Google’s newest app Blog Compass helps bloggers in India manage their sites

Google has been heavily focused on serving the needs of Indian web users with the recent launch of apps like Tez for payments, Areo for food ordering, Neighbourly for communities, data-friendly versions of apps like Search and YouTube, and others. Now, the company is launching an app to serve the need of Indian bloggers with an app called “Blog Compass.”

The new app, now in beta, quietly popped up in the Google Play Store this week with a note that’s it’s “only available in India.”

According to its Play Store description, Blog Compass helps bloggers manage their sites and find topics to write about based on Google’s trending topics. These suggestions will also be based on the bloggers’ interests and posting history, it says.

The app also helps bloggers manage their sites by tracking their site stats, approving comments and reading through tips for how to make their blogs more successful.

It works with both Google’s own Blogger.com blogs as well as with WordPress sites. These are two of the largest platforms used by bloggers around the world. WordPress alone powers around 30 percent of websites, in fact.

Blog Compass feels something like an introductory app for those who aren’t as familiar with how the web or blogging works. That may be appropriate for an emerging market like India, where many are coming online for the first time by way of mobile devices, having skipped the PC era of internet connectivity.

However, as any old-school blogger would tell you, writing posts simply to cater to whatever is currently trending on Google is something of a traffic hack — and not necessarily how you want to build an audience for your site. Sure, it may bring you clicks as you chase one hot topic after another — but it’s better to develop your own voice and write what you’re passionate about if you really want to develop a relationship with readers.

On the Blog Compass website, screenshots show some of the sample teachings the app will contain. These include courses on things like getting started with SEO and analytics, for example. And, of course, getting your website listed on Google.

The app is simply designed, with navigation via tabs at the bottom of the screen for moving through sections like Home, Activity, Topics and Badges.

It seems the idea is to centralize a lot of the topic research and blog management overhead in a central place — something you can’t necessarily do with WordPress or Blogger’s own mobile apps, where the focus is more on using those apps’ publishing tools.

We’ve reached out to Google to ask for more information about its intentions with Blog Compass, including whether it intends to roll it out to more markets in the future, or if it’s been developed specifically for India.

Google will lose $50 million or more in 2018 from Fortnite bypassing the Play Store

When Fortnite Battle Royale launched on Android, it made an unusual choice: it bypassed Google Play in favor of offering the game directly from Epic Games’ own website. Most apps and games don’t have the luxury of making this choice – the built-in distribution Google Play offers is critical to their business. But Epic Games believes its game is popular enough and has a strong enough draw to bring players to its website for the Android download instead. In the process, it’s costing Google around $50 million this year in platform fees, according to a new report.

As of its Android launch date, Fortnite had grossed over $180 million on iOS devices, where it had been exclusively available since launching as an invite-only beta on March 15th, before later expanding to all App Store customers.

According to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the game has earned Apple more than $54 million thanks to its 30 percent cut of all the in-app spending that takes place on apps distributed in its store.

That’s money Epic Games isn’t apparently willing to give up to Google, when there’s another way.

Unlike Apple, which only allows apps to be downloaded from its own storefront, Google’s platform is more open. There’s a way to adjust an Android device’s settings to download apps and games from anywhere on the web. Of course, by doing so, users are exposed to more security risks, malware infections, and other malicious attacks.

For those reasons, security researchers are saying that Epic Games’ decision sets a dangerous precedent by encouraging people to remove the default security protections from their devices. They’re also concerned that users who look for the game on Google Play could be fooled into downloading suspicious copycat apps that may be trying to take advantage of Fortnite’s absence to scam mobile users.

Google seems to be worried about that, too.

For the first time ever, the company is informing Google Play users that a game is not available for download.

Now, when users search for things like “Fortnite” or “Fortnite Battle Royale,” Google Play will respond that the app is “not available on Google Play.” (One has to wonder if Google’s misspelling of “Royale” as “Royal” in its message was a little eff u to the gamemakers, or just a bit of incompetence.)

In any event, it’s an unusual response on Google’s part – and one it can believably claim was done to serve users as well as protect them from any potential scam apps.

However, the message could lead to some pressure on Epic Games, too. It could encourage consumer complaints from those who want to more easily (or more safely) download the game, as well as from those who don’t understand there’s an alternative method or are confused about how that method works.

In addition, Google is serving up the also hugely popular PUBG Mobile at the top of Fortnite search results followed by other games. In doing so, it’s sending users to another game that can easily eat up users’ time and attention.

