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Google May Add Audio Books, Mags, Unified Gaming

Now that Google has crammed all of its entertainment services into one neat Google Play package, there are still some factors missing from the new network: audio books and magazines. Both Apple and Amazon have this aspect covered, and it's surprising Google didn't stock up on both before disconnecting the old Android Market for good.

But several sleuths have now uncovered Google's intentions via Google's own Help Center. Empty pages titled "Audio Books" and "Magazines and Journals" have suddenly appeared since Tuesday's launch, blank pages reportedly thrown up as placeholders for the upcoming real deal. Google has yet to say anything official, but part of the recent domain batch snatched up by Google included googleplaynewspapers.com and googleplaymagazines.com.

There's also speculation that Google is getting ready to set up a subscription model for said magazines and newspapers. Another domain gobbled up by Google -- googleplaytv.com -- points to the company's rumored cable TV service slated for testing in the near future in Kansas City. But the domain also implies Google may follow Apple's lead and offer subscriptions to entire seasons of TV shows as they are published.

Now that Google has consolidated its services into one Google Play network, the company now plans to do the same with its gaming platforms. Punit Soni, group product manager for Google+, said during GDC 2012 in San Francisco that by next year, Google will not be at the conference talking about Google+ Games, Chrome Web Store games, Games for Native Client and Android games. The company will instead be talking about Google Games as a single platform.

This implies that Google plans to unify its web browser, social hub, and Android-based mobile platforms so that developers have a single, wider audience. Google may accomplish this feat by using HTML5, but Soni added other technologies will be integrated into the platform including Hangouts and Native Client. Currently the company is working on streamlining payments.

"It was very clear games was one of the first things we would put up there on Google+, Soni said at the event. "Games bring people together. They are an important part of how users interact online. Game developers push boundaries, and games are fun. We realize that gaming is at an interesting point in its evolution and we have technology and platforms to push it to the next level."

Currently a number of console game developers are porting their titles over to Google's Chrome Native Client (NaCl). This open-source sandboxed tech allows browser-based apps to utilize the GPU in computers for executing compiled, native C and C++ code. It also lets developers re-use existing C and C++ libraries. The only problem is that Native Client is not supported across every browser and platform because competitors would rather use their own solutions.