassRoots is allowed in Google Play's Android app market, but Apple is far stricter. The app had been in the Apple App Store for 14 months until November, when it was kicked off on Election Day as some states prepared to vote on marijuana laws, following legalization in Colorado and Washington.

"Apple really hurt us and our right to assemble, our right to free speech, and our right to mobilize cannabis consumers like any other constituency," Dietrich said by phone this week. "It's ironic that on the same day Alaska and Oregon voted to legalize marijuana, Apple took the opposite approach."

Apple has not responded to Adweek's requests for comment on this issue.

MassRoots is not just a novelty app. Though relatively small with 120,000 downloads before being booted from iPhones, it has legitimate business prospects of raising investment dollars, though it has no revenue yet, Dietrich said. And it's not alone in attracting investors—weed tech businesses garnered more than $100 million in venture capital last year, according to CB Insights.

MassRoots has ambitious plans for growth, including the goal of going public, Dietrich said. It's in the process of raising more money from investors, who already gave the company more than $600,000, he said.

The sector has attracted big-name investors like Peter Thiel, won the support of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and is bordering on mainstream with apps like Weedmaps gaining traction. In fact, Weedmaps, a Yelp-like service that rates pot dispensaries, was just forced by Apple to change how it promotes recreational pot shops, according to Dietrich.

Though Weedmaps would not comment for this article, sources familiar with the app's status said it now can't give specific information to users telling them which marijuana outlets in legal states are either for medical or recreational purchases.

Other app developers and aspiring pot tech titans say Apple is schizophrenic in its rules. One app called Whaxy—with plans to serve as an Open Table for pot pickups—just won approval this week, and it was built by a company that already had two other pot programs blocked. One of the banned properties calculated the THC content of certain edibles, and the other, called Nuggle, was going to connect pot smokers like Tinder connects daters.

In the case of Nuggle, the social networking component could have been the problem, according to Zachary Marburger, Nuggle founder and CEO of Whaxy.

Marburger said Apple is stifling the business of weed. "The ability for us to even be in the App Store, let alone have the features we want and need for our businesses to be successful, is huge," he said.

He was surprised Whaxy even got the go-ahead and hopes it lasts, because he fears Apple could randomly penalize the app, which lets users reserve pot pickups at dispensaries. "You can place an order at the dispensary and skip the lines, which are usually out the door," Marburger said.

Whaxy had to engineer the app to direct people to its mobile website to complete actions Apple would not allow like finalizing their pot orders, Marburger said.

Marburger supports MassRoots' petition to get Apple to change policies. Only thousands have signed so far, but plenty of pot tech firms are on board, including a digital display ad network called Mantis.

"We are not asking for Apple to endorse cannabis-related applications or their content," a letter from the pot-powered companies to Apple reads. "We are simply requesting that Apple's customers have the right to download marijuana Apps if they so choose."

January 17th 2015 Android, apple, iphone, Mobile, Technology