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Chrome Dev 55 adds gamepad features and better Android Pay support [APK Download]

Yesterday, I wrote about the massive number of changes that Chrome Beta 54 brought along. Chrome 55 hasn't been in development for quite as long, but there are still a few noteworthy changes. Come along with me as I journey into the wonderful world of alpha-quality software.

Users on Android 7.0 might need to use an APK to update, as there is a bug with Chrome Beta & Dev updating from the Play Store. You can find the APKMirror download link at the bottom of this post.
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Chrome 54 Beta adds an updated New Tab Page, background video playback, and more [APK Download]

Chrome 54 Beta is now available on the Google Play Store, for you adventurous beta testers out there. This beta brings some very useful new features to Chrome, so let's dive right in!

New Tab page

Chrome 54 brings a redesigned New Tab page, and honestly, I'm not sure I'm a fan. The changed New Tab page still maintains the Google logo and the search bar, but does away with the Bookmarks or Recent Tabs buttons.

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Android apps can now easily access Google's harmful website database

Google's Safe Browsing feature has been around since 2007, and has protected millions of people from harmful threats on the internet. It's a blacklist of harmful websites, such as those distributing malware and phishing scams, that Google actively updates every day. The database is used by Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari to ensure users can be as safe as possible online.

Back at Google I/O, Google announced they would make an official API for applications to check a given website in the Safe Browsing database. Starting with Google Play Services 9.4, developers can finally use the API in their apps.

The Safe Browsing API uses the latest version of the Safe Browsing Network Protocol, meaning it's designed to be as quick (and use up as little cellular data) as possible.

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Google made some cute advertisements for Duo, seriously they're adorable

One trend I've noticed with Google over the years is that they don't usually advertise on TV. There's been some commercials for the Nexus devices over the years, and recently some ads for Google Photos, but not much else. Google just uploaded a series of ads for Google Duo, their new video chat application, and they're absolutely adorable. Check them out:

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Google+ v8.7 now opens image comments in a full screen viewer like any other image [APK Download]

Google+ wasn't the first social network to allow users to embed images directly into comments, but it's supported now and most of us seem pretty happy about it. The only problem with image comments was that a few features were missing from that first implementation. A couple of weeks have passed and we're now looking at a brand new update that fills in most of the gaps: enabling users to open images in full screen, save them locally, and more.

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Google says Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 LTE Nougat updates will be rolling out "in the coming weeks"

Android 7.0 Nougat was officially released over three weeks ago, and people instantly went insane over the lack of any factory or OTA images available for the Nexus 6 (but not so much for the Nexus 9 LTE, since they didn't sell too many). We reached out to Google, and it seems like you guys are gonna have to wait for just a few more weeks.

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Google's Project Zero starts its own Android hacking contest with a top prize of $200,000

Calling all hackers and security researchers: Google wants to pay you money. Quite a lot, in fact. The top prize for finding a new critical flaw in Android in the new Project Zero Prize competition is a whopping $200,000, with the second prize at $100,000 and $50,000 split among additional entrants. The contest is being run by Project Zero, the company's own internal team of security researchers that documents critical flaws and bugs in wide-reaching software.

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Pixel Launcher works with Google Calendar to show the correct date, changes some UI elements

It's been a few hours since the Pixel Launcher was leaked, and from the screenshots we saw initially, it didn't seem like much had changed in the name's transition from Nexus to Pixel. However, since downloads became available, we've discovered more and more subtle tweaks to the interface. Arguably the biggest change is the integration of the date into Google Calendar's icon.

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Google is testing a crazy new bottom bar interface in Maps

The current version of Google Maps has an Explore bar at the bottom of the screen, giving you access to nearby points of interest. It appears that some people have started seeing a different version of that bottom bar with options for seeing locations, driving, or transit details. It looks rather handy.

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Latest Google Maps beta shows distance to locations in search

A few days ago, we posted a teardown of the latest Google Maps beta. Another minor, but much appreciated, change in this beta version is that distances now appear alongside results in search.

This is a very minor feature, but definitely one worth mentioning. Most of the time when I searched for locations, I had to look at the map myself and figure out which was the closest. As you would expect, it shows the distance in either Imperial 'Murican or Metric units, depending on your preference.

googlemaps-screenshot

If you want to try out the beta release, you can download the APK from APKMirror.

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