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Google Translate now uses neural machine translation for some languages

Much to my dismay at the time, my high school Spanish teacher could always tell when I used Google Translate. Automatic translation tools often produce results that mostly get the point across, but with strange sentence structures and other quirks. Google is now testing neural machine translations for Google Translate, with the hope of producing more accurate results.

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Google is increasing bug bounties for some security vulnerabilities

Most major tech companies offer 'bug bounties' for major security flaws found in their products. For Google, a company dedicated to cloud services and internet-connected hardware, the bounties ensure its products are as safe as possible. Now Google is increasing the rewards for certain vulnerabilities.

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[Deal Alert] Get $5 off on any book over $5 on Google Play

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Google Play Store. That's right, it has been five years since we saw the last of the Android Market - unless you had a very old device that never received the redesigned store app. To celebrate, Google is taking $5 off any book on Google Play Books - as long as it costs more than $5 to begin with.

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Pixel and Nexus March 2017 factory images and OTAs are live, plus new security bulletin

Factory images for the March 2017 security update for most supported Pixel and Nexus devices are now up on Google's developer sites here and here. That includes the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, Nexus 9 (+LTE), and Nexus 6. Builds for the Pixels are NOF27B for all variants except devices on Rogers, which should use build NOF27C.

The Nexus Player appears to be left out of the March updates at this point.

You can find the accompanying security bulletin here, which as usual lists a significant number of security threats that have now been eliminated.

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New Level 4 Local Guides for Google Maps will no longer receive free 100GB of Drive storage

Local Guides is a program by Google Maps in which you "help others explore the world and get great benefits in return" (Google's words, not mine). Well, it looks like those great benefits are about to become merely average benefits, as Google is completely ditching free Drive storage for new Level 4 Local Guides, who currently get 100GB for one year.

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Google and Samsung will be rivals more than ever in 2017 (opinion)

While Google and Samsung have long sought to talk up their various partnerships over the years, there is little doubt for me that 2017 will be the year in which the two giants go after one another more aggressively than ever before in their history. Samsung actively presents a threat to Android's diversity, and Google must step in to stem the bleeding of an increasingly unprofitable device ecosystem. Samsung's challenges in wearables, television, and smart home also are a major cause for concern to Google as Samsung increasingly leverages its smartphone dominance.

Samsung and Google have been close collaborators from the days of the original Galaxy S, a phone launched almost seven years ago.

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Gmail v7.2 adds your accounts to app shortcuts

A new version of Gmail started rolling out recently, but there were no obvious changes. However, Google just posted an updated changelog that reveals the addition of account links in the app shortcut menu. This could be really handy if you have multiple accounts.

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Google's Rick Osterloh confirms a next-gen Pixel phone coming this year, staying premium

Speaking to AndroidPIT, Google's head of hardware Rick Osterloh confirmed a new Pixel phone is coming this year, and that it will stay "premium." Osterloh added that Google had no interest in producing a low-cost Pixel device, saying the current ecosystem of hardware vendors serves that purpose just fine (he's not wrong).

At this time, we know very little about the new Pixel phone[s], though we have reason to believe there will still be two models based on evidence we've received from our own sources. For now, though, we have nothing else to share on our end.

It seems likely that Google will continue with the small-large formula it introduced with the Pixel and Pixel XL last year, which was itself a riff on Apple and now Samsung's own strategy with their premium-tier smartphones.

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You can now sign up for Google Play Services and Gboard betas on the Play Store

Play Store betas offer a simple way to get the newest features in your favorite apps as soon as possible. Google runs a few of them, and today it's adding Play Services and Gboard to the list. Just a few clicks and you can be running the latest goodies (and maybe some bugs) early.

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Google Search improves searching for special characters in programming languages

If you've ever tried to search the meaning of specific operations and characters in programming languages, you know how frustrating it can be. You'll often have to append the name of the language to the search, or try surrounding it in quotes to only show exact matches.

Now Google has vastly improved searching for special characters and operations in programming languages.

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