This Week In Android: Apr 8th-14th

April 14th. The middle of the month and a date remembered by some as the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 or perhaps the unprecedented tie result for the Academy Award for Best Actress in the ’60s. Here in 2013, we use this date to mark the culmination of another week of Android news.

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Google Redesigns Google Play app

Google has this week released a major redesign to the Google Play app for Android, introducing a colourful new interface that centres around Google Now-style cards and focusing on images.

The redesign follows a similar move from Apple a while back that swapped out a tabular design for one focused on much larger card-based layouts.

The new Google Play design favours more colour and an image-focused design.

The redesign has already begun rolling out for some devices running Android 2.2 or higher and will continue to do so over the next few weeks.

Google Babel Rumours

Rumours reached a new peak this week surrounding Google’s mysterious new cross-platform messaging service. The service, being referred to as “Babel”, is said to tie together Google’s existing communication services together into one, replacing the individual products like Google Talk and Google+ Hangouts.

Competing with Apple’s iMessage, the service is rumoured to be making its way to Android, iOS and Chrome, as well as inside the cross-browser-compatible Gmail web app.

Google Babel could replace Google’s existing properties like Google Talk.

Reports have tagged Google’s new service with an announcement timeframe of Google I/O, Google’s annual developer conference in May. We’ll look forward to checking back when more details emerge then.

Samsung Announces Galaxy Mega Line

Not leaving their 2013 lineup to tiny 5-inch phones, Samsung announced the Galaxy Mega 5.8 and Galaxy Mega 6.3 this week.

The Galaxy Mega 6.3

The Galaxy Mega 6.3 sports a 720p 6.3-inch display, powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with LTE, while the Galaxy Mega 5.8 features a qHD 5.8-inch display and a 1.4GHz dual-core CPU. Both devices have 8GB of storage — although a 16GB 6.3″ model is available — with a microSD slot and 1.5GB of RAM, all running an up-to-date Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Pricing isn’t yet known, but the devices are set to launch in Europe in May, rolling to additional territories over time.

Other Updates

  • Facebook made available Facebook Home on the Play Store this week for certain compatible devices, following their announcement last week.
  • Facebook also updated its Android Messenger app this week with a new Chat Heads feature in the style of Facebook Home, which allows chatting with contacts between apps without having to use the full Android launcher.
  • Google announced that developers who pre-ordered Google Glass in the special Explorer Edition package will begin receiving their order within “the next month”.
  • Microsoft launched a new ad campaign this week highlighting privacy concerns with Gmail’s ad delivery. The campaign includes newspaper advertisements and Bing-focused video campaign.

Check in with Android.AppStorm next week for another instalment of This Week In Android!