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Allo's weird SMS support explained, and other answers

The burning question on everyone's mind when Allo was released - "can you send SMS?" The answer, as seemingly common with Google products, is "it's complicated." Allo-w me to explain the answer, and more of Allo's quirky behavior, below.

What happens when I send a text to someone without Allo?

When you tap a contact that has not yet registered for Google Allo, you are presented with the above message warning that you are sending messages through SMS. When you send a message, the recipient receives the following text from a random five-digit number (at least in my tests):

[Your full name] ([Your phone number]) added you on Google Allo to chat.

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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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Allo is finally rolling out in the Play Store [APK Download]

Google said Allo would be available at some point during the summer, and it's getting in right under the wire. The new chat application is now official, and it's starting to pop up in the Play Store for download. Don't fret if it's not showing up for you quite yet; we have the APK ready for download.

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CNNgo delivers bite-sized news video to Android TV, no cable login needed

If you don't subscribe to a cable or satellite provider, your options for all of these new streaming apps seem to shrink fairly quickly. There are more and more channel apps coming in for Android TV, but most of them assume that you already pay for premium TV somewhere else. CNN is offering an alternative, and if it's not ideal, then at least it's there. CNNgo doesn't want any of your money, it just wants to show you the news. And also some ads. But mostly news.

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Firefox 49 brings tab improvements, offline page viewing, and more [APK Download]

Firefox may have been overshadowed by Chrome in terms of worldwide users, but it is still an excellent browser, even on Android. The latest update, version 49, has the usual dose of new features and bug fixes.

The biggest new feature is offline page viewing, which coincidentally enough, was recently added to the Chrome Dev builds. However, Chrome allows you to manually choose what pages you want stored for offline reading, whereas Firefox tries to store recent pages offline automatically. I imagine it wouldn't be too difficult to implement Chrome's offline functionality, now that the framework is in place.

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New Google app beta adds 'In Apps' home screen shortcut

The latest version of Google's Android app has done away with the Google Now branding, but there's something else lurking inside v6.5. That "In Apps" feature that was first officially announced a few weeks ago and mentioned alongside the LG V20 unveiling has showed up. As the name implies, it lets you search inside your apps more easily.

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Instagram 9.4 adds the ability to save posts as drafts for all users [APK Download]

Instagram has been testing the ability to save posts as drafts since at least the end of July. With today's Instagram 9.4.0 update, the feature appears to have gone live for everyone.

To save a draft, simply tap the Back button while editing a photo to bring up the below message. To access your saved draft, tap the Camera button at the center of Instagram's bottom bar, and it will appear in the Gallery section above your pictures. This works exactly as you would expect post drafts to work.

screenshot_20160920-154333

Instagram has not announced any other features in the 9.4 update, but you can grab the update from the Play Store or the APKMirror link below.

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20 new and notable Android apps from the last 2 weeks (9/6/16 - 9/20/16)

Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.

Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.

Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.

Featured App

AccuBattery

Today's roundup is presented by AccuBattery from Digibites. Barring any accidents, the battery is the part of your phone that generally wears out the fastest, so it pays to keep an eye on its health. AccuBattery tests your battery's effective capacity in milliamp-hours to see if it's deteriorated, including tools for live reporting and battery life projections.

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The newer, more accurate direction indicator in Google Maps is going live for all users

Last month a few Google Maps users started seeing a new display style for the direction indicator, that little arrow that shows which way your device is pointed (or at least which way it thinks it's pointed) on the primary maps and navigation interface. Specifically, it's no longer an arrow: it's a more general "beam" indicator that shows both the approximate direction you're facing and how accurate your device's orientation reporting is. According to the official Google Maps blog, that feature is now rolling out to all users.

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Google Now is dead: Latest beta of Search app erases references to Google Now

Version 6.5.26 of the beta Google Search app rolled out last night, and while at first the changes seemed minimal, we're seeing one thing this morning that is of particular interest: all references to Google Now have been removed. Google Now cards have been renamed to "Feed," and Now On Tap (as some of you told us) is now referred to as "Screen search." Given Google assistant's forthcoming launch, this isn't exactly surprising.

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