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Canadian Chromecast 2015 and Chromecast Audio owners can claim $20 of free Play Store credit

Google is an American company, as in the United States of America. That means that sometimes - okay, a lot of times - its new programs and promotions are first and often only available to Americans. But today our neighbors to the north finally get something that we don't. And it's pretty sweet: twenty bucks of free credit in the Play Store for owners of the Chromecast 2015 and/or the newer Chromecast Audio! That's better than a free Tim Horton's run.

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Google's useless Device Assist app is shutting down

If you are one of the small number of people who use Google's Device Assist app, I have some bad news. Support for the app is being dropped effective immediately. Users are being notified of the app's demise via a "detected issue" card that directs them to Google's online tips site instead.

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[Bored at work] Google adds playable Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe games in search results

Here goes my productivity for the rest of the day week. In its quest to make the search page the only thing you ever visit online, Google has added another fun trick to its search engine: Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe. Forget about animal sounds, metronomes, bubble levels, and all kinds of other tools or time-wasters, this is what we've all been waiting for, from the moment we booted our first Windows computer to all those car and train rides in winter when we played Tic-Tac-Toe on the foggy windows, to that time we saw the doctor's assistant playing Solitaire on her computer and wished we had that to ease the long wait.

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Google Duo has been downloaded 5 million times on Android since its release

Google's Duo video calling application has been out for about a week now. It was released on August 16, but it took 2 days to propagate globally. That's also how long it needed to make its way to the top of the free new apps on the Play Store.

With one week under its belt from worldwide release, Duo is celebrating another milestone: over 5 million downloads on Android. Sundar Pichai made the announcement on Twitter:

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Project Fi's WiFi Assistant is coming to all Nexus devices in the US, Canada, the UK, and more

Project Fi users have been able to enjoy access to Google's WiFi Assistant feature since Google launched its MVNO, but soon all Nexus owners will be able to get in on the fun. That means you can connect automatically to open WiFi hotspots via Google's secure VPN. There are some geographical restrictions, of course.

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Google will start ranking pages with intrusive ads lower on search results

Trying to browse the internet quickly, even on the fastest smartphones, has become much harder in recent years. Advertisements take up valuable screen real estate, and can cause your phone's browser to slow to a crawl. Even worse, some sites *coughWikiacough* have taken to using full-screen advertisements and other popups.

As Jean-Luc Picard once said, "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!" Google has taken the offensive in the battle against intrusive mobile ads, using their influence as the most popular search engine as leverage. Starting on January 10, 2017, pages with content not easily accessible on mobile "may not rank as highly," according to Google's blog post.

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Praise the Lord: Chase will add support for Android Pay on September 7th

To all of you Chase customers who have been longing for Android Pay support, it seems that your prayers have been heard. No longer will you have to purchase a Samsung or Apple device to be able to pay for things with your phone. According to an anonymous Chase employee, Chase will begin supporting Google's NFC-based payment system in just over two weeks.

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The first Android 7.0 Nexus factory images are up

One of the benefits of Google's Nexus devices is that you can flash full factory images if something goes wrong. Google makes these files available for download each time a new OTA update rolls out, and the first few devices now have Nougat images. This could be just what you need to get your device back on a stock build of Android in a single step.

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Flash all the things: Full Android 7.0 Nougat Nexus OTA roundup

It's Nougat day, finally. Google's latest and greatest version of Android is beginning its slow rollout to Nexus devices, plus the Pixel C and General Mobile 4G. Dev preview devices are getting the OTA almost immediately, but devices on Marshmallow are taking a little longer. Google has said it could take a week or two for everyone to get the OTA, but you don't need to wait that long. We're collecting the full Nougat OTA links right here.

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Google Assistant can answer your voice messages in Allo

We've covered a lot of what Google Allo can do as a messaging application, but we haven't yet scratched the surface of one of its most interesting features: Assistant. It lives as a standalone chat, but also as a bot ready to answer any question inside your other conversations (not the Incognito ones though, as we've said before) by just mentioning @google.

Since Assistant is an evolution of Google Now / OK Google commands, and since Allo can send voice messages, there's a nifty feature you can easily deduce from the combination of the two: Assistant will interpret your voice messages in Allo. It's as cool as you might guess.

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