For Google, the move by Epic Games is likely troubling, as it could prompt other large games to do the same. While one odd move by Epic Games won’t be a make or break situation for Google Play revenue (which always lags iOS), if it became the norm, Google’s losses could climb.

At present, Google is missing out on millions that will now go directly to the game publisher itself.

Over the rest of 2018, Sensor Tower believes Fortnite will have gained at least $50 million in revenues that would otherwise have been paid out to Google.

The firm expects that when Fortnite rolls out to all supported Android devices, its launch revenue on the platform will closely resemble the first several months of Apple App Store player spending.

It may even surpass it, given the game’s popularity continues growing and the standalone download allows it to reach players in countries where Google Play isn’t available.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns that the download makes it more difficult on users with older Android devices to access the game, because the process for sideloading apps isn’t as straightforward. But Sensor Tower says this will not have a large enough impact to affect Fortnite’s revenue potential in the long run.

Amazon Rapids, the chat fiction for kids, is now free

Amazon Rapids, the chat fiction that encourages kids to read by presenting stories in the form of text message conversations, is now going free. Previously, Amazon had been charging $2.99 per month for a subscription that allows unlimited access to its story collection, which now numbers in the hundreds.

First launched in November 2016, Amazon Rapids was meant to capitalize on kids’ interest in chat fiction apps like Hooked, Yarn, Tap and others, which tend to cater to a slightly older teenage crowd. Amazon Rapids, meanwhile, was the schoolager-appropriate version, without the swearing, alcohol, sex and yeah, even incest references you’ll find in the Hooked app, for example. (Yuck. Delete.)

Instead, Amazon Rapids’ stories are aimed at kids ages 5 to 12 and generally just silly and fun. They’re not meant to addict kids through the use of cliffhangers and timeouts, nor are they scary.

Some of the app’s stories also serve as crossovers that helped promote Amazon’s kids’ TV shows, like “Danger & Eggs,” and “Niko and the Sword of Light.” These were authored by the shows’ writers, allowing them to extend the show’s universe in a natural way.

In addition, the app included educational features like a built-in glossary and a read-along mode to help younger readers.

However, the app wasn’t heavily marketed by Amazon, and many parents don’t even know it exists, it seems.

According to data from Sensor Tower, Amazon Rapids has been installed only around 120,000+ times to date, three-quarters of which are on iOS. (Subscription revenue goes through Amazon, not the app stores, so the firm doesn’t have a figure for that.)

Amazon Rapids is ranked pretty low on the App Store, at No. 1105 for iPhone downloads in the Education category, and No. 1001 on iPad. The highest it ever reached was No. 65 on iPad.

Oddly, it chose not to compete in the “Books” category, where the other chat fiction apps reside, as do the other non-traditional “book” apps, like Wattpad’s crowd-sourced fiction app, Audible’s audiobooks app, various comics apps, and others.

Amazon now says that the hundreds of stories in Rapids will be free going forward. Families can also listen to some of these stories through the Storytime Alexa skill, launched last summer, which includes stories from Amazon Rapids, along with others.

Given Amazon Rapids’ small user base, it’s clear that Amazon no longer believes it makes sense to try to sell subscriptions, and likely now sees its database of stories as more of a value-add for Alexa owners.

That said, it’s unclear what this means for Rapids’ future development and story catalog, which may not continue to grow. (We’ve asked Amazon if it plans to keep adding content to Rapids, and will update if the company responds.)

YouTube’s dark theme has started gradually rolling out to Android

A dark theme option for YouTube users on Android is in the early stages of rolling out to end users, Google confirmed to TechCrunch, following a number of reports and sightings of the dark mode showing up for users in the app’s settings. The feature has taken a bit longer to launch than expected – YouTube first announced a dark mode for its mobile app back in March, when it launched on iOS. At the time, the company said the dark theme for Android was coming “soon.”

Five months later, well, here it is.

Similar to its iOS counterpart, the dark theme is toggled on or off in the Android app’s Settings. When enabled, YouTube’s usual white background switches to black throughout the YouTube app experience as your browse, search and watch videos.

The dark theme has a variety of benefits for end users. It gives watching videos a more cinematic feel, for starters. And when you’ve been staring at your screen for a long time, it can help you to better focus on the content, and not the controls. It can also help to cut down on glare, and help viewers take in the true colors of the videos they watch, the company previously explained.

