Android Police

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5 things I'd like to see Google improve on in the next Pixel phone

I'm coming up on month three of near-uninterrupted use of the Pixel (specifically the Pixel XL), and as I've spent more and more time with Google's chosen phone, I think I've got a solid list of areas where I think Google could improve the device when a successor is released. While I still think the Pixel is quite easily the best Android phone currently on sale, it's not without compromises, some of which were not readily apparent to me until well after I started using it. Here are five areas I think are ripe for improvement on the Pixel, and that I hope are addressed when we see a new Pixel (again, hopefully) later this year.

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[Because that doesn't sound ridiculous] HTC has an app to update the firmware of its USB-C to 3.5mm adapter

What was wrong with 3.5mm audio jacks? They have been standard for many years, they worked reliably, and you could find tons of headphones that supported them. But no, companies have to sometimes invent reasons to change things around and here we are with the 3.5mm jack mysteriously disappearing from modern smartphones to be replaced by USB-C digital audio. Yes, I know that size constraints matter, but so far, the released phones with no jack don't make a good case for that argument and don't provide any new hardware that uses the additional empty space favorably. And for the record, I am ranting even though I use Bluetooth headsets 99% of the time; I just like having the 3.5mm plug option for that 1%.

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Microsoft StaffHub is a workplace shift management app for Office 365 subscribers

It's almost been a few months without a new Microsoft app on Android and I'm sure we were all starting to get worried. But Microsoft won't let us send the rescue team just yet because it's showing the first sign that it's alive. While StaffHub isn't a completely new app (it was released as invite-only under nickname Project Sonoma in July), it is now officially available to everyone with an appropriate Office 365 subscription.

StaffHub is like the shifts whiteboard in the break room at your workplace, but digital. This makes it more organized, easier to trace, and very accessible to everyone including managers and shift workers.

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Popular board-turned-PC game Mysterium is out on Android

Board games are great fun: I especially like Pandemic and Ticket to Ride. Some are so good they get turned into PC games. Mysterium is one such example, and after proving popular on Steam, it's garnered an Android release as well.

Mysterium is set in the 1920s - prime detective era, think Agatha Christie - and is a little bit like Cluedo (Mrs White, in the ballroom, with the candlestick). A ghost guides a group of psychics to uncover a murder using only visual clues, leading them to the murderer, the weapon, and location. Co-operation between the psychics (i.e. players) sees the mystery uncovered faster.

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Snapchat 10 beta redesigns the interface with more accessible search and less focus on Discover

Snapchat is readying an update for its Android and iOS versions that brings a new interface with plenty of usability improvements and a few added features. The update is now rolling out to beta testers on Android so you can give it a go before it goes live for everyone — and thus feel cooler than the cool kids, I guess. Just don't use the word "thus" when you tell them that.

The new interface is more colorful with a blue title bar for chats and a purple one for stories. The Stories section also loses the Discover strip from the top. It now goes on the bottom instead, letting you focus first on the recent story updates from your friends.

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[Heads-up, devs] Managing paid orders and payment settings will move from Google Payments to Google Play Developer Console

Paid apps are quite obviously a huge part of the Android ecosystem and in particular, the Google Play Store. Today, Google's doing a bit of reorganising to ensure that, on the developer end, paid orders and settings are the easiest and simplest they can be.

'Order Management,' which developers will know handles the paid orders for subscriptions and in-app purchases, is moving from the Google Payments Centre to the Google Play Developer Console, where most things to do with the app's Play Store entry is managed from. The payments settings - bank accounts and other such things - is also going to be available in the Developer Console, in addition to being available on payments.google.com, as it always has been.

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Verizon's new Jetpack hotspot supports up to 15 devices, has 802.11ac, USB-C, Quick Charge

Road warriors, rejoice. Verizon has unveiled a new entry into its Jetpack series of hotspots, the MiFi 7730L. It brings with it improvements and access to LTE-Advanced in available markets. Up to fifteen devices can connect simultaneously and securely.

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Panasonic shows off the Toughpad FZ-A2 rugged Android tablet

Panasonic is still at it making tablets, adding another entry into its Toughbook line. Simply named the Toughpad FZ-A2, this rugged Android tablet packs in a lot of stuff for indoor or outdoor working professionals. Starting MSRP is $2,189 and it also comes installed with Marshmallow and Android at Work — because devices launching in 2017 with Android 6.0 is still a thing.

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Android Pay gets support for 40 new banks including BMO Harris

Every time it seems like Android Pay must now, finally support all the banks, there are more of them. Google has just confirmed support for 40 more banks in its payment service. That's in addition to the 46 that were added just a few weeks ago. Let me just save you the trouble of scanning the list and being disappointed—Simple Bank is not among them.

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[Update: Live for Exchange, not for Gmail] Gmail v7.1 adds tasks and snoozing for Exchange accounts [APK Download]

The latest major update to Gmail is beginning to roll out to users and this one looks like it might be fairly important to Exchange users. We're still looking for additional features, but this version does bring support for task management and syncing to Exchange accounts. As usual, we've got a download link at the bottom so you don't have to wait for the apk to roll out to your devices organically.

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