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Google+ is now a core service on Google for Work (or Google Cloud)

For months, we have seen Hangouts shift from Google's primary messaging service to being focused on business use. The official Google for Work (which is in the process of becoming Google Cloud) blog has announced that Google+ is moving to the same purpose, and is now a core feature for businesses to use.

Starting immediately, Google+ will have "the same technical support and service level commitments as any other core service, like Gmail or Google Drive," according to the blog post. This shows that Google is serious about the future of Google+, perhaps not with a focus on the average user, but no doubt both parties will benefit from continued support from Google.

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Pixel Launcher and Android 7.1 Sneak Peek Part 2: The return of Launcher Shortcuts [APK Teardown]

Part 1 of this teardown broached the subject of a new set of circular launcher icons Google is creating for use on the homescreen, possibly just for the Pixel Launcher. It likely speaks to future plans for the look and feel of Android, but there's no denying that new icons are cosmetic – they don't actually do anything. Part 2 of this teardown switches over to the functional side as evidence shows Launcher Shortcuts will return with Android 7.1.

The Launcher Shortcuts API was introduced with the second Android N Developer Preview and quickly gained attention as a spiritual copy of the Home Screen Quick Actions introduced with iOS 9, and inspired many theories that pressure-sensitive screens would become a standard in Android.

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Google's Pixel phones will be IP53 rated, meaning no dunking your Pixel or hosing it down

Hopes of highly water-resistant Pixel phones have, according to a reliable source we've trusted in the past, been dashed. Google's new handsets will be advertised as having IP53 dust and water resistance, which essentially amounts to almost no enhanced water resistance at all. For reference, the HTC 10 also has this rating, and is not marketed as being water-resistant.

The "3" in IP53 means a device will not experience damaging water ingress when upright at an angle not to exceed 60 degrees from vertical while being sprayed by relatively low-pressure (somewhere between 7-20PSI or 50 to 150kPa) water. This probably means very little to you phrased this way, but IPX3 is essentially saying the device will not experience water ingress (i.e., water won't get inside) when held at a relatively upward angle in your hand during use in very heavy rain or when lightly splashed.

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Active Theory releases the paper planes demo from Google I/O 2016 on the Play Store

If you can remember, Google displayed a Paper Planes interactive map at the Google I/O keynote before the actual presentation began. Users in the audience could catch and throw paper planes, with the planes themselves flying all across the world. If you need a refresher, this is what it looked like at I/O.

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Inbox starts asking if you want to share the photo you just took

Google's Inbox email client aims to be more automated than Gmail. It bundles messages and suggests replies for you. Now, it's making it easier to attach photos to your emails. If you took a photo recently, new emails will get a handy link to add it as an attachment.

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Allo vs. Hangouts: Should you make the move?

Google has dug itself a deep hole with Hangouts by integrating multiple messaging protocols and a myriad of little-used features. It's become a lumbering beast that often lags behind other Google apps in adopting new features as Android itself evolves. Enter, Allo—Google's new consumer-facing messaging client. It's faster, simpler, and it has Google Assistant built-in. So, how do these apps stack up? Let's find out.

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Google adds a Belkin 27W USB-C car charger to the Google Store, but it costs a whopping $45

If you drive a car and have a phone, you've probably got a car charger somewhere - they're very useful for a top-up of juice or if you use the phone for navigation or music while driving. Presumably, Google's realised the same thing, as it's added a Belkin car charger to the store.

The charger, which was announced a few months ago, is 27W - this means it can charge up to 70% faster. Like the charger that comes in the 6P or 5X box, it supports USB Power Delivery. It can also charge laptops or tablets, such as the Chromebook Pixel or the Pixel C, faster than lower wattage chargers can.

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Allo's weird SMS support explained, and other answers

The burning question on everyone's mind when Allo was released - "can you send SMS?" The answer, as seemingly common with Google products, is "it's complicated." Allo-w me to explain the answer, and more of Allo's quirky behavior, below.

What happens when I send a text to someone without Allo?

When you tap a contact that has not yet registered for Google Allo, you are presented with the above message warning that you are sending messages through SMS. When you send a message, the recipient receives the following text from a random five-digit number (at least in my tests):

[Your full name] ([Your phone number]) added you on Google Allo to chat.

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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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Allo is finally rolling out in the Play Store [APK Download]

Google said Allo would be available at some point during the summer, and it's getting in right under the wire. The new chat application is now official, and it's starting to pop up in the Play Store for download. Don't fret if it's not showing up for you quite yet; we have the APK ready for download.

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