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New dialog interface for in-app purchases looks more in tune with the latest Play Store redesign

The Play Store team is killing us. Over the past couple of months, we've seen so many server-side tests for interface changes that we've lost track of them all, and which ones are official and which ones are still not available to everyone. Just today we discussed a significant improvement that could have apps and games show up separately on the Store, and now we're back with another change.

The in-app purchase dialog, the one that pops-up whenever you tap on a paid item inside an app or game, might be getting an overhaul soon. Instead of the old pop-up window showing up in the middle of the screen, this new IAP menu covers the bottom of the display and uses the Play Store's new shade of green along with a big Buy button akin to the new wide buttons in app listings on the Store.

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[Thank Googlness] Google testing separate Apps and Games sections in the Play Store

I have never understood why apps and games are grouped together on the Play Store. They're both software, but beyond that, there's really nothing there in common. Bundling them together also creates a lot of issues: top grossing or trending charts are a jumbled mix of apps and games, and games have had to use sub-categories to organize everything. Separating the two into their own main sections just makes sense.

And it looks like Google is finally, freaking finally, toying with the idea as well. One of our readers tipped us with this new layout that gives apps and games their own distinct upper-level sections, next to Entertainment (which also shows up as Music, Movies, Books for some users).

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The Google app's dual-tab 'Upcoming' UI is now official, rolling out to all Android users

For months a small subset of Android users have been seeing a new dual-tabbed interface in the official Google search app's UI. The second tab, initially labelled "Dashboard" and then changed to an icon-only "Upcoming," is now official. Google announced the big change on its Keyword search blog, revealing that the feature should roll out to all Android users starting now, with the iOS version of the Search app following suit later.

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Support for AMP links rolling out in the Google+ Android app

If you're not familiar, Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project aims to make the mobile web faster and less data-heavy. Websites that choose to support it offer AMP versions of their pages, which are then loaded instead of the full site. Google mobile search and the mobile Google+ site already load AMP pages when available, and now the latter's native Android app is joining in.

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Google Duo gets updated to 5.0, brings "major" video quality improvements and some other fixes [APK Download]

Duo hasn't been the hit success that Google expected it to be, but that should only serve as motivation for engineers to make it better. The video-chatting app has just been updated to version 5.0, which not only fixes a few bugs, but also improves on the entire user experience.

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Google brings street art to the Live Cases with En Masse

More and more Live Cases are becoming available, bringing a wide variety of phone protection to suit most aesthetic preferences. In keeping with this, Google announced the En Masse line of Live Cases in collaboration with the multi-artist collaborative group EN MASSE, who specialize in large-scale, "spontaneous" drawings.

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Lenovo can't even pay people to make the Phab 2 Pro seem exciting

The Phab 2 Pro is the first phone to feature Google's Tango. Tango is, to put it lightly, not really ready for anyone aside from curious tech reviewers and maybe developers looking to get into AR content. The Phab 2 Pro itself also isn't a very good phone, and frankly costs too much to justify a largely gimmicky feature. In short, this product has "commercial flop" written all over it, and I think even AR enthusiasts and Tango phones can understand that. I honestly didn't ever expect it to be commercially marketed: this is a gadget that has some novelty and development value, but essentially zero real consumer appeal at this time.

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Chromecast Ultra owners can get Ghostbusters (2016) for free from Google Play Movies

Google is known for periodically offering free goodies to Chromecast owners. Most recently, Google gave three free months of HBO Now with purchase of a Chromecast. In the Chromecast Ultra's first promotion, you can grab a free copy of the Ghostbusters remake in 4K from Google Play Movies. It may not be the best-performing movie this year, but you can't beat free.

The offer is available to anyone who has purchased and activated a Chromecast Ultra before December 31st, and you can redeem the offer until April 30. As you might expect, this is only valid in the United States and Canada.

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Project Fi's holiday-themed site offers $10 Google Play credit and cheerful activities to subscribers

Are you a Project Fi subscriber? If so, you're in for a pretty cool treat this holiday season. Open up fiholiday.withgoogle.com to check out Project Fi's World of Thanks site. Awaiting you is an assortment of interesting and cheerful online activities. You'll find cute tools to create custom digital cards and snow globes, a trivia game, a suggestion to set a seasonally appropriate voicemail greeting – sure, why not? – and best of all, a $10 Google Play gift code.

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Android 7.1.1 update seems to fix some LTE Band 4 issues for the Pixel

Every new phone has at least a couple of issues out of the gate that need to be addressed (and can hopefully be fixed with a software update, rather than scrapping a billion-dollar product line). So it is with Google's Pixel and Pixel XL: last month a subset of users reported spotty connection problems with the flagships, apparently when using LTE Band 4 (1700MHz) on certain carriers outside the US. Owners aired their grievances on Google's product forum, and were heard fairly quickly.

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