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Google app v6.3 suggests the Google assistant may launch with very limited language support, expands on user-defined actions, and more [APK Teardown]

Most readers are well-aware Google assistant is going to be the big treat later this year. It will soon become a meaningful part of new apps and products like Allo and Google Home, and it will surely introduce new features and capabilities as it evolves many existing ones into something new. A teardown of the latest Google app update reveals a little more about what we can expect when the assistant comes out.

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Google Duo now #1 in Top Free chart, available globally

Just two days after it first began to roll out, Google's Duo has already become the number one free app in the Play Store. The video chatting app, which received an icon redesign just before it went live, has proven to be extremely popular with Android users. In addition, it is now possible to use Duo in any country (well, any country that Google provides its services to).

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Fragment, a prismatic art app, is down to £0.10 / €0.10 in a few European countries and Australia (no US)

Apps that do things with photos are becoming very popular these days, with Prisma racking up a considerable amount of downloads since its release on Android almost a month ago. Today, Fragment, an app which converts photos into prismatic works of art, is available for €0.10 in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, 10p in the UK, 10 RUB in Russia, and $0.20 AUD in Australia.

Having played around with Fragment, it certainly makes photos look really good with little to no effort. There's a shuffle button if you just want to get some kind of prism of your photos, or you can choose what you'd like in the myriad of options.

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Instagram adds one-finger zoom to Stories, much like Snapchat did a while ago

Instagram's Stories is a blatant copy of Snapchat Stories, so it's not really a huge surprise to see another feature carried over. In this update, Instagram is getting one-finger zoom - simply hold the record button and slide your finger up or down to zoom. Wonder where they got that idea from?

WHAT'S NEW

  • We have a few improvements to Instagram Stories!
  • Zoom with one hand as you're recording a video. Slide your finger up while holding the video record button.
  • Lots of bug fixes and improvements to make stories even better (and faster).

There's not really much more to say on this, other than in practice it works well.

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[Deal Alert] True Skate is available for £0.10 / €0.10 in many countries (no US)

The Tony Hawk series might be the King of skateboarding games, but that doesn't mean there can't be other viable contenders for the title. True Skate, currently available for $0.10 in many countries (but not in the US), is one such game, and by the looks of it does a damn good job.

True Skate is the official 'Street League Skateboarding' video game, which a bit of Googling tells me is an international competitive skateboarding series. For True Skate to have these credentials is a pretty big indicator of its quality (or at least potential quality) and should inspire confidence if you are a skateboarding fan.

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Android Pay v1.5 prepares to show new users where to find NFC on their phones and might be experimenting with the secure element again [APK Teardown]

There are a lot of factors playing into the success and failure of mobile payment systems. Perhaps the most challenging issue for Android Pay to overcome isn't the slow adoption of compatible payment terminals or the general lack of awareness about contactless payments, it's the confusion people experience once they decide to try it. While many users are nervous simply because they don't know what to expect, some others are confronted with an even bigger challenge: they have no idea where the NFC antenna is on their phone. The Android Pay app has been progressively adding more informative screens to help with educating users about tap-and-go payments, and now evidence from a teardown suggests Google will soon teach users what part of the phone to actually tap with.

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Quidgets hides homescreen widgets in the Quick Settings tiles on Android Nougat

Android's homescreen widgets were one of its signature features when it debuted as an iOS alternative (which is kind of funny in itself), but developers seem to positively thrill in ways to stick them in other places as well. Case in point: Quidgets from Joseph Paul Antonetti. This little app allows users to hide a full-sized homescreen widget up in the Quick Settings menu, making it accessible from any app with a quick swipe. There's only one downside: it's exclusive to Android 7.0 for the time being.

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YouTube Music v1.38 now allows removing tracks from offline mixtape, promises landscape orientation [APK Download]

If you're a regular user of the dedicated YouTube Music app, you're probably accustomed to updates that add fairly non-obvious changes. The latest update includes a hidden gem that makes the offline mixtape feature considerably more useful. According to an official changelog posted late last night, we should also see screen rotation, but it seems that didn't actually make it into this release. As usual, there's a download link at the bottom so you can skip Google's staged rollout.

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Google Photos v1.25 allows album owners to block access to individuals and promises to add video stabilization [APK Teardown + Download]

We've hit that point in the year where Google's apps tend to feature smaller improvements and knock off some of the smaller to-do items. Yesterday's Google Photos update is no different. The latest version gives users the ability to ban individuals from shared albums and puts a link to the local image removal tool right in the navigation drawer. A teardown also shows we can look forward to a simple video stabilization feature and possible more video editing capabilities in the future.

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Google+ v8.4 adds avatar photos to comment previews, prepares to let users show off their flair, and may auto-hide NSFW images [APK Teardown + Download]

The updates are flowing steadily today and Google+ is playing along with its own set of tweaks and enhancements. This version looks like it's mostly centered around subtle refinements and closing some old to-do items. The biggest visible change seems to be profile pictures that appear in the comment previews below posts. That doesn't mean there aren't a few other things to check out. A teardown adds to the fun the promise of configurable "flair" on your own profile, tap-to-reveal covers for potentially inappropriate images, and the setup for privacy settings.

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