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Google Search is testing new Recent tab, Offline and Lite search modes

Google is on a testing spree with server-side changes in the main Search app. Based on feedback from several readers, it looks like there might be changes afoot to the side menu, introducing a new feature and improving on ones we've seen before but that haven't been widely implemented yet.

Recent search tab

Whenever you perform a search within the Google app or widget, you have a couple of ways to access it again: you either remember the exact words you used and try the same search, or you access your Google activity dashboard, or you use the trick of tapping the Google icon to open a consequent search as a separate page to leave the previous one lurking.

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Google Contributor is being discontinued in favor of a newer iteration due in early 2017

Google Contributor was a very interesting proposition for those of us in the web publishing industry. It allowed sites like Android Police to offer readers an option to pay a little bit of money per month to remove some ads and thus have a better experience reading us while also helping us stay in business. It was launched in August of 2015 and has thus far stayed limited to users in the US. Today though, Contributor is being discontinued.

Users are receiving an email that explains that there's a new and improved version of Contributor that will launch "early next year" and that, in the meantime, the current Contributor will be discontinued.

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[Update: Official] Google Keyboard is now Gboard with v6.0 update—includes integrated search, dedicated number row, multiple active languages, and more [APK Download]

Google released a keyboard app for the iPhone some months back called Gboard, and everyone was wondering if it would come to Android. Well, now it has as the v6.0 update to Google Keyboard. It's not only a name change, though. There are a few important new features, including a search shortcut and true multi-language support.

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Google's pop-up Pixel store in NYC is handing out adorable ugly sweaters for your Pixel

If you're in New York City in the next week and own a Google Pixel (or plan on ordering one), you should stop by the Made By Google pop-up location on Mercer Street at Spring in SoHo. Unless you don't want an adorable ugly sweater for your phone, you monster. Google is using a 3D printer knitting machine and yarn to make the little phone garments, and if you're among the first 150 to get one today  you could also get a full-sized human ugly sweater like the one in the hero image above.

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Material design guidelines updated with guidance on cross-platform design, app shortcut icons, help, & more

Since Google introduced material design in 2014, the questions of whether and how to use the design language on other platforms like iOS has lingered. But Google hasn't been a stranger to material on iOS. Inbox users for instance should feel right at home moving between iOS and Android, as many of the interface's core components are shared.

In an update to the material guidelines today, Google is taking a more explicit position on the matter with new guidance for bringing material design to iOS and web. The guidance definitely isn't comprehensive - it doesn't dive very deep into the more nuanced considerations for cross-platform design like platform-specific feature sets, esoteric navigation and action patterns, etc.

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New 'Land Lines' Chrome experiment turns gestures into Google Earth imagery

Sometimes Google makes useful apps and services, and sometimes it just shows off. Chrome Experiments are mostly about showing off. They're excuses for Google to demo the cutting edge technologies it is working on behind the scenes. The latest Chrome experiment is Land Lines, which takes your doodles and matches them up with real locations from Google Earth.

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Google just added a ton of new services to Google Home, most of which you won't care about

Google has been rolling out new features to Home since its release a few weeks back, not all of which have been hugely useful. Today, over two dozen new services have been added to Home—not that you'd ever know unless you went digging around in the settings. Most of them are not very impressive.

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[Update: Email/SMS via labels too] Google Contacts 1.6 adds new Suggestions screen, updated icon, pull-to-refresh, and more [APK Download]

The Android application for Google Contacts has mostly been neglected over the years, but back in August, the 1.5 update introduced an updated interface and new abilities. Contacts 1.6 is now available from the Play Store and APKMirror, with a new icon and a few important changes.

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Netflix and Google Photos integration with Google Home is now official—here's how to enable it

Google Home launched with the ability to cast YouTube videos to your Chromecast devices, but other types of media were off limits. That's changing today with the official launch of Netflix and Google Photos support on Home. You'll need the latest versions of some apps, but Home itself is ready to go as soon as you are.

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Chrome Beta 56 adds official Web Bluetooth API support, experimental WebVR, and more [APK Download]

Chrome 55 marked the arrival of many user-side changes, including Chrome's built-in download manager and saving pages for offline reading. Normally I separate posts about Chrome releases into new features for users and new abilities developers can use, but this release (at least in its current form) is almost completely about new APIs.

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