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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: App shortcuts are supported in the Google Now Launcher

There were some interesting features announced as part of the launch of Google's Pixel phones. While some are exclusives to the new handsets, others are a part of the new Android 7.1 Nougat. One of the headlining features for the new OS version is the App Shortcuts API, a way for apps to offer fast access to select screens and functions. If you've been looking forward to trying it out, the Google Now Launcher in combination with today's developer preview fully supports app shortcuts and there's already plenty of examples to try out.

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Google Maps v9.39 adds a handy traffic widget and hints at live data about busy places [APK Teardown + Download]

Google Maps made it into the update cycle this week, bumping the version number up to 9.39. This update appears to be a bit lighter than many from the last few months, but it's not completely lacking improvements. There's a new shortcut that can be used to jump directly into the traffic screen. A quick teardown also reveals a potential improvement to the busyness chart on many locations. As always, we've got a link below to pick up the APK.

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Play Newsstand v3.4 Adds Home Screen Shortcuts To News Sources And Topics [APK Download]

We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs. However, there is one potentially handy new feature making an appearance: home screen shortcuts.

What's New

This is the semi-official changelog:

  • Home icon support: Get direct access to a news edition or topic by adding an icon to your device home screen.
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Inbox v1.9 Adds New Compose And Reminder Home Screen Shortcuts [APK Download]

The updates came rolling in quickly this morning. Among them was a fresh bump to Google's Inbox app – the email app for people without time for email. This release was a little light on truly new features as far as the main interface is concerned, but it finally brought a feature to light we've been expecting for a few months: home screen shortcuts to jump straight into writing a new email or scheduling reminders.

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The new shortcuts are called Compose and Reminders. They were first revealed during a Teardown of Inbox in early March and they appear to work as expected.

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Google+ Link And 'Share' Shortcut Disappear From The Google Bar

It looks like Google is performing some surgery on the Google bar, the familiar toolbar that appears across the top of many of Google's web properties (including Chrome's new tab page). Until recently, the bar held a G+ sharing shortcut, a profile switcher, an "app drawer" to switch between Google products, and a link shortcut to your Google+ profile.

Today it looks like two of those things have been axed - specifically the Google+ link and the sharing shortcut.

Of course, while "Google+ is dead" sentiments have been floating around virtually since the service's inception, we'll resist the urge to speculate about the rationale behind removing Plus-specific functionality from the bar for now.

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[New App] FlipLauncher Is An Ultra-Quick Way To Launch Apps From Anywhere

Most of our readers consider themselves power users, and rightly so. Perhaps you don't have a spare 1.8 seconds to laboriously tap the Home button, then the app launcher, then that app you use every third Tuesday. Well, obsessive customizers, your new best friend on the Google Play Store is FlipLauncher, a free app that embeds up to five completely adjustable launcher ribbons over any and every part of Android.

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Don't let its admittedly plain looks fool you: FlipLauncher is surprisingly versatile. By default, it puts five candy-colored tabs on the left side of your screen. Swipe right on any of them to open up a ribbon, which can hold four apps or shortcuts.

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[Tip] Want The App Switcher Button On ASUS Transformer's Keyboard Dock? Just Alt+Tab Instead

If you are anything like me and you own the keyboard dock for the Asus Transformer, then you probably keep it attached the majority of the time. The dock gives you quick access to the home, search, and menu shortcut keys, but what about the recent apps button? Unfortunately, a hardware button was not included. Although it is not much work to just tap the on-screen button since it is just a few inches away, it can still be annoying.

Instead, the Android 3.2 update brought us something a lot of us are already very familiar with - Alt+Tab. Keep holding Alt down and press Tab to cycle through the eight recent apps.

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Keep Your Clipboard History A Long-Press Away With ClipStore And Button Shortcut

Maybe you're like me: you don't find Voice Search all that useful; you have an impenetrably foreign, non-Google-approved accent; you find yourself frustrated by the single-entry nature of Android's traditional clipboard.

If you deem yourself a match with any of those things, I'm willing to bet you find at least one of the two applications on show here of use.

ClipStore

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Android's clipboard isn't anything special. You put stuff there and it disappears when you overwrite it with something else. ClipStore is a nice twist on that, offering the ability to save your previous clipboard entries, pin entries, add entries manually, and re-copy old entries.

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