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Google Maps: Wi-Fi-only mode and SD card saved data are rolling out to everyone

The latest post to the official Google Maps blog brings some welcome news. A couple of features that have been exclusive to betas of the Android app, not to mention hinted at by our cheeky teardown posts, are now in the public version. Specifically, that handy Wi-Fi-only mode for users on a limited data allotment should now be live for everyone (it was limited to a subset of users before), and the option to save local mapping data to the SD card is now active as well.

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Inbox gains Trello, GitHub, and Google Alerts support

Inbox might be one of Google's most controversial products - some love the time-saving features and some hate them (such as our Glorious Leader, Artem). That's not going to stop the Inbox team from adding more productivity innovations though; new to Inbox this time is Trello, GitHub, and Google Alerts integration.

With Trello and GitHub integrations, it's pretty clear Google is angling at professionals like developers and designers with these additions. Both of them work like the other integrations, grouping and categorizing emails from the services into an easy to read list, which should reduce clutter in the inbox and improve readability.

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Play Store app's "People" area, +1s on app pages may be getting phased out

It seems that two features of the Google Play Store app, the "People" area and the "+1" option on app listings, are disappearing. At this time, I've personally checked five of my devices, and only one which hadn't been powered on in months still had them.

There is a chance this is a bug or some kind of unforeseen consequence of Google making another change to the Play Store, but it seems much more likely that the removal of these features is completely intentional. Google+ doesn't get much love these days, and Google has dramatically reduced the prominence of it in its various other products, rebranded the "Sign in with Google+" button as just Google, and started to pivot the platform as a whole into more of a meeting place for interest-driven communities rather than a "social network." In light of that, killing off the more social-network-y features of the platform in connected products is only logical.

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Action Launcher v3.9 beta includes features from the rumored Nexus Launcher

Developer Chris Lacy has been hard at work, it seems. Just a few days after we posted details of the upcoming Nexus Launcher for Google's devices, a new beta build of Action Launcher 3 is live with several features seen in that leak. This is all based on non-final software and the beta will have a few bugs, but you can give it a shot right now.

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Google has started testing Now cards in Google Now on Tap

We all had high hopes for Google Now on Tap, but the reality of actually using it didn't live up to the hype. There are too many instances where Google Now on Tap simply misses key words or phrases, or just brings up that sad "nothing on tap right now" card. Google is testing a new feature of Now on Tap that might make it vastly more useful. Some users are seeing standard Google Now cards in Now on Tap.

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ZTE wants your help to design a 'crowdsourced' smartphone

If you've been a smartphone user for any length of time, you've probably thought that you could design a smartphone better than those hacks who had the gall to put the headphone jack on the top/bottom (delete whichever is inappropriate). Well now you can! Sort of. Chinese manufacturer ZTE is putting out press for "Project CSX," a program that will design products based on input from a community of users. The home of the project is over on the company's official forums.

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Dropbox gives Evernote some competition with Paper, now in beta on the Play Store

Cloud storage and reminder apps seem to go together naturally - Evernote and Google Keep both have some basic attachment tools, and they share collaborative elements with things like Dropbox and Drive. Today Dropbox is trying to bring it all together with Paper, the company's first new app in quite a while. It's up on the Play Store in beta form, and like the primary storage app, it's free to download and use.

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Polar M600 is a new sporty Android Wear smartwatch with GPS, Smart Coaching, and all-day tracking

Android Wear watches fall into a couple of categories: lifestyle watches that try to be a bit of everything for everyone, stylish watches that want to appeal to the classy geek, and sports watches that cater to the active types. The latter category has seen the Moto 360 Sport, Casio Smart Outdoor Watch, Nixon Mission, and is now gaining one more candidate: the Polar M600.

Coming from a company known for its heart rate monitors and activity trackers, the M600 is a bit of a hybrid between a smartwatch and an activity tracker, and it might be the first one we've seen that mixes both equally without sacrificing a lot on either front.

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The Nexus Launcher will probably not be an update to Google Now Launcher, but a standalone app

The APK for the new "Nexus Launcher" we detailed yesterday is now floating around the internet, but I've yet to see anyone point out one rather important detail about the whole thing: it doesn't replace Google Now Launcher when installed, but rather is clearly separate in name and branding. Going to the launcher picker with Nexus Launcher and Google Now Launcher installed, you can see both sport different logos and, obviously, names.

Now, this in and of itself is not direct confirmation of the Nexus Launcher being a standalone app, but it seems like a pretty decent bet to make. This leads us to another question: will the Nexus launcher only work on Nexus devices, or does Google plan to make "Nexus" a software branding?

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Play Store v6.9 includes sign of built-in app streaming, a VR purchase screen, a new API Level, and more [APK Teardown]

There's a new version of the Google Play Store rolling out to users right now, but it doesn't appear to be brimming with any big, bold new features. However, there are some interesting bits and pieces floating around inside of the APK that point to some of the things we can look forward to in the future. A teardown of v6.9 points to a built-in app streaming interface and a custom purchasing experience for Cardboard. There are also quite a few odd little tweaks to various other things. We're still looking for more changes, so hit the download link below and take a look around for yourself.

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