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Google

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Google's useless Device Assist app is shutting down

If you are one of the small number of people who use Google's Device Assist app, I have some bad news. Support for the app is being dropped effective immediately. Users are being notified of the app's demise via a "detected issue" card that directs them to Google's online tips site instead.

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[Bored at work] Google adds playable Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe games in search results

Here goes my productivity for the rest of the day week. In its quest to make the search page the only thing you ever visit online, Google has added another fun trick to its search engine: Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe. Forget about animal sounds, metronomes, bubble levels, and all kinds of other tools or time-wasters, this is what we've all been waiting for, from the moment we booted our first Windows computer to all those car and train rides in winter when we played Tic-Tac-Toe on the foggy windows, to that time we saw the doctor's assistant playing Solitaire on her computer and wished we had that to ease the long wait.

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Project Fi's WiFi Assistant is coming to all Nexus devices in the US, Canada, the UK, and more

Project Fi users have been able to enjoy access to Google's WiFi Assistant feature since Google launched its MVNO, but soon all Nexus owners will be able to get in on the fun. That means you can connect automatically to open WiFi hotspots via Google's secure VPN. There are some geographical restrictions, of course.

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Google will start ranking pages with intrusive ads lower on search results

Trying to browse the internet quickly, even on the fastest smartphones, has become much harder in recent years. Advertisements take up valuable screen real estate, and can cause your phone's browser to slow to a crawl. Even worse, some sites *coughWikiacough* have taken to using full-screen advertisements and other popups.

As Jean-Luc Picard once said, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!" Google has taken the offensive in the battle against intrusive mobile ads, using their influence as the most popular search engine as leverage. Starting on January 10, 2017, pages with content not easily accessible on mobile "may not rank as highly," according to Google's blog post.

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Praise the Lord: Chase will add support for Android Pay on September 7th

To all of you Chase customers who have been longing for Android Pay support, it seems that your prayers have been heard. No longer will you have to purchase a Samsung or Apple device to be able to pay for things with your phone. According to an anonymous Chase employee, Chase will begin supporting Google's NFC-based payment system in just over two weeks.

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PSA: You can control YouTube playback with OK Google voice commands

Google Now has a tendency to add voice commands without most people noticing. Besides the few listed in-app, Google hides most of its commands, perhaps the most useful ones. For example, Google's voice actions have been integrated and implemented within YouTube, so you can control video playback with your mi... wait, no that's the next update.

To get started, just start playing any video in the YouTube app. Then you can use any of these voice commands, triggered by the "OK Google" keyword, provided you have enabled its detection from any screen:

  • "Pause" - Pauses the video.
  • "Play" - Resumes the video.
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Google app v6.3 suggests the Google assistant may launch with very limited language support, expands on user-defined actions, and more [APK Teardown]

Most readers are well-aware Google assistant is going to be the big treat later this year. It will soon become a meaningful part of new apps and products like Allo and Google Home, and it will surely introduce new features and capabilities as it evolves many existing ones into something new. A teardown of the latest Google app update reveals a little more about what we can expect when the assistant comes out.

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Google Duo now #1 in Top Free chart, available globally

Just two days after it first began to roll out, Google's Duo has already become the number one free app in the Play Store. The video chatting app, which received an icon redesign just before it went live, has proven to be extremely popular with Android users. In addition, it is now possible to use Duo in any country (well, any country that Google provides its services to).

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Google Drive on the web gets UI tweaks, better file downloads, and more

Google is making some much-needed improvements to Drive today, but not the app. We're talking about the web interface. Even if you're primarily using Drive on Android, you'll end up visiting in the browser on occasion. When you do, you'll see a refined UI and much better file downloads.

Here's what Google says is coming in the update.

  • You can now compress and download Drive items into multiple 2GB zip files. Files have an improved name structure, for example: drive-download-20160516T125832Z.zip for the first file and drive-download-20160516T125832Z-2.zip for subsequent archives.
  • Better Google Forms handling.
  • Empty folders are now included in the zip.
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Android Pay expands to 44 more banks and credit unions in the US and Australia

Android Pay has been gaining support for a ton of banks and credit unions lately, and 44 more have just been added. Most of these banks and credit unions are local ones most of us haven't ever heard of, but hey, maybe your local bank is included. No, Chase isn't on here; I double-checked. There are a few Australian banks and credit unions on here as well.

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