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Nova Launcher 5.0 beta integrates new Pixel-style UI options

Nova Launcher remains the go-to alternative launcher for power users, customization fanatics, and plain old everyday Android fans. The developer continues to iterate the app with a ton of new features and options, and the full version bump to 5.0 is all about emulating the look of Google's official (and so far unannounced) Pixel launcher. It's available in beta form now from the Play Store program, but the developer also makes the updated APK available as a direct download.

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Pandora announces Pandora Plus, a $4.99 a month streaming service with unlimited skips, repeats, and offline listening

I've never quite understood the appeal of Pandora - I want to be able to control what I'm listening to, not be tied to a radio where I can't choose what song to play. While Pandora is massively popular, the company must have realized this too - it's just announced Pandora Plus, which lets you skip or repeat songs playing on the radio station you've selected an unlimited amount of times.

This isn't full control like Spotify or Play Music, but that's not what Pandora is aiming for. It wants to be a radio station; not a radio station like your grandparents listened to on the wireless, but a modern service with lots of stations for different music genres, moods, and artists.

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Android apps can now easily access Google's harmful website database

Google's Safe Browsing feature has been around since 2007, and has protected millions of people from harmful threats on the internet. It's a blacklist of harmful websites, such as those distributing malware and phishing scams, that Google actively updates every day. The database is used by Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari to ensure users can be as safe as possible online.

Back at Google I/O, Google announced they would make an official API for applications to check a given website in the Safe Browsing database. Starting with Google Play Services 9.4, developers can finally use the API in their apps.

The Safe Browsing API uses the latest version of the Safe Browsing Network Protocol, meaning it's designed to be as quick (and use up as little cellular data) as possible.

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Samsung releases Samsung Focus, an all-in-one productivity app [APK Download]

When the BlackBerry Priv arrived last year, one of the built-in applications was the BlackBerry Hub. It merged your emails, notifications from supported social networks, and calendars all in one place. It was a pretty good idea, and Samsung has just released a similar application, Samsung Focus.

Focus is much more oriented towards business users than the average Joe the BlackBerry Hub aims to please. Samsung Focus can sync your emails, contacts and calendars, memos, tasks, and more. Most of these features are only compatible with Exchange servers, but the email feature does support IMAP and POP3 email as well. This means that essentially every email service is compatible.

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SwiftKey adds neural network predictions to the stable version of its keyboard

SwiftKey released an early experimental version of its neural network-powered keyboard as a standalone alpha app late last year. At the time, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the predictions. Now, the company (which has since been acquired by Microsoft) has updated the main app with new neural network features.

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Koush announces final pricing for Mirror, leaves Inkwire free for non-commercial use

Noted Android developer Koush has decided how much you should pay for two of his apps, and technically that amount is zero dollars. You can continue to use the new app Inkwire and the much older Mirror screen recorder for free. However, all of Mirror's new features are only free if you don't mind watermarks on all your stuff.

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[Update: Video drawing too] WhatsApp Beta adds image drawing and stickers, bigger emojis, front-facing flash, one-finger video zoom

WhatsApp's developers suffer from a bit of a delay when it comes to updating their changelogs on the Play Store. Yesterday, they pushed version 2.16.262 (followed by 2.16.263) to the beta channel on the Play Store, but the changelog mentioned features we've seen in v2.16.230 like forwarding to multiple contacts and frequent chats, but didn't say anything about the new feature that was really newly implemented in 2.16.262: image drawing, nor did it say anything about the big emojis we've been seeing since 2.16.256. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's start with the official changelog.

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Google+ v8.7 now opens image comments in a full screen viewer like any other image [APK Download]

Google+ wasn't the first social network to allow users to embed images directly into comments, but it's supported now and most of us seem pretty happy about it. The only problem with image comments was that a few features were missing from that first implementation. A couple of weeks have passed and we're now looking at a brand new update that fills in most of the gaps: enabling users to open images in full screen, save them locally, and more.

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Facebook Messenger gains Direct Share on Marshmallow and above

Facebook Messenger, mostly just referred to as Messenger these days, (or "I'll send you a link on Facebook") has improved at a rate of knots over the last year or so. It's had a material overhaul, nicknames and color functions added, group calling, games, new emojis, SMS support, and probably a lot more. Today another new feature has arrived Messenger, especially for Android: Direct Share.

In my travels across the web, I've seen many people asking for this feature. Well, now it's here, and it works as well as you'd expect it to. Find a tweet, reddit post or comment, a link, anything that brings up Android's share menu, and if you're running at least version 88.0.0.11.69 or above (thanks, Alexander Sofinskiy), plus Android 6.0 Marshmallow or 7.0 Nougat, you should see your most-messaged people appear in the Direct Share menu above the apps.

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MX Player gets update that adds Android 7.0 multi-window support and more

There are numerous video players available on the Play Store, each with its own strengths. MX Player, one of the more popular ones, has just received an update that adds a few great features, such as multi-window support for devices running Android 7.0 Nougat, a new decoder, and screen-off playback.

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