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Chromecast Preview Program lets you test drive new Chromecast firmware before they're released

Back in May, Cody unveiled strings in the Google Cast app version 1.15 that pointed to an upcoming "Chromecast Preview Program." It was clear from the code that the app would start offering an opt-in option for users to test new versions of the Chromecast firmware before they're released to the public. But for months, the Preview Program was nowhere to be found in the app.

In the last couple of days, we've received a couple of tips from users telling us that the option has now shown up for them inside the Google Cast app. And now it's finally been officially announced by the Google Cast team.

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[Update: Android app too] Google Maps' speed limits start showing up while driving... on Android Auto

There are some missing features in Android and some of Google's apps that are simply incomprehensible. Speed limits are one of them. In countries where speed limits are enforceable by the law and mandatory to respect (ie not here in Lebanon), it's quite unfathomable to me that you would be using a routing and navigation app that didn't show you the speed limit of each road you were taking so you could drive safely and lawfully.

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Android Pay comes today to Natwest, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster Bank in the UK

When Google announced the arrival of Android Pay on Chase in the US to the relieved sighs of many a customer and Android user, it also let us know that some new banks would be joining the ranks in the UK. At the time, the news was limited to Santander and TSB, although some avid British users had unearthed signs of support for others like Natwest, but it wasn't official nor was it functional yet.

Now, it is both. Google has updated its announcement to say that Android Pay is now available for customers of Natwest, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster bank.

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Pixel Launcher works with Google Calendar to show the correct date, changes some UI elements

It's been a few hours since the Pixel Launcher was leaked, and from the screenshots we saw initially, it didn't seem like much had changed in the name's transition from Nexus to Pixel. However, since downloads became available, we've discovered more and more subtle tweaks to the interface. Arguably the biggest change is the integration of the date into Google Calendar's icon.

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Grab the leaked new Pixel Launcher here [APK Download]

A few hours ago, LlabTooFeR tweeted out some screenshots of the launcher formerly known as the Nexus Launcher. On the surface, the Pixel Launcher looks nearly identical to the Nexus Launcher, save for an icon change and a version number change; however, we have a post in the works on some new integration between the Google Calendar icon in the app drawer and Pixel Launcher.

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Google is testing a crazy new bottom bar interface in Maps

The current version of Google Maps has an Explore bar at the bottom of the screen, giving you access to nearby points of interest. It appears that some people have started seeing a different version of that bottom bar with options for seeing locations, driving, or transit details. It looks rather handy.

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Latest Google Maps beta shows distance to locations in search

A few days ago, we posted a teardown of the latest Google Maps beta. Another minor, but much appreciated, change in this beta version is that distances now appear alongside results in search.

This is a very minor feature, but definitely one worth mentioning. Most of the time when I searched for locations, I had to look at the map myself and figure out which was the closest. As you would expect, it shows the distance in either Imperial 'Murican or Metric units, depending on your preference.

googlemaps-screenshot

If you want to try out the beta release, you can download the APK from APKMirror.

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Like them or not, Google's Pixel phones will be the iPhone competitor we've demanded for years

Last year, I attended the launch of the Nexus 5X and 6P. Google also introduced the Pixel C, a refreshed Chromecast, and the new Chromecast Audio at this event to an audience of maybe 100 to 150 journalists. For the biggest company in tech, it felt like a small affair, and if I'm honest, one without much sense of occasion. We were seated in an artsy venue in San Francisco in a room that had been converted into a sort of banquet hall. Front and center, there was a small stage. I watched Sundar Pichai walk up that stage to greet us good morning, much in the way the Senior Vice President Of Team Building would kick off ManageCamp '16 at the Hilton.

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The Nexus Launcher is being renamed Pixel Launcher, and it's not hard to figure out why

Following solid rumors that the next Google flagship smartphones will be designated Pixel and Pixel XL, we now have even more substantial evidence that the beloved Nexus nameplate will be retired. ROM developer LlabTooFeR has posted several screenshots of the rebadged launcher on Twitter.

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Chrome Dev and Beta add a Read it later/Keep tab feature to Custom Tabs

Read it later apps are massively popular, with examples such as Instapaper or Pocket being among the most downloaded apps on Google Play. Google is also getting into the game now, albeit in a different way, with the Chrome team adding a read it later feature to the development versions of the browser.

As alluded to, both Chrome Dev and Chrome Beta have this, but in slightly different guises.

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