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Google Duo reaches 50 million downloads on the Play Store

Of the two communication apps that Google announced last year at I/O, it's not a surprise that Duo found a larger appeal and better reception than Allo. It wasn't battling against existing juggernaut standards like SMS or widespread opponents like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and even at launch, it seemed like it did the basics right. The outcry over its missing features was far less brutal than Allo's and with just a few small changes from Skype and Facetime, Duo managed to delight and impress. Simplicity and immediacy are the reasons I, and many others, fell in love with it.

Over the months, Duo has continued its faster progression compared to Allo.

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[Update: Out of beta] Snapchat 10.4 beta lets you add friends to the home screen, if they have a Bitmoji

Some messaging applications allow you to add shortcuts for contacts to the home screen, and now Snapchat has added a variation of that feature. Snapchat 10.4 beta allows users to create home screen widgets for their friends, but only if they have a Bitmoji.

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Amazon FreeTime Unlimited service no longer exclusive to Kindle devices, now available on the Play Store

Back in 2012, Amazon launched a service called 'Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.' For $4.99 per child ($2.99 for Prime members) or $9.99 for a family (max four children, $6.99 for Prime members), FreeTime gives kids access to a massive library of age-appropriate TV shows, movies, books, and apps.

Now Amazon appears to be dropping the requirement for a Kindle device, as the app has now appeared on the Play Store.

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Play Store v7.8 prepares to add pre-registration rewards, settings for Instant Apps, Play Protect, and more [APK Teardown + Download]

The Play Store has just been updated to version 7.8 as of this morning, at least for some people. This release brings a couple of small changes to the interface and a few bigger changes in preparation for the future. Google has added a little reminder note to get people back on track with automatic updates, meanwhile it has also removed a toggle on some devices that gave users a choice about whether icons should be added to the home screen for newly installed apps. (But don't worry, that's conditional.) On the teardown front, we can see big signs of progress for Instant Apps, a move toward branding the malware scanner, and a clue that pre-registering for apps may finally be worth something besides a reminder notification.

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AutoVoice for Chrome can add Google Assistant voice commands to your PC

Google launched Assistant last year in Allo, and then it came to the Pixel and Google Home. The period of exclusivity for Google is over now with Assistant on tons of Android devices, and there's even an API for developers to implement on just about anything. Case in point, there is now a version of the AutoVoice Chrome extension that can call upon the power of Assistant. However, the setup process is quite a slog.

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Mr. T's voice finally comes to Waze for directions and navigation

Users of Waze have a new voice option for navigation: Mr. T, known as B. A. on A-Team among other things, is bringing his iconic voice to the app. You can update your settings to get listening to several instances of the word "fool" along your commute.

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User-voted tags may be coming to movie search results in the Google app

It appears that Google may be introducing tags to search results for movies, at least in the Google app on Android and potentially across Google search on desktop. We've received screenshots that show a section called Top voted tags in the Overview tab, alongside a little New sticker to indicate that this is indeed a very recent addition.

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Google is testing a new YouTube app UI that is all white instead of red

Have you been hoping for a YouTube app that would more effectively sear your retinas when you open it in a dark room? Well, Google appears to be testing a new UI that will do just that. Multiple people are seeing a new YouTube app interface that drops the red elements, going for an all black and white look.

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Amazon Kindle adds ComiXology Guided View, searches through your notes and highlighted text

There's a small but neat little change in the Amazon Kindle app on Android: you can now not only search for words inside the book you're reading, but you can also search for what you've personally added as a note (like in the screenshot above). Words included in sentences and paragraphs you've highlighted will also show on top of all search results (screenshot below). This makes it easier to find a sentence you've highlighted in the book or a note you've written about a specific section or sentence.

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New home screen in Google Maps for Android, exclusive to India

Google announced today on its India Blog that it's introducing a new home screen layout for Maps on Android. The new interface has been designed exclusively for users in India. In what looks like a streamlined version of the pull-up tab found in the US and European versions of the app, here we see cards that are optimized to be less data-hungry and load faster on poor connections across India.

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