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Google Maps v9.41.0 beta adds 'on these lists' section, a toggle to start in satellite mode, new visuals for adding a stop, and prepares to show off hotel deals [APK Download + Teardown]

Depending on where you're at in the world, you may have some holidays coming up that demand long drives and a lot of time watching a screen as Google Maps directs the way back to family. There's a new update out that might make your trip planning and navigation just a little better. Version 9.41 has a new option to always start up in satellite mode, adds links to articles about top-listed businesses, and polishes the look for adding stops along a route. There are also hints that it will show when a hotel is running a good deal.

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Latest Google Play services update restores the 'Check for updates' button on Nexus and Pixel devices

With a security update looming on the horizon, we thought now would be a good time to point out that there's a small incentive to update to the latest version of Google Play services ahead of its normal rollout schedule – assuming you didn't already do it for those handy little Cast notifications with player controls. If you happen to miss repeatedly slamming on the update button after it was removed from Nexus devices with the Android 7.1 update, you'll appreciate knowing that Play services v10 restores the button to its former state of existence.

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Latest beta of Android Wear companion app allows filtering non-Wear Bluetooth devices and prepares to launch the Play Store from phones [APK Download + Teardown]

Development on the Android Wear platform has stumbled a bit as the official 2.0 release has been delayed until early 2017. That doesn't mean the companion app can't continue to get updates. A fresh beta build of v2.0 came out a couple of days ago with a couple small tweaks to remove one of the little annoying things about the Bluetooth pairing process. The teardown also reveals a couple of interesting additions related to standalone apps and the Wear-specific Play Store.

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Google Fit v1.61 prepares for hydration logging, gym workouts, and more [APK Teardown]

There's a new update to Google Fit rolling out to [aspiring to be] healthy Android users, but there aren't any obvious signs of changes from just looking at the app. A little digging around under the hood reveals quite a bit is either in the works or just about to launch, including hydration logging and counting reps at the gym. We might also get to track climbing data soon and get notifications for activities that Fit isn't 100% confident about. Oh, and there are some more round icons because it was bound to happen eventually.

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Hangouts v14 adds app shortcuts for 7.1 Nougat, changes setup steps for group chat, and reorganizes several chat settings [APK Download]

Earlier this year Google's VP of Communications, Nick Fox, declared Hangouts would be refocused on the enterprise market where it had found much more adoption. Ironically, the couple of updates since that statement haven't exactly screamed professionalism, or even added much of anything particularly relevant to the workplace. That changes with v14, which cleans up and improves various aspects of group chats. This version also enables app shortcuts (formerly Launcher Shortcuts) for use on Android 7.1 and makes a few other tweaks, as well.

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Google Maps v9.40 beta adds a dedicated space for photos from business owners and prepares for phone number verifications [APK Download + Teardown]

There's a new version of Google Maps rolling out to users on the beta channel. This one doesn't seem to be stacked full of big features, but there's at least one new addition to the photo browser. There are also some clues about upcoming features from a teardown. This release is a beta, so you won't get it through the Play Store (right now) if you aren't already signed up to receive early updates. As always, there's a link to download this release from APK Mirror at the bottom.

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YouTube Kids v1.91 shows plans to support Daydream VR and allow parents to block videos and channels [APK Teardown]

If you're taking care of a little one and updates to the YouTube Kids app are actually opportunities for excitement, you've probably been feeling a little let down by the last few version bumps. It's not that anybody really needs it to keep up with the likes of Google Maps or the core YouTube app, but a few big features are surely welcome. This version isn't actually packed with anything notably new for users today, but it brings promises of some things to come. A teardown shows that kids will be able to enjoy videos in VR and parents will be able to block videos and channels right from within the app.

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Google Messenger v2.0 adds unread counts to several launchers, brings a new launcher icon, prepares for RCS support, and much more [APK Teardown + Download]

The Google Messenger app officially hit version 2.0 yesterday. There are plenty of changes, largely related to visual tweaks like a new launcher icon, color changes, and some revised layouts. While a mostly visual release, there are some functional improvements, as well. A teardown also brings a good look at some interesting things in the future of messaging.

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[Update: App shortcuts too] New Google Keep update adds note pinning [APK Download]

Google Keep has become a nice little note taking app. While it lacks some of the features of more mature tools like Evernote, Keep is infinitely easier to use. Now, it's getting a feature it should have had a long time ago—pinned notes.

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Google App 6.7.13 beta readies Lite Mode for data-constrained regions [APK Teardown]

Google hasn't been shy about ingratiating itself and its services with the people of India and similarly data-constrained markets – and it should take a bow because some competitors certainly aren't trying very hard to keep up. Last month Google announced a number of initiatives for the Indian market designed to cut down on unnecessary data costs. Among the announcements was a change to the News & Weather app adding a so-called "Lite Mode" that intelligently reduces the amount of text and images that ultimately reaches a phone. Now it looks like the Google app itself will be sporting the same options.

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