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[Boondoggle] USPS has a VR app about whitewater kayaking for some reason

When you think of the US Postal Service, I doubt that the first thing to spring to your mind is "whitewater kayaking." They're more known for shipping (and losing) mail and packages in the US. Well, for whatever reason, the USPS has an app titled "USPS® VR," and instead of an immersive mail-tracking experience (or even a tech demo for, say, the exciting technology behind mail sorting), you get a kayaking trip.

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Google cracking down on creepy YouTube videos targeting children

As you may be aware, Google has been having problems managing YouTube lately, especially when it comes to advertising. The famous 'Adpocalypse' taking a toll on many creators' incomes has been a prevalent topic, but Google has been seemingly oblivious to another major problem - disturbing videos specifically targeting children.

These videos take on many forms, but they usually involve characters children are familiar with, so the videos will appear in searches from kids. Some of them are live-action videos of people dressed up as these characters (Spider-man, Elsa from Disney's Frozen, etc), some show kids unwrapping 'Kinder eggs' with toys inside, and others are just re-uploads of TV shows.

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Google will now allow real-money gambling apps on the Play Store in the UK, Ireland, and France

Last month, we heard rumors that Google was planning to relax its ban on real-money gambling apps in the Play Store, but after reaching out to Google we didn't get a response either way. With an update to its developer policy page, Google has now confirmed that some of these apps are going to be allowed on the Play Store in the UK, Ireland, and France.

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[Update: Google responds] Google Assistant promoting Beauty and the Beast blurs the lines between advertising and news

One of Google Assistant's more notable features is giving you a summary of your day when asked - including commute time, weather, news from user-selected sources, etc. For some users, the summary now includes a mention of Disney's Beauty and the Beast film - but Google says it's not an ad.

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The Gooligan Android malware has infected more than 1 million devices since August

The battle against Android malware is ongoing, but it's a big world and Android is everywhere. It presents a tempting target for criminals, and the Gooligan malware is just the latest attempt to make a buck off the trusting nature of smartphone users. This attack has compromised more than a million phones in the last few months, and as many as 13,000 new infections are occurring each day. The goal is not to steal your data (although that can still happen), but to make you download apps in an advertising fraud scheme.

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Google embarks on a massive Chromecast ad campaign

As this is an Android enthusiast website, I would expect most readers probably have or at least know about the Google Chromecast. The little streaming stick has found its way into millions of homes, but now Google has started on a massive advertising campaign for the device, following on from the even bigger 'Phone by Google' Pixel ad campaign.

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Google acquires 'influencer marketing' company FameBit

Getting up and running with an audience on YouTube isn't an easy thing to do, especially if you're trying to make a living off of it. Despite the breakout success of the "YouTuber" culture and some notable successes, creating a reliable base of viewers is hard work, to say nothing of getting paid. Google is trying to make that easier, according to the latest post on the official YouTube blog. The company has acquired FameBit, a tool for connecting content creators with sponsors and promoters, to help reach this goal.

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Google pushing Pixel pre-orders with popup on Google homepage

Google really, really wants you to pre-order a pixel, or at least to be aware that it exists. If you head to the Google homepage, you very well may see a popup encouraging you to pre-order the Pixel. Forget for a minute that most variants of the Pixel are sold out—Google is getting as much attention as possible for this phone.

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Report: Verizon offered to pre-install bloatware apps for $1-2 per phone

It's 2016. Android is pretty great. We have access to software and hardware that were just pipe dreams a few years ago, and the mild whining that we as a community like to engage in is just that: mild. But bloated, unnecessary software from manufacturers and carriers, which restricts customer choice, adds to update delays, and sometimes even opens up vulnerabilities, remains a thorn in the side of the platform as a whole. How often have we seen otherwise interesting hardware brought down because someone thought it would be a good idea to pay for unverified mobile games with sandwiches?

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The first Galaxy Note7 TV spot features Christoph Waltz, Christoph Waltz, Christoph Waltz, and Christoph Waltz

There's nothing that Samsung loves more than putting celebrities in its commercials. It's hardly alone in that regard, but some of the recent entries seem to be more about the celebrities than the actual phones. Case in point: the first TV commercial for the Galaxy Note 7 after the initial announcement press blitz. It features Christoph Waltz, Hollywood's current go-to somewhat creepy German-speaking dude, mildly berating Americans so they'll buy the phone.

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