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Android O feature spotlight: Notifications for apps displaying over other apps can once again be disabled

Android O's first developer preview brought us screen overlay notifications. These are sometimes helpful, but they're also rather annoying for apps like Facebook Messenger that use chat heads. Today's release of the fourth and last O developer preview allows users to hide that notification, although there are still some other annoying ones that can't be hidden.

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Gmail's Smart Reply is now available in Spanish on both Android and iOS

Back in May, Google announced Smart Reply for Gmail, a feature that would suggest three simple responses based on the email that was sent to you. This was first made available for English, but Spanish was promised to come "in the coming weeks." Two months later, Spanish speakers can finally use Smart Reply for quick and easy responses.

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Android O feature spotlight: Lockscreen and notification panel get a few visual tweaks

Android O's fourth developer preview was released today, and you know what that means: more feature spotlights. We already covered the new octopus Easter egg, but there are still a few other changes, even in the final developer preview. The lockscreen and notification panel have both seen a few minor visual tweaks.

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The Chromecast is four years old today

Google tried several times to gain a foothold in the living room in the early days of Android. Remember the Nexus Q? And what about the Google TV debacle? Google didn't have a real hit until it simplified its approach and launched the Chromecast. That happened four years ago today on July 24, 2013. This continues to be one of Google's best media products.

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Android O feature spotlight: DP4's Easter egg features an octopus floating around

Since its inception, Android has featured little Easter eggs in its settings based on whatever dessert name was in that version. For instance, Android 4.2 and 4.3 Jellybean's Easter egg involved a ton of jellybeans scattered on your screen that you could move around. For Android O's fourth developer preview, the jokesters at Google threw in a little octopus that floats around your screen.

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Android O Developer Preview 4 is rolling out, final release coming soon

We're getting very, very close to the release of Android O. Google has put out three developer previews for Android O, and today is the fourth and final dev release. The OTA for devices in the Android Beta Program is rolling out as we speak, and there are system images so you can flash the new preview manually. This one should be representative of the final build.

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Assistant's Actions on Google could soon work in French, German, Japanese, and yes, Italian

Google doesn't make things very easy for us to explain or for users to understand. For example, while Google Assistant can speak English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish in Allo, it can only speak US English on Android phones but it can talk in different English dialects plus German on Pixel devices. Oh and it supports English, French, and German on Google HomeTo make matters even worse, the third-party developer branch of Assistant, Actions on Google, only works in US English now but Google is implementing more languages and we already know British English will be supported next.

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There's a hack that might save your bootlooping Nexus 6P or 5X

The last generation of Nexuses (Nexus? Nexsi?) were unfortunately plagued with hardware problems. The Nexus 6P suffered from early shutdowns due to a faulty battery sensors, and the 5X had the famous bootloop bug (which my own 5X eventually fell victim to). The 6P suffered from bootloops as well, to an extent, but now there's a possible fix for the problem on both phones.

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Weekend poll: Do you have a Google Home?

As the owner of two Google Homes, I find that I'd have a hard time going back to life without these little cylinders, and this weekend I'm wondering just how many of you have picked one up.

While it's true that the vast majority of my use of them is as Cast-enabled speakers for the kitchen and bedroom, I also use them to set timers, ask about the weather, how long it's going to take to get somewhere, and occasionally do unit conversions. I don't have any smart home gadgets - not even one smart light bulb - and I don't anticipate that's going to change any time soon.

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Google Maps' Timeline feature now recognizes skiing

Google Map's Timeline feature is equal parts awesome and creepy. Located in the side menu of the Google Maps app, it shows all the locations you have visited on a given day, complete with what mode of transportation you used and (in some cases) the pictures you took at each location. The app can recognize walking, biking, driving, and now skiing.

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