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Last Updated: August 21st, 2014

Update #1 (8/12/14): It looks like Google deleted the tweet embedded below. Between that and the lack of an update to this support page, someone might have pulled the trigger early. But if those countries don't have access yet, they probably will sometime soon.

Update #2 (8/19/14): After a false start last week, the Play Music expansion now seems to be live. The official Google Play country availability page has been updated to reflect this as well.

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Google has big plans for both YouTube and Google Play Music. We've heard a lot about YouTube's potential subscription music playback service, background audio, and offline playback, and there's been much speculation about what such an arrangement would mean for Play Music All Access. What we've got today gives those rumors and clues some clarity.

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Here's the basic rundown - YouTube is set to launch a service called YouTube Music Key, and Google is set to rebrand Google Play Music All Access to Google Play Music Key.

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Google, like many companies, engages in a practice known as dogfooding. That's when a company has employees internally test new features and products before rolling them out to the public. While poking around in the recent YouTube APK, we found a little surprise. There's a GIF presumably shown in dogfood versions of the app to remind people to keep their big fat mouths shut.

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Aug
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Google's Niantic Labs operates as a semi-autonomous company within Google that works on projects like Ingress and the travel app Field Trip. Ingress gets most of the attention, but now Field Trip might become a bigger part of all Android users' lives. Data from Field Trip is about to be integrated with Google Now to make sure you know what cool stuff is around when you're away from home.

FT Google Now 1 FT Google Now 2

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Aug
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According to Florian Kiersch (who has uncovered many in-progress Google projects including Google Stars), Google is testing a new Hangouts experience for now codenamed Ultra Violet.

Kiersch says (and shows) that Ultra Violet will present significant interface changes for Hangouts, including a new Chrome extension that would introduce a floating, Chat Heads-style icon on the desktop, which users could move around freely.

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Once the circle is clicked, Kiersch says, the Hangouts welcome screen would appear to introduce users to the new experience.

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Google has been doing its best to worm its way into business with Android and Chrome OS. At the same time, HP is anxious to sell more mobile devices based on Android (webOS didn't go so well). It just so happens HP has a lot of experience selling to businesses. According to The Information, the companies have been discussing combining efforts to increase business sales by enabling additional Google Now functionality specifically for business customers.

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Aug
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Update: Opening up email to a greater number of characters is a good thing for users, but it's also exciting for spammers. Certain characters - such as ဝ, ૦, ο, and the letter o - look very similar. Too similar, really. So Gmail will now block email addresses attempting to take advantage of this, and it will use the Unicode Consortium's "highly-restricted" specification to do so. Wဝ૦ο!

It may seem to many of us that there are an endless number of email addresses available out there, but if your name contains characters that don't fit somewhere between A-Z, that illusion is shattered pretty quickly.

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Back in May, Google announced "a new classroom," powered by Google's own tools. Appropriately, the effort was dubbed Google Classroom and previewed to educators around the world. Today, Google Classroom will become available to all Google Apps for Education users in 42 languages, optimized for both desktop and mobile use.

For those unfamiliar, Google Classroom is basically a web platform for managing assignments and projects - educators can assign projects, dispense information (through announcements or real time discussions), and collect assignments using Google's tools to spend "a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love—teaching."

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Aug
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A single SMS message is generally limited to 160 characters, which gives it the potential to be a very concise means of communication. If, however, you feel that the point of your message will be hard to convey in such small snippets, Hangouts has a feature for you.

Hangouts allows users to specify a subject for SMS messages. Simply hold the send button for a moment, and a subject box will appear as shown below.

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Aug
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The YouTube app was supposed to get an offline playback mode some time ago, but like the subscription music service, it hasn't materialized yet. That's not stopping Google from teasing it, though. Right in the Play Store you'll find a few screenshots with a navigation menu listing for offline videos.

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