Apps/Games

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Facebook is rolling out a dedicated button for adding GIFs to comments

Sending a GIF through Facebook's Messenger app is pretty easy. It's long been possible to send GIFs quickly using the dedicated button, and the app recently added support for GBoard's GIF search feature, giving you even more choice. Sending a GIF in the main Facebook app has been a little trickier, however, first having to find a one elsewhere and then copy/paste it in. To celebrate 30 years of GIFs (I had no idea they were that old, either), the Facebook app now also includes a GIF button right in the text field, allowing you to search for and send one without leaving the app.

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Google Maps v9.55 adds notification channels for Android O and might add offline maps for whole countries [APK Download + Teardown]

If you're on the Google Maps beta channel, you probably received an update to v9.55 in the last day or so. After hunting for a while, we haven't seen any notable changes on most devices; except if you're running Android O, in which case the latest version enables a full array of notification channels. The hunt for features also brought out a teardown with a hint that users may finally have the option to download offline maps for whole countries.

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Switftkey Beta updated with GIF input, hashtag prediction, and new languages for transliteration

Today is the 30th anniversary of the first GIF, and it looks like SwiftKey knows it. The Swiftkey Beta on Google Play was updated today with GIF support. Other new features include hashtag predictions and transliteration support for some new languages, as well as a few bug fixes. So if you need to insert a GIF in your transliterated Punjabi or Bangla messages, well, now you can. 

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Android Things Developer Preview 4.1 is out, with improvements to Play Services and more

The first Developer Preview for Android Things OS was released at the end of 2016, as a lightweight version of Android intended for Internet of Things devices. Since then, it has been updated multiple times to support more hardware and fix bugs, and today Google has released Developer Preview 4.1.

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Most Starbucks locations accept Android Pay, and I did not know this

Alright, even as a self-professed coffee snob, I go to Starbucks sometimes. OK, like once a week - it's convenient, consistent, and I really like the cold brew iced coffee. Anyway, for as long as I've been going to Starbucks, I've lamented what I assumed was a lack of NFC payment support. Starbucks does not advertise that any of its stores support NFC payments in the US, and the card readers at most of its stores in the US, like the one pictured above, don't feature any iconography to suggest NFC is accepted. The terminal in the hero image of this post does show an Apple Pay icon on the screen, and maybe that is shown at Starbucks locations, but I can't say I've ever noticed it.

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Twitter 7.0 is official with a new rounded UI, live reply/retweet/reply counters, and more

Back in May, the Alpha Twitter app received an updated interface that looked more rounded, with new icons and buttons in tow. Then it reached the Beta branch, with a few more changes. Despite Twitter 7.0 going live a few days ago, the UI changes were part of a server-side update that is rolling out to all users starting today.

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Google updates kids animation app Toontastic 3D with new Cars 3 and Fruit Ninja themes [APK Download]

Earlier in the year, Google released the impressive Toontastic 3D. The digital storytelling app was a follow up to the original Toontastic game by educational developer LaunchPad Toys, which was acquired by Google in 2015. The app allows kids to draw and animate their own stories to create a 3D video. The budding directors can even narrate their creations and add built-in songs to the soundtrack before sharing. In the latest update, Google adds new characters and settings as part of two additional themes.

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[Deal Alert] Take a break from the week with 38 temporarily free and 38 on-sale apps, plus both Apps of the Week

Here we are halfway through another week; we're that much closer to Friday! For most of us, the summer heat is really turning up (I miss winter), so why not stay inside with this evening's list of app sales? There are quite a few tonight (I hope you like the Icon Packs & Customization section), more than we usually have on a Wednesday. If you missed Monday's post, be sure to go back and check it out here.

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Sphero is about to release an app-enabled Spider-Man toy

Sphero got itself recognized for making neat little toys that roll around. However, its next product doesn't move. It's an app-enabled Spider-Man toy with LCD eyes, speech recognition, and games in the companion app. We don't have all the details on this device yet, but retailer John Lewis accidentally pushed the product page live too soon, and Sphero published its app. That's good enough for a basic overview.

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Google announces 'Backup and Sync' for Windows and Mac, will replace desktop Google Drive client

The Google Drive client for Windows and Mac is.. decent. It's a bit buggy, and at least on Windows, seems to disconnect every once in a while for no apparent reason. Back in March, we learned that Google was working on a new version called 'Backup and Sync,' because the company accidentally pushed an unfinished version to users which didn't work at all.

Now it seems like Backup and Sync is nearly ready for release.

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