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Google Releases Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, A Fully Operational Emulator For Auto App Development

One of the biggest challenges to creating good apps for Android Auto has been actually testing the experience. Many independent developers can't afford to purchase brand new cars with Auto built-in, and aftermarket head units won't fit in most recently manufactured cars without heavy modification, and most of those units aren't very good anyway. When the Auto SDK came out, it included simulators that could be used for basic testing of just the messaging and media browser interfaces, but even these weren't good substitutes for the real thing. Today, Google released the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, a functioning implementation of the Android Auto platform that runs right on a desktop or laptop.

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[Update: New Links] Cyanogen OS 12.1 OTA Update (Based On Android 5.1.1) Now Available To Download For The OnePlus One

The time has come for OnePlue One owners to get a taste of the latest version of Lollipop. Cyanogen OS 12.1, which comes with Android 5.1.1, is now heading out to devices. Though, the rollout is starting off small, with only 2% of users getting the goods.

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The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Is Now Available In The US Google Store [Update: Canada Too?]

Android TV still has some growing up to do, but the SHIELD is by far the best piece of hardware to run Google's new living room software. This device was conspicuously absent from the Google Store, but that changes today in the US. It still costs the same $199 for 16GB and $299 for 500GB.

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Sony Releases Smartwatch 3 Watch Face App In The Play Store

As we await the release of new Android Wear watches, we have time to reflect on all those first-gen wrist computers. The Sony Smartwatch 3 was actually a pretty neat device with its full microUSB and transflective LCD. It's getting a little cooler still today with an official companion app that adds three new watch faces.

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Google Settings' Help Page Has A Bizarre Floating Window Interface

Filed in the category of "things we just noticed" is a pretty strange interface element discovered in the "help" interface of Google Settings. When opening an article, users can tap a "full screen exit" icon in the toolbar to trigger the little floating window seen above.

The window is reminiscent of the one found in YouTube, where users can collapse a video and keep browsing, but this window can be moved up to the top of the screen as well. Sliding it to either side will dismiss the mini-window. Here's a quick video demo:

There's no doubt this element seems a little out of place in Google Settings, but my first guess is that, functionally, it would serve a similar purpose to YouTube's mini player - if a user is following step-by-step instructions in a help article, they may want a fast way to switch between the steps and the app that they're dealing with.

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InBrief
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Android M AOSP Changelog Posted For Preview 2 And Preview 3

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[Rumor: Fries With That] Internal Notice At McDonald's Claims Android Pay Is Launching August 26th, So Maybe It Is

Android Pay was announced at Google I/O around 3 months ago, and Google has since said we can expect the platform to launch here in the US sometime "later this year." It appears "later" could now be "like, next week," if this notice to employees at a McDonald's location is to be believed.

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The August 21st launch for Samsung Pay is wrong, but it's the launch date for the devices (Note and S6 Edge+) - which seems like an honest mistake.

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Latest Marshmallow Dev Preview Introduces A Streamlined Volume Animation

One of the greatest problems in stock Android since the debut of Lollipop last year has been the volume slider - putting aside Lollipop's initially confusing volume modes, the slider unceremoniously pops into place when the user hits the volume keys on their device. Of course I'm kidding, but nevertheless it looks like Google has enhanced the volume controls in the latest Marshmallow dev preview with some motion design love.

Now, when users hit a volume key, the panel slides into place from off canvas. The slider's current position is highlighted with its own translucent halo (which may or may not really be necessary).

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[Video] Android Marshmallow Developer Preview 3 Includes A Subtle 'Pop' Scrolling Effect In The App Drawer

Google continues to tweak Android 6.0's visual interface with the latest Developer Preview, in ways both big and small. The default Google launcher has been seeing subtle changes since the M Preview was introduced, and the latest one is... interesting. The Preview 3 version of the app drawer includes a little "pop" effect when scrolling, highlighting the first app that begins with each successive letter in the alphabet. It's a little hard to describe verbally - check out the video below from YouTube user Zaid Salem.

If you'll recall, Developer Preview 1 separated apps by beginning a new drawer row for each new letter of the alphabet.

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Google Will Finally Fix The Infamous 'Mobile Radio Active' Bug In Android 6.0

The Android public issue tracker is a place for users to report possible bugs to Google's engineers, but just because something is reported doesn't mean it'll get fixed right away. Many users have been experiencing a battery draining bug in Lollipop caused by the device's radio remaining active for too long, but only now is Google doing something about it. The fix is expected to roll out in Android 6.0.

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