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Chrome 54 adds background media playback, colored tabs in tab switcher, and more [APK Download]

It's time for a new Chrome release, and as always, there is both new features for users and new abilities developers can use. Let's take a look at what's new.

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Chromecast Ultra and Daydream View now available in the Google Store, but won't ship for 2-3 weeks

Google announced the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra and Daydream View VR headset at the October 4th event, but only said they would ship sometime in November. Now, we've got that narrowed down. Both devices are available to purchase right now on the Google Store, but they won't ship right away.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Smart Storage helps you make space by deleting old stuff

Even though most devices some with at least 32GB of space these days, there are still plenty of times you run low and need to clear out some junk. In the Android 7.1 dev preview, there's a new storage cleaner that makes it easy to find the old stuff without all that tedious digging around in file managers. It can even automate the process.

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The Pixel and Pixel XL are guaranteed Android version updates for at least 2 years

Updates are still a huge pain point for many Android OEMs, but Google's usually been okay with them. Historically, devices with the Nexus nameplate have received around two years' worth of updates; for instance, the LG-made Nexus 5, which was released in late 2013, is stuck (officially) on Marshmallow, which was released in late 2015. That trend seems to be continuing with the Pixel phones.

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Android Pay now available in Hong Kong

Android Pay has slowly been growing to more and more regions, and now has finally reached the city of Hong Kong. This makes Hong Kong and Singapore the only regions in Asia supported by Android Pay.

Pay will be accepted at over 5,000 locations including 7-Eleven, Circle K, Fortress, McDonald's, and more. This works exactly like Android Pay in other regions; just install the app and you're good to go.

MasterCard and Visa cards are supported, as well as cards from BEA, DBS, Dah Sing Bank, Hang Seng Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. Online and in-app transactions with Android Pay also work. Google is also encouraging additional merchants to support Android Pay, so Hongkongers might have more locations accepting Android Pay in the near future.

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Android Pay expands to 30 more banks in the US

Android Pay now supports a ton of banks and credit unions, but most of them are small, local ones. That's not changing with these latest additions; I don't recognize a single name here. Hopefully, those of you who use smaller banks will have better luck.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: The notification panel now has room for an extra Quick Settings tile and easier access to Settings

The Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview 1 just came out for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Pixel C, and we're already seeing quite a few improvements over 7.0 Nougat. Some of the most noticeable changes are in the notification panel; not only are there now six mini Quick Settings toggles, but Settings is easier to get to.

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G Suite update includes Action items, improved voice typing, Forms improvements, and more

Google recently renamed their Google Apps for Work service as 'G Suite,' which I still think sounds silly. However, the features Google announced today for all G Suite users are anything but.

Possibly the most important new feature is Action Items, which are Docs files assigned to a person or group of people. You can assign documents to others, which then appear on the recipient's main Drive screen with a special badge. Additionally, when you create a comment on the desktop site along the lines of "Phil to enter numbers for this week," Docs can figure out whom you are talking about and assign it to them automatically.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: Nexus devices and Pixel C get a restart option in the power menu

People have been asking Google for years to put a restart button into the power menu of Nexus devices. It's a feature most OEMs have been putting on their phones and tablets since the beginning. After first getting a good hint the restart option would appear on the Pixel phones, and actually seeing it appear in a shipping version, many people were left wondering if it would make the transition to older Nexus devices (at least those receiving Android 7.1). The answer appears to be an emphatic yes.

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Android 7.1 Developer Preview 1 (NPF10C) is now available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Pixel C

Google promised a developer preview of Android 7.1 before the end of the month, and here it is sooner than you might have expected. Android 7.1 ships on the Pixel, but now you can try it on the Nexus 5X, 6P, and Pixel C. If you want in, head to the Android beta program page.

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