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[Deal Alert] Get a 2nd-gen Google Chromecast or Chromecast Audio for just $25 ($10 off) at a ton of stores

 

The Chromecast is well-loved, and for good reason - it's so cheap, yet so useful. At its MSRP of $35, it was already great bang for the buck, but for Black Friday, multiple retailers are knocking $10 off the prices of both the standard Chromecast (the newer second-generation model from 2015) and Chromecast Audio to $25.

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Verizon offers deep discounts on Pixel phones (as low as $240) and Google Home for Black Friday

Black Friday deals have been kind of underwhelming for the last few years, but Verizon seems to be taking full advantage of its "exclusive" on the US carrier version of the Pixel phones. For customers who buy a new phone today (Thanksgiving) or tomorrow, the price is reduced to $10 a month for the Pixel and $15 a month for the Pixel XL. That works out to just $239.99 for the Pixel and $359.99 for the Pixel XL (only the 128GB model of the larger phone is being discounted) over the two-year payment period.

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LG is issuing full refunds for some malfunctioning Nexus 5X phones

Most of the time when a customer sends a gadget in for repair, under warranty or otherwise, the manufacturer will either fix the problem with the original unit, issue a refurbished unit that's also been fixed, or (if supply and/or time is low) send out a new one. None of those three options seem to be available for certain ailments of the Nexus 5X. According to an Android Police reader and several posters on the dedicated 5X subreddit, LG is issuing full refunds for owners that are suffering from a particular malfunction that causes a "boot loop" and an unusable phone.

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Play Store game reviews start showing detailed "Feature Ratings" circles for specific aspects

Games are a little more complicated to review than apps. Maybe the story and premise are intriguing and engulfing, but the controls are horrible. Or maybe the graphics are gorgeous, but the gameplay is terribly bad. What rating do you give? You might err toward an average rating, but wouldn't it be better if there was an easy way to specify which aspects were good and which were disappointing, for the benefit of the devs as well as other users?

One Play Store interface change might solve that problem. New Feature Ratings circles have started showing up for some users, letting them see separate ratings for a game's controls, gameplay, and graphics.

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Google and Buzzfeed partner up to add a sticker pack to Allo, just in time for Thanksgiving

Scrolling through Buzzfeed articles is possibly the most mindless thing to do on the web - apart from aimlessly browsing Wikipedia - so it makes sense companies want to capitalize on the site's reputation. Google has done just that, adding a number of Buzzfeed stickers into Allo, just in time for Thanksgiving.

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Chromecast purchases from now until Dec 24 include three months of HBO Now

Both last year's Chromecast and the new Chromecast Ultra are great deals for the functionality they offer, but every once in a while, Google throws in extra goodies with Chromecast purchases. This time around, Google is offering three free months of HBO Now if you buy a Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra.

The small print reveals that purchases from November 23 until December 24 will receive the offer, and it can be redeemed at any time until January 8. This only applies if you sign up for HBO Now for the first time; if you already have a subscription, this unfortunately doesn't get you three free months.

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Google phasing out 'Google Cast' name for connected TVs, speakers

Google Cast or Chromecast? That, my friends, is the question. Seems like today Google is providing an answer, with reports that the Google Cast name is being gradually phased out in favor of Chromecast.

Speakers and TVs with Cast seem to be the main victims (if you can call them that) here - rather than, say, a Vizio TV being 'Google Cast enabled,' it now has 'Chromecast built-in.' It's the same for TVs by Toshiba, or speakers by Sony - they now have Chromecast built-in instead of Google Cast. I suppose that Google has found that the Chromecast brand has more relevance and strength than the Google Cast brand, and that's what has been the driving force behind this change.

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Me, a Daydream View, and a 5-hour flight: My first in-air mobile VR experience

Google's Daydream is what I would call the most travel-friendly VR solution yet. Its simple but elegant pointer-style Bluetooth controller means you aren't reaching all over the place to work the VR interface, its comfortable fabric design is tolerable for long periods of wear, and sliding the phone into the viewer is a simple no buttons, no switches affair.

So, I decided to put these qualities to test on a five-hour flight from Los Angeles to New York last week. I had a variety of games (I didn't play any), interactive experiences (many require an active internet connection), and a few movies I'd downloaded from Play Movies to watch.

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Google Pixel NPF26J OTA in Canada adds double-tap and lift to check notification [Update: OTA links]

In what appears to be an accidental rollout of a preview build, according to 9to5Google, Google is updating Pixel and Pixel XL devices in Canada to a new version of Android 7.1, build number NPF26J. The "P" after the N generally would denote a preview, as Google uses the second letter in its build system to indicate the branch the update is sourced from (e.g., "R" for "release"). (Update: Upon further investigation, it's unclear if this is true, or if it's merely a coincidence. The build may be an official rollout, though it would be odd considering Google hasn't updated its factory image or OTA file pages yet.)

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Android 7.1 developer preview 2 images are live for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C [Update: Nexus 9]

We got some hints earlier that the second Android 7.1.1 developer preview was on the verge of rolling out today, and sure enough, here it is. System images are live for manual installation (build NPF26F and NPF26H). There won't be any OTAs at this time, though. Just like last time, the list of supported devices is small—smaller than we were expecting, in fact.

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