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YouTube shows a fun castle animation when loading a video

If you happen to have a slow internet connection, you're used to seeing a spinning circle on Youtube while it loads, and loads, and loads, and finally really loads a video. That's the bane of my existence when I'm on WiFi (3G and LTE are much faster in Lebanon, but also more expensive, so we endure WiFi). But YouTube has recently implemented a castle animation, which is a lot more fun and playful. It doesn't make the wait any shorter, but it sure feels like it is.

The animation has been showing for several weeks, if not more than a month for me, but we've recently started getting more frequent tips about it, so we thought we'd let you know that yes, we have seen it before, and yes this is relatively new, and yes it is indeed cute.

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Vizio SmartCast devices now have Google Home compatibility

A little while after LG's announcement that it would add Google Home compatibility to its Music Flow line, Vizio steps up and makes a similar announcement for its SmartCast series of connected speakers, displays, and the like. This will add the strength of voice control to Chromecast-ready devices like the Crave 360 and Pro speakers.

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Google acquires Fabric, a popular mobile developer platform for performance tracking and crash reporting

Ask all of the mobile app developers to name the SDKs and third-party services they're using and the answer you're likely to hear more than any other is Fabric, or possibly Crashlytics (a component of Fabric). Many apps rely on Fabric for crash reporting, performance metrics, and other services that are hard to build in-house, but prove very useful when supporting an app and making business decisions. Fabric announced earlier today that it had reached an agreement to be acquired by Google, leaving behind its parent company Twitter.

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LG responds to user complaints, will add Google Home and multi-room support to Music Flow speakers

LG released its Music Flow speakers back in 2015 as one of the first third-party systems to take advantage of Google's Cast framework. However, LG has been slow to implement new features, and buyers were beginning to fear LG had abandoned the products. Now, it looks like all your complaining has worked! LG is adding multi-room audio and Google Home support to the Music Flow speakers.

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[Updated] Google Maps 9.44 shows parking availability and Atmosphere images [APK Download]

Back in August, Cody found strings in his teardown of Google Maps v9.34 beta that hinted at an upcoming display of parking difficulty. The option may have crept up for some users since then, but now we have our first glance into how the feature will work since it has started showing up for more is live for users on Maps v9.44 beta.

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Top Features start showing up for more users on the Play Store

Google always seems to be tweaking reviews in the Play Store, changing how they're presented to users and trying to make it easier to see how an app/game fares and how users perceive it. We've been seeing Review Highlights, detailed Feature Ratings for games that divide the rating by controls, gameplay, and graphics, and more. One of the tweaks is Top Features, a list of the best features a given app has, approved by users who give it a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

Top Features started showing up back in August of 2016, but it seemed to be limited to certain users before (mostly in the US from our anecdotal evidence).

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YouTube's new sharing feature is live in Canada, remains invite-only everywhere else

A built-in sharing feature for YouTube has been in various forms of testing for months, but it is now live for all Canadian YouTube users. You read that correctly - Canada actually received a feature first.

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Google is rolling out offline search to help counter spotty connections

The power of Google searches has always had an Achilles heel: terrible connections. Whether you have little to no mobile signal or less than stellar WiFi connectivity, you know the frustration when you're trying to look something up. There is nothing to counter this, but Google has officially rolled out an "offline search" feature which will deliver your searches to you when an adequate signal becomes available.

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Android One phones may be arriving in the United States in the coming months

Google started the Android One initiative back in 2014, with the goal of partnering with manufacturers to develop low-end Android phones that would receive updates directly from Google. All Android One devices have 18 months of promised updates (similar to past Nexus devices), including the monthly security updates, with a stock version of Android. The Information reports that Google will be bringing the Android One program to the United States in the coming months.

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Google TalkBack update prevents screen from locking during text reading, interruption while using voice search, and more

It is easy to take the use of our full senses for granted — some of our fellow Android users are not so fortunate. Luckily, Google has implemented the TalkBack service into the OS, which allows those who are blind or otherwise visually-impaired to use their devices more effectively. Now the v5.1 update notes have been posted to the Play Store, showing that the update brings some nice improvements.

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