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Google+ 4.2 Feature Spotlight: Check Out The Awesome New User Locations Widget

Earlier today, Google started rolling out a major update to Google+ for Android. Together with our readers, we've examined every corner of the app and found a whole bunch of things that are new to this version 4.2 but haven't been mentioned in the official announcement. You should definitely read through the list if you haven't yet.

However, one new feature that I found fascinating managed to fly completely below the radar because it's located not within the app itself but rather in the widget menu.

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[New App] ESPN Releases Its Official Fantasy Hockey App For Neglected NHL Fans

October is the perfect storm for American sports fans: Baseball fans have the World Series, basketball fans have the opening games of the season, and football fans are just getting a good look at the playoff scenario. Against this triple threat, hockey fans (especially those in the United States) tend to get the short end of the stick, so to speak. ESPN is bucking that trend: today they posted the very first build of the network's official Fantasy Hockey app to the Play Store.

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Google Is Expanding The Availability Of Google+ Custom URLs To Most Users

It was over a year ago that Google started adding custom URLs to Google+, but the unwashed masses still haven't gotten them. The simplified addresses have been restricted to Googlers and a few select people/brands so far, but no longer. Google is expanding Google+ custom URLs to most users over the next few days.

custom-url

A vanity URL won't be automatic when a new Google+ page is created – there are some preconditions before Google will let you ditch the string of numbers.

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[APK Download] Google+ 4.2 For Android Rolling Out: Auto Awesome Movie Maker, New Menus, 'G+ Photos' Is Now 'Photos', And More

Earlier today at a livestreamed event in San Francisco, Google's SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra announced a slew of new features slated for Google+ and Hangouts.

While we're still waiting for the Hangouts update that will enable SMS support, animated GIFs, and location sharing to hit the Play Store, which should happen in a few days, the Google+ update 4.2 is already live.

What's New?

G+ Photos is now Photos

After playing around with this version for a bit, I'm glad to report that the annoying and superfluous G+ Photos shortcut is now gone.

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Kindle MatchBook Launches With 7x The Titles Amazon Promised In Last Month's Announcement

Last month Amazon announced MatchBook, a new service that gives customers the option to get discounted Kindle versions of physical books they've already bought. It launched today with support for over 70,000 titles, seven times what the company promised would be available from the get go. Discounted books range from free to $2.99.

MatchBook

Eligible books date back to 1995, the year when Amazon first launched its online bookstore. Just remember that only purchases tied to your current account will apply, so while many of us didn't have email address way back when, those that did probably haven't held on to them.

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Phonebloks Posts New Video Talking About The Motorola Partnership And Offers Another Glimpse Of Project Ara

As we're all still trying to come to grips with Motorola's newly revealed modular phone platform known as Project Ara, the folks at Phonebloks aren't missing a beat. They've uploaded a new video that explains a bit more about how they teamed up with Motorola. Also, there's a quick peek at Project Ara.

When Phonebloks started talking to companies about how to make the concept real, the Phonebloks guys found Moto was particularly interested.

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DIRECTV App Gets Updated To Version 3.1, Receives Redesigned Video Player, New Menu Button, And More

We have a second screen problem. The TV may have the largest display in the house, but it fails to consistently hold our attention even during engaging content, let alone commercial breaks. Cable and satellite companies have tried to respond to this phenomenon by releasing companion apps that place their content on both screens at once. Unfortunately, these apps typically aren't that good. The DIRECTV Android app was completely revamped not too long ago, but already a new update is available that changes things around a bit.

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Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth-Enabled Door Lock Is Now Shipping, Available For $219 From Select Stores

The Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth-enabled door lock is the type of product that can change people's lives. No more fumbling for groceries and keys at the same time. No more scratching up the door at night. No more giving out spare keys to friends and family members. This lock opens at just a touch as long as paired smartphones or key fobs are within range. The lock became available for pre-order in the summer, and now it's up for sale directly on Amazon.

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Facebook Messenger Getting Major Overhaul: SMS Dead, No Longer Need To Be Friends To Send Messages

Facebook's Messenger app for Android and iOS is about to receive an extensive reworking, and will drop SMS support in the process. According to a Facebook product manager, the SMS feature "just didn't take off" in the way the company had originally expected, and as such, the feature is being given the axe.

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The Messenger app, though, is about to look a whole lot different. Here a couple shots of the Android version, which I must say is impressively clean.

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Google+ To Get New Auto-Enhance Options For Photos, Auto Awesome Movies, Additional Search Terms, And More

Following the new improvements to Hangouts revealed at today's event, Vic Gundotra announced a slew of new features for Google+ photos, including new auto-enhance options, 1000 additional image recognition words, Auto Awesome Movies, and other tools aimed at making backing up, editing, and retrieving your content even easier.

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Google+'s new auto-enhance options improve upon the tweaks Google already applies to images that are automatically backed up to the service. Faces look brighter, noise is reduced, and vignettes are applied.

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