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WiFi Assistant can secure manually connected non-secure networks as of Play services 9.6

After rolling out to new countries and devices without a Project Fi SIM just under a week ago, Google has made Wi-Fi Assistant even more useful. The Assistant can now connect to non-secure public networks that are connected to manually, instead of only being able to secure networks that it connects to automatically.

This solves one of those caveats mentioned in the post last week. Without this functionality, WiFi Assistant could only secure a network if it identified it was open and could connect automatically, which is by no means certain. However, as of Play services 9.6, if you're hunting for open WiFi networks and connect manually, Assistant will now offer to secure it with the VPN, meaning you can browse the web, check emails, stream music, or anything else without worrying if your connection is going to be compromised.

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Google says Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 LTE Nougat updates will be rolling out "in the coming weeks"

Android 7.0 Nougat was officially released over three weeks ago, and people instantly went insane over the lack of any factory or OTA images available for the Nexus 6 (but not so much for the Nexus 9 LTE, since they didn't sell too many). We reached out to Google, and it seems like you guys are gonna have to wait for just a few more weeks.

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Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the first phone with integrated Project Tango, delayed to "fall"

Google's Project Tango, that awesome tech that allows a gadget to map out three-dimensional spaces, is really cool. But it's taking its damn sweet time getting here: Tango was first announced over two years ago and offered as a developer kit tablet last summer, and the first Tango-capable smartphone was supposed to arrive from Lenovo this month. That seems less than likely now - the store page for the Phab 2 Pro has been adjusted from "coming this summer" to "coming this fall."

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YouTube is testing new Community feature for supplementary content

I'll admit, YouTube has added some strange features lately, and at first glance this seemed like yet another useless addition. Starting with a few select channels, a new 'Community' tab will appear on the channel's profile, both on mobile apps and the desktop site. This essentially works like a social feed for the channel, allowing content creators to share text, images, GIFs, livestreams, and more straight through the YouTube app. You can even choose to receive push notifications for Community posts.

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Chromecast Preview Program lets you test drive new Chromecast firmware before they're released

Back in May, Cody unveiled strings in the Google Cast app version 1.15 that pointed to an upcoming "Chromecast Preview Program." It was clear from the code that the app would start offering an opt-in option for users to test new versions of the Chromecast firmware before they're released to the public. But for months, the Preview Program was nowhere to be found in the app.

In the last couple of days, we've received a couple of tips from users telling us that the option has now shown up for them inside the Google Cast app. And now it's finally been officially announced by the Google Cast team.

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[Update: Android app too] Google Maps' speed limits start showing up while driving... on Android Auto

There are some missing features in Android and some of Google's apps that are simply incomprehensible. Speed limits are one of them. In countries where speed limits are enforceable by the law and mandatory to respect (ie not here in Lebanon), it's quite unfathomable to me that you would be using a routing and navigation app that didn't show you the speed limit of each road you were taking so you could drive safely and lawfully.

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Android Pay comes today to Natwest, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster Bank in the UK

When Google announced the arrival of Android Pay on Chase in the US to the relieved sighs of many a customer and Android user, it also let us know that some new banks would be joining the ranks in the UK. At the time, the news was limited to Santander and TSB, although some avid British users had unearthed signs of support for others like Natwest, but it wasn't official nor was it functional yet.

Now, it is both. Google has updated its announcement to say that Android Pay is now available for customers of Natwest, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Ulster bank.

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Pixel Launcher works with Google Calendar to show the correct date, changes some UI elements

It's been a few hours since the Pixel Launcher was leaked, and from the screenshots we saw initially, it didn't seem like much had changed in the name's transition from Nexus to Pixel. However, since downloads became available, we've discovered more and more subtle tweaks to the interface. Arguably the biggest change is the integration of the date into Google Calendar's icon.

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Grab the leaked new Pixel Launcher here [APK Download]

A few hours ago, LlabTooFeR tweeted out some screenshots of the launcher formerly known as the Nexus Launcher. On the surface, the Pixel Launcher looks nearly identical to the Nexus Launcher, save for an icon change and a version number change; however, we have a post in the works on some new integration between the Google Calendar icon in the app drawer and Pixel Launcher.

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Google is testing a crazy new bottom bar interface in Maps [Update]

The current version of Google Maps has an Explore bar at the bottom of the screen, giving you access to nearby points of interest. It appears that some people have started seeing a different version of that bottom bar with options for seeing locations, driving, or transit details. It looks rather handy.

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