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Google is rolling out 'OK Google' hotword support for Android Auto [APK Download]

Android Auto has existed for almost two years now, but it's improved only slightly in that time. One of the more vexing inadequacies in Android Auto thus far has been the lack of OK Google support. With the latest version, the hotword trigger is finally a thing.

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DIRECTV NOW gets a dedicated Android app, right on schedule

Eager to get a slice of the growing cord-cutter pie, AT&T and DirecTV announced their own web-based premium TV service earlier this week. DIRECTV NOW officially launches today, so it's good to see that the service gets Android support immediately. The app is free and works with phones and tablets running Android 4.4 or higher. Sadly it's not compatible with Android TV, though Chromecast streaming is available on all videos.

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Play Store has new layout and transitions for search results, may be rolling out via server-side update

Google iterates a lot on the Play Store - the new shade of green, darker and richer than the previous one - is currently rolling out globally, along with the big uninstall button and tweaked list view for apps. We've now had wind of another test, using big cards for apps that can be horizontally swiped through in search results.

 

When searching for an app, tapping a result will take you to this new view, where you see the current content but instead of fullscreen, it is contained in a card. Scrolling down makes the card bigger - so the view is as it is now - and scrolling up puts it back in a card.

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Google updates Snapseed with improved image tuning UI and more accurate RAW colors [APK Download]

Snapseed is one of those rare apps that Google acquired and actually kept improving over time. The latest update to v2.13 adds more accurate display of images in RAW photos and a change to how image tuning tools are accessed. It's just starting to roll out, but we've got the APK handy too.

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[Update: APK Download] Google Docs update adds GIF insertion to documents, not yet live on the Play Store

While not as fully featured as Microsoft Word, the Google Docs Android app is good for quick and easy document editing, if you use the Docs cloud storage. Google's adding one feature in the version 1.6.442.22: GIF insertion into documents.

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Google's Santa Tracker app gets its yearly update with a new AR game and a redesigned village

It's the most wonderful time of the year... the time when it's almost over. But it's also that turn in the calendar when a couple of billion people look forward to celebrating Christmas, and the youngest portions of that subset start improving their behavior in an avaricious desire for more presents. Google's taking part in its yearly ritual too, indulging whimsical parents and obsessive-compulsive children with its Santa Claus countdown-slash-tracker app.

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HBO joins the VR craze with an 'unreleased' Daydream version of HBO GO

So far the focus in the new wave of headset-based virtual reality content seems to be video games, simulations, 360-degree videos and the like, but as it turns out, conventional 2D video content is easy to adapt into an immersive (if not groundbreaking) experience. Google itself offers all the content on YouTube in Daydream flavor, and now HBO is following suit. The premium cable channel has published a Daydream-compatible version of its online component, HBO GO, in the Play Store as an unreleased app.

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Hangouts v15 adds GIF keyboard support on Android 7.1 [APK Download]

Has your meme game been suffering while you wait for Hangouts to add GIF keyboard support? Wait no longer, version 15 enables support for this quirky feature. No longer will you be stuck searching out images on the web and using archaic methods like sharing to get them into Hangouts – unless you're still using Android 7.0 or below, like more than 99% of users. If that's the case, this version appears to bring a few bug fixes and labeling tweaks, but not much else. Either way, there's a download link at the bottom if you'd like to jump ahead of the regular rollout schedule.

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[Update: APK Download] Netflix is finally allowing users to download movies and TV shows for offline viewing

If there's one feature that people have been clamoring for Netflix to add more than any other, it's offline viewing. It seems like the lords of Netflix have finally heard our prayers, as Netflix has just added the option to download and watch content without an Internet connection.

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Sony releases PlayStation Communities, an easier way to find friends to game with

The PlayStation Network is generally pretty good, but nothing's perfect, so today Sony is releasing a brand new app that takes the Communities feature of PSN and puts it in an app for Android (and iOS). This makes it a bit easier to find friends and people who have similar interests, which I've found PSN lacks in the past. This goes hand-in-hand with the PlayStation app, which is an entirely separate thing for some reason.

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Using the app, you can join Communities and post to the other members - while a lot of stuff is "hey im online anyone want to co-op," some stuff is good, especially for league-based racing games or first person shooters.

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