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Google Cast now fully integrated with Chrome, allows casting to Hangouts

Google has been testing Cast support in Hangouts for over a year, with the most recent sighting back in July. The feature never rolled out widely or was officially acknowledged by Google, until now. Casting directly to Hangouts is coming to everyone soon thanks to full Google Cast integration with Chrome on the desktop.

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New Google Crowdsource app asks you to help with translation and text transcription a few seconds at a time

Do you have 5-10 seconds to spare? Google would like you to spend that time getting something done in its new Crowdsource app. You can apply your human sensibilities to translation and text transcription, and in return you get a sense of satisfaction. Yep, that's it.

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Maru OS mixes a custom ROM with a dockable Debian desktop, and now it's open source

The idea of a smartphone that magically turns into a full PC has been something of a pipedream for a while now. Motorola tried it with its Atrix laptop dock, Canonical is trying something similar with its Ubuntu Unity phone OS that can dock into a monitor. Even Microsoft is giving it a go with Windows Phone devices that can dock into a slimmed-down ARM Windows environment. The latest attempt with an Android base comes from "Maru OS," the brainchild of developer Preetam D'Souza.

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Project Fi is improving tracking for international data usage

Google Fi is one of the best carriers, especially in the United States, when it comes to international roaming. International data costs the same as domestic rates, cellular calls are $0.20 per minute, and there's even free texting. Google Fi also gives you alerts when you're reaching your data cap. Well, except for international data usage.

But all that is changing, and starting now you will receive alerts for international data usage like you would domestically. This is the first phase of improvements to Google Fi's international tracking, according to Reddit user /u/ProjectFiCM (who has been verified to actually be from Google). Phase two, for which a date has not been formally announced, includes adding international data usage to Google Fi's in-app data usage graph.

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Alphabet looks to slash costs of Google Fiber unit and cut workforce in half

Many of us have spent the last five years hoping beyond hope that Google Fiber would be deployed on our home turf. Fiber has been expanding little by little, but the costs are still astronomical. Alphabet CEO Larry Page has reportedly gotten fed up with Google Fiber burning through cash. He's demanded Fiber chief Craig Barratt cut his staff to 500 from 1,000 and reduce the cost of acquiring new customers to one-tenth of current levels.

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[Not Allo] Hangouts Chrome extension updated with new UI

Hangouts on the desktop has always been a mess. First, there was the Chrome extension that always sits in your taskbar/menubar, with separate windows for every conversation. Later, Google released a Chrome app that looked (and functioned) much more like the Android app, with all of your conversations in one window. For some reason, both have remained on the Chrome Web Store.

Recently, Google announced that they will phase out Chrome apps, with Google recommending that existing apps be converted into extensions or Progressive Web Apps. The official Google Apps blog quietly announced today that an updated version of the old Hangouts extension will be available soon, with a user interface that looks almost identical to the current Chrome app (if the screenshot above is accurate).

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[Update: Nexus 5X] 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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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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