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InBrief
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Hangouts Meet's dial-in feature now works in nine additional European countries

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SMS Backup+ sees first update in two years, new beta leaves Holo design behind

SMS Backup+ was a popular app back in the day, and for many, it's still indispensable. For the unfamiliar, it's an open source app that allows you to backup your SMS and MMS messages into a simple and intuitive conversation view in Gmail, so not only are they automatically stored elsewhere, you can quickly and easily sort through them.

Up until recently, the app looked a bit dated, with a decidedly Holo-esque aesthetic and no updates since 2015, but a new beta version (1.5.11-beta8) was just released with some UI modernization and other improvements. 

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[Update: It's back] Opera VPN has disappeared from the Play Store without explanation

Opera VPN first debuted in August 2016, claiming to offer a completely free solution that would block ads and make your browsing more secure. However, Opera has undergone quite a few changes since then, including a sale to a Chinese company (that hadn't been finalized when Opera VPN debuted), renaming its Android TV browser, and more. It's now disappeared from the Play Store, and we're not sure why.

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[Deal Alert] Amazon Fire HD 8 16GB 2-pack discounted to $99.98 ($60 off), 32GB down to $159.98 ($60 off)

Not many companies sell tablets in two-packs, but some of Amazon's offerings are so cheap that it just makes sense. The Fire HD 8, which normally goes for $79.99 on its own, has been discounted to $99.98 for a two-pack (or $159.98 if you need 32GB).

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Google bought a U.K. sound startup specializing in haptics and turning surfaces into speakers last year

According to a recent article by Bloomberg, late last year Google sneakily picked up a U.K.-based startup called Redux that was working on some snazzy tech which can turn surfaces—like the screen on a phone or tablet—into speakers, and even provide more focused haptic effects. The precise date of the acquisition isn't certain, but according to Crunchbase, the deal was announced last August. 

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LG will no longer release smartphones on a yearly schedule

For years, LG has released flagship smartphones in tandem with Samsung, but its devices have consistently played second fiddle. Now, LG's Vice Chairman Cho Sung-jin has confirmed a significant strategy shift at the company. LG will no longer launch phones in the G and V series on a set yearly schedule. Instead, it'll launch phones "when it is needed."

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[Hands-on] DC Unchained, another free-to-play mobile brawler that plays itself

DC Unchained is without a doubt DC Comics' take on the popular free-to-play mobile brawler Marvel Future Fight. You form teams of three heroes and villains to take on level after level of nondescript henchmen, all for the purpose of slowly but surely unlocking and leveling up your favorite characters from the comics. So while it is nice that we now have a DC-themed brawler to play with our favorite childhood DC Comic characters, the gameplay in this FTP mobile brawler is just as uninspired and grindy as ever.

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CBS All Access app updated with support for continuous play, resume watching, and more

Use of CBS All Access has probably ticked up a bit now that Star Trek: Discovery is back. Subscribers are getting a solid update today that adds some important (and surprisingly basic) features. In the latest version, you can binge watch more easily and pick up where you left off.

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OnePlus investigating US carrier deals, will launch next flagship in late Q2

OnePlus has gotten where it is by selling unlocked phones directly to consumers at a rapid pace. The sub-$500 OnePlus 5 was only out for around five months before the 5T usurped it. Now, OnePlus is looking into potential carrier deals in the US to move future phones in larger numbers. Speaking of future phones, OnePlus confirms a new phone is coming in a few months.

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Even more Google Assistant speakers are on their way, from the likes of Anker, B&O, and Klipsch

According to Google, the company has been selling Home speakers at a rate of more than one per second since the Home Mini was released late last year. That's an incredible statistic, and it doesn't even take into account Assistant speakers from third-parties that have been available since last fall. Last year, we learned about devices from Mobvoi, Panasonic, Sony, and Anker's Zolo sub-brand. They were clearly the tip of the iceberg.

CES 2018 in Las Vegas has been awash with new Assistant products as Google takes the fight to Amazon's Alexa. Even the monorail has been taken over by Assistant branding.

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