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Android OS

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Google's Awareness API is now out, filled with promise and potential for abuse

Google's new Awareness API - part of Google Play Services - is legitimately cool. In theory. Announced at I/O, it allows apps to access what you're doing, in a general sense, and then give you information based on that status. For now, the API offers two ways for apps to monitor your current status, per Google's blog post.

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T-Mobile Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge get Marshmallow updates

Marshmallow is making its way to Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge owners in the US. If you're on T-Mobile, you're next on the list. The Un-carrier is now sending out OTA updates to people on its network.

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Dubious report says Google will release non-Nexus phone this year - take it with a grain of salt

Given the number of tips we've now received, it no longer seemed prudent to ignore a rather questionable rumor published by The Telegraph yesterday, claiming that Google plans to build a phone that is not a Nexus and release it by the end of the year. And yes: the report acknowledges that there are rumors HTC will build 2016's Nexus phones. The Telegraph claims this is something else. But the moment they started discussing reasoning, I became suspicious.

Although Android runs on the majority of smartphones sold globally, Apple still dominates the lucrative high-end of the market. The proliferation of Android device makers, many of which apply the software differently, means Google has struggled to ensure consistency, with some smartphone owners waiting months for updates, and some manufacturers relegating Google’s own internet services which are included in Android.

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Weekend poll: Android N's notifications, love 'em or hate 'em?

Android N has made some significant, nay, major changes to the notification cards compared to the outgoing L. For one, notifications now just look a lot more same-y: your Hangouts notifications don't look much different than your Inbox notifications which don't look much different from your Gmail notifications and so on and so forth. Small icons, little border separating individual cards, and a whole lot of white space can make Android N's notifications more difficult to visually parse, particularly if you're getting a huge number of notifications.

The collapsible notifications - aka bundling - are also something of a mess at the moment.

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Exclusive: Google is building a live support app with screen-sharing for Nexus devices

A long-standing gap in the Nexus device feature-set for "normal" buyers has been live on-device support. In the event you need help setting up your Nexus smartphone - a smartphone you bought on the internet, not a store - going through the online Google Support documentation or back and forth with a chat agent in the browser is not an ideal experience. Being able to share your screen with an agent who can see what's happening on your display is a lot easier for many people, and it helps support agents resolve issues more quickly by having direct visual access to a user's device.

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Freeform multi-window mode won't be enabled on the Pixel C or any of the Nexus devices in Android N

Android N is introducing multi-window support in a limited way. A split-screen option sits apps side-by-side, so you can see more than one at once. But if you want to resize and drag windows like you would on a PC, it can be done, but it takes a bit more work.

We didn't expect to see freeform multi-window support in the upcoming version of Android, but it would be nice to see the feature appear as an optional flag. That won't happen either.

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Android TV universal search now includes an 'available on Netflix' button

Android TV includes a universal search feature that is intended to find content wherever it may be, but it hasn't supported Netflix thus far. That changes today with the addition of a Netflix button to search results on Android TV. However, I think calling this "universal" is a bit of a stretch.

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ASUS posts details of the latest ZenWatch 2 update

Earlier this month, the Moto 360 and Moto 360 Sport started getting an update with May's security patches and a couple of Moto Body improvements, while other Wear watches got just the new security updates. And given that almost none of the other manufacturers share their update's details, we didn't know if anything else had changed in their software along with that.

Now ASUS has posted the release notes for its ZenWatch 2 update to software version MWD59,MWD48B. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but if you own this speaker-enabled and yet slightly cheap watch, you'll be happy to read about the different improvements along with the option to view the Peek card in ASUS' own watchfaces.

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Newest version of Messenger in Android N greatly improves direct reply with mini conversation view

Direct reply is easily one of my favorite new features of Android N, and apps are actually being surprisingly quick to adopt it - Twitter and Facebook are already on board, along with Google Hangouts and Messenger. But the implementations we've seen to date are, in my opinion, a little less than optimal.

When I first saw direct reply, my first thought was: "Oh, great - mini conversations I can just have in my notification bar - no need to open the app!" Which seems like what Google was going for, but that Hangouts and Messenger didn't really initially accomplish.

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PSA: Android Auto navigation isn't working in Android N Developer Preview 4

And here's reason number 249 not to install beta software onto a device that's critical to your everyday life. Android Auto users who have upgraded their Nexus phones to the latest version of the Android N Developer Preview are reporting that Google Maps navigation is no longer working in the car interface. (Remember, Android Auto isn't an independent system - it needs a powered-up and connected phone in order to work.) The Maps app is simply crashing on launch and returning users to the Auto home screen.

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