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Google Assistant on Pixel gets proper home control with multi-room support, no Google Home required

Google does weird things. Assistant for example has different capabilities if you use it on Google Home, in Google Allo, on the Google Pixel, or on Android Wear 2.0. Why? It's hard to explain and even harder to remember what is possible where, and more importantly, what is not possible.

For example, you could control your compatible smart home gadgets from Assistant on Google Home, but the functionality wasn't available on the Pixel. Last December, a small workaround showed up: if you already enabled Nest control on Google Home, you could issue the command on your Pixel and it would be interpreted correctly, but if you didn't have a Home already, Google would reply that it doesn't know how to do that yet.

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Google removed casting from Google Photos 2.8, but has added it back in 2.8.1 [APK Download]

You may not have noticed - we didn't - but it seems that, a couple days ago, Google removed casting from the Google Photos Android app on a temporary basis. This was due to "stability reasons," according to Photos community manager Ben; however, as of v2.8.1, the feature seems to have returned, with multiple Android Police team members seeing this on their personal devices.

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You can now insert Google Drive videos in Google Slides on the web

When you're creating a Google Slides presentation, you can insert videos from YouTube, but what if the video you want to add isn't published there or you want to add a more personal movie? In the next few days, the option to add videos stored on your Google Drive will be rolling out to users.

Adding Drive videos will only be possible from the web version of Slides, but viewing them is available on both web and mobile. If you've shared your presentation, other users who don't have permission to view a video will have the option to request access.

After adding a video from Drive to your slide, right-click on it and go to Video Options to specify the time of the video you want playback to start and end at, enable autoplay during a presentation, and toggle audio on and off.

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YouTube Go is offline-centric and available now [APK Download]

Even with ever-improving mobile data coverage and an increasing number of WiFi hotspots, it's often still difficult to watch videos anywhere you'd like. This problem is especially prevalent in less-developed countries. Because of this, the YouTube team has created YouTube Go, an app that centers around saving videos to view later.

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LG Watch Style: First impressions and thoughts

LG is no stranger to making Android Wear smartwatches. In fact, the South Korean company is arguably Google's greatest smartwatch partner, having created the first consumer Wear device: the very rectangular G Watch.

Lately though, Android Wear hasn't been doing so well, with sales dropping and notable manufacturers such as Motorola veering away from the platform. It didn't help that Android Wear 2.0 was delayed by several months. That being said, it's here now, and it's pretty sweet on this brand new LG Watch Style.

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The February security OTA may have fixed the Pixel speaker issue for some people

Back in December, we reported on an issue afflicting certain Google Pixel handsets, whereby the speaker would make a 'popping' sound, otherwise described as a harsh clipping, when watching videos or listening to music with the sound at a specific volume. However, not all devices were affected, and it was unclear what exactly was causing the problem.

In the recent February security update, this seems to have been at least partially solved. According to a thread on /r/GooglePixel, many users are saying the issue is no more after testing on a trailer for The Mummy. Others are saying it has not been fixed, and it is still happening, as bad as it was before, although those commenting it has gone as of this month seem to outweigh the people whose devices still have the issue.

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Chrome Dev 58 seemingly removes option to disable New Tab page recommendations

Until Chrome 54, the New Tab page only showed a grid of commonly-visited pages and quick shortcuts to Bookmarks and Recent tabs. Then the shortcuts were removed, and replaced with a list of recommended articles (much like Google Now/Google Feed). I wasn't a fan of the change, and the comments on that post indicated many of you were not either.

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Google Cloud Search is the latest addition to the G Suite, brings the power of search to internal workflow

What if businesses could leverage the power of Google Search to find internal information faster than ever before? Cue Google Cloud Search, the answer to that question. Replacing the service formerly known as Springboard, this new product uses machine learning to provide a unified experience across the G Suite.

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Google's researchers explain the challenges and calculation process behind the new Parking Difficulty feature in Maps

A few weeks ago, a new Parking Difficulty icon started showing up in Google Maps 9.44 beta in some cities in the United States, then Google officially announced it and specified where it's available. It also said that the estimate is "based on historical parking data," similar to how traffic and popular times and visit durations are calculated, but it didn't go into a lot of details. Now those details are further clarified in a post on the Google Research Blog.

The difficulties of calculating parking availability stem from the many, many factors that can influence the equation: time and day and weather and holidays/events, permit or illegal parking in park-meter areas, vacant spots with paid park-meters from cars that left early, parking lots with multiple