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Gboard v6.8 adds a handwriting keyboard and enlarges emoji, hints at new theme engine, Motion Stills integration, and more [APK Teardown]

As Cyber Monday was wearing down, Google was already winding up some app updates. A new version of Gboard began rolling out late in the afternoon, and with it comes the long-anticipated handwriting support, meaning we can finally uninstall the separate handwriting keyboard. There are also some tweaks to the emoji picker. As we look to the teardown, there are signs of a new theme system with a few new options for more visual control, a new autospace feature, integration with the Motion Stills app, and more.

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Android Wear v2.6 includes a Recent app complication, network status indicators, download progress card, and more [APK Download]

Google announced last month that one of the plans for Wear 2.0 had been to make the platform easier to update with software upgrades from the Play Store rather than relying so much on sending out a barrage of firmware updates. In the v2.6 update, quite a few improvements and little tweaks have been made to the interface, including new connection indicators, download status notifications, a recent app complication, and more.

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YouTube Gaming v2.03 adds playback speed controls [APK Download]

YouTube is a lot of things to a lot of people, but for gamers, it's the ultimate cheat guide to every game, ever. If you can't figure out how Nathan Drake is supposed to get through that tower scene with the snipers or you're stumped over the pattern needed to survive 8 more seconds of Cup Head, you're going straight to YouTube. But depending on the game, you might have to sit through 20 painstaking minutes of slow gameplay to understand a strategy, or you might have to rewatch the same clip a dozen times to spot the timing needed for each move.

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[Update: Money transfers & Duo calling are live] Android Messages v2.7 prepares to add new message indicators and RCS support for dual-SIM phones, drops 6 MB in size [APK Teardown]

It's time for a new version of Android Messages. The latest update takes a slightly larger than average jump from v2.5 to v2.7, but no obvious changes to the UI are really popping out. However, the apk did get much smaller with this release, and there are some things visible through the lens of a teardown. We'll keep watching for other changes, but let us know if you see anything.

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Allo v23 prepares to display vCard details and add a new attachment type, may be launching audio message transcriptions and camera effects soon [APK Teardown]

Google began rolling out version 23 of Allo yesterday. No feature changes have jumped out at us yet, but there's plenty of material for a teardown. There are more details about the upcoming camera effects for selfies and selfie clips, a new type of attachment, custom support for contact cards shared between people, and more.

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YouTube v12.45 reveals a dark mode is in the works [APK Teardown]

We've all been there. You're caught up in a YouTube spiral, each video you watch ends with a recommendation that you can't refuse. Day turns to night and the bright background of the app contrasts sharply with the darks and midtones of most videos, making your eyes more tired than they need to be. You rub your eyes to bring them back to life, but it's only a temporary fix. What you really want is to make those bright white backgrounds go away. There's some good news: Dark mode is coming.

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Google Home v1.26 reveals 'speaker pairs' for stereo casting, adds EQ settings, new Backdrop screen, and more [APK Teardown]

The Google Home app has seen some big enhancements lately, and with the rollout of v1.26, it's gearing up for some more. The latest update brings the notable addition of EQ settings for speakers and introduces a new screen for backdrop history. Users of Android 8.0 Oreo might also notice their app shortcuts are now sporting fresh adaptive icons. However, the main topic comes to us via a teardown that shows a new feature called Speaker Pairs which will enable us to take two speakers and set them up to work in stereo.

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Google app v7.16 beta suggests tablet rollout coming soon, reveals Routines can run after alarms, more on Quartz and podcasts [APK Teardown]

There's a fresh version of the Google app rolling out on the beta channel right now. This one doesn't appear to put a lot of new stuff in front of us for use right now, but there are hints scattered around that tablet support is ready to launch. A teardown brings the more interesting clues, including more capabilities for Routines, additional details for the screen-enabled Google Home (i.e. Quartz), and even downloadable podcasts.

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Play Music v8.5 drops 2 MB of dead weight by unbundling Wear app and fixes app shortcut adaptive icons [APK Teardown]

A new version of Play Music is available this afternoon and it's making a big leap in versions from 8.0 to 8.5. This update doesn't come with the redesign that had seemed likely after last month's visual refresh to Play Music on Android TV. But cosmetic touchups were in the cards as the adaptive icons for app shortcuts were fixed in this release. Additionally, Play Music lost some megabytes after unbundling its Wear app.

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Google Phone v14 prepares to offer voicemail transcriptions for other carriers and automatically correct international phone numbers [APK Teardown]

A new version of the Google Phone app began rolling out this weekend with a few bug fixes and some new hints about what may be coming in the future. We've checked for the *infamous 'switch to video call' feature* that was spotted during the October 4th event, but it still doesn't appear to be operational yet. However, a teardown of this update reveals that the Phone app will automatically correct prefixes when you make a call to international numbers and it may begin offering voicemail transcriptions on behalf of carriers.

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