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Google's latest Photos ad highlights a bunch of features, is awesome

Google Photos' advertising team has been on fire lately. First, there was that ad about how you won't miss important moments with Photos' "Free up space" feature. Then, there was the one about how even if you jump into a pool, your photos will be safe thanks to auto backup. Now, there's one called "Photos. For Life." that talks about the features the previous two discussed, and more.

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USB-IF announces new USB charger certification program

For the last year, Googler Benson Leung has been waging a one-man war on bad USB accessories. Going forward, he'll have some help in the form of the USB Implementers Forum itself. The USB-IF has announced a certification program complete with a handy little logo. If you see that logo, you'll know the accessory in question is in compliance with the spec and won't break your gear.

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TellTale's Mr. Robot game is disguised as the official E-Corp messenger app

USA Network's Mr. Robot is all the rage among tech fans, and not just because it's probably the most faithful depiction of real-world hackers ever to hit primetime. The drama surrounding a gigantic, omnipresent, all-knowing international tech company that has access to every part of the digital world has some disturbing parallels in real life. (Cough, cough.) If you can't wait for the next episode to land in your Android TV queue, there's a new game on the Play Store to check out... and it's made by TellTale, fan-favorite developers of story-focused adventure games.

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Madfinger unveils Shadowgun Legends, an MMORPG shooter


Mobile gaming has been getting pretty intense in the last few years, due in no small part to increasingly powerful hardware available to shove into phones and tablets. Games like Clash of Clans and Hearthstone have served to push the mobile platform forward into general popularity, something that the rest of us gamers can appreciate. Hoping to take full advantage of what we have available now, developer Madfinger Games has released a teaser trailer for their upcoming addition to the Shadowgun franchise: Shadowgun Legends.

For those of you who never played the original game, it is a third-person shooter set in a dystopian future where corporations rule in place of governments.

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[Update: SMS Verification Working In More Countries] Google's Duo video chat app is rolling out in the Play Store [APK Download]

Google announced the Duo video chat app (and the messaging app Allo) at Google I/O this year, saying only that we'd see the final release later this summer. Well, here we are. Google Duo is beginning its global rollout right now. It's still showing as "pre-registration" for us right now, but it's finally happening. No sign of Allo yet.

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Samsung's "Secure Folder" on the Note7 may be the best smartphone feature of 2016

Earlier this year, when the Galaxy S7 launched, it was loaded with something Samsung called "Private Mode." Private is, frankly, kind of lame - you can use it to secure sensitive files, photos, or voice recordings using Samsung's stock applications for those functions. I can see a use, sure, but this is a pretty limited sort of feature.

With the Note7, Samsung has introduced Secure Folder. This sounds even narrower in scope, right?

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Snapchat is acquiring search and recommendation service Vurb, winner of TechCrunch Disrupt

Snapchat is quickly becoming the place where teenargers, young adults, and even older generations share what they're doing and communicate with each other. Now the service is looking to buy Vurb, a start-up specialized in mobile search, recommendations, and discovery.

Vurb had won TechCrunch's Disrupt in 2014 with its idea of a mobile search engine that serves you relevant results in the form of cards from the apps you care about most, like Yelp, Google Maps, Fandango, Netflix, Uber, and so on, and combines them together in a way that makes sense: take a ride, watch a movie, get dinner, get another cab home.

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Galaxy Note7: Six days with Samsung's latest

It's Galaxy Note7 review day here in the US! ...Our review isn't ready. I received my evaluation device less than a week ago, and we've been swamped here with various leak posts and bringing on some new faces (say "hi!" to the newest members of our team when you spot their bylines), and there just hasn't been time for me to fully formulate thoughts and compile them into a 5000-word-plus post for you. But would you take an abridged review/extended hands-on until I can make good on that promise? If so, read on.

Early review notes

  • Industrial design and attention to physical detail continue to climb to ever-greater heights at Samsung.
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Google is using Opinion Rewards questions to improve YouTube video recommendations

If you've never used Google Opinion Rewards, it's an app from Google that periodically sends you surveys and rewards you with Play Store credit. Most questions are usually location-based, asking if you've been to a certain place recently and how you would rate it. But it looks like Google may be using Opinion Rewards to improve YouTube video recommendations.

Earlier today, I received a survey asking about my YouTube history. It's worth noting that if you have YouTube Watch History disabled, you won't get these surveys.

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Left: A YouTube survey?! Right: Here it asks about a video I watched earlier today.

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Google planning to focus Hangouts on business consumers after Allo, Duo release


Just a few hours ago, Google started the rollout for the first of its two new messaging apps, Duo. For me and some of us here, the Play Store listing still shows "Pre-Registration," but this is the typical Google way. As a refresher, Google is releasing the dynamic messaging duo (ha) to compete in this mobile-first market. Both the text-based Allo and the video-based Duo will be tied to a phone number instead of a Google account. This, obviously, directly contests with Hangouts, Google's all-in-one messaging platform, and is more in line with services like WhatsApp.

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Earlier, Google announced that they would be transitioning Hangouts On Air into YouTube Live, separating the feature from Google+.

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