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Google Cardboard Gets Play Store Collection, New SDKs, And Viewer Specifications

 

The foldable cardboard VR kits Google gave away at I/O 2014 weren't just a one-off stunt. Today, in its developers blog, Google had some big announcements for the home-brewed virtual reality viewer.

First up, Google has grouped a handful of Cardboard-compatible apps into their own collection on the Play Store. The Cardboard app itself has also received an update, with the ability to discover cardboard apps on the Play Store, and launch them directly from the viewer.

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Hangouts Now Allows You To Switch Between Voice and Carrier SMS Within Conversation Screen

Among the feature additions in the latest Hangouts update is the ability to switch between Google Voice and carrier SMS without diving into the app settings. All you have to do is tap on the "spinner," the toggle in the conversation window that already allowed you to alternate between Hangouts and SMS. Now, provided you have a Voice and carrier number, you'll have two SMS options. 

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Google Announces Android Wear Lollipop Update With Official Support For Custom Watch Faces, Tons Of Said New Watch Faces, Retrieving Cards, And More

Remember when Android Wear launched and Google said the custom watch face API would be out soon? Well, it's finally here, but there are a ton of other features coming along with it like improved access to settings, retrieving cards, and battery stats. Let's cut to the chase, you want to know when you can get it, right? It's all rolling out over the next week.

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An Exclusive Early Look At A Slightly More 'Material' Hangouts

Back when we first took a look at the design initiative that would become "material design," we noted that Google planned to update apps incrementally, with changes happening over an unspecified period of time, until they'd evolved to full compliance. A couple of months ago Hangouts began its journey, but to many the app still doesn't feel quite up to par. A messy, improperly-layered drawer, lack of some familiar actions from the app's previous iteration, and of course no revised launcher icon are a few complaints begging for resolution.

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Exclusive: Upcoming Version Of Google Translate Will Include WordLens Image Translation And Auto-Detection For Conversation Mode

A few months ago Google purchased the developer of the impressive WordLens app, which translates text and signs from another language into your own simply by pointing your camera at it. The text appears in your language through the lens, as if you had super-powered Translate-O-Vision. As with Waze and Google Maps, it looks like Google's own Translate app will soon see the benefit of that acquisition. Check out the screenshots below, taken from an upcoming version of Google Translate.

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[APK Teardown] Play Store v5.1.11 Adds Support For Discounts Through 'Reward Vouchers'

If the rollout of an updated Play Store yesterday with some tweaked interface elements and an order history page was exciting, just wait until you see what else was hidden inside the latest version. I don't think there's any point in teasing, this might be the one we've all been waiting for. The Play Store is finally going to enable a method to offer discounted purchases. There are still a lot of unknowns, but it's real, and it's probably coming very soon.

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Google Adds Hindi And Indonesian Support To Text-To-Speech Engine [APK Download]

Updates to Google's Text-to-Speech app aren't always interesting, but today's bump actually brings with it two new languages. For those waiting for Hindi and Indonesian language support, it's your lucky day.

Keep in mind that this is the text-to-speech engine, not the voice recognition software that already has support for Indonesian, but not for Hindi.

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[APK Teardown] Google+ v4.8 Tests Out Bandwidth Optimizations, Prepares For A Personalized 2014 Google+ Photo 'Yearbook'

A brand new version of Google+ began rolling out to Android users yesterday, but it didn't initially appear to do much more than tweak a few layouts and change the colors to something more theme-appropriate. During the initial teardown, we also stumbled onto the newly expanded Pinning feature, but Google beat us to the punch. Of course, since the feature is on a staged rollout to users, plenty of people won't see that quite yet.

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Web Version Of Google+ Now Lets You Pin Posts To The Top Of Your Profile Or Page

Earlier this year, Google+ community managers gained the ability to pin posts to the top of a page, useful during those times when you want visitors to see something in particular the first time they arrive. The thing is, community pages aren't the only ones that could benefit from such a feature. So the capability is now rolling out for regular profiles and pages as well. General users can now pin posts using the web version Google+ from their PC.

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Catch Up: Gmail Team's Inbox AMA Answers Questions About Functionality, Future Plans

In case you  missed it, three members of the team responsible for Inbox by Gmail including Vijay U, Jason C, and Taylor K (Product Manager, Designer, and Software Engineer respectively) answered questions in a Reddit AMA thread today.

Those who want to get a full look at the entire thread can click through the source link below, but in the interest of saving you some time, we've looked through the team's responses to gather up answers to the more popular questions.

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