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Google+ Web Preview now default look, Google+ Classic going away

Back in November last year, Google rolled out a new-look Google+ and deemed it a 'preview' of what was to come. It was generally assumed that at some point this would replace what has become known as 'Google+ Classic,' and that day has now arrived, with the announcement that the Web preview will be the default look from today onwards.

This isn't entirely a surprise: last week Google issued a reminder saying that today was the day, so we were prepared for this eventuality. That said, I personally find the Web preview better than the Classic interface - I much prefer the material look over the somewhat out-of-place design and general jankiness of Google+ Classic.

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Chromebook Pixel 2 discontinued, no replacement announced yet

The Chromebook Pixel 2015 (or the Pixel 2, as it is more commonly known), is just as interesting a device as its predecessor. It offers a fantastic build quality, touchscreen, dual USB Type-C ports, and more recently, the full Google Play Store. The Pixel 2015 was sold in two configurations, the base model for $999 discontinued in April, and another at the $1,299 price point with a faster Core i7 CPU, 64GB of on-board storage, and 16GB of RAM.

But now we say goodbye to the Pixel 2015. It has been out of stock since at least August 28, usually indicating the end of a product's life on the Google Store.

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PSA: Google Photos on the web now handles burst photos correctly

Google updated the Photos app a few months ago to add proper support for burst images, and it looks like the web version has now done the same. We're not sure when this happened, but the change seems to have gone mostly unnoticed. So, we're just letting you know.

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Google is testing a new Inbox search UI, may be first indication of "virtual assistant"

Another day, another A/B test has come our way at Android Police. This time, Google is testing out a new Inbox search UI, replacing the dropdown search menu that's been ever-present since Inbox launched.

The UI shows three categories: contacts, businesses, and refinements. Contacts and businesses show people or companies that you regularly contact, while refinements highlights other options you may be likely to search for, such as 'sent emails from last week,' or 'attachments.' These are side-scrolling, with what looks like six options in each row, although it could be more. It's possible this is the first indication of the "Assistant" feature Cody unearthed in a recent teardown, but we can't really be sure.

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[APK Download] Google Contacts 1.5 adds hamburger menu, labels, and more

Google Contacts is a great way to keep your contacts organized, but the Android version always lacked some features from the web app. The Android app has always been simplistic in nature, with the UI consisting of just a constant stream of contacts and an Add button. Google Contacts 1.5 is a welcome improvement, so let's dive in!

User interface changes

The hamburger menu in action.

The hamburger menu in action.

Previously, the Google Contacts app used just two tabs, Favorites and All. This has been replaced by a hamburger menu with more options. There are options for viewing contacts and duplicates (which we will get to later), as well as filtering by labels and accounts.

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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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