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Play Games v5.2 adds several notification channels, adaptive icons, and support for app data backup [APK Download]

We don't hear too much about Play Games anymore, which may seem pretty obvious since the updates have been very slow lately and Google recently announced plans to shutter some of the features that weren't seeing much adoption. However, a new version began rolling out today, and it makes a surprisingly large jump straight from v3.9 to v5.2. Don't get too excited for big changes, though; this update appears to be focused on upkeep and incorporating some of the features added with Android Marshmallow and Nougat, not any major new additions.

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Google Maps may be removing the category shortcuts from search, beautifies blue dot menu in latest update [APK Download]

Many people in the United States hit the road for their Independence Day celebrations, no doubt giving them more than a little time to re-familiarize themselves with Google Maps as they travel through unfamiliar territory. Now that most people have returned to their regular schedules, a couple of changes have been made to the interface, but one may not be entirely welcome. Oddly, it seems the Maps team just started rolling out tweaks to those red category search shortcuts that were pretty handy for finding nearby food, fuel, and other things. They've been completely removed from the regular search screen, and in Navigation mode, they've been pushed from the top to the very bottom.

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Google News & Weather v3.3 comes with a major UI update, including bottom nav bar and cleaner drawer [APK Download]

If you're an avid user of the Google News & Weather app for Android, you may have felt a little sting when the Google News website got an interface overhaul last month. There's no need to feel left out, though, because a brand new update to the app brings the same visual treatments to smartphones. Most of the changes are essentially cosmetic, as everything that can be done in the new version was available somewhere in the previous update, but many things have been relocated and tuned to be a little nicer to access.

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Google app v7.6 beta may confirm an Assistant button on future Chromebooks, promises to bring "What's this song" to Assistant, and more [APK Teardown]

If you're on the list for beta updates to the Google app, a new version should have rolled out to you in the last day or so. We haven't seen any new features or notable changes yet, but there are quite a few interesting bits worthy of a teardown. There's a sign that rumors about an "Assistant" key on some new Chromebooks may be true and we may finally get to ask the Assistant to name songs again, among other things. As usual, we've got the apk linked at the bottom if you'd like to pick it up without waiting for an update to hit your device.

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Google Home v1.24 prepares to give Google Home users an option to automatically cast to specific TVs and speakers without naming them each time, Bluetooth support coming soon [APK Teardown]

Quite a few Google apps were given minor version bumps today, but nothing has been all that interesting until it was teardown time for the latest release of the Google Home app. It doesn't seem to have any changes in the live interface quite yet, but there are a couple of things from the resources that deserve a look. To begin with, we have a status update on the subject of Bluetooth pairing. On top of that, it looks like it will be possible to set default TVs and speakers to be used as output devices for Google Home.

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Silicon Valley's official Not Hotdog app hits Android, enabling you to tell hot dogs apart from other foods

HBO's Silicon Valley is one of the best shows out there, especially for tech enthusiasts like us. The fact that Google actually got the cast to do a short intro for the Pixel launch should tell you all you need to know. Season 4 featured Jian-Yang's brilliant "Not Hotdog" app. To fans' surprise, it made its way onto iOS almost immediately, but Android users were left without a way to detect if the food in front of them was a hot dog or not - until now.

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Finish off the week with 26 temporarily free and 45 on-sale apps

It's finally Friday! And that means we're here to round out the week with the final app sales post. Today's theme centers around games, so I hope you've set aside some time this weekend. I have bolded a few noteworthy titles that are definitely worth checking out, so be looking for them below. And don't forget to go back to Wednesday's post to see if anything there catches your eye.

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Google Play Music v7.9 adds search history and notification channels for Android O [APK Download + Teardown]

There's a new version of Google Play Music rolling out to users this afternoon, but the changes aren't terribly noticeable if you aren't looking for them. Hidden away in the Settings screen is a shortcut to view your music search history, and buried away in the system settings is a set of new notification channels so you can customize just how much Play Music interrupts you. A teardown also suggests audiophiles can look forward to some even more precise sounds coming from some tracks in the future.

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Here are 21 temporarily free and 36 on-sale apps for your Summer Solstice, plus the Game of the Week

Welcome to Wednesday! We're halfway through another week. I don't know about the rest of you, but the Summer Solstice is hotter than blazes here. If you're lucky enough to be in some comfortable air conditioning, then enjoy it. If you're like me and praying for a reprieve, then maybe you can distract yourself for a few minutes with today's app sales post... I can't wait for winter.

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