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Google Home team is investigating issues with playing uploaded and purchased music

Last month, Google Home got a feature many users had been longing for since launch: the ability to play songs uploaded to or purchased from Google Play Music. Before that, you could only play songs in Google's catalog, which is kind of useless if you're not a subscriber. Unfortunately, it seems that users are experiencing mixed success with the new feature and Google is now investigating the problems.

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Google Play Services passes five billion downloads, becomes first app to do so

Five billion is a big number. If you combine the populations of the top 10 most-populated countries on Earth, you get less than that number. The best-selling game console of all time, the PlayStation 2, only sold enough units to cover 3.2% of five billion. Google Play Services has now passed five billion downloads on the Play Store, becoming the first app to do so.

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[Update: Live again, with updated codes] Deal Alert: Caseology is having a sale on Amazon, including $4 cases for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Caseology is a trusted and well-reviewed case maker, so a sale of its products on Amazon may well be of interest to some of you. Particularly those of you who've so far managed not to break that beautiful screen on your Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+, as there are cases for those devices starting at $4, as well as many others.

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[Deal Alert] Get a Verizon/unlocked Pixel refurb for $399.99, Pixel XL for $499.99

Despite being nearly a year old, Google's Pixel and Pixel XL still haven't seen very many non-carrier related discounts. It's honestly pretty impressive how well they've held their value, but that's not good news for those of you who don't want to pay full price. Don't worry - Woot has refurbished units of both the 5.0" and 5.5" models for just $399.99 and $499.99, respectively.

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Google is recruiting Google+ beta testers

Do you have unusually strong opinions about Google+ and what Google should be doing with it? Then today is your lucky day. Google is seeking people to help test new features and give feedback on the direction of G+. Not all who apply will be accepted, though.

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[Free Alert] Google is handing out free $1 Google Play credits to select accounts

Everyone likes free things, right? If you are one of the many billions of people who do, you should enjoy this Deal Alert, which I have dubbed "Free Alert." Google is giving free $1 Play credit, which can be used anywhere on the Google Play Store, to select users.

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Multiple Google Home users are reporting issues with Philips Hue light bulbs

A number of users are having difficulties controlling their Philips Hue light bulbs via Google Home, the help forum for which is brimming with activity on the subject. The problem seems to manifest itself when trying to turn the lights on and off with a voice command, which leads the Google Assistant to respond with, "Sorry I can't do that, I'm learning every day."

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Google confirms that YouTube Red and Google Play Music will merge

Google has a tendency to create multiple products that end up competing with each other, to some degree. Android and Chrome OS, Google's handful of messaging clients, the list goes on. But two of Google's subscription services, YouTube Red and Google Play Music, will soon merge into one offering.

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Google is ditching Instant Search because most searches happen on mobile

Google announced an incredible, revolutionary thing in 2010. No, not Android 2.2 Froyo. I'm talking about Instant Search, a feature that would load suggestions and search results dynamically as you typed. It was hailed as a major advance in 2010, but today Google announced Instant Search is dead, and it was mobile that killed it.

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Chromebooks may soon sync your SMS notifications

Google can't seem to decide on a chat protocol and stick with it for any length of time, but SMS has been around for years and will continue to exist long into the future. The problem: it's tied to your phone. Some third-party apps can sync notifications to your computer, but Google looks to be preparing a built-in SMS connection for Chrome OS.

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