19
Dec
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Ever since Google integrated Voice with Hangouts, listening to voicemail has been a highly-focused affair. Unlike traditional voicemail, which we're conditioned to hold up to our ear like a phone call, voicemail in Hangouts comes with a play button that encourages us to treat it more like the audio file that it is. This is the same way Google Voice has treated it on the web for forever.

The downside is that turning off the screen or backing out of Hangouts has, until recently, caused the message to immediately stop playing.

17
Dec
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It appears Google really doesn't want to leave any stone unturned when it comes to easing its own apps into material design (no matter how long it may take). The latest to get an incremental refresh is Google Opinion Rewards - the app has been updated with a revised launcher icon (seen in the thumbnail for this post), and a new toolbar inside the app. The icon is a bit closer to material, but doesn't carry the exact same use of shadows as Google's other recent updates.

17
Dec
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There's an update to Hangouts Dialer rolling today to make those Google VoIP calls a little more useful. The dialer's new trick is that it can handle phone call intents from the system. That makes it easier than ever to place calls through Hangouts with your Google Voice number.

2014-12-17 12.08.16

17
Dec
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Google made some sweeping changes after it acquired restaurant review indexer Zagat, including limiting the cities in which it would work. The app itself was updated a few times, but it's been sitting neglected for a year until today. Zagat is going material in this update, but there are a few functionality tweaks too.

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17
Dec
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Over the summer, Google bought Songza, a music streaming company that provides playlists suited for certain moods and times of day. The Big G has left the service running, but that didn't stop it from integrating the functionality with Play Music several months later. This brought recommended playlists to the "Listen Now" area of the Android app and website for listeners in the US and Canada. Now the functionality has expanded to the UK.

16
Dec
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Google pushed a new version of its Text-to-Speech app a few days ago, and it actually removed a feature. Updates usually add new things, so what's the deal? You can no longer download the high-quality voice models on your device. However, Google has updated the changelog to explain that you don't need them anymore. The regular voice is even better now.

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16
Dec
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Google has pushed out a number of tweaks to its suite of mobile office apps: Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Even Drive, the place where edited documents are stored, hasn't gone untouched. Some of these features are nice to see, so let's dive in.

What's New

Update: Docs, Sheets, and Slides all have full hamburger menu icons now.

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In Docs, an option to select line spacing has appeared in the "Paragraph" section of the app.

15
Dec
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The short version of this story is that Tse Ho Keung, holder of a patent that is currently within an inch of its life, has so far failed to get any traction in lawsuits against major tech companies (...and Blockbuster), and has resorted to threatening independent developers in a dual effort to either gain money or to avenge the name of his patent by forcibly eliciting amicus briefs and declaratory statements.

13
Dec
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Open up the Google Wallet app on your Android device, because there might be a $5 surprise waiting for you. Many Android users are reporting on various social media that they have found $5 gifts to various vendors for no apparent reason waiting for them in their Wallet app.

13
Dec
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For a long time, Google's My Tracks app was basically a niche app, if not just a novelty. However, the recent addition of Android Wear support started to get things to make more sense. Location tracking on a smart watch is more convenient and may render obsolete the GPS watches of yesteryear. With the new 2.0.9 update, My Tracks has Google Fit support, giving My Tracks some credibility as a fitness app.

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