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An Exclusive Early Look At The New Google Photos App

We've been hearing for a very long time - virtually ever since Vic Gundotra left Google+, with more rumors springing up recently - that Photos would be splitting off from Google's social/sign-in platform. We've heard vague rumblings, and even seen some baby steps toward this split, but now we have something a bit more substantial to go on - an exclusive early look at Google's new Photos app, separate from Google+ and improved in a number of ways.

We won't be treating this as a normal rumor post, because we are certain that what we have seen is the real deal.

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Google Play Books Still Has An Alarming Number Of Scammy Book Listings

A couple of months ago, we published a story about the scam problem in Google Play Books, and we haven't been alone in criticism of the store's issues.

The gist is this: Google's Play Books store was plagued by scammy "guide" books that, for a few dollars, promised access to cracked APKs, but in reality provided nothing but scams and malware.

Two of the publishers we mentioned in the post - Monster Guides Editor Pro and leon Master - were removed from the Play Store, but plenty remain, still distributing links to pirated apps and malicious sites, or outright selling the work of legitimate authors.

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The Google Live Case 'Shortcut Button' Looks Familiar - Workshop May Still Be Alive After All

Way back in August of 2014, we got a peek at a service Google was experimenting with, at the time called "Workshop." The service would allow users to create customized cases for their Nexus 5, featuring either photos or map imagery of their choice. The cases would come with a special live wallpaper, also customized around the user's preferences.

After that post, though, everything was quiet. We didn't hear or see any new motion on Workshop until last month, when a customized Google Maps case popped up on a Googler's Google+ profile. The case was on a Nexus 6, and looked really similar to the cases we'd seen before.

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[Update: Changelog] Chromecast App Updated With Backdrop History And Layout Tweaks [APK Download]

Most updates to the Chromecast app don't warrant a full post around here, but holy crap, you guys. This one has backdrop history, finally. The app will now let you page through the last few images displayed on your Chromecast so you can find out what they were.

2015-05-21 06.35.05 2015-05-21 06.35.20 2015-05-21 06.35.42

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[Bug Watch] Google Maps Fails To Load Directions When Prompted From Search

If you're looking for a nearby place to eat and want directions on how to get there, open Google Maps first. If you try using the Google Search app or the web, you probably won't get the results you want.

You see, Search is currently having a hard time giving out directions. If you tap the icon underneath a restaurant, it will open up Google Maps, but after that... nothing.

Maps1 Maps2

Yup, as you can see, I'm somewhere in Virginia. As for the nearest pizza place, it's presumably somewhere along the East Coast.

This bug is pretty easy to replicate. Search for something nearby in the Google Search app or the web.

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Google Appears To Be Testing A New Design For Mobile Image Results

Google is no stranger to testing new features or design tweaks on its live products, and search has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately. It doesn't necessarily come as a surprise, then, to see new design tweaks appearing for some users in Google's image search results.

The new design, which so far appears to be in very limited testing, offers a brighter layout for individual images - the background is a light #eeeeee as opposed to the solid black seen in its current iteration, and there's a relocated "close" button along with a new way to show image details.

In the current layout (as you'll see below), details are behind an overflow button.

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Project Fi Will Take Until Mid-Summer To Reply To The Numerous Invite Requests It Received

 

If you had eagerly waited for Project Fi's announcement and requested an invite as soon as they were public, you've likely been sitting over the past weeks tapping your foot impatiently and anticipating that acceptance email to hit your inbox so you can free yourself from the shackles of your operator.

The wait might be longer than expected though. An email is being sent to those who requested invites letting them know that due to the service's high-demand, invites might take until mid-summer to go out to everyone, but that there'll soon be an online tracker for checking the status of your request.

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Google Apologizes For Embarrassing Maps Mishaps In The Last Couple Of Weeks

So, the last couple of weeks have not been good ones for the Google Maps team. First some public-spirited Android fans decided to prove their pride with a bit of digital vandalism, using the Map Maker tool to show the Bugdroid mascot pissing on an Apple logo somewhere in Pakistan. That little mishap led Google to disable Map Maker submissions altogether. Then earlier this week, users found that searching for certain racist terms in Google Maps would lead to results for the White House, among other similar combinations.

Amazingly, this is not the least classy part of this story.

Google is sorry.

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Google Updates Hangouts Chrome App With New Android-Inspired Interface

We've been following the development of Google's Hangouts Chrome app for quite some time. The project referred to as Ultraviolet in August later launched in October as a floating chatheads-style experience. It was okay, but at the beginning of this month we caught wind of a change in the works that completely redoes the experience. That change has now gone live.

nexus2cee_hangouts2 nexus2cee_hangouts

The new interface looks quite a bit like the Android app. You have one panel with contacts, messages, and calls on the left, and the active conversation thread is visible to the right. A floating action button lets you open up a new conversation.

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