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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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Allo is finally rolling out in the Play Store [APK Download]

Google said Allo would be available at some point during the summer, and it's getting in right under the wire. The new chat application is now official, and it's starting to pop up in the Play Store for download. Don't fret if it's not showing up for you quite yet; we have the APK ready for download.

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Pixel Launcher Sneak Peek Part 1: Google's new circular launcher icons [APK Teardown]

If there is anything you can count on to remain the same in Android, it's that Google is continually looking to change it. The visual style of the world's leading mobile operating system is updated every year as new versions are released, but it's with Google's own apps that there are almost constant shifts in what we're seeing. As we all know, Android 7.1 is in the works, and it's expected to be released alongside the upcoming Pixel and Pixel XL phones, which themselves will include a brand new (and much leaked) Pixel Launcher. For its latest daring design move, Google appears to be adopting a new look for the home screen, and it's all about circles.

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New Google app beta adds 'In Apps' home screen shortcut

The latest version of Google's Android app has done away with the Google Now branding, but there's something else lurking inside v6.5. That "In Apps" feature that was first officially announced a few weeks ago and mentioned alongside the LG V20 unveiling has showed up. As the name implies, it lets you search inside your apps more easily.

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Google search on mobile rolling out AMP optimized pages for all supported results

If you have never heard of Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, it's exactly what it sounds like. AMP documents are minimal web pages, with the same basic HTML syntax, designed to load as quickly as possible (even at the cost of some functionality). Web developers can create AMP versions of their webpages, with Google mirroring every page on its own servers for the quickest load times possible. For example, here is the AMP version (left) and normal mobile site (right) from Forbes:

screenshot_20160920-141039 screenshot_20160920-142411

What you can't see is that the AMP page loaded in under a second, and the Forbes page took about 20 seconds.

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Google Drive now has enhanced search with Natural Language Processing

Finding that one important file hidden in a sea of unrelated documents is never fun. Thankfully, Google is seeking to help solve that problem - at least for Google Drive users. Starting today, the Google Drive search bar on the web app can use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help you find documents. For example, searching "show me presentations from last year" brings up all your documents modified in last year with a presentation file type.

nlp

Google claims that this feature will only become more accurate as time goes on, so don't get your hopes up for perfect results quite yet. For example, I have a collection of old operating systems on ISO files, and when I search "iso files," a single JPEG file appears.

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44 new Android Pay banks in the US, plus TSB in the UK

The Android Pay team is seemingly on a roll at the moment, adding many new banks over the past few months, including Chase in the US and Natwest, Santander, and Royal Bank of Scotland (among others) in the UK. Today 44 new US banks are being added, and another big UK bank works as well after being announced as 'coming soon' a week ago.

As far as I can tell, there are no major banks included in this round of additions. We've noted the full list below, so take a look if you're waiting on a particular bank to be added.

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Wi-Fi Assistant is now available in 11 more countries for Fi users, adds ability to secure open networks saved on your device

Project Fi's Wi-Fi Assistant has been in the news more than usual lately, due to its addition to all Nexus devices and its new ability to secure networks that users manually connect to. Now, the team behind Wi-Fi Assistant has added eleven new European countries for Fi users and a new feature that aims to make existing, saved open networks on your device more secure.

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It's official: Google publishes teaser video for October 4th event with obvious phone allusion

Google has now confirmed that the company is holding an event on October 4th, as we first reported on September 1st. The teaser video announcing the date doesn't reveal much but the silhouette of, you guessed it, a phone. Google has also created a webpage for the event at madeby.google.com, reaffirming that the company plans to market its new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones as "made by Google." You can sign up on the event page to be on the mailing list for announcements related to the new Pixel devices.

Though we know the phones are manufactured by HTC, Google's use of the Pixel brand suggests they will be debuted as the first phones designed by the company.

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Non-blurry photos of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL leak

Today is apparently Pixel leak day. After getting some new details on pricing and spotting the phone in a Nest ad, some actual photos of the phones have emerged. The image above (and another below) show both phones side-by-side. This marks the first time we've actually seen the phones in the flesh—er, metal. Whatever.

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