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YouTube v12.17 prepares an option to turn off the floating video player [APK Teardown]

YouTube's update to v5 introduced its floating in-app video player, giving users an easier way to browse for a new video while finishing up whatever they were just watching. While the YouTube developers are known for experimenting heavily with interface adjustments, the floating video player has gone basically unchanged over the last four years. That is until a few weeks ago when some users found themselves looking at a new bottom bar layout equipped with player controls. But that's not the only thing YouTube is considering, there is also evidence that users will have the option to shut off the floating video player altogether, or only leave it on while connected to Wi-Fi.

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Android Pay v1.22 prepares Visual ID facial recognition based on Hands Free and reveals testing for Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, and Canada [APK Teardown]

Android Pay may not have had a massive launch, or has been as aggressively rolled out as Samsung Pay, but it is steadily setting up shop in more countries around the globe. If you don't happen to find yourself in one of the dozen countries that have either already seen a launch or at least have an official promise of one coming soon, you might be interested to know that Google has at least set its sights on a few other countries. Text in the latest update of the Android Pay app hints at four previously unannounced markets. There are also obvious signs Google is merging the recently closed Hands Free experiment into Android Pay and expanding it significantly.

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Play Store v7.8 prepares to add pre-registration rewards, settings for Instant Apps, Play Protect, and more [APK Teardown + Download]

The Play Store has just been updated to version 7.8 as of this morning, at least for some people. This release brings a couple of small changes to the interface and a few bigger changes in preparation for the future. Google has added a little reminder note to get people back on track with automatic updates, meanwhile it has also removed a toggle on some devices that gave users a choice about whether icons should be added to the home screen for newly installed apps. (But don't worry, that's conditional.) On the teardown front, we can see big signs of progress for Instant Apps, a move toward branding the malware scanner, and a clue that pre-registering for apps may finally be worth something besides a reminder notification.

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Google Phone 9.0 prepares to add Android O's Notification Channels, picture messaging, post-call messages, and more [APK Teardown]

Late last week, an update to Google's Phone app began rolling out with no immediately obvious changes to the experience. While users don't have anything to play with quite yet, there are several interesting hints about what is to come in future releases. Hidden among the app's resources are signs of support for Android O's new Notification Channels feature, in-call picture messaging, post-call messaging, hidden menu codes for Motorola phones, and even some odd images of paws. Yes, seriously.

Official changelog posted

Google posted a changelog for the Phone app's latest update with the addition of emergency location display and "call waiting improvements" making up the majority of the new features.

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Google Photos v2.14 is preparing personalized experiences and sharing suggestions based around facial recognition [APK Teardown]

When the Photos app launched in 2015, Google had already been working on computer vision for many years. It was no surprise that object recognition was a major draw for the app, and automatic sorting of pictures by person with the use of facial recognition became a must-have feature. Google is now looking to leverage this technology to make the Photos app a bit more social. A teardown of the latest Photos update reveals the service will soon offer additional features based around facial recognition, and even encourage users to share pictures with the people detected in them.

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Walmart Grocery is a new Android app for all your food shopping needs

US retailer Walmart has just added another app to its burgeoning selection on the Google Play Store. The oft-maligned company already has several Android apps available with varying degrees of success. With Walmart Grocery, food shopping could be a whole lot easier. The new app allows you to select your items, make a payment, and organize delivery or collection. A similar experience can already be had at its regular, non-grocery stores with the Walmart app.

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Google App 7.1 beta is testing a search bar in the notification panel and may begin showing pollen counts [APK Teardown]

The Google app is responsible for a pretty staggering number of features ranging from the standard search interface, a voice assistant, and even a fully functional launcher. The latest update coming through the beta channel doesn't seem to have any new features going live quite yet, but there are a lot of changes to text and other resources, including the removal of all references to Bisto from the last teardown. Most of them are minor tweaks to features we've covered in the past, but a couple point to things we haven't explored yet. Users can look forward to pollen counts with their local weather and possibly a search bar located right in the notification shade.

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Android Messages v2.2 cleans up the setup for solo and group messaging, allows adding new people to conversations [APK Download]

Not all updates have to introduce a big feature to make a big difference. The latest version of Android Messages demonstrates just that. It includes a couple of relatively small changes to the way group messaging is set up and should be a little faster for most people, and might remove some confusion for a few.

The screen for creating a new conversation in earlier versions was geared in favor of group chats. To be more specific, tapping on a contact would put them into a list of recipients and allowed users to keep adding more people until the user pressed a button to finalize the list and begin typing messages.

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Google Fit v1.64 for Wear 2.0 can now identify strength training exercises and automatically count reps [APK Download]

Google Fit stands as one of Google's only flagship apps on Android Wear, and may be the only one of its apps that matters more on a watch than it does on a phone. There's a new version of the app available on the Play Store for both watches and phones, but this update is all about adding a big feature for Wear. There's a new mode for recording strength training and similar activities that involve counting reps.

This update is for Wear 2.0 only, so quite a few people will have to wait until the rollout is complete before testing this out, but it works on the last developer preview as well as any watch that already has the official 2.0 firmware.

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Google Maps v9.51 beta adds new details about parking, prepares to improve route planning with parking suggestions and traffic charts [APK Teardown + Download]

It's time for another update to Google Maps. Like so many other version bumps, this one includes a couple of great gifts to get users where they want to go. The focus of this release appears to be directed at parking. There are now indicators to show if there is on-site parking and whether it's free or paid. The theme continues into the teardown with a feature that will help drivers plan to find parking near their destination before getting there.

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