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With nothing better to do, Hangouts v21 adds five new emoticon message shortcodes [APK Download]

Do you find yourself thinking Google Hangouts would be perfect if it only had a few more secret shortcodes to make emoticon art? No, I didn't think so. I guess that means today's update to Hangouts probably won't convince anybody that it has hit the pinnacle of excellence; but it will give us five more easter egg phrases, if that helps.

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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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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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YouTube Kids v2.28 sets up for user profiles and better offline video management [APK Teardown]

YouTube doesn't talk very much about what it has to offer for younger audiences, but through its Kids app, parents have easy access to a great library of child-friendly material. Not long ago, the app introduced a "reading" category built around the theme of books and literary characters. Regular updates to the app are also occasionally introducing new features. The latest update includes a few hints about some improvements that may be coming soon, including more control over offline videos and profiles for easily swapping content for different kids.

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MyGlass app receives update after almost three years of silence, includes proper power management and notification syncing without disrupting Wear [APK Download]

Nobody could be faulted for assuming Google Glass had been thoroughly abandoned; there were even a few public statements to that effect. That's why it came as such a surprise when a "minor" update to the MyGlass companion app began rolling out today to a limited number of users. The previous release came out almost three years ago, at the end of 2014, likely making this the longest gap between app updates in Google's history with Android. The changes aren't very overwhelming, but they aren't insignificant either.

If you still happen to have Google Glass and you're feeling nostalgic, dig it out of the gadget drawer, plug it in and give it a whirl.

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