Plus, some tests have shown dark themes can save battery life – something that’s particularly useful for YouTube’s 1.8 billion monthly users, who are spending more than an hour per day watching YouTube videos on mobile devices.

Above: Image credits, Imgur user absinth92

YouTube first introduced a dark theme in May 2017, when it debuted a series of enhancements to its desktop website, including its simpler, Material Design-inspired look. At the time, it said a dark theme for mobile was a top request.

The YouTube app isn’t alone in catering to users’ desire for a dark mode. Other high-profile apps have gone this route as well, including Twitter, Reddit, Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific, Reddit clients like Beam, Narwhal, and Apollo, podcast player Overcast, calendar app Fantastical, Telegram X, Instapaper, Pocket, Feedly and others.

Google told us that the dark theme for YouTube on Android is still in the early phases of a gradual rollout, and it will have more updates about this launch in the “coming weeks.”

The change arrives alongside update a YouTube Community Manager shared in YouTube’s Help Forum about YouTube’s adaptive video player. The player on desktop now removes the black bars alongside 4:3 and vertical videos, by adjusting the viewing area accordingly, they said.

Apple’s App Store revenue nearly double that of Google Play in first half of 2018

Apple’s App Store continues to outpace Google Play on revenue. In the first half of the year, the App Store generated nearly double the revenue of Google Play on half the downloads, according to a new report from Sensor Tower out today. In terms of dollars and cents, that’s $22.6 billion in worldwide gross app revenue on the App Store versus $11.8 billion for Google Play – or, 1.9 times more spent on the App Store compared with what was spent on Google Play.

This trend is not new. Apple’s iOS store has consistently generated more revenue than its Android counterpart for years due to a number of factors – including the fact that Android users historically have spent less on apps than iOS users, as well as the fact that there are other Android app stores consumer can shop – like the Amazon Appstore or Samsung Store, for example. In addition, Google Play is not available in China, but Apple’s App Store is.

Last year, consumer spending on the App Store reached $38.5 billion, again nearly double that of Google Play’s $20.1 billion.

As the new figures for the first half of 2018 indicate, consumer spending is up this year.

Sensor Tower estimates it has increased by 26.8 percent on iOS compared with the same period in 2017, and it’s up by 29.7 percent on Google Play.

The growth in spending can be partly attributed to subscription apps like Netflix, Tencent Video, and even Tinder, as has been previously reported.

Subscription-based apps are big businesses these days, having helped to boost app revenue in 2017 by 77 percent to reach $781 million, according to an earlier study. Netflix was also 2017’s top non-game app by revenue, and recently became ranked as the top (non-game) app of all-time by worldwide consumer spend, according to App Annie’s App Store retrospective.

Many of the other all-time top apps following Netflix were also subscription-based, including Spotify (#2), Pandora (#3), Tencent Video (#4), Tinder (#5), and HBO NOW (#8), for example.

And Netflix is again the top non-game app by consumer spending in the first half of 2018, notes Sensor Tower.

Game spending, however, continues to account for a huge chunk of revenue.

Consumer spending on games grew 19.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to $26.6 billion across both stores, representing roughly 78 percent of the total spent ($16.3 billion on the App Store and $10.3 billion on Google Play). Honor of Kings from Tencent, Monster Strike from Mixi, and Fate/Grand Order from Sony Aniplex were the top grossing games across both stores.

App downloads were also up in the first half of the year, if by a smaller percentage.

Worldwide first-time app installs grew to 51 billion in 1H18, or up 11.3 percent compared with the same time last year, when downloads were then 45.8 billion across the two app stores.

Facebook led the way on this front with WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook and Instagram as the top four apps across both the App Store and Google Play combined. The most downloaded games were PUBG Mobile from Tencent, Helix Jump from Voodoo, and Subway Surfers from Kiloo.

Google Play app downloads were up a bit more (13.1 percent vs iOS’s 10.6 percent) year-over-year due to Android’s reach in developing markets, reaching 36 billion. That’s around 2.4 times the App Store’s 15 billion.

Despite this, Apple’s platform still earned more than double the revenue with fewer than half the downloads, which is remarkable. And it can’t all be chalked up to China. (The country contributed about 31.7 percent of the App Store revenue last quarter, or $7.1 billion, to give you an idea.)

Sensor Tower tells TechCrunch that even if China was removed from the picture, the App Store would have generated $15.4 billion gross revenue for first half of 2018, which is still about 30 percent higher than Google Play’s $11.8 billion.

