Forked Android devices might be a threat to Google's control

In today's Android roundup: The number of forked Android devices has risen to 20%. Plus: Longer Google Play app refund windows? And the Google Now Launcher has been released for Android 4.1 or higher

By , ITworld |  Mobile & Wireless, Android

Android is beating the pants off iOS and other mobile platforms in terms of market share. But a rise in forked Android devices may threaten Google's control of the Android platform. The Next Web reports that these forked devices might become a huge headache for Google.

According to The Next Web:

But while Google has ‘won’ the smartphone market share war — revenue is different, iOS is far ahead — the company faces a growing issue: the rise of non-Google Android.

The concern for Google centers around the fact that AOSP handsets don’t emphasize Google services. Since Google is not a primary hardware company — though it has its Nexus range and used to own Motorola — having its services as a central of Android is an important way to get engagement (and revenue) from mobile phone owners.

More at The Next Web

Android forks threaten Google
Image credit: The Next Web

As the article notes, Google is aware of this problem and has created Android One to help combat it. The Verge has a good article that delves into Android One and explains how it might affect lower-cost Android smartphones.

A two hour refund window in the Google Play store?
Android Police thinks that Google might be moving from a fifteen minute refund window in the Google Play store to a two hour one.

According to Android police:

If you've purchased an app or game on the Play Store recently and gone to see if you could return it, you may have noticed something a bit odd: you could still do so outside of the alleged 15 minute return window. In fact, that now seems to be the case for many paid apps and games, despite no published changes in the store's refund policies.

To test this seemingly longer window, three members of the AP team all bought apps on the Play Store. All of us had the same experience while monitoring the availability of the "refund" button. Instead of disappearing after 15 minutes, as it has since December 2010 when Google dropped the refund window for the then-Android Market from 24 hours down to its current 15 minutes, the refund window stayed open a solid 2 hours. After two hours, it reliably closed.

More at Android Police

A longer window would no doubt please many Google play customers, but it sounds like Google isn't ready to announce it just yet. Oddly, some folks on the Reddit thread about this have reported that they returned apps even after much longer periods of time.

Hopefully Google will enlighten all of us about this soon. It seems to have people confused as to just how long they have to return Android apps in the Google Play store.

Google Now Launcher released
Google announced the release of the Google Now Launcher for Android 4.1 or higher.

According to Google+:

Today we're releasing the Google Now Launcher for all devices that run Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and higher.

The Google Now Launcher gives you a home screen that's clean, simple and customizable. One swipe leads to Google Now cards, bringing you the right information at just the right time. Tapping the search box or saying "Ok Google" lets you ask a question or search the web. And of course, you can easily add your favorite apps, widgets and wallpaper.

More at Google+

You can download the Google Now Launcher from the Google Play store. Right now it has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating based on more than 86,000 raters.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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