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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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Canary home security app adds Android Wear and tablet support

I recently reviewed Canary's home security and connected camera system and was pleasantly impressed by most of its features, especially the auto-arm/disarm based on geofence. Now the Canary app is receiving an update to add a couple of interesting features for Android users.

First up is a new Android Wear app that lets you monitor your cameras right from your wrist if you have a smartwatch. I've tested it today and it seems to do the essentials rather well, letting me see my location stats (temperature, humidity, and air quality), tap and hold on the mode icon to switch to Home, Away, Privacy, or Night, and scroll to view a thumbnail of the last recorded event.

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Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May launch new DriveTribe social network, Android app now on Google Play

If you're a car person, like me, you'll have been an avid fan of Top Gear - until the classic line up of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May departed for the big-budget 'The Grand Tour' on Amazon. The first episode aired almost three weeks ago now, but the three have something else in store: DriveTribe.

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Google Allo hit 5 million downloads in 5 days - two months later, its momentum seems utterly stalled

On September 28th, almost two months ago to the day, Allo co-lead Justin Uberti announced the app had achieved a staggering five-million downloads in just five days since its launch. It was impressive, though not exactly unexpected for a major Google app debut. Now, once at the top of the Play Store's app rankings, Allo sits below position #200, and shows few signs of momentum.

The app's download count remains at the 5,000,000-10,000,000 milestone it achieved back at the end of September, meaning that in over sixty days Allo has not managed to achieve again what it did in the first five it was available.

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The Starz streaming video app now integrates with Spotify, for some reason

Starz, the premium cable channel that offers movies and original series, now works with Spotify, the premium streaming music service. Which is... odd. An updated version of the Starz Android app now includes integrated streaming tracks from Spotify, all of which are either original music or soundtrack selections from those Starz series and movies. Apparently there are "more than 3,500" selections that are at least tangentially related to the Starz catalog.

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Microsoft's Clip Layer app lets you copy text from any screen by long-pressing the home button

Remember back in the early days of Android when it had copy and paste, and the iPhone didn't? Those were strange times. Copy and paste is just something you expect to be able to do now, but there are plenty of places in Android where the text isn't accessible. Microsoft's Clip Layer app aims to change that by binding a universal copy option to the home button.

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