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Apps/Games

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Chrome Dev 55 adds gamepad features and better Android Pay support [APK Download]

Yesterday, I wrote about the massive number of changes that Chrome Beta 54 brought along. Chrome 55 hasn't been in development for quite as long, but there are still a few noteworthy changes. Come along with me as I journey into the wonderful world of alpha-quality software.

Users on Android 7.0 might need to use an APK to update, as there is a bug with Chrome Beta & Dev updating from the Play Store. You can find the APKMirror download link at the bottom of this post.
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Plex Media Server beta for NVIDIA SHIELD adds Plex DVR functionalities

The NVIDIA SHIELD is probably the best Android TV hardware out there (it has Borderlands!), and today it's getting even better, with the addition of Plex DVR to the latest Plex Media Server beta, which enables the recording of any over-the-air TV channels through any web browser.

Plex Media Server released on SHIELD earlier this year, so Plex DVR is just the latest feature to come to the service. This apparently makes the SHIELD the only streaming set-top box with DVR functionalities, which only makes it more attractive as an Android TV box. To use Plex Media Server, a Plex Pass is needed, however, which may dampen things somewhat for a number of potential users.

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[Bonus Round] Bulb Boy, Titan HD, Monolithic, Orbt, One More Jump, and Circle Affinity

Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we have a freaky point-and-click adventure, a classic board game, a spatial puzzler, a casual astronomic juggle game, and two challenging platformers. Without further ado:

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Chrome 54 Beta adds an updated New Tab Page, background video playback, and more [APK Download]

Chrome 54 Beta is now available on the Google Play Store, for you adventurous beta testers out there. This beta brings some very useful new features to Chrome, so let's dive right in!

New Tab page

Chrome 54 brings a redesigned New Tab page, and honestly, I'm not sure I'm a fan. The changed New Tab page still maintains the Google logo and the search bar, but does away with the Bookmarks or Recent Tabs buttons.

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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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