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Google paid developers a total of $7B in the past 12 months from a mix of app sales and in-app purchases, the company says, closing in on the record $10B payout recently announced by Apple.

Re/code also reports that Google is testing sponsored searches in the Play Store, enabling developers to pay to have their apps show up at the top of searches. Sponsored Play Store searches will work in exactly the same way as they do in the company’s main search engine: developers bidding for keywords, with sponsored apps appearing above organic search results, flagged with a small Ad tag …

Google says that the test is currently very limited, involving a small-number of hand-picked developers, but is likely to roll out more widely if it proves successful.

Google shared its ‘Best Apps of 2014‘ list back in December.

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