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It's Time To Let The Phrase "Stock Android" Die (Opinion)

Sundar Pichai made a series of statements at recode's Code Conference yesterday that seem to have the internet aflutter. Pichai claimed that Google would be adding more software features to future Nexus devices, specifically: "You’ll see us hopefully add more features on top of Android on Nexus phones... There’s a lot of software innovation to be had."

Some have taken this to mean that "stock Android" on Nexus phones is no more. That Google will begin to differentiate just like its partners, with proprietary features and software, and that this marks a move away from a "purer" interpretation of Android. This makes sense until you actually think about it, because Nexus phones haven't run "stock" Android in years, and it's time for us to have a conversation about what that word even means, let alone the idea that Google's interpretation of Android is somehow "purer."

For starters, all of the following applications that ship on Nexus phones today are closed-source.

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Xiaomi Makes The $23 Mi Band 2 Fitness Tracker Official

Xiaomi has yet to expand most of its mobile products to the US market, but it had an unexpected hit on its hands with the competitively priced (and globally available) Mi Band fitness tracker. The $15 device shipped more than 20 million units, and now the follow up Mi Band 2 is official after being shown off a few weeks ago. It's a little more expensive than the last one (RMB 149 or $23), but it has some nice upgrades.

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Amazon Releases A 64GB Version Of The Fire 10 HD Tablet With A New Aluminum Body For $290

Depending on who you ask, Amazon's Fire series might just be the most popular Android tablets on the planet. They're certainly up there, thanks to an extremely low entry price and some pretty decent media tie-ins with Amazon's various platforms, the lack of Google Play access notwithstanding. The value at the high end of the range isn't bad either, and Amazon just made it a little better: the big daddy Fire 10 HD now has a 64GB option, and it's available for under $300.

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Motorola Releases New Camera App In The Play Store, But Only For Its 2016 Devices

Motorola has long had the worst camera app of any mainstream OEM, which is a bummer as the 2015 Moto X Pure had a decent sensor finally. Now, Moto has posted a revamped camera app in the Play Store, but you probably can't use it yet. It's only for use with the company's 2016 devices like the Moto G4 and upcoming Moto X refresh.

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Google Maps Now Has A Play Store Beta - Get It Right Here [APK Download]

There's a Google Maps beta channel on the Play Store now, and you can sign up for it at this link. You can also download the new APK, version 9.27, directly from APK Mirror if you prefer, right here.

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We're still rooting around in the app to see if there's anything new, so let us know if you find anything! (Remember, Maps was also updated last week to v9.26.1, so anything from that update is not new). Also remember that if you're running the Android N preview, you already have Maps 9.30, and so this 9.27 APK will not install over your existing app, as it's a newer version.

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VOEZ, The Spiritual Sequel To Rhythm Game Favorite Cytus, Lands On The Play Store

Developer Rayark International seems to be in something of a groove for anime-themed rhythm games, if you'll pardon the pun. After a surprise hit with Cytus, the company is back with a similar game. VOEZ is different enough in tone and structure that it doesn't feel like a direct sequel, but it's safe to say that those who liked the original Cytus will also enjoy the new game. It's a free download on the Play Store, supported by in-app purchases for unlocking levels without getting high scores.

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Play Music v6.9 Brings Podcast Support To Android Auto And Relocates The Genre Selector In New Releases [APK Download]

It has been a few weeks since Play Music formally launched its take on podcasts, so it goes without saying that there are probably a few things left to be done. An update to version 6.9 takes care of one of the bigger gaps in the functionality by putting podcasts onto its Android Auto interface. Also on the list for this update are some small-to-medium visual tweaks. As usual, the apk is available for download at the bottom of this post if you're interested in jumping ahead of the normal rollout.

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Facebook Is Probably Killing Chat On Mobile Site, Already Forcing Users To Messenger App Instead

According to a new dialogue on the mobile Facebook website, the company will soon be forcing users of the service to download the native Android Facebook Messenger app in order to even view conversations.

The mobile site has been pushing users to download Messenger for some time, but it in the last few days, Facebook has begun much more aggressively shuffling mobile web users who go to the chat (messages) tab over to the Messenger app. Simply tapping the "messages" tab on the mobile web UI will immediately send you through to the Play Store listing for Messenger without any warning whatsoever.

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Facebook Is Testing A "Use Less Data" Switch In Its Android App

Facebook appears to be testing a new option in its Android app among some users that will make the app use less of your precious geebees. However, it doesn't appear to be anything beyond a simple photo resolution switcheroo, reducing the size of images that appear in your News Feed so that downloading them consumes less data. Interestingly, the toggle for the feature is positioned directly at the top of Facebook's labyrinthine sidebar menu, which is prime real estate. It's possible a wide rollout implementation would see this feature nested down in the settings area, though, and that this current placement is simply an attempt to maximize engagement with the toggle among users with whom it is being tested.

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T-Mobile Announces Uncarrier 11 Is Happening On June 6th

T-Mobile's latest Uncarrier initiative has been rumored for a few weeks, and now the date is official. T-Mobile will unveil new perks and whatnot in Uncarrier 11 on June 6th. The event will be live streamed, but the landing page doesn't offer any hint as to what might be announced. Although, rumors abound.

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