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Google Launches Hands Free Payment Pilot Program In San Francisco's South Bay

Google long ago teased Hands Free, a way to make mobile payments without even having to reach for your phone. Now it's launching a pilot program in the southern San Francisco Bay Area.

Hands Free uses Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi, and location services to communicate with cash registers inside participating stores. Right now those partners are McDonald's, Papa John's, and some local restaurants.

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Google Appears To Be Testing A New, Simpler Layout For Ratings In The Play Store

Google is constantly making changes to the Play Store layout, and these tweaks are often server-side. A new line here, a different dialog box there, and the experience changes. This time, Google appears to be testing a layout for reviews that takes away a dialog box when you leave a review. Instead, the review dialog is embedded in the page.

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Google Play Carrier Billing Comes To Vietnam And Kuwait

Direct carrier billing is one of the easiest ways users can buy apps, games, and other content on the Play Store. In countries where credit cards aren't readily accessible, where gift cards haven't been circulated, and where other methods of payments are either unavailable or not so attainable for everyone, having your operator handle the transaction for you makes things a lot simpler (although usually a bit more expensive thanks to added fees).

Two countries have recently seen direct carrier billing enabled for them: Vietnam and Kuwait. In Vietnam, the top mobile network Viettel has enabled carrier billing (they even have a friendly how-to on their site), and even though Google's support document doesn't mention it, it looks like the second largest operator MobiFone will do the same soon.

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Google I/O 2016 Site Is Live, Registration Starts March 8th

Google's annual developer conference is now less than 77 days away; at least that's what the new Google I/O 2016 website says. The website also says that registration begins 9AM on March 8th and goes through March 10th. As always, tickets will be in very short supply.

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[Update: South Korea, Japan] Chromecast 2015 And Chromecast Audio Launch In Australia And New Zealand For $59 AUD And $69 NZD Respectively

We all love the Chromecast thanks to its cheap price and almost endless potential to turn any TV into a smart streaming machine. Last year, Google released an update to the original Chromecast with a few minor improvements as well as a Chromecast Audio that works with all Aux speakers. Now these new gadgets are available for purchase in the southern part of our planet: Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia, the Chromecast 2015 and Chromecast Audio will be priced at $59 AUD (approx.

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[Exclusive] An Early Look At Android N's Redesigned Notification Shade And Quick Settings Panel

Google changed the style of Android's notification shade and quick settings with the release of Android 5.0 Lollipop, and based on an early version of Android N we've seen, it's changing things up again. The look of Android N's notification shade is being altered, but it's more than cosmetic. Notifications will include more info, and quick settings are finally creeping in. The full quick settings UI is getting a new paginated style, and editing tiles will be easier.

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Google Adds VR Section To Google Store, Starts Selling View-Master And C1-Glass Cardboard Viewers

Virtual reality is suddenly a big deal again. It's like the early 90s, but with devices you might actually want to buy. Google is ramping up its Cardboard VR promotion with a dedicated VR area of the Google Store. Featured for sale are the View-Master and C1-Glass VR viewers.

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The Official NBC Android App Now Supports Chromecast Video Streaming

The adoption of Chromecast as a de facto streaming standard was rapid, helped in no small part by the fact that it was the cheapest streaming gadget on the market which was immediately compatible with both major mobile phone systems. But not everyone leaps to support new tech, and old media giants like the National Broadcasting Company have never been accused of being nimble. So it took NBC the better part of three years to support Google's streaming standard, so what - it's not like they're a multi-million dollar entertainment company backed by an international supercorp.

Oh wait, they are.

The Chromecast support in NBC's official network app doesn't come with any other notable changes, though video streaming appears to work with all of the live and pre-recorded video within.

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Google App v5.10 Adds Option To Open Links In Chrome Custom Tabs

The Google App's version 5.10 update rolled out to the beta channel yesterday with a new waiting animation, but one change that was lurking behind is the option to open links from search results and Now cards in Chrome Custom Tabs instead of redirecting to the full Chrome browser (or your other default browser).

The option was first discovered by Cody in the APK teardown of version 5.5, but it appears to have just been activated now in the app. But, as with all things Google, there are a few asterisks attached to when it does and doesn't work. I have a Nexus 5X (Marshmallow 6.0.1) and an LG G4 (Lollipop 5.1), both running the Google App 5.10.23 and an old version of Play Services 8.4.89.

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[Deal Alert] Nexus 5X 16GB Drops To Its Lowest Price Yet, Grab One For Just $269.99 On eBay

The price on the Nexus 5X just keeps on getting better and better. Today the price has fallen to a new low of just $269.99 on eBay. Here is a quick rundown of the specs for the three of you readers who have never heard of this device before.

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Hexa-Core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal Memory
  • 5.2" 1920x1080 LCD Touchscreen Display
  • 12.3MP Rear and 5MP Front Cameras
  • 2700mAh Battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Those are pretty mid-range by today's standards, but $270 is a mid-range price to match. If prompt, frequent Android updates and a budget price are your priorities in deciding which new phone to buy, then this is certainly a great option.

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