Spanish soccer app caught using microphone and GPS to snoop

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why an app is requesting microphone access when there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason why it should need to snoop on the sounds from your surroundings, hold that thought — and take a closer look at the T&Cs.

Because it might turn out that spying is exactly what the app makers have in mind.

To wit: La Liga, an app for fans of Spanish soccer which has been discovered using microphone access combined with the precise GPS location of Android users to listen in on people’s surroundings during match times — in a bid to catch bars that might not have a license to broadcast the match being watched. 

As surveillance capitalism goes, it’s a fiendishly creative repurposing of your users as, well, unwitting volunteer spies and snitches.

It’s also of course terrible human behavior. Behavior that has now garnered La Liga a bunch of one-star reviews for the Android app — along the lines of “this app converts you into a police whistler without you noticing!” and “it spies on you via the microphone and GPS. Rubbish. Don’t install”.

The snitch feature appears to have surfaced largely as a result of the European Union’s new data protection framework, GDPR — which requires app makers to explain more precisely what exactly they’re doing with people’s data. Ergo, La Ligo users started noticing what the app wanted to do and discussing and denouncing it on social media, where it blew up into a trending topic, as El Pais reports.

In a statement on its website responding to the snitch scandal, the league defends its actions writing that it has “a responsibility to protect the clubs and their fans” from unlicensed broadcasts being made in public places, claiming that such activity results in the loss of an estimated €150M annually from the league.

It also specifies that the feature is only deployed in its Android app — and claims it has apparently only been active since June 8. It also says it’s only used within Spain.

La Liga further claims the spying functionality is used solely for the purpose of detecting unlicensed broadcasts of soccer matches. (According to its explanation of how it works, captured audio is converted locally into an irreversible binary code — and it claims “the content of the recording will never be accessed”.)

A further technical measure implemented to limit how the feature can be used means La Liga only activates the microphone and geolocation of its app users’ mobile devices during time slots of matches in which its teams compete. So, tl;dr, the league is only spying on you to a timetable.

It also defends itself by claiming information about the spy and snitch function is provided to users in a transparent manner and people are specifically asked for their consent and can choose not to allow it or to revoke it at any time.

Although, the app’s description on the Google Play store does not include among several listed features — such as “live minute-by-minute commentary” and “schedules, scores, standings” and “real-time notifications and alerts right from kick-off” — ‘turning on your microphone to snoop on your surroundings during match times’… Funny that.

According to Google Play store stats the La Liga app has had more than 10M downloads to date.

Siempo’s new app will break your smartphone addiction

A new app called Siempo wants to un-addict you from your smartphone and its numerous attention-stealing apps. To do so, Siempo replaces an Android device’s homescreen, while also taking advantage of a number of design principles to push distractions further away, and give you more control over your notifications.

The startup, which launched a few weeks ago on Google Play, actually began as a hardware company. 

A hardware startup shifts to software

In 2015, the original co-founders Andreas Gala and Jorge Selva began developing a minimalist feature phone device called Minium, in response to their concerns with today’s always-on culture. But designing hardware from scratch is hard, so they pivoted to making a mindful smartphone called Siempo using an existing handset from China.

The following year, Siempo brought on Mayank Saxena (CTO), who previously ran data storage engineering teams at NetApp, and Andrew Dunn (now CEO), who was previously the number six employee at Flexport. 

“I struggled with smartphone and social media addiction as a teenager and had been working on a wearable to help people balance their relationship with tech,” explains Dunn. And Mayank, he says, “had become increasingly concerned about raising balanced children in the digital age,” prior to joining Siempo.

Unfortunately, when the company tried raising funds on Kickstarter in 2017, it didn’t meet its goal.

What the team had underestimated was how difficult it is to convince people to switch smartphones. And in this case, it wasn’t just asking them to buy new hardware – it was a request to try a whole new type of mobile experience, too.

Although the Kickstarter failed, it had provided the team with valuable feedback.

 

“When we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we heard from dozens of potential backers that they loved our concept but would much prefer to try and pay for a software version on their existing devices,” says Dunn. “We knew we could still build ninety-five percent of what we wanted to, so it was a clear path to explore.”

At this point, the original co-founders moved on to other projects, leaving Dunn to take the helm.

The new project, he says, appealed to him because of the negative nature of today’s technology.

