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A Closer Look At The Design Of Hangouts 4.0

Nearly two months after we first saw the in-progress Hangouts 4.0 update, we were starting to worry it would never make its official appearance on the Play Store. But recently our collective wish was granted and Hangouts got a big update. Google says this is Hangouts' update to material design, but what exactly does that mean for the app? There's more here than just a new FAB, so let's take a closer look at some of the notable design changes in Hangouts 4.0.

The journey to material

Despite what the change log may suggest, Hangouts didn't suddenly arrive at "material" with the 4.0 update.

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Google+ v6.1 Begins Removal Of Photos Functionality And Prepares For Android M's Permission Model [APK Download]

We rarely talk about apps losing features, but that's what has happened to Google+ today, but it's not such a bad thing. The latest update to v6.1 has started rolling out to users and it finally removes access to the Google+ Photos functionality that remained after the introduction of Google Photos at I/O 2015. A previous update warned users that the Google+ Photos functionality wasn't long for this world back in June, and about a month later Google officially announced it would be shut down on August 1st.

It may be a little behind schedule, but we all knew this update would be coming soon.

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Google Launches Android Experiments Website To Highlight Innovative Projects On Android

Android offers developers a great deal of freedom to experiment with apps and come up with (maybe) the next big thing. Now Google has launched a website where it plans to show off some of the most interesting projects on Android. It's called Android Experiments and there are already 20 apps and demos to check out.

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Twitter's 140 Character Limit For Direct Messages Is Disappearing Starting Today

The time has come. Dear people who use Twitter as their instant messenger of choice, your direct messages are no longer limited to 140 characters. Twitter announced today that it has removed the restriction and will begin rolling out the change to both Android and iOS.

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Map Maker Reopens Starting With Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Philippines, And Ukraine

After a controversial edit or two appeared in Map Maker alongside an uptick in spam, Google decided to halt user submissions while it figured out a way to deal with things. Now the company is starting to open Map Maker back up to users. It's doing so gradually. The first phase announced includes the countries of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Philippines, and Ukraine.

Previously Google automatically approved most submissions. A Googler would then review edits manually, especially if community members brought something to the company's attention. The hope was that users would police themselves.

Rather than develop new systems or allocate more employees, Google is increasing its reliance on the community to solve the problem.

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Play Newsstand v3.4.3 Adds Auto-Download For Magazine Subscribers And Returns Unsubscribe To The Read Now Overflow Menu [APK Download]

Play Newsstand v3.4.3 has started making its way from the Play Store to avid readers, and it has a pair of features users have been asking for. Magazine subscribers will be happy to know auto-download has been added to give them convenient delivery of each new issue as it is released. Readers with a focus on current events will find the Unsubscribe option has been returned to the Read Now overflow menu where it is easily accessible but won't be tapped accidentally.

What's New

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One of the best things about digital magazines is that they can be stored on a device and saved for occasions when little or no data connectivity is available.

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Rdio Music Adds 500 Local Terrestrial Radio Streams From Partner Cumulus Media

Online streaming music is all well and good, but if you're hankering for the good old days of sliding FM dials, Rdio wants to oblige your craving. The long-standing streaming service is adding a new section to its app called "On the Air on Rdio," which gives users access to digital streams of 500 United States radio stations. The collection of stations covers basically every major market in the county, usually with a mix of top 40, classic rock, country, sports, and news content.

The radio stations come from a partnership with Cumulus Media, a radio conglomerate that owns all of the stations added.

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Logitech Updates Harmony App With Support For The August Smart Lock, Ecobee Thermostat, LIFX Light Bulbs, And Insteon

Some homes are smart, and the Logitech Harmony serves as their brain. It provides a single location to control all the things, assuming of course that the products are supported. The latest update adds quite a few more to the list ranging from door locks to thermostats and a few things in between.

The new additions include the August Smart Lock (pictured above) that provides remote control over your doors. There's the Ecobee smart thermostat, which serves as an alternative to Nest. You can also now integrate Harmony with LIFX light bulbs as well as Insteon, which serves as a hub to all kinds of smart gadgets on its own.

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Microsoft OneNote Adds 'Floatie' Feature, An Unobtrusive Shortcut For Jotting Down Notes While Using Any App

The latest updates to Microsoft's OneNote app have taken advantage of an ability granted to it by the openness of Android OS: the ability to place an overlay on top of other running apps. Similar to Facebook Messenger's chat heads UI, OneNote now has an opt-in feature called "floatie" that remains accessible while you use non-OneNote apps. The idea is that inspiration for notes may come at any time and you may not want to leave the app you're in to do it. And in spite of the silly name, my first impression of floatie is that it serves its purpose well.

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Firefox Stable Release Is Updated To v40 With Tweaked Forward/Back Navigation, Better Malware Protection, And Other Minor Improvements

Keeping to their normal rapid release schedule, Mozilla published v40 of the stable release of Firefox to the Play Store today. The biggest user-facing change in the update is one that was also present in the beta version of v40, allowing you to long press the forward or back buttons to see a list of your recently visited pages. Here's a quick look at how that works:

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This is the sort of thing that only catches your attention when there aren't any other major changes, but this is one of those times. I don't think mobile browsers generally make going back very easy and sometimes the system back button isn't ideal when you plan to go back multiple pages.

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