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Material design guidelines updated with guidance on cross-platform design, app shortcut icons, help, & more

Since Google introduced material design in 2014, the questions of whether and how to use the design language on other platforms like iOS has lingered. But Google hasn't been a stranger to material on iOS. Inbox users for instance should feel right at home moving between iOS and Android, as many of the interface's core components are shared.

In an update to the material guidelines today, Google is taking a more explicit position on the matter with new guidance for bringing material design to iOS and web. The guidance definitely isn't comprehensive - it doesn't dive very deep into the more nuanced considerations for cross-platform design like platform-specific feature sets, esoteric navigation and action patterns, etc.

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Google Maps v9.43 beta adds a shortcut to contributions and changes a couple notification settings, prepares to offer recommendations from the menu and more [APK Teardown + Download]

There's an update for Google Maps v9.43 rolling out to beta testers. This one isn't loaded with changes, but there are a few things worth checking out in this release. There have been a couple of changes to the notification options in the Settings screen and a new home screen shortcut is now available. A deeper look through a teardown reveals plans to display recommended dishes from the menu. There is also some follow-up to an odd teardown topic from a few weeks ago.

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Instagram 10.3 adds 'Saved' tab for keeping photos and videos for later

Instagram has rapidly added new features in the past few months, from Periscope-esque live streaming to Boomerang support. The latest addition to the mobile apps is not a groundbreaking change, but still very useful. Starting with Instagram 10.3 for Android, a new 'Saved' tab is visible on the profile page.

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Play Music v7.1 prepares to add an autoplay option and sound quality settings for Wi-Fi and downloading [APK Teardown]

An update to Google Play Music began rolling out earlier this week, but there aren't any signs of changes in the UI. However, a couple of interesting things did turn up during a teardown. We can look forward to new settings to control audio quality for each of the major situations for downloading music. Additionally, there will be an option to allow the app to begin playing music as soon as it launches. If you're eager to grab the latest version before it comes to your device naturally, there's a download link at the bottom.

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Play Books v3.11 adopts a bottom navigation bar, sub-lists for series, and a settings link for Night Light [APK Download]

As the holidays close in (at least for many readers), Google is rolling out a stream of updates to various apps. In addition to the major Keyboard update earlier today, Play Books is making some changes, as well. The big change on this release is the adoption of the bottom navigation bar. Digging a bit deeper also reveals improvements to the way issues are displayed for comics and other series, and a couple of other visual tweaks.

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Android Pay v1.12 prepares for launch in Japan with Rakuten Edy and other e-money providers [APK Teardown]

Android Pay made its first Asian appearance in Singapore back in late-June. A couple months later, in August, rumors began circulating that Google was in negotiations with numerous financial companies to prepare for a launch in Japan. Names of the likely partners included: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, East Japan Railway Company, Rakuten, NTT Docomo, and JCB, to name a few. Since then, details have been sparse; but with evidence discovered in the latest update to Android Pay, it's now clear that a deal has been struck with Rakuten.

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Gmail v6.11 fully supports pasted content with formatted text and images [APK Download]

A couple of weeks ago, Gmail v6.11 began its rollout with a relatively small but divisive change to the way quotes are handled in replies. It turns out that there was a much bigger and more important change that went completely unnoticed. Google just posted a changelog on the Play Store to point out that you can now paste content into Gmail and all of the formatting and images will remain intact. Version 6.11 is still current, but there have been a couple of minor bug fix releases since then, so there's also a download link at the bottom if you don't already have the absolute latest update.

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Google app v6.9 beta is preparing to offer smarter autocomplete suggestions, search offline maps, and introduce a custom image viewer [APK Teardown]

Android Auto users were given a pleasant surprise when v6.9 of the Google app enabled the 'OK Google' activation phrase while driving (for many people). We haven't spotted any other visible changes with this release, but there are some interesting things buried in the apk that are also worth checking out. It looks like the search bar's autocomplete is about to gain some new tricks and there's a new (or at least improved) native image viewer in development that appears to have custom support for some of Google's custom search results.

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Google Keep v3.4 adds 'Grab image text' to Drawing mode and prepares some new tools for crafting better images [APK Teardown + Download]

There's a new version of Google Keep rolling out to Android devices, but it's not going to look very different unless you are looking in exactly the right spot. The screen for drawing notes is now equipped with the "Grab image text" function. Shifting gears slightly, a teardown also reveals some new drawing functions are going to be added to the same screen in a future update. As usual, there's a link at the bottom where you can download the latest version.

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[Update: APK Download] Google Docs update adds GIF insertion to documents, not yet live on the Play Store

While not as fully featured as Microsoft Word, the Google Docs Android app is good for quick and easy document editing, if you use the Docs cloud storage. Google's adding one feature in the version 1.6.442.22: GIF insertion into documents.

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