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Chromebook Pixel (2015) and Acer R11 getting Play Store Dev Channel updates now

Last month, the Chromebook Flip became the first Chrome OS device to gain access to Android apps and the Google Play Store. Today, it appears that rollout has continued as Google said it would, with the Chromebook Pixel (2015) and Acer R11. The build is still based on developer channel release version 53, though the Pixel 2015's version number specifically is 53.0.2785.15.

If you own one of these devices and are wondering if you should move to the developer channel (assuming you haven't already), let me give you my quick take on the state of affairs with Android apps on Chrome OS at the moment.

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Google Keyboard v5.1 (originally bundled with N preview) is rolling out in the Play Store [APK Download] [Update: Changelog]

Google gave us a little sneak preview of Google Keyboard v5.1 in the Android N dev preview back in May. You could sideload that APK on other versions of Android to get the new themes, but now the final build appears to be hitting the Play Store. As with all Google releases, this one is staged. We've got the new version available for sideloading, though.

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Incremental Nexus OTA update ZIPs with July's security patches are available for download

The latest factory images and OTA ZIPs bringing July's security patches to Nexus devices are ready for download. Thing is, those files are beefy, and they can take a while to download. Want to take a quicker route? Try downloading an incremental OTA ZIP instead.

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Project Fi ups international data to 3G speeds, offers $150 off Nexus 6P for new signups

Google announced today on the official Android blog that Project Fi's international data roaming speeds will be up to 10-20x faster than before. "Before" was previously advertised as around 256kbps, so this brings speeds up to or around 2560-5120kbps (2.5-5Mbps, basically), which is pretty much in line with what you can expect on 3G in most countries. This should take Fi's international data from "usable in a pinch" to "usable."

The same pricing applies as always: you pay for the data you use abroad at the same rate you'd pay for that data in the US. The new data speeds come courtesy of the addition of Three to the Fi network.

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[Deal Alert] Huawei Nexus 6P 64GB and 128GB down 26% on Amazon, starting $403.75

Far be it from me to tell you what smartphone to own, but if you were looking at getting a Nexus device, I'm going to go on a limb and advise you to skip the Nexus 6 and 5X and even the 32GB Nexus 6P, and go straight to one of these 64GB or 128GB Nexus 6P deals on Amazon.

As part of its Prime Day Deal, Amazon is discounting these models of the Nexus 6P by 26%. If memory serves me right, the biggest discount we've seen on the Nexus 6P is $80 off plus a $50 gift card from B&H.

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It's very likely the 2016 Nexus phones will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 processor

Qualcomm officially announced the Snapdragon 821 processor this morning, and with it there has been growing speculation about just which phones will be among the first to feature the new alleged king of the chipset hill. Based on information from multiple and reliable sources, we believe it is extremely likely both of Google's upcoming Nexus phones, Sailfish and Marlin, will be using the Snapdragon 821.

The chipset, internally known by its model designation MSM8996 Pro, is claimed to be up to 10% faster than the outgoing 820. Such a modest speed increase points to a less significant chip release for Qualcomm, one likely focusing on honing and optimizing overall performance and efficiency than in seeking to introduce new technologies.

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[Update: Pixel C] Nexus factory images and OTA ZIPs with July's security updates are now available

The Factory images and OTA ZIPs for July 2016 are now available for the full line of supported Nexus hardware (still waiting for the Pixel C). They're a little behind schedule this month, possibly because it was Independence Day in the United States on Monday, or possibly to leave time for some late-breaking security patches that may have been added in the eleventh hour. The Android Security Bulletin covers the list of vulnerabilities addressed with this set of updates, and for the first time it includes two separate lists: one dated July 1st and the other dated July 5th.

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[Team Coco FTW] Get a free Google Cardboard courtesy of Conan O'Brien (US only)

So you don't live in Australia and couldn't get a free Cardboard viewer from that Optus giveaway a couple of days ago. Maybe you live in the US — actually our Analytics tell us that a nice majority of you do — and you'd like a chance to get your free VR viewer nonetheless. Maybe you're a fan of Conan O'Brien and maybe you've missed that Cardboard giveaway that he did last year. Now's your chance to pounce on your coveted freebie and grab it.

Team Coco is giving away Google Cardboard VR viewers again this July, although the design is different and less playful than last year's orange haired cute avatar.

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Google Maps Local Guides cuts Level 4 free Drive storage from 1TB to 100GB

Back in November of 2015, Google expanded its Local Guides program with a points and level system that introduced new rewards for each tier. At 200 points, you would reach the coveted Level 4 and receive 1TB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years. Now Google is backing away from that promise and lowering the amount of free storage to 100GB only.

It might be that Google Maps' recent updates that incentivize you with notifications to post photos, reviews, and answer questions about places you're visiting have had a positive effect and Google is seeing more and more people reach Level 4.

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Google announces text translation, content discovery, and barcode scanning in Google Now on Tap

Google Now on Tap sounded really cool when it was announced as part of Android M, but the reality of using it has been largely disappointing so far. Google has been adding new features in an attempt to make On Tap more engaging, and today there are three additions. In the latest round of updates, you'll have easier access to translation, content discovery, and barcode scanning.

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