“The attention economy is making people more distracted, stressed, lonely and depressed,” Dunn says. “Big Tech is unlikely to take meaningful leadership in humane design, and individuals are at a loss for what to do because developing healthier digital habits is a long-term, manual, iterative process,” he adds.

Siempo, currently in beta, aims to address this problem with a set of features that should appeal to anyone questioning if they’ve become too addicted to their phone.

After downloading the launcher from the Play Store, you can set Siempo as your default home app – meaning, you’ll now interact with its humanely designed interface instead of the stock version from your smartphone’s maker.

To lessen your attachment to your device, Siempo reverses some of the persuasive, psychologically addicting techniques that have been built into our phone software and mobile apps by developers who specifically engineered their apps to increase user engagement, without fully understanding the ethics of that decision.

Entire OS platforms and massive social media companies like Facebook have, over the years, created systems to reward users who continually check in with their phones. These dopamine-driven feedback loops create a cycle of smartphone addiction, with users having no tools to fight back beyond their own willpower.

The world is just now starting to wake up to these mistakes, including some people who built the systems in the first place.

For instance, former Facebook president Sean Parker has said Facebook’s design exploited weakness in the human psyche to addict users, while former head of user growth turned VC Chamath Palihapitiya admitted to having “tremendous guilt” over what Facebook had become. Meanwhile, former Google exec Tristan Harris created a coalition called the Center for Humane Technology, in an effort to “realign technology with humanity’s best interests.”

And digital wellness is now a movement raking in millions.

Siempo fits in within this broader category of self-care apps focused on a more balanced use of technology.

How Siempo works

Once installed, Siempo makes your homescreen a calmer interface, without things like badged icons or colorful corporate logos. Here, you can personalize a message that appears when you unlock your phone – like a daily mantra – and in an update rolling out Wednesday, you’ll be able to set a custom background or turn on a dark mode.

One of the launcher’s key features is how it lets you batch your notifications.

Instead of allowing apps to alert you at any time they choose, you can configure your phone to send your alerts on a schedule you prefer – like every half hour, the top of the hour, or – if you want to go all in – just once per day. (You can choose which apps, if any, are allowed to break through.)

Siempo also leverages a number of design techniques to distance you from your distractions, including by unbranding app icons and turning them to greyscale.

Plus, the launcher organizes apps into a tiered menu system where distracting apps are further away on a third page, and the location of those apps is randomized upon each visit to prevent unconscious opens and usage.

“Users have reported that merely the act of identifying which apps they want to use less creates a huge shift in their relationship with that app,” notes Dunn.

The app has now been endorsed by the Center for Humane Technology as an example of humane design.

Siempo has raised funds from Backstage Capital for its project. To date, Siempo raised $555,000 for its hardware project and $400,000 for its software.

The app is free during its beta, but plans to implement a pay-as-you-want subscription starting at $1 per month – this will make the app accessible to everyone, no matter how much they can spend. The company says it’s also talking to several startup smartphone brands to become their default interface.

Longer-term, Dunn believes the Siempo experience can span platforms.

“Siempo will be a unified layer across all your tools – smartphone, desktop, tablet, wearables, etc. – protecting your attention, preventing unconscious usage and improving mental health,” he says. “We are excited to build out an A.I. interface that can learn the user’s behavior and adjust their digital world to support their goals and intentions,” Dunn adds, speaking of what he envisions Siempo can become.

“We aim to be a good, trusted, impactful tech company that is on the user’s side, respecting their wellbeing and privacy,” he says.

The app is available on Google Play, as that platform allows for this level of change and customization. A modified version may arrive on iOS in the future.

 

Google debuts a standalone to-do app, Google Tasks

Along with today’s big reveal of the redesigned version of Gmail, Google also more quietly introduced a new app that ties into its suite of productivity applications: Google Tasks. The app, as the name implies, offers you a dedicated place to create, view and edit your task list and to-dos, including those created from within the new Gmail or from Google Calendar.

While Gmail had before supported task creation, it was more buried in its user interface. With the revamp, however, Tasks gets a bigger billing — it, along with Google Keep notes and Google Calendar, can be popped up right in Gmail’s sidebar with just a click.

With the influx of new users coming from Gmail, it makes sense to create a dedicated Google Tasks app, as well. After all, to-dos aren’t something you only access or think about while in your inbox.

