An Android phone is a gift that keeps on giving -- and soon you'll be able to send actual gifts to your Android-powered friends. Google is introducing gift cards -- and a wish list -- to Google Play to spend on Android apps, music, movies, ebooks and more.
The latest update for the Google Play store contains code and graphics to pay with a gift card. Android Police has screenshots, while Android Central reveals what the cards will look like on display next to the iTunes cards, scratchcards and chewing gum in your local shop.
The update also contains code for a wish list feature, which allows you to save apps to download later. That's handy for discovering apps, which I've always found clunky -- on every app store, including iTunes as well as Google Play. When you want an app to perform a specific task but don't know which one is best, the wishlist allows you to save a bunch of apps as a shortlist before downloading the best. Or you can share the list with friends and family, so they can buy them for you.
Google Play, formerly known as the Android Market, has been spruced up of late. The name change was the first step in a tune-up for the Android app emporium, making it more appealing to the masses who have come to Android.
I can't help but see the name change as a move away from the Android brand, which is beloved by early adopters but can be confusing for the man in the street, who will definitely have heard of Google but may not have made the connection with the Android name. It's telling that the front of the packaging for the Google gift cards doesn't include the word Android.
The de-Androidification of Android coincides with the launch of the tablet, which is super-cheap to lure punters in, in the hope of making mad money in the long-term as new converts binge on -- you guessed it -- Android apps, music, movies, ebooks and more.
In the US, gift cards look set to come in denominations of $10 and $25. I wouldn't be surprised if Google simply switches the dollar sign for a pound sign, but there's no word yet on when they'll go on sale.
Are Google gift cards a good idea? And is the big G killing the Android brand in favour of plain old Google? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page -- and why not check out our while you're at it.