Google is in the wars again this week, reinforcing use of its own Wallet product and banging heads with Apple. While on the desktop, it has been busy with the smaller changes, tweaking Gmail and Google+ a little more.

Google in the Apple Wars

In response to Apple's pretty solid third-gen iPad product, Google seems to be hard at work on a Nexus brand of tablet. Latest rumors suggest a May release of a US$ 250 ASUS product that will compete with the Kindle Fire more than the iPad. If successful though, a higher-end model will surely follow.

An analyst reported today that he believes Google is playing Apple something like US$ 1.3 billion to be the default search engine on the iPhone and iPad. Not only that but Google only makes an extra $300 million out of that deal, with revenue of just over $1.5 billion. Who blinks first in this one could shape the search battles of the future as Apple will have massive hardware sales against Google's search power.

Another small detail in the Apple vs. Google scrap came from Apple's iPad 3 launch which saw Google dropped as the maps provided in the new iPhoto app, replacing them with OpenStreetMap. Whether this means Apple will gradually reduce its exposure and reliance to Google Maps in other products remains to be seen and could be seen as a widening of the gap between them. Apple has brought some mapping companies and products over the years so may be preparing to launch its own service. 

Service Improvements

Opening up Gmail the other day saw the first in a host of small but significant improvements in Google's services. There's now a Loading bar that prepares the screen for you, so everything is ready to go once it appears.

In the world of Google+, the "+1" button has changed its color scheme a little and you can now thank users that have plus-one'd a page or story of yours as they click. Also in Google+, a developer has come up with a neat hack for Hangouts that makes them more accessible to the visually impaired by offering text to speech of messages. Expect his project to grow with features that will be immensely helpful to some users.

Take My Wallet

In the wider world of Android app development, Google is now cracking down on apps that go with alternative payment providers. This is a long standing Google policy, but is now being enforced with developers being given 30 days to change their app or have it removed. Physically and transferable products are excluded from this, so its not a major panic.