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Google teams up with Rogers to bring Jibe RCS texting to Canada

Rich Communications Services, the next-gen upgrade to standard texting and MMS on conventional carriers, might just be the quietest, subtlest trend in 2016. It's being adopted by a ton of mobile-focused tech companies, including Google, in the somewhat nebulous hope that systems more than a decade old can be either replaced or augmented with more capable tech. To that end Google is partnering with Canadian carrier Rogers, the first company to join the Jibe standard in the country.

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Google's 'Brillo' Internet of Things platform is now 'Android Things,' developer preview available for download

Google dipped its toe in the waters of the ambiguously defined "Internet of Things" (IoT) at I/O 2015 when it announced the Brillo operating system. Today, Google has announced Android Things, the new name for Brillo, is ready for public testing. Developers can grab the images right now for several hardware platforms.

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Google acquires smartwatch company Cronologics to work on Android Wear

Google pushed back the release of Android Wear 2.0 a few months ago, which is currently expected to debut in early 2017. There's been a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the platform, but Google isn't giving up. In fact, it just acquired a company (founded by former Googlers) that created a smartwatch OS. It's called Cronologics—or rather it was. The company is being absorbed entirely by the Android Wear team.

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Android Pay officially expands to Japan

Google is slowly but surely expanding its Android Pay platform to more territories. Today Japan gets access - if you're in the country you should be able to download the app from the Play Store for the first time on Android 4.4 or later. Google's retail partners in Japan include McDonalds, Dominoes, Lawson, Mini-Stop, Apita, Family Mart, and Coca-Cola vending machines, along with a handful of Japan-exclusive retailers. 

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Gboard expands keyboard GIF support beyond Android 7.1

One of the few substantive changes in Android 7.1 was the addition of GIFs in the keyboard. When typing in a supported app, you can use the GIF button to drop in an image. This was only working on Android 7.1 previously, but the new Gboard keyboard update changes that.

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Most Wanted: The Google Pixel is Android Police's staff pick for 2016 Smartphone of the Year

In an internal poll of the Android Police staff, the Google Pixel has won overwhelmingly as our choice for smartphone of the year.

As I pick up my Google Pixel XL, nestled in its artwork Live Case (which, annoyingly, is cracking), I don't find myself missing much. I don't miss the almost artful curves and subtle refinement of the Galaxy Note7, the vast display canvas of LG's V20, or the Moto Z's... whatever. The Pixel XL just seems right, and if you were to ask me to give it up for any other smartphone today, I'd politely decline: this, for now, is as good as it gets.

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Project Fi offering $20 'Share the Fi Love' referral credit until January 11

Google's Project Fi has always been about saving money, as long as you don't consume a lot of data. Now Project Fi customers can "Share the Fi Love" with a new referral credit, accessible via the carrier's website. For each new Fi subscriber that uses the referral code, both the new subscriber and the original subscriber get a $20 Fi credit.

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Google Assistant can now control Nest thermostats from the Pixel, not just Google Home

For those of you who have used OK Google in regular Google Search before, then got a Pixel and a Google Home, the inconsistencies in what each of these can and can't do should be baffling. There are so many actions that Assistant struggles with on either the Pixel and Home that good'ol Google Search never had trouble with, and even within Assistant, there's a disconnect between what can be done from the Pixels or from Google Home.

One of the latter inconsistencies is that changing your Nest thermostat's temperature was possible with Google Search before and works with Assistant on Google Home, but for some odd reason, was not interpreted by the Pixel's Assistant.

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[Deal Alert] Save $100 on the 64GB Pixel C and $50 on the Pixel C Keyboard from the Google Store

Android tablets are in a bit of a lull right now, so I understand if you think this may not be the perfect time to invest in a Pixel C. But if you do want a new Android tablet, maybe for yourself or as a Christmas gift for someone, then the Pixel C should be a top contender. It runs Android 7.0 Nougat, has a 10.2" 2560 x 1800 display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, and the Tegra X1 may not be the hottest processor on the bloc, but it does the job fine enough. The big deterrent however, is probably the hefty price tag, but that is changing for the next couple of weeks.

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Most Wanted: The top smartphones of 2016

The end of the year has arrived, and it's time to make our picks for the phones that represented the best of what the [Android] smartphone industry had to offer in 2016. Without further ado, here are the recipients of the Android Police Most-Wanted award in 2016 for "Top Smartphone," in no particular order.

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