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WSJ: Google Is Building Another Messaging Service... With Chatbots [And Blackjack, And Hookers]

Google, for all its skill in the realms of mobile search, advertising, email, and even operating systems, has never been particularly good at the social thing. Even now, I suspect, someone at Google is fuming at the notion that the company "isn't very good" at messaging or social networks and pointing animatedly at the tens of millions of Google+ and Hangouts users. The problem is and has always been that for whatever success Google has had in social and messaging platforms, it is constantly undercut by the actions of Google itself that say otherwise. There is near-yearly reworking, redesigning, or branching off of these products in ways that very strongly suggest they aren't getting the results Google's Alphabet overlords consider acceptable.

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SwiftKey Offers "Holiday Presents" Theme Pack For Free And "Everything Megapack" For 70% Off

How festive is your phone? Cool Christmas wallpaper on? Definitely. Christmas watch face sent to your wrist? Check. Snowglobes all over your Facebook messenger? Sure. How about your keyboard? Uh. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! You tellin' me you ain't decked your keyboard with boughs of holly yet?! It's time we took care of that. Yes, right now. Don't tell me you'll do it tomorrow. That's 24 hours you could spend looking at jolly reindeers and gift packs and cold wintery landscapes in your keyboard's background. Type "yes." You can do it. Yes.

SwiftKey is taking care of you this season so you don't have to shell out any money to dress up your keyboard.

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Runkeeper 6.0 Brings A New Interface, Colors, And Iconography

When Runkeeper was updated to version 6.0 on iOS back in August, Android users were asked to be patient and promised the same treatment sometime in the fall. Well, the app's developers kept their promise but it was a close call. Released yesterday, just at the end of the fall season, Runkeeper 6.0 brought the new interface, colors, and icons that iOS users have been enjoying, then was followed by a small bug fix update to version 6.0.1.

In version 6.0, Runkeeper gets rid of its bright blue color in favor of a more greenish blue / turquoise hue.

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Chromer Opens All Of Your Links In A Chrome Custom Tab

Introduced at Google I/O this year and implemented in the stable version 45 of Chrome, Chrome Custom Tabs aim to make browsing from third-party apps as fast, unintrusive, and seamless as possible. Instead of developers relying on System WebView to load links from their applications, they could implement Custom Tabs to open these links in a faster page that sits on top of the app and uses Chrome's rendering and data saving capabilities, has access to its saved passwords and autofill information, and benefits from its security updates.

However, not all developers have implemented Chrome Custom Tabs and that's where Chromer comes in.

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SD Maid 4.0 Beta Moves The App's Interface From The Holo To The Material Design Era

If you're like me and you spend a great deal of your time installing and uninstalling apps on your phone, then you're probably aware of the mess that some apps leave on your internal storage even after they're long gone. SD Maid specializes in getting rid of these ghosts of apps' past by removing the relics from your storage so it's like they've never been there to begin with. And now the app can do its job while also donning a nice modern Material Design interface.

Version 4.0.0 beta was released a couple of days ago and has since received a small bug fix update to version 4.0.1.

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Action Launcher 3 Updated With Improved Icon Editing, 'Smartsize' Icon Scaling, And More

There's still time to squeeze one more Action Launcher update in this year, and it's a big one. The latest version of Action Launcher makes a myriad of tweaks and adds two new icon-related features, one of which will sound a little familiar.

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Microsoft Updates Cortana To v1.2 And Removes "Hey Cortana" Feature In The US [Update]

Microsoft has been branching out recently to make its previously exclusive apps and services available on more platforms. Cortana just became publicly available after a lengthy beta test, and now there's a big update. Not because it added big things, but because it took one away. In v1.2 of the Cortana app, you can't use the "Hey Cortana" hotword in the US anymore.

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[Weekend Poll] Do You Use Hangouts For SMS And / Or MMS?

I won't beat around the bush: there's a rumor Google Hangouts may lose its originally much-demanded SMS and MMS capabilities. Google's potential reasoning aside, this is very obviously a user experience concern for everyone who makes use of Hangouts on a daily basis. Even if you don't use Hangouts for SMS or MMS regularly (or ever), the fact that it can do these things may well be a reason to stick with the service in favor of other, competing messaging platforms.

But if Hangouts loses its SMS/MMS powers, that's undoubtedly going to definitely not go over well with anyone who uses it for...

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[Hands On] Popular Lip-Sync Music Video App, Triller, Comes To Google Play - It's Actually Incredibly Fun To Play With

Triller. That's a silly sounding name and a really dumb idea for an app.

Those were my first thoughts when I saw this app pop up on the Android Police to-do list. Triller is the kind of app I assumed would appeal only to narcissistic, college-attending, plaid-wearing, hipsters born after the year 1995. The fact that it launched as an iOS exclusive back in July, and this promo video didn't help that perception. It turns out I was wrong, but I'll get to that in a minute.

The concept of the app is pretty simple. First, pick one of the songs featured by the app, or one from your own music library.

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Android Police's Team Picks: Our Favorite And Most Used Apps In 2015

We love apps. We talk about them every day here at Android Police, we write biweekly roundups featuring all the cool new apps that are getting released, we choose our top 7 new apps every month, and once in a while we tackle a specific category of apps and show you some interesting choices in it. Apps are an intricate part of what we do here and how we use our devices in general, they're inextricable from our Android usage.

So when Google released its list of Best Apps of 2015 and we noticed some generic and automatically generated recommendations in it, we thought we could try harder.

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