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American Express adds Android Pay support in the UK

It's been a while since we've had any good UK related Android Pay news, the last tidbit being the addition of Metro Bank to the service back in February. You may have seen that American Express got Android Pay support in Canada recently, something I was more than a little bit jealous of as I've been waiting to have my Amex on my phone for ages now. Finally, my calls have been answered, and Amex cards now work with Google's mobile payments app here in the UK.

This makes me happy.

I didn't get a notification about this, which I might have expected given my Amex card is set up in my Google account.

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[Deal Alert] Get a Google Home and Chromecast bundle for $99.99 ($65 off), or a Chromecast alone for $25 ($10 off)

Is your house missing some smart home essentials? Well now, you can knock that problem out for cheap. Google via eBay has both a Google Home and Chromecast 2nd gen bundle for just $99.99 - a savings of $65 over their combined MSRPs. And if you just want a Chromecast, you can pick up either the standard 2nd gen model or the Audio for only $25, which is $10 off the regular price.

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Google says the Allo desktop client is coming in a "few more weeks"

Allo is actually a really nice application, but there are simply too many missing features for me to use it in any meaningful capacity. One of those missing features is a desktop client, which was first revealed by Nick Fox (Google VP of Communications) in February. In May, he tweeted that the web client was still "a month or two from public release." It's been about a month and a half since that statement, but the Allo desktop client is still a ways off.

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Google confirms speed limits on Google Maps only available in two areas

For years, Google Maps didn't support speed limits at all, a massively helpful feature on any navigation software. This finally changed last year, when the speed limit began to appear on Maps for Android Auto (and later the phone app). But it hasn't been available everywhere, and now Google has finally confirmed which areas have the feature.

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New Chromecast Ultra firmware update adds "video smoothness" feature, turns it on by default

Resolution is important on displays, but for now, there's not really much point obsessing about it given that most consumer TVs and many monitors now have 4K screens onboard. However, frame rate is just as crucial, if not more so; I'd much rather have a slightly lower-res stream with a more stable fps count. Google seems to have had the same thought process, given its latest "video smoothness" feature addition to the 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra with firmware version 90308.

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Google is working on a new touchscreen-optimized launcher for Chromebooks

In the last two weeks, Google has been revealing a ton of new features for Chromebooks. The latest reveal is the biggest change in recent memory, though. Google is working on a new launcher for Chrome OS that is built for touch. With Chromebooks providing most of the same utility that Android tablets do now, these further optimizations for a finger-pokin' interface are more than welcome. 

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Android platform distribution numbers for July 2017 show another modest increase for Nougat

Google has provided updated numbers on what versions of Android are out there in the world, and again Nougat is showing a respectable, though not impressive rise. Nougat has increased by 2% across both versions, which is a bit weaker than last month's 2.4% rise. Some older versions of Android saw larger than expected decreases, but Nougat has still fallen behind the pace set by Marshmallow last year.

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Google Home is coming to France, and it (predictably) speaks French now

Get ready to say "bonjour" to Google Home, French speakers. Google's Assistant-powered speaker will soon be available for purchase in France, and as you might expect, that means Assistant can also speak French now. This comes on the heels of Google Wifi launching in France late last month.

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Google's new Blocks for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive lets you model and share 3D objects with VR

Today Google has announced Blocks, a new tool for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift for making 3D objects. Think Google's Tilt Brush, but with a 3D spin. As the name might suggest, Google's motivation seems to have been making 3D modeling easier for everyone. Crafting objects literally with your hands should make Blocks much more approachable for users compared to the regular keyboard-and-mouse-driven method on a 2D screen. 

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Google Maps now lets you contribute accessibility details

Google Maps began showing data on a location's wheelchair accessibility late last year, and now it's going a step further. Users are invited to help Google build a more robust database of accessibility details in Maps by adding their own observations. You even get contributor points for it.

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