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Google announces new subscription promo ability and refund identification API for developers

Google has brought Playtime, its developer education event, back to San Francisco with some news for those that help to make Android awesome. If you missed the event or the video highlights, there is a handy blog post with a summary of the information announced. The most interesting points from it are that Google is now giving developers the ability to run subscription promotional prices and to see which users have requested refunds. Fun stuff, right? 

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Motorola partners with Indiegogo to foster development of new Moto Mods

I don't want to say Moto Mods are a universally bad idea, but most of the Mods that have been released so far are mediocre at best, and the prices are crazy. It's been a while since Motorola released a new Mod, but there could be more ideas floating around soon. The company has partnered with crowdfunding site Indiegogo to get developers interested in making Moto Mods.

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Google rolling out improved fraud and spam detection in the Play Store

We've all seen it—an app with just a few too many suspicious five-star reviews or an unlikely high number of installs in a short period of time. Google cites these attempts to manipulate the Play Store as a hindrance to its recommendation system, and ultimately to the experience of end users. Today, it's implementing a new filtering system to spot these apps.

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Google's Project Tango gets an official gallery app on the Play Store

So far there are only two devices that officially support Google's neat-o Project Tango spatial detection technology: the original developer kit (no longer being sold) and the shiny new Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. The latter is set to release next month, so Google is preparing the way with a new first-party app, simply called "Tango." It's available as a free download in the Play Store right now, but without access to either the tablet or the phone, you won't be able to play around with it.

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System dumps for Pixel and Pixel XL are available for download

Google will be shipping the Pixel and Pixel XL in a few weeks, but you can download the system dumps from the phones right now. Developer and occasional leaker LlabTooFeR has posted the files online, but don't get excited thinking these dumps will let you install Android 7.1 on your device. This is still a chance to get a look at the Pixel's software a little early, though.

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Android Studio v2.2 released to stable channel with new layout designer and ConstraintLayout, test recorder, APK Analyzer, and much more

The Android Tools Team has been hard at work on version 2.2 of Android Studio, and it's finally ready to step up to a stable release. Demonstrated at Google I/O, the preview release of v2.2 introduced a plethora of great new features and improvements intended to make app development faster and easier. Over the last four months, Studio has been continually tested and refined to get it ready for all developers, regardless of which development channels they're normally following. For anybody that hasn't been following along with the canary or dev builds, the video below summarizes many of the new improvements in this release.

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Android apps can now easily access Google's harmful website database

Google's Safe Browsing feature has been around since 2007, and has protected millions of people from harmful threats on the internet. It's a blacklist of harmful websites, such as those distributing malware and phishing scams, that Google actively updates every day. The database is used by Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari to ensure users can be as safe as possible online.

Back at Google I/O, Google announced they would make an official API for applications to check a given website in the Safe Browsing database. Starting with Google Play Services 9.4, developers can finally use the API in their apps.

The Safe Browsing API uses the latest version of the Safe Browsing Network Protocol, meaning it's designed to be as quick (and use up as little cellular data) as possible.

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Dashlane and Google introduce the 'Open YOLO' password manager API

Passwords are lame, but they're currently the best way we have to secure online accounts. There's plenty of advice out there about how to make passwords more secure like not reusing them across sites, choosing longer passwords, using special characters, and so on. Of course, that makes passwords more annoying. Now, Dashlane and Google have teamed up to create a new password management API called Open YOLO—that's You Only Login Once, not the other YOLO. The intention is to make passwords easier and faster.

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New Play Store tools help developers shrink the size of app updates

When it comes to mobile data, where customers almost always have a limited pool of access to work with, less is more. That's the principle behind the "delta" updates to apps that Google introduced way back in 2012, which in most cases allows the Play Store to download only the incrementally updated parts of an app rather than the entire APK. Now a new tweak to the delta update algorithm has made the updates themselves even smaller.

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Verified boot in Android 7.0 won't let your phone boot if the software is corrupt

Starting in Android 4.4, Google implemented verified boot (known as dm-verity) in the Android kernel to prevent malware from hiding in your device. This was all behind the scenes until Android 6.0 Marshmallow—that's when Google started alerting users to system integrity. In Android 7.0, it's going a step further. In Nougat, verified boot will be "strictly enforcing" and won't allow your device to boot if the software has been compromised. Android will also be able to correct errors, but this will cause some headaches for modders.

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