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Tip: Turn on your Christmas tree with Google Home and a smart plug

Two years ago, when I started getting into smart home stuff, I had a small epiphany when I heard a podcaster say they set up their Christmas tree to turn on and off with their iPhone. Until then, I had considered smart plugs completely useless for me, since we use recessed ceiling lights a lot here in Lebanon and rarely have floor or desk lamps. But a Christmas tree and one you can turn on and off without kneeling, ruffling half the tree, and dropping several decorations in order to unplug and replug the lights?! That was a light bulb moment, if ever there was any.

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[Still no Google Play Movies] Crackle is the newest video service partner for Google Home

It's getting ridiculous at this point. Google Home has been available for over a year and despite the slow initial rollout of video services, things have picked up with Netflix being joined by CBS, HBO NOW, YouTube TV, CW, and most recently Viki. Now there's another one joining the fold of video partners and, no, again, it is not Google Play Movies. It's Crackle.

Crackle is an online streaming service owned by Sony and, according to Wikipedia, it is available in 21 countries. It's free and ad-supported, and it features original content as well as movies and TV shows from partners such as Miramax, MGM, Universal Studios, The Walt Disney Company, and more.

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Google Search now sports options for audiobooks

Audiobooks are great, allowing busier people to listen to books while on the go. Google seems to sympathize with this notion, having just added new options for audiobooks in Google Search. This news comes not long after we discovered mentions of audiobooks in the Play Store v8.4 APK teardown.

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Google's 'Triangle' data-saving app renamed to 'Datally', now available globally

Not everyone has the luxury of an unlimited data plan. Google published a new app back in June, called 'Triangle,' designed to help users micromanage their cellular data usage. Now the app has left beta and become available worldwide, under the new name 'Datally.'

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You can now say multiple commands at once to a Google Home

Now that Google has added multi-user support, the ability to set reminders, and other key functionality to the Google Home, there's not much to complain about. One remaining issue was that you could only say one command at a time. If you wanted to turn off the lights and play something on your TV, you would have to say "turn off the lights," wait for the Home to respond, and then follow up with the casting command.

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Google says that Pixel 2 random reboots may be fixed in Android 8.1 DP2

Lately, we've been hearing reports of Pixel 2s and Pixel 2 XLs randomly rebooting. Having your phone restart itself multiple times throughout the day is obviously pretty infuriating, and many were dissatisfied when they heard that this would be fixed 'in the coming weeks.' However, the issue may have already been resolved in Android 8.1 Oreo's Developer Preview 2, according to a Google employee.

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YouTube Community rolls out to more channels and gets a Stories clone


Last year, YouTube began trialing a new product called Community, aimed at making the video sharing platform a little more social and engaging. Community is a place where creators can share things like text, polls, images, GIFs (and who doesn't enjoy a good GIF?), and more with their subscribers. It's potentially a valuable way for uploaders to engage with their viewers — and arguably a much better one than the virtual septic tank that is YouTube's comment section — but unfortunately one that was only available to a select handful of channels.

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Google research project uses AI to detect someone spying on your messages

Google is constantly working on projects with interesting potential, but we rarely get to hear about them at such an early stage in development as this latest one. Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff have been developing software on a Pixel phone that uses the front-facing camera to spot someone looking over your shoulder at the screen.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: DP2 restores the sRGB toggle in Developer options

Google can be rather indecisive at times, which often leads to a cycle of adding and removing things from different versions of Android – usually after a user backlash of some sort. With the first developer preview of Android 8.1, Google removed the 'Picture color mode' sRGB toggle from original Pixels and Nexus phones. You'll be pleased to learn that order has now been restored.

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Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 brings Pixel C launcher to parity with Pixel phones [APK Download]

Though tablets often feel like the unloved member of the Android family, the Pixel C has gradually received features that first debuted in the Pixel series of phones. Android 8.1 Developer Preview 2 carries over some features from the Pixel launcher for phones. While it seems like it should be the other way around—the Pixel C was released in December 2015, 10 months before the Pixel phones—tablets are not the realm of innovation. Foremost among the changes is the updated menu when you long-press an app in the launcher.

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