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[Update: Google too] T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon offer free calls to Turkey following Istanbul airport attack

I wish I didn't have to sit here and write these kinds of posts. I wish we weren't living in times where companies are compelled to offer free calls to countries following tragedies like these (instead of celebrations or national holidays or happy events), especially when they're conducted by fellow man and not inevitable fits of nature. But here we are, mourning another terrorist attack that has taken the lives of 36 persons and injured over 140 in Turkey's Ataturk Airport in Istanbul.

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[Update: 6.8] Latest Play Store 6.7 Enables The Beta Testing Features For Some Users [APK Download]

Last week, the Play Store rolled up some beta testing features in its version 6.7 update, but they quickly disappeared as Google reverted them back in a server-side change. The company later announced these features at I/O as part of a series of improvements to Google Play that also include lots of developer console changes.

Now it seems that the beta testing options have started showing up again for users on version 6.7.12 of the Play Store.

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Google Keep update includes automatically generated search topics [APK download]

It's update Wednesday, but it's been a bit of a slow one so far. Things are picking up with the Google Keep update. It's rolling out now with a revamped search feature, though. With this update, you'll be able to access automatically generated search topics without typing a thing. No update showing on your devices yet? We've got you covered.

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Austria gets access to Google Play TV shows, international support still lagging behind Play Movies

Congratulations, Austrian readers, you're the latest ones to get access to paid TV shows on Google Play. And they're sincere congratulations, too - it's still a pretty small club. Right now there are only eight countries that can stream TV via the Play Store (the others being the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan). Compare that to over one hundred countries that have access to Google Play Movies, as listed on the Play Store's help page. Austria itself was given access to movies almost two years ago.

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Google and M-Lab are testing a new internet speed test directly in Search

Google wants as many people to use the web as possible, because at this point it can reliably count on more or less every internet user earning the company revenue. Having a decent connection is a big part of that, and while there are plenty of adequate speed tests available, apparently Google wants one right in the search interface. To that end, they're testing an integrated speed test created with the help of Measurement Lab.

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Google rolls out new ad settings tool to 'personalize' the ads you see

Google makes most of its money from showing ads, both on its own services and on third-party sites running Google's ad network. When you use Google products, you have to be okay with some of the things you do being used to inform the ads you see. Today, Google is making a new tool available to users that lets you see and control the information Google uses to show you ads, but it comes with an (optional) expansion of Google's advertising personalization.

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Report: Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk wants to drag US public transit and traffic management into the 21st century

American cities do a lot of things well, but public transit isn't one of them. Get outside the major metropolitan areas on the East Coast, and you're pretty much hosed without a car - try to treat cities in the Midwest or Texas or California like New York, and you'll soon walk right through your shoes. Even if you do have your own vehicle, parking and traffic can become your personal nightmare. According to a new report in the Guardian, one of the many subsidiaries inside Google's new Alphabet parent company is working on fixing that.

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LyricFind and Google partner up for song lyrics in search results and Google Play Music

The main reasons I can speak and write in English so well (or at least I think I do), despite it being my third language, are song lyrics and movie subtitles. Teenage-me used to spend hours listening to American music and watching American movies, trying to understand what was being said, then resorting to hit the subtitle button on my VCD player (I'm old) or to go to LetsSingIt to find the lyrics. They helped me get pronunciation right like no book or college course ever could.

I still love checking out lyrics to my favorite songs, even if I can pretty much understand everything, but there are instances when words or sentences aren't that clear or can be interpreted in different manners.

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Google+ social network turns 5 years old, wants a pony and a plastic rocket for its birthday

Many happy returns, Google+, you are five today. Google's home-built social network was launched on June 28th, 2011, competing with the likes of Facebook and Twitter with a unique "circle" approach to contact management and deep integration with Google services. Many predicted it wouldn't last this long (rest in peace, Google Wave), but Google+ has proven surprisingly resilient.

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Google puts Expeditions, the VR app designed for classrooms, in the Play Store after long trial period

Google first talked about Expeditions way back at I/O 2015, after which they began trying it out with a large number of classrooms worldwide. Using the magic of VR, Expeditions would allow educators to take their students on realistic escapades into far-off lands. At long last, Google is making the app available to anyone who wants it.

Using a viewer like Google Cardboard and a smartphone, people can go on (self-)guided tours of places like Machu Picchu, Antarctica, the International Space Station, and even the now-defunct studio of The Colbert Report.

expeditions3 expeditions4 expeditions5

To go as a group, it works like an old-fashioned LAN party.

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