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Latest Google Play services update restores the 'Check for updates' button on Nexus and Pixel devices

With a security update looming on the horizon, we thought now would be a good time to point out that there's a small incentive to update to the latest version of Google Play services ahead of its normal rollout schedule – assuming you didn't already do it for those handy little Cast notifications with player controls. If you happen to miss repeatedly slamming on the update button after it was removed from Nexus devices with the Android 7.1 update, you'll appreciate knowing that Play services v10 restores the button to its former state of existence.

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Weekend poll: Do you use Google Photos cloud backup?

Google Photos' unlimited cloud backup is one of the best things Google's done with an app product in a while, if you ask me. Unlimited storage of intelligently compressed (or original quality for some phones) photos and videos means you can keep every moment your smartphone (or other camera) captures without ever [realistically] worrying about storage space. It's great. But other photo backup services do exist, and some people just don't like to use (or trust) the cloud for backing up their personal data.

So, do you use Google Photos cloud backup feature? If not, why not?

Do you use Google Photos cloud backup?

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The new Play Store UI that Google leaked in one of its own videos is real, and it's going live for some

As many Android enthusiasts may know, Google is constantly experimenting with new features and UI changes for its apps. Just a few days ago, in a recently published Google video featuring the Pixel, we noticed a never-before-seen Play Store UI on the device. This user interface possessed a new color scheme, a larger "Install" button, and more. Now, we're starting to see elements from that video pop up on enthusiasts' devices.

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Play Store has a new Trending section for entertainment, and it's fantastic

It feels like Google changes the Play Store UI every few weeks. A larger button here, adjusting the font size there, and so on. But the new 'Trending' section on the Play Store is absolutely new, and is both incredibly useful and well-designed. The new addition can be found in the entertainment section, just below the new movie releases.

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This evolution of Google Play app icons graphic is funny, but also a little depressing

An infographic posted on Google+ yesterday really has managed to capture the emotional roller coaster of Google's app icon evolution on Android over the past four years. Using the icons for Play Books, Music, Movies, Newstand, and Games, we can watch as Android goes from toy-like skeuomorphism, to paper cutouts, to triangles (!?), to triangles in circles (disgruntled face here) in Nougat.

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The RCS Mirage: "Advanced Messaging" is a mess in the US, and Google's "standard" is just one more

There has been much noise made about Google's launch of its RCS messaging platform via the Messenger app on Sprint today. Sprint announced it would support Google's RCS platform, formerly known as Jibe, back in February, though, and remains the only US provider to do so.

But T-Mobile and AT&T have launched RCS messaging, right? Yes. But their versions don't work with Google's (Sprint's) RCS. And AT&T's RCS messaging doesn't work with T-Mobile's, and vice versa. And there's no indication that this will change any time soon. While both T-Mobile and AT&T have signed on to the GSMA's soon-to-be-published intercompatible RCS messaging standard, carriers seem much more interested in making "advanced messaging" a carrier feature rather than the universal SMS replacement it was developed to be.

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Google makes RCS support in Messenger official, will be default SMS/RCS app on all Sprint Android devices

The ultimate goal of RCS is to completely replace SMS, but moving the millions of daily SMS users away is no small feat. Yesterday, we posted that RCS support was being rolled out to some Messenger users on Sprint and Project Fi. Now Google has made the feature official, and should be available to all Sprint customers starting today.

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RCS is going live for some Google Messenger users, enabling "enhanced features" for messaging

A little over a week ago, we first detected several less-than-subtle hints of Rich Communication Services, more commonly known as RCS, in Google Messenger 2.0's code. In case you don't know what RCS is, it essentially adds some useful features to SMS that are similar to what you'll find in Apple's iMessage. Now, for a select few, Google has flipped a server-side switch for RCS.

Google's initiative to make RCS more commonplace isn't new, though; last year, the Mountain View-based company purchased Jibe Mobile, a startup with an RCS platform. Allo was expected to receive RCS support, but since that didn't pan out, Messenger is the very first Google app to support it.

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Google Play services v10 can show a notification with player controls anytime a device on the network is Casting [APK Download]

If the people in your home get regular use of a Chromecast, you're probably more than aware of just how inconvenient it is when the Casting device isn't handy. Sure, you can always pick up your phone or tablet and track down the Google Home app (formerly named Google Cast), but that takes a lot of taps – and most people don't have it installed or even realize it has player controls. The latest update to Google Play services takes care of this little issue by adding a long overdue and oft-requested feature: it pops up a notification with player controls anytime a Cast session is active.

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Amazon Rapids is a $2.99 subscription for short kid stories written as chat conversations

 

By now, you need a $100 monthly Amazon budget if you want to subscribe to all of the company's paid plans and features. But if you still have a couple of dollars left in your pocket by the end of the month and you have kids that would enjoy an innovative reading experience, then you might be interested in adding another subscription to your payments.

Amazon Rapids is a quick reading and storytelling experience built around instant messaging. Stories unfold like chats between the different characters, a modern way to entice young readers between the ages 7 and 12, and introduce them to reading in a medium that they're familiar with.

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