Android Police

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Gmail updated with minor tweaks, plus new empty inbox and spam folder graphics [APK Download]

There's a new version of Gmail rolling out today with a number of small changes. You may or may not notice these tweaks to functionality, but you'll probably notice the new graphics Google has added for an empty inbox or spam folder. It's kind of like Inbox.

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Google Home will work with SmartThings out of the box

Google's new smart home hub, Google Home, will work with the Samsung-owned SmartThings platform out of the box, according to a source familiar with the companies' plans. We trust the quality of this information implicitly, so consider this rumor a '10' on the confidence scale, barring some sort of delay that leads to Google postponing the announcement.

Google Home would probably be near-dead on arrival without compatibility for some common smart home technology, and aside from Nest (for which we assume Home compatibility is a given), SmartThings is one of the most obvious choices. SmartThings hub devices work with a wide variety of smart home products, and making Google Home compatible with this platform will ensure that SmartThings users have another, non-Echo option for a smart home assistant and speaker device.

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Sphero's Star Wars Force Band lets you control BB-8 using motion gestures

The Force Awakens is approaching a year old, but by Star Wars standards, the merchandising is only just beginning. A particularly new offering is the Star Wars Force Band, which lets you control Sphero's tiny BB-8 droid that has been rolling around since the film hit theaters. But instead of doing so using an on-screen interface, you use the Force.

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Flipboard reaches 500 Million installs on the Play Store

I don't "read" news anymore. If you saw what my Gmail inbox looks like every morning, you'd understand why reading something, anything really, other than the 300 or so emails we get at Android Police every day is a bit of an optimistic dream that I stopped entertaining a long time ago. I do listen to news though, in the form of podcasts that I've cherry-picked to my preferences and that I enjoy while driving or walking.

Back when I did read the news though, Flipboard was something I liked. It had a beautiful magazine-style approach, interesting articles and curated collections, and a large user base, which is crucial when your whole news network relies on user interactions and content too.

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InBrief
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The latest versions of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides allow you to restore deleted files

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Google launches new central company blog, 'The Keyword'

If you click the source links at most of our posts about Google products, you might notice there is a lot of Google blogs. Almost every Google product has its own blog - Android, Gmail, YouTube, ChromeGoogle Fiber, you name it. I think Google finally realized the need to consolidate, and has created 'The Keyword.'

The Keyword replaces the former Google company blog (googleblog.blogspot.com), which has been mirrored by the Internet Archive if you want to compare. The blog is a mix of product announcements and coverage of various events. In the official announcement post, Google says The Keyword combines content from 19 other blogs - but doesn't say which ones.

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Unity game engine now supports Vulkan rendering on Android

Unity, if you're not familiar with game development, is a popular cross-platform game engine. Although Unity games can most often be found on PC and consoles, Android games utilizing the engine include Crossy Road, Monument Valley, Lara Croft: Relic Run, and more. Today Unity has announced the Vulkan Renderer Preview, finally allowing developers to use the Vulkan API with their games.

The Vulkan API (not to be confused with the Star Trek planet Vulcan) has been hyped to the moon and back in the gaming industry recently, and for good reason. Based on AMD's Mantle API, it is a new graphics API designed to be cross-platform (much like Unity) and have a low overhead.

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Automatic Pro review: A simple and reliable - but limited - way to analyze your driving

Automatic is a company that makes small plastic dongles that plug into your vehicle's OBDII port to analyze your driving style and efficiency in the cloud through an app and web interface. We reviewed the original Automatic some time ago. Based on Bertel's experience, I found the original product a bit impractical for one reason: Bluetooth. I don't like Bluetooth. Bluetooth is unreliable, slow, buggy, and finicky in general. The idea of having to sync vehicle data from a dongle over a Bluetooth connection had zero appeal to me - I wanted something that was utterly seamless. And now, Automatic has done just that with the new Automatic Pro.

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PSA: Today's update to the Oculus VR app on Samsung phones is causing heavy battery drain

Those of you with a newer Samsung phone might want to take a peek at the battery usage today. Many users are reporting substantial battery drain after an update to the Oculus VR app. The only fix right now appears to be completely uninstalling the app.

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Google Drive adds Quick Access feature, guesses what file you might want

Google Drive has recently added an enhanced search and regular expressions support, but those features have not yet made their way to the mobile apps. Now the Android application exclusively has a new feature, simply called Quick Access. This uses machine learning to predict what documents you are most likely to open, based on your Drive activity and recurring patterns. Google claims this "saves 50 percent off the average time it takes to get to the right file by eliminating the need to search for it."

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