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[APK Teardown] Google Search v4.1 Hints At Notifications Read Aloud, Project Hera, Social Networking, And A Whole Lot More

Google's developers took a couple of weeks off for the holidays – or from my perspective, they gave me a couple of weeks to rest – but now they're back and it's time for the app updates to resume. Naturally, it's time to breathe life back into the teardowns, and we're back with a big one. Google Search v4.1 began rolling out to users yesterday, and we've already seen quite a few little adjustments and improvements.

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Google App Hits Version 4.1 With 'Now Cards' Settings And More [APK Download]

There may be a major trade show happening this week, but it's still Update Wednesday. Google has updated its 'Google' app (formerly known as Search) to version 4.1. We are still digging around for new features, but we've already found a few goodies and put the APK up for your enjoyment.

First up, there's a new space in settings called "Now Cards," which - as the name suggests - gives you control over the cards Google presents to you.

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Play Store May Be Redirecting Some Search Terms To The Predefined Categories

The user experience on Android is never standing still, which is no more evident than in the Play Store itself. It seems Google may be trying out a new behavior for search queries that match the names of the Play Store's predefined categories. Instead of presenting a list of apps, searching for a term like 'action' or 'puzzle' can bring up structured lists like those that would appear in the category itself.

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Google's Google Search App (Yo Dawg) Reaches 1 Billion Installs In The Play Store

There's an elite club among Android apps: those chosen few that have been consumed by enough people to surpass the 1 billion installs mark. Most of the names found on this list come from Mountain View. Gmail was the first to cross the threshold (discounting Google Play services, which comes pre-installed on every Android device with access to the Play Store), followed by Maps and YouTube. Facebook has also passed the milestone, though I'm not sure how many of our readers are particularly happy about that one. Now the Google Search app has joined the ranks.

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YouTube Gets Updated With Material Design [APK Download]

The update everyone has been waiting for is finally here - YouTube has been updated with some material design goodness. The app's makeover is essentially what you'd expect - along with circular avatars (per Google's spec), it features a tall, tabbed toolbar in YouTube's signature vibrant red brand color, a full-height material nav drawer, and a clean white background.

Channels receive special attention, with Lollipop's Palette API pulling colors from the channel art to color the app's toolbar.

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Tip: Google Now Can Give You A Countdown To Some Events Based On Your Reminders

Google Now is never short on surprises. The personal assistant/wizard living in Google's Search app (technically it's Google's "Google" app now) can do some amazing tricks, and no matter how long you've used the app, there are always new features being discovered, added, or improved.

One such feature that's come to our attention is Google's ability to show you a countdown to important events based on your reminders. Basically, if you have a reminder related to an event Google knows about (like Christmas, for instance), Google will pick up on that and - on your reminder card - serve you a countdown.

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You Can Now Ask Google Search To Flip A Coin Or Roll A Die

You can add a few new tricks to the list of stuff Google search does. Just ask your phone or tablet to flip a coin, and it will be done. This was actually announced by Google last week, but now they've added a die. Neat.

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This is not actually what it looks like

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Google Keep Gets Update To Version 3.0 With New Material Touches [APK Download]

Cross one more item off your list of Google apps in need of material facelifts! Next on this bountiful Update Wednesday, Google Keep is receiving a bump to version 3.0 with some new material-inspired touches, the most obvious one being its launcher icon. Instead of a realistic stack of sticky notes, we now have a single dog-eared sheet of paper with a lightbulb cutout sitting on top.

Once you're inside the app, there's plenty to look at.

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Google Provides Official Look At Search 4.0 Update With Material Design, App Searching, And More

The Google Search app is about to get the Material Design treatment. In a blog post today, Google has officially announced version 4.0 of Search, which we detailed (APK download included) nearly a month ago.

To refresh, the visual changes aren't all that drastic. Google Now already relied on cards, and swiping them away already felt pretty tangible. But now we have the extra layer of Lollipop-style flourish.

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Google Has A Six-Line Solution For Developers To Allow Search Queries To Interact With Apps

Months ago, we posted a rumor about "modular actions" set to come to Google's Search app (now just called Google) along with "Ok Google Everywhere" functionality that would allow users to activate search from anywhere on their device. The latter has already been implemented, but Google is still inching toward the former. With the technically unreleased Google app, the search interface can overlay apps from which it is called, but Google today announced another step forward - the ability to let apps hook into search by accepting voice queries from the user.

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