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Google releases Toontastic 3D, a digital puppet theater for kids to create and animate their own stories [APK Download]

LaunchPad Toys, an educational content app developer, was acquired by Google back in February of 2015, and one result of that acquisition is Toontastic 3D, a more animated version of the developer's loved and applauded Toontastic (check those Common Sense ratings).

The app is described by Google as a "digital puppet theater," but that's only scratching the surface. Kids can grab one of the many characters and settings provided, move them around, add a song, record their voice for dialogue, and generate a 3D video to keep and re-watch on their phone. And that's not all. There are 3D drawing tools to design characters from scratch, an option to add yourself or friends to the story by importing images, soundtracks, three different story arcs (short story, classic, and science report), and more.

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Android 7.1 is being developed for Chrome OS, adds in freeform mode and window resizing

'This is Chrome OS's year,' people say optimistically as they think for the gazillionth time about buying a Chromebook. Hell, I'm one of those people. Will it be 2017? Maybe. With the upcoming release of Samsung's new Chromebook Plus and Pro, and the wider release of Android apps on the Chrome OS stable channel, it's definitely possible. Now, more exciting news has come our way from Chrome Unboxed, in that Android 7.1 is being actively developed and tested for Chrome OS.

What does this actually mean? Basically, it means that the apps running on Chrome OS will gain features Android 7.1 has.

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Uber offers Calendar Shortcuts so that you can get to your events on time

After letting the redesign of its app sit for a few months, Uber is back at it with adding features to make commuting more convenient. This time, the ride-sharing service is adding "Calendar Shortcuts," which allow you to select your destination based upon your calendar entries. Whether it's a meeting, dinner, flight, or whatever it is you normal people do, these new shortcuts make getting a ride that much faster.

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Gboard update rolling out with bug fixes for freezing and inconsistent glide typing

Google finally brought Gboard to Android last month after releasing it on iOS a while back. Of course, it was technically an update to Google Keyboard, but it was a significant one. The Gboard transition was not without its problems. An update is rolling out now to address some of the bugs with that first release.

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Synology DS apps see updates, Android TV, fingerprint and passcode security, and automatic backup features inbound

Uploading your files to the cloud might be fashionable these days, but some still like to keep their files, photos, videos, and anything else secure from prying eyes, yet still accessible if they're not at their computer. Synology, a maker of Network Attached Storage devices, which the company calls DiskStations (DS for short), has updated four of its apps; DS photo, DS file, DS note, and MailPlus.

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Powerful home automation app Stringify comes to Android and adds IFTTT integration

Ever since I got my Wink Hub 2, one of the services I kept seeing in conversations when trying to bridge together different smart appliances and services was Stringify. The app was limited to iOS though, so I never got to use it because I wasn't going to carry my iPad around all the time to toggle a light bulb. But at CES, Stringify made a few announcements that we just came across (excuse the delay, we had tons of emails and releases to sift through) and that are sure to please Android users.

Before going further, here's a quick rundown of what Stringify is for those of you who'd never heard of it.

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Play Store v7.4 reveals a new My Apps screen, remote authorization for family purchases, and more [APK Teardown]

Over the last several months, most of the changes to the Play Store have been on the smaller side, usually part of A/B tests to determine if individual tweaks to the interface would work better than others. An update began rolling out to users yesterday, bringing the current version up to 7.4. No significant changes seem to be turning up yet, but there are bits and pieces that hint at future plans. In this teardown, we'll be looking at a new version of the My Apps screen, statistics about reviews over recent history, remote authorization for family purchases, and even a strange requirement to install the Play Games app before taking some actions.

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Adobe Capture CC updated with Android tablet support, doesn't bother to add landscape mode

Adobe's current Android strategy seems to be publishing as many small, single-purpose tools as possible to augment the workflow of artists and designers using its main Creative Cloud programs on a desktop computer. Capture CC is a tool for adding things like custom colors, brushes, shapes, and other Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign assets via a mobile camera. The Android app launched in October of 2015, and apparently Adobe didn't think anyone with an Android tablet really needed that functionality until now.

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Google Now's contextual icon searches rolling out to more users

We've spotted some new icon-based interface changes in Google Now over the last few months, first with a few circles, then with more contextual multicolored icons. The latest shift seems to be all in on the latter: multiple Android Police users have told us that they've seen the new icon-focused UI in their copy of the app, complete with more icons than ever before. As an intentional way to direct users to Google's various utility searches, it seems to be fairly functional.

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[Deal Alert] Lara Croft: Guardian of Light and Cross DJ Pro are down to 10 cents in some countries

Are you broke after buying all the Christmas presents, attending that expensive NYE party, and maybe even ordering a gadget or two of those that were announced at CES? Here's something that will cost you about a dime and could provide entertainment for hours and hours. Google Play's deals are back and this week we have Lara Croft: Guardian of Light and Cross DJ Pro, both unfortunately not discounted in the US.

Lara Croft was only released in October so it's a relatively new Android game being discounted, even if the title itself came several years late after iOS. The adventure game has puzzles, platforms, fights, and boss battles to get to the Mirror of Smoke and finish the game before sunrise.

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