13
May
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Welcome back! Google Play Services 3.1 is such a ridiculously huge update; I had to stretch it out over two articles - that's a first for APK Teardown. If you somehow missed the Google Play Games extravaganza, part one is right here.

Part two is all about the non-games discoveries, which there are a lot of.  Before we get into that though, there is one detail I left out of the games article that I really should mention:

The Play Games Codename

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Google always comes up with the coolest code names for projects, and the Play Services games client is no exception.

13
May
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Had enough of noisy hotels infested with bed bugs and slathered in unidentifiable fluids? Why not rent short term accommodations from a regular human being? That's the service Airbnb provides, and the startup has been making headway in recent years. In an attempt to make the process of finding appropriate lodging more convenient on mobile devices, the company has completely redesigned its Android app and added a few new features.

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The new app is more attractive an Android-y than the old version, which made heavy use of gradients and iOS-style buttons.

13
May
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I was seven years old when Carmageddon first hit store shelves in 1997. Even if the game hadn't been widely banned and censored around the world, I still wouldn't have gotten my hands on it. The off-the-wall violence and bloodshed would have been a bit too much for my parents to permit me to play with good conscience. While leagues of long-time fans poured money into the Kickstarter campaign that allowed Stainless Games to port the game to Android in the first place, I am visiting the game for the first time.

13
May
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Verizon certainly likes to take its sweet time getting new phones out there, but this time it's at least making an attempt to speed things along. Big Red has announced that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be available a week earlier than previously stated. May 23rd is now the big day.

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The Galaxy S4 has already launched on the other big US carriers, and AT&T has even announced the availability of a 32GB version of the device.

13
May
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Last Updated: June 17th, 2013

We've teamed up with Handy Apps several times in the past to give away some fantastic devices. Nexus 7s, Galaxy Note IIs, Xperia Zs, and many more have all found new homes thanks to our partnership with Handy Apps. But it's never just about giving stuff away – these guys make some fantastic and useful application. In fact, they may even be handy.

This contest is now over.

The final results are listed below.

13
May
Shared storage

Google has finally integrated storage between its three most data-intensive consumer platforms: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+. The result? 5 extra GB of total Gmail storage, and 15GB of shared space among the three. This means you're no longer limited to 5GB of Google+ / Drive space, but all three services will now share the same "bucket."

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For hardcore Gmail addicts, this comes with an added bonus: all Google Drive storage tiers now apply to your Gmail storage cap.

13
May
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If you've spent as much time on the Google Play Store as I have, you begin to recognize a pattern: developers asking (and sometimes begging) users to email them directly with complaints or bugs, because they can't reply to that snarky review left in lieu of a bug report. After years and years of frustration for devs who just want to make their apps better, Google has finally rolled out a direct reply feature.

13
May
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Newly appointed head of Google's Android division Sundar Pichai - who perhaps not-so-incidentally also leads the Chrome OS team - recently sat down with Wired for his first interview since Andy Rubin's departure. Though he didn't speak to specifics about any mysterious Motorola smartphone or Chromebook Pixel follow-up, Pichai did shed some light on the state of Android, Google's open-source philosophy, and future projects.

When asked if separate operating systems - Chrome OS and Android, for instance - confuse users, Pichai said the OS is less important than the apps, ecosystem, and backend people rely on.

13
May
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A 14-page XDA thread, thorough analysis by an audio engineer, and a 100+ comment Reddit thread have revealed that some of Samsung's Galaxy S4 handsets are experiencing serious sonic problems with certain headphones.

Headphone audio on smartphones is something we rarely think too much about, because, well, most people don't really care. As long a smartphone produces sound that is listenable and loud enough, your average Joe isn't particular concerned about the quality.

13
May
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Earlier this year, Amazon announced that it was preparing a proprietary virtual currency specifically for its Appstore. Then the incorrigible Eric Ravenscraft spent a few thousand words explaining exactly why Amazon Coins, and any system that substitutes real money for meaningless points, is just a pretense for sucking money out of people's wallets. If you can't wait to pay Amazon's tax on those without common sense, you can now hand over your real dollars for fake ones to spend on apps and in-app purchases.

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