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Google is testing a wild new transparent Google Now pane

Google Now was a big deal when it debuted years back, but now Google is all about Assistant. The Google Now pane got its last redesign in 2015, but Google appears to be testing something more radical currently. Some users are starting to see a transparent Google Now pane.

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Modified Pixel Launcher APK enables the Google Now pane and other Pixel-exclusive features to work on any device, no root or mods required

It's been eight months since the Pixel Launcher was unveiled alongside the Pixel phones, but it's still exclusive to Google's latest and greatest. Sure, you can download it from sites like our very own APK Mirror and it'll work for the most part, but you still miss out on a lot of the Pixel-exclusive niceties, namely the Google Now pane. However, a developer by the name of AmirZ has come along and made something pretty sweet: a modified Pixel Launcher APK with all of the cool little extras that the Pixel comes with.

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Google launches quarterly 'Android Excellence' picks in the Play Store

Google recently revamped the Editors' Choice section of the Play Store, and now it's adding a new feature called "Android Excellence." This section will include apps and games that Google thinks are particularly good, and it'll be updated every quarter. The first set of Android Excellence picks is out now in the Play Store and after the break.

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Google has only sold about one million Pixel devices, according to Pixel Launcher download figures from the Play Store

Of all the smartphones and tablets that Google has released in recent years, those from the Pixel line have likely sold the most. I've personally seen more "regular people" using Pixel phones than any Nexus devices, and that can be attributed in large part to Verizon officially carrying the Pixel and Pixel XL. However, since Google never releases sales figures for its mobile devices, it's been difficult to tell precisely how many Pixels have been sold - until now.

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Google adds more Local Guides levels and ways to earn points

Google Maps has a lot of data, some of it contributed by users. Google is keenly aware that you can get people to contribute to a service rather easily as long as you give them points. The points don't even have to be good for anything, although Local Guides points do come with some rewards. Today, Google is adding new levels to the Local Guides program and offering new ways to earn points so you can reach these higher levels.

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The largest of Google's 2017 devices, codenamed 'Taimen,' may be built by LG

Back in March, we learned that Google may be working on a third device for 2017, called 'Taimen' (Google traditionally names products after fish). This third model would be bigger than the next Pixel and Pixel XL, codenamed 'Walleye' and 'Muskie' respectively. It's not known for sure that Taimen will be a larger Pixel phone, just that it will be larger in size than Walleye and Muskie.

Earlier today, we reported that Muskie has likely been cancelled, leaving Walleye and Taimen the only phones Google will reveal this year. Now it seems that Taimen may be manufactured by LG. 

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[Update: Out of beta] Gboard v6.3 beta is rolling out with improved search interface, search emoji by drawing, and more [APK Download]

There's a new version of Gboard hitting devices tonight, right after Google accidentally sent an internal v6.3 "dogfood" test build out to some users. Oh well, the version that's rolling out in the Play Store right now (also v6.3) is the proper consumer build, and it has some cool new stuff. Searching is now quicker and more powerful, whether you're looking for a webpage, emoji, or a GIF.

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Google's Daydream View VR headset is now available in India from Flipkart for 6499 INR

We've had the Daydream View VR headset here in the States for nearly half a year now, but the same can't be said for many other countries. However, Google has just announced that the Daydream View can now be purchased in India from major retailer Flipkart for 6499 rupees.

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[Deal Alert] Kick off your Monday with 24 temporarily free and 25 on-sale apps

Welcome to the start of yet another week. It's Monday (again), which means it's time for some more app sales! As is typical for the first round of the week, the list is a bit larger than the other two. Still, there are a few gems here to note, which will be bolded.

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[Deal Alert] Finish off the week with 19 temporarily free and 18 on-sale apps, including 5 Noodlecake Studios games

Welcome to Friday! I am back after taking a short, but much needed, vacation. I'd like to give a huge shoutout to our very own Matt for holding down the fort while I was away — he did a great job. Moving along, today brings us a decent selection of apps for you to check out, including a few in here that I personally recommend (which will be bolded). And if you're itching for more, be sure to go check out Matt's post from Wednesday.

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