Google brings Chrome OS Instant Tethering to more Chromebooks and phones

Tethering your laptop and phone can be a bit of a hassle. Google’s Chrome OS has long offered a solution called Instant Tethering that makes the process automatic, but so far, this only worked for a small set of Google’s own Chromebooks and phones, starting with the Nexus 6. Now Google is officially bringing this feature to a wider range of devices after testing it behind a Chrome OS flag for a few weeks. With this, Instant Tethering is now available on an additional 15 Chromebooks and more than 30 phones.

The promise of Instant Tether is pretty straightforward. Instead of having to turn on the hotspot feature on your phone and then manually connecting to the hotspot from your device (and hopefully remembering to turn it off when you are done), this feature lets you do this once during the setup process and then, when the Chromebook doesn’t have access to a Wi-Fi network, it’ll simply create a connection to your phone with a single click. If you’re not using the connection for more than 10 minutes, it’ll also automatically turn off the hotspot feature on the phone, too.

Tethering, of course, counts against your cell plan’s monthly data allotment (and even most “unlimited” plans only feature a limited number of GB for tethering), so keep that in mind if you decide to turn on this feature.

You can find the full list of newly supported devices, which include many of today’s most popular Android phones and Chromebooks, below.


Android – TechCrunch

Google improves Android App Bundles and makes building Instant Apps easier

Google is launching a number of new features for Android app developers today that will make it easier for them to build smaller apps that download faster and to release instant apps that allow potential users to trial a new app without having to install it.

Android App Bundles, a feature that allows developers to modularize their apps and deliver features on demand, aren’t a new feature. The company announced these a while ago and there are now “thousands of app bundles” in production and that the average file size reduction is 35 percent. With today’s update, Google is making some changes to how app bundles handle uncompressed native libraries that are already on a device. Those will lead to downloads that are on average 8 percent smaller than before and take up 16 percent less space on a device.

Talking about size, Google now lets developers upload app bundles with installed APK sizes of up to 500 megabytes, though this is currently still in early access.

In addition, App Bundles are now supported in Android Studio 3.2 stable and Unity 2018.3 beta.

While small app sizes are nice, another feature Google is announcing today will likely have a larger impact on developers and users alike. That’s because the company is making some changes to Instant Apps, a feature that allows developers to ship a small part of their apps as a trial or to show a part of the app experience when users come in from search results — and there’s no need to download the full app and go through the (slow) install procedure.

With this update, Google is now using App Bundles to let developers build their instant apps. That means they don’t have to publish both an instant app and an installable app anymore. Instead, they can enable their App Bundles to include an instant app and publish a single app to the store. Thanks to that, there’s also no additional code to maintain.

Developers can now also build instant apps for their premium titles and publish them for their pre-registration campaigns, something that wasn’t previously an option.

Other updates for Android developers include improved crash reports that now combine real-world data from users with that from the Firebase Test Lab when Google sees those crashes under both circumstances. There are also updates to how developers can set up subscription billing for their apps and a couple of other minor changes that you can read about here.


Android – TechCrunch

In-app purchases are coming to Facebook’s Instant Games on Android and the web

Facebook is adding support for in-app purchases to its Instant Games platform, the company announced during a session on gaming at its F8 developer conference this afternoon. The feature will allow game developers to add another form of monetization beyond advertising to their games on select platforms, but not on iOS.

Instead, support for in-app purchases will be available to Instant Games on Android and on Facebook.com on the web.

First launched in 2016, Facebook opened up Instant Games to all developers last month. The platform allows developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work across both Facebook and Messenger. The idea is to give game developers access to another sizable platform for their work, in addition to the existing app stores run by Apple and Google.

Facebook has had in-app purchases on its roadmap for Instant Games for some time, and began testing the feature with select developers around six months ago.

Similar to the app stores, the revenue share model for Instant Games is 70/30 on Facebook.com. However, on mobile, the games will follow the in-app billing terms from each platform, the company notes. That means purchases made in games running on Android devices, the 30 percent revenue share will apply after the standard mobile platform revenue share — aka Google’s own 70/30 cut.

That’s not ideal, of course. And all the hands in the pie may lead to game developers pricing their in-app purchases higher, as a result.

Facebook seems to acknowledge this concern in its blog post announcement, saying: “Our primary goal is to build [in-app purchases] in a way so that our developer partners can sustain and grow, and we’ll continue to evaluate rev/share with that goal in mind.”

Facebook wouldn’t confirm if or when support for in-app purchases is coming to iOS.

In addition to helping developers generate revenue outside of using ads in their games, in-app purchases in games could prove beneficial to Facebook as well. The company’s payment revenue has dwindled over the years, with things like Messenger payments never really seeing significant attention. Plus, Facebook made it possible for third-parties like PayPal to operate over Messenger, which signaled its disinterest in the payments space in general.

In-app purchases in games turns things around, a bit.

The submission process for in-app purchases will open up to developers on May 7, allowing them to implement the monetization features on Android and the web. In the meantime, Facebook is offering documentation about the feature here.


Android – TechCrunch

Google Play adds Android Instant Apps via a ‘Try it Now’ button, among other changes

 Google today is announcing a number of changes to its Google Play app store, the most notable being a new way to try apps immediately without having to first install them on your mobile device. The new feature takes advantage of “Android Instant Apps” technology – Google’s attempt at bridging the mobile web world with that of native applications. Instant Apps were… Read More
Android – TechCrunch

Google starts testing Instant Apps in the wild

O92A6441 One of the biggest surprises at last year’s Google I/O developer conference was the announcement of Instant Apps for Android. These new kinds of apps are meant to help bridge the gap between web apps and native apps. The idea here is to break native apps into very small packets that, because they are so small, can run almost instantly — and without having to go to an app… Read More
Android – TechCrunch