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Actions on Google open new languages (CA, IN, BR, IT, ES), better discovery, and more interactions for Assistant apps

Google Developers is rolling out a huge update to Actions on Google, the backbone through which developers can create those Assistant apps and integrations that are still a little hidden but can be very useful if you interact with your Home or phone a lot through voice. Both developers and users stand to benefit from these changes as there are a lot of improvements that will add up quickly for a better experience.

First, in terms of discovery, the Assistant's Explore tab / "app directory" will see two new sections for "What's new" and "What's trending." Now there's only a list of categories, which makes it impossible to spot popular services or new additions.

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Essential posts Oreo beta build for PH-1, finally provides Nougat factory images

Hot on the heels of Samsung and its Oreo beta for the Galaxy S8, for which an update has already been released, Essential has posted an Oreo beta image for owners to flash. Also now present are regular factory images, which were previously unavailable. The only caveat is that you must sideload it via ADB; there's no OTA.

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[Update: Google says it's fixed] Adaptive icon bug causes system crashes on Oreo devices, Google is on the case

If there's one thing sure to ruin your day, it's a crashing smartphone. Even worse if the bug proves so bad that your phone eventually insists you do a factory reset, losing data in the process. This is exactly the situation that has befallen a number of Nexus and Pixel owners in recent days, and it's all to do with an adaptive icon bug that was discovered by the developer of third-party Facebook wrapper called Swipe.

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Android's monthly security bulletin now details functional updates for Pixels and Nexus phones

Google has been publishing its security bulletin for the monthly Android patches for a long time, but starting October 2017 (last month), it created a special bulletin for Nexus and Pixel devices. With the newly released November patch, Google has started populating one new section in the bulletin that details "Functional updates."

Google has recently started using the monthly patches not just for security fixes, but also as an opportunity to fix functional bugs on Nexus and Pixel phones and add really urgent features that could not wait until a full system software update. So it was only a matter of time before the bulletin started mentioning these other non-security changes.

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Motorola releases Android 7.1.1 kernel source code for Moto X Play and DROID Maxx 2

Back in 2015, Motorola released the Moto X Play, a 5.5" phone with a massive 3,630mAh battery. In the United States, the phone was called the DROID Maxx 2, and was a Verizon exclusive. Over the past month, Android 7.1.1 has slowly been rolling out to the X Play in some regions, with the phone previously running Android 6.0. An update is planned for the Maxx 2, but it hasn't been released yet.

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Google hasn't actually enabled Pixel Visual Core in 8.1 Oreo DP1, updates docs to say it'll come in DP2

The Pixel Visual Core is Google's first in-house chip, and it was supposed to have been enabled in Android 8.1 Developer Preview 1. However, developers looking to try it out were unable to do so, eventually realizing that Google had neglected to enable it for the public preview. Now, the company has updated its documents to say that Visual Core will be able to be tried out in 8.1 Developer Preview 2.

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Firebase announces major redesign of console with Crashlytics integration, A/B testing framework, Predictions engine, and more

Google's Firebase team has been hard at work lately. Earlier this month, Firebase added a whole new storage product called Cloud Firestore, but that was just the beginning. Several major additions and improvements were just announced during the keynote at the second annual Firebase Dev Summit taking place in Amsterdam.

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Google announces Fast Pair for Android 6.0+ devices, allowing you to connect your Bluetooth devices quickly and easily

Technology is all about making things faster and easier, and that's exactly what the newly-announced Fast Pair by Google aims to do. If you have a device running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or above, your days of fiddling with Bluetooth settings will soon be over (with some select devices).

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Want Ambient Display to show battery level? Star this issue and let Google know (but don't comment)

These days, a lot of phones come with some form of ambient/always-on displays. Samsung, Motorola, LG, and Google all have phones with a variant of this feature, and it can really come in handy if you just need to check something in a pinch. But while Google has updated its Ambient Display with 8.1 Oreo, it's still missing one crucial feature: battery level. However, you can help push Google to add it by starring this issue in its Issue Tracker.

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