The app itself is a fairly standard take on to-do lists. You can create and manage your task list in the app, and break down tasks into subtasks. The drag-and-drop interface lets you prioritize your tasks, and you can set a “due date” for reminders on those you don’t want to forget. The app keeps things simple by not allowing you to set a time to be reminded — just a date. That’s not going to work for everyone, though — some people will want to configure things more precisely.

On its own, none of what Google Tasks offers is that remarkable. Instead, what makes the app worthwhile is its integration with the other Google services you use, like Gmail and Calendar. Being able to access the tasks you created elsewhere is useful, as is syncing your changes back to the inbox. Plus, you’re able to trace a task back to its source email in Gmail, and view them on your Google Calendar.

The app is also now considered a part of Google’s G Suite, which means Google doesn’t consider this some sort of mobile “experiment” that it will later ditch, leaving you to find a different to-do list app yet again.

The app is available as a free download on iOS and Android.

Amazon launches a ‘lite’ Android web browser app in India

Amazon has quietly launched an Android web browser app for emerging markets, where access to mobile data and high-speed connectivity is more limited. The browser has the rather generic name of: “Internet: fast, lite and private” on Google Play, and promises to be “lighter than the competition.”

The app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

It’s only available to users in India for the time being, and is supported on devices running Android 5.0 or higher.

Like most “lite” apps, the new browser is a small download — it’s less than 2 MB in size. That’s much smaller than other browsers, including Chrome (21MB), Edge (54.5MB), Firefox (19.9MB) and Opera (14.7MB), according to an analysis by appFigures.

The browser’s Google Play description also notes that it’s “private,” as it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This seems to indicate that it’s meant to be something of a competitor to other private mobile browsers, like Firefox, which blocks website trackers.

The browser additionally supports Private tabs, so you can browse without saving visits to your history, plus other features like tab previews, an automatic full-screen mode and integrated news reader of sorts.

In fact, the news reading experience is another telling indication that the browser is only meant for Indian users. The app’s description notes the browser homepage is designed to keep you up-to-date with news, cricket and entertainment from top sources. Yep, cricket — the most popular sport in India.

And finally, the “feedback” email on Google Play points to Amazon India, which indicates it was built by that team.

In addition to the new browser, Amazon also offers a Kindle Lite app in India.

The company is not alone in building lightweight mobile apps for emerging markets.

Facebook also offers “lite” versions of its apps, like Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, to reach users with limited connectivity and access to data. Google has also rolled out a suite of lightweight mobile apps under the “Go” branding. Some of these, like Gmail Go, only come pre-installed on select devices. Others, meanwhile, are available through Google Play for anyone to download, like YouTube Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps and Google Assistant Go.

It is interesting, however, that Amazon didn’t adopt a similar strategy by offering a “lite” version of its existing Silk browser, but has instead built something new.

And if its goal is to offer an alternative to Silk on the Fire tablets it sells in India, it’s odd that the browser isn’t yet available in the Amazon Appstore in India.

Amazon has not yet returned a request for comment about the new app.

Google rolls out a better way to search for movies

Google is rolling out a new feature today that will help you better plan your night at the movies. While the company has supported displaying movie showtimes within Google Search results following the closure of its standalone movie site in 2016, this update will help you narrow down your options more efficiently, thanks to the additions of drop-down filters in the Movies Showtimes interface that appears at the top of Google’s search results.

After you perform a search for “showtimes” and are directed to Google’s Movies Showtimes screen as usual, you’ll notice a new set of drop-down filters at the top.

You can use these to filter the movies near you by a number of factors, including screen type (e.g. 3D or IMAX), the movie’s genre, ratings, the critic scores, language, and preferred chains. That way you could click a few buttons to do a very specific search for something like “Family” movies rated “PG” or “G” at Cobb or AMC theaters in the afternoon on Sunday, for example. Or “R” rated “Dramas” with a critics’ score of 70% or higher on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Critics’ Score filter supports reviews from Metacritic and IMDb, as well.

Once the filters are applied, you’ll be shown all the matching results that meet your exact criteria. When you’re ready to go, you can then click on the showtime you want to purchase your ticket using Fandango, MovieTickets.com, AMC Theatres, or Atom Tickets.

In addition to the showtime search filters, you can also now tap over to the “Theaters” tab to see what’s playing at your favorite theaters, that also matches your requirements.

Google says the update is rolling out to the Google Search app on Android in the U.S. and India in Hindi and English, as well as in mobile search in the browser, and soon, the Google Search app for iOS.