Google

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Google welcomes 51 new smaller banks to the Android Pay fold

Here we are again with some more banks/credit unions added to Android Pay's list of friendlies. We've hit the point where most of the major banks and cards are supported, and now there's a huge list of 51 new institutions that can take advantage of contactless payments.

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Google Docs now makes it easier to change your documents' text capitalization

Between this job and school, I write a lot, so any tool that makes that task easier is great in my book. On that note, the G Suite team has rolled out a small, but great, change to Docs: you can now change the capitalization of a specific portion of text, and you get to choose between lowercase, all caps, and title case.

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The new Google Maps location sharing can share your location via links

Google started rolling out the new location sharing feature in Google Maps today, which is vastly more streamlined than the old method. You can share your location with a contact, of course, but there's more to it. You can also create links that share your location, and they come with all the same controls as contact sharing.

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Location sharing is going live in Google Maps for everyone

Google pulled the location sharing features from Google+ recently, which was annoying because the corresponding feature in Maps was not actually available yet. Well, it turns out Google was only a little behind schedule. Location sharing in Maps appears to be rolling out wide right now.

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Android One devices are getting a Pixel-esque launcher in a 7.1.1 update, starting with the Y!mobile S2

The Pixel Launcher's reach has been spreading in the past few weeks. Yes, it could always be sideloaded, but it was only initially available for the Pixel and Pixel XL. The 7.1.2 beta 2 update, however, brought it to the Pixel C as well. Now, it seems that Android One smartphones are getting a lookalike of Google's latest launcher, beginning with Y!mobile's Android One S2.

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[Update: more details] Android O feature spotlight: Notification Channels give more controls over notifications to users

Android has allowed blocking notifications from selected apps for a while now, but it was all-or-nothing. Android O aims to give users more control over what notifications they want to see, through the new Notification Channels API.

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You can now control your Wink-connected thermostats and lighting products from Google Home

When Google renamed Brillo to "Android Things" at the end of the last year, it also announced new partners for Google Home. Beside Hue and SmartThings, there would be Belkin WeMo, Honeywell, Wink, LiFX, and TP-Link. The first two are already live in the Home Control section of Google Home's Assistant settings, and the third should be available starting today.

Wink makes a home hub that works as a central control place and bridge between all of your connected gadgets. The Hub 2, which I reviewed a few months ago, has WiFi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and plenty of other protocols to communicate with many smart home products. As I discovered, it's also very easy to set up and one of the simplest ways to start building your connected smart home without feeling overwhelmed. As long as the product you choose is supported by Wink, there will be clear requirements, tutorials, and graphics for you.

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Urbanears introduces Chromecast speakers with Bluetooth and Airplay, starting at $350

Scandinavian brand Urbanears is branching out of the headphones market to launch its first speakers: the Baggen and the Stammen. These are almost the same speaker made in two different sizes, wrapped in 360-deg fabric, and available in neutral colors like black, grey, and navy, but also interesting shades like light pink, dark green, and bold orange.

The reason we're talking about them is that they're connected speakers and come with plenty of integrations out of the box: Chromecast Built-in, Apple Airplay, and Spotify Connect.

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Google Home and Wifi will launch in the UK on April 6 for £129 each

The Google Home and Google Wifi are about to land in a new country all across the ocean: the United Kingdom. After being exclusively available in the USA since their launch last year, both of Google's new gadgets will expand to their second official territory.

Google made the announcement today, focusing on everything you can do with the Home and Wifi, including asking questions, playing media, and controlling your home with the former and setting up mesh networks with the latter. It also said that it has been working with several partners in the UK to bring more local apps and services to the Home and Assistant.

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Google disables location sharing in Google+ before enabling it for everyone in Google Maps

Last week, Google announced new location sharing features in Google Maps that would allow you to easily share your current position momentarily or indefinitely with select people. The option is the same that we've had in Google+ for a few years, except it would now be in the app that made most sense, Maps. It also follows Google's trend of decoupling options and features from Google+.

In the official announcement, Google said the feature would be rolling out "soon" worldwide, but didn't give an exact timeline, and we have yet to see it on our devices regardless of the version of Maps we're running.

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