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Google releases Toontastic 3D, a digital puppet theater for kids to create and animate their own stories [APK Download]

LaunchPad Toys, an educational content app developer, was acquired by Google back in February of 2015, and one result of that acquisition is Toontastic 3D, a more animated version of the developer's loved and applauded Toontastic (check those Common Sense ratings).

The app is described by Google as a "digital puppet theater," but that's only scratching the surface. Kids can grab one of the many characters and settings provided, move them around, add a song, record their voice for dialogue, and generate a 3D video to keep and re-watch on their phone. And that's not all. There are 3D drawing tools to design characters from scratch, an option to add yourself or friends to the story by importing images, soundtracks, three different story arcs (short story, classic, and science report), and more.

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[Update: Fifth Third Bank] 46 new banks get Android Pay support including Scottrade and Bremer

Just a year ago it was rare to have support for Android Pay at your bank, but things are much better now. It's getting to the point that even small banks have support for Android Pay. Case in point: 45 new banks have been added to the supported list for Android Pay, and you probably haven't heard of most of them.

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Photos on Google+ receive the machine learning treatment to help save on bandwidth usage

Machine learning is such a buzzword, or words, these days. Perhaps one of the biggest advocates of this technology, the almighty Google has been applying it to many of its services over the past few months. Now photographs on Google+ are getting some love with the addition of RAISR, which allows for low-resolution images to receive massive bumps in quality while saving on bandwidth.

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Android Wear 2.0 is launching in early February

Google was supposed to release Android Wear 2.0 last fall, but there were... issues. Specifically, feedback for the developer preview was quite negative. Google decided to reassess and pushed the release to early 2017. After a few more dev previews, here we are. Google has notified developers that Wear 2.0 is coming in a few weeks, so they had better get their apps ready.

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Gboard update rolling out with bug fixes for freezing and inconsistent glide typing

Google finally brought Gboard to Android last month after releasing it on iOS a while back. Of course, it was technically an update to Google Keyboard, but it was a significant one. The Gboard transition was not without its problems. An update is rolling out now to address some of the bugs with that first release.

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Google brings On Tap's screenshot feature to Assistant on the Pixel

Google got in a habit of dumping all sorts of features and incomplete ideas into Google Now on Tap. With the move away from On Tap, Assistant focused more on voice control and connected services. However, some of the useful features of On Tap were left behind too. In the case of screenshots, it looks like Google is bringing it back in Assistant.

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Google posts January 2017 platform distribution numbers: Nougat still under 1%, but Froyo is finally dead

Today is a big day for Android, nay, for all of us. After nearly seven years, Android 2.2 Froyo has finally dropped off the platform distribution numbers. Our Froyo Deathwatch has ended. That's not all that happened this month, but everything else is fairly routine.

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[Updated] Voice website banner mentions 'The new Google Voice,' but nothing seems to have changed

Remember Google Voice? Google's first stab at a voice-over-IP system is still up and running, though much of its functionality has been absorbed or augmented by the SMS and calling functions of Hangouts. It's a bit dusty in the Voice closet - the desktop web version of the service looks like a relic, and the Android app has only received a couple of maintenance updates in the last year and a half. But users who still rely on Google Voice as their primary phone number (like me!) have reason to be hopeful that the service hasn't been completely abandoned.

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Google Calendar goals now have Google Fit integration [APK Download]

For a while now, Google Calendar has let you add goals so you can keep track of your efforts at self-improvement. One of the most popular uses (especially this time of year) is exercise goals. In the latest version of Calendar, you can plug in Google Fit to automatically complete your goals.

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Google posts January OTA and system image files along with new security bulletin

It's that time of month again—Google has posted updates for Nexus and Pixel devices, and there's a new security bulletin full of scary things. As usual, the OTAs are going to be rolling out to Google devices in the next few days, but you can grab the files right now and do the update manually.

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