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Google

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Android One phones may be arriving in the United States in the coming months

Google started the Android One initiative back in 2014, with the goal of partnering with manufacturers to develop low-end Android phones that would receive updates directly from Google. All Android One devices have 18 months of promised updates (similar to past Nexus devices), including the monthly security updates, with a stock version of Android. The Information reports that Google will be bringing the Android One program to the United States in the coming months.

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Google TalkBack update prevents screen from locking during text reading, interruption while using voice search, and more

It is easy to take the use of our full senses for granted — some of our fellow Android users are not so fortunate. Luckily, Google has implemented the TalkBack service into the OS, which allows those who are blind or otherwise visually-impaired to use their devices more effectively. Now the v5.1 update notes have been posted to the Play Store, showing that the update brings some nice improvements.

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Google Contributor has been shut down

Back in 2015, Google launched a service called Google Contributor, which allowed users to pay a small amount of money per month to see fewer AdSense ads on their favorite websites. The service never expanded outside the United States, and last month, Google announced it would shut down "mid-January 2017."

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Google+ getting comment filters, return of Events, and more; Classic UI going away forever on January 24

Google+ refuses to die, much to the joy of people like me who actually enjoy the service. The development team behind the social media platform has been making changes over the years, including some pretty massive ones to both the mobile and desktop interfaces. Today brings us some new additions: a low-quality comment filter, layout adjustments, and the return of Events.

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The Play Store should soon tell you if your device is GMS certified or not

In October of last year, Cody found strings in his teardown of the Play Store 7.1 that hinted at a mysterious "Device Certification" label. Back then, he theorized that it could be an indicator of whether your device was indeed GMS certified and thus supposed to have the Play Store or it could be a SafetyNet check to see if your firmware was modified in any form. The correct answer turned out to be the first one.

Several users have reported the appearance of a "Device certification" menu in the Play Store's settings over the past couple of months, but the option was buggy and not so widespread.

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Google app v6.11 beta adds an option to change search region, hints at improvements for Google assistant and Now stream [APK Teardown + Download]

Just over two weeks into 2017 and there's already a second beta update to the Google app rolling out to users. The previous version didn't present with any notable new features, but it did leave some clues about future updates. The latest update is also packed with nuggets of future improvements, but it also adds at least one feature for people that have to search internationally from time to time. This update is currently rolling out to users signed up to the beta program, but if you want to pick it up separately, there is a download link at the bottom.

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PSA: Chrome Dev allows you to modify recommended sites or articles, sort of

Many weren't happy with the change that shows recommended sites and articles in Chrome 54 - Android Police team members included - and while I personally do not mind them, I can see why you would prefer not to have Google recommend stuff you may not like.

In light of this, Chrome developer evangelist François Beaufort has come to the rescue. A new Chrome internals page, in the latest builds of Chrome Dev, allows modification of the recommended sites and articles, at least somewhat. chrome://ntp-tiles-internals controls what is shown on the page, with an update button to update the popular sites and function to change the region you get sites from (for example, I'm in the UK so I see the UK versions of sites).

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Android Pay gets support for 40 new banks including BMO Harris

Every time it seems like Android Pay must now, finally support all the banks, there are more of them. Google has just confirmed support for 40 more banks in its payment service. That's in addition to the 46 that were added just a few weeks ago. Let me just save you the trouble of scanning the list and being disappointed—Simple Bank is not among them.

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Google releases Toontastic 3D, a digital puppet theater for kids to create and animate their own stories [APK Download]

LaunchPad Toys, an educational content app developer, was acquired by Google back in February of 2015, and one result of that acquisition is Toontastic 3D, a more animated version of the developer's loved and applauded Toontastic (check those Common Sense ratings).

The app is described by Google as a "digital puppet theater," but that's only scratching the surface. Kids can grab one of the many characters and settings provided, move them around, add a song, record their voice for dialogue, and generate a 3D video to keep and re-watch on their phone. And that's not all. There are 3D drawing tools to design characters from scratch, an option to add yourself or friends to the story by importing images, soundtracks, three different story arcs (short story, classic, and science report), and more.

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[Update: Fifth Third Bank] 46 new banks get Android Pay support including Scottrade and Bremer

Just a year ago it was rare to have support for Android Pay at your bank, but things are much better now. It's getting to the point that even small banks have support for Android Pay. Case in point: 45 new banks have been added to the supported list for Android Pay, and you probably haven't heard of most of them.

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