At Google I/O today, engineering director Chris Yerga took the stage to briefly speak about the Google Play update that debuted early this morning.
The new Play Store home screen will soon become a treasure trove of personalized recommendations. Google plans start populating your Play Store's splash screen with hand-picked (or at least algorithm-picked) book, app, and movie suggestions.
Perhaps more importantly, a new section in the Play Store's Top Charts will highlight apps built specifically for Android tablets. That's a key addition for the ecosystem; the lack of solid tablet app discovery is a frequent complaint about the Play Store, as many Android apps are built for phone interfaces and don't scale well to larger screens.
Expect to see the new mobile Play interface revealed in April to expand to the Web soon, as well. Yay color and uniformity!
Google Play for Education
Sundar Pinchai, the head of both Chrome and Android, took the stage a bit later to introduce Google Play for Education, a curated version of the Play Store designed for use in schools that have adopted Google Apps. Expect to see it this fall.
The apps in the Play Store for Education are all cherry-picked by a team of educators, and are filterable by subject matter and grade level. Each student who has been issued an Chromebook by their school receives their own Google account login. Educators can push out apps to several students at once using GPE's group functionality, and new apps can be purchased in bulk using purchase orders set up by the school district.
Pinchai says a handful of schools are already using Google Play for Education, and more than 1,000 schools are already using Chromebooks. Google, he said, has provided the backbone; now, it's up to developers to carry the torch forward. (You know, for the children.) Will they heed the call? Maybe, but this particular Google child feels like one that could very easily be left behind if Pinchai and co. fail to take it under their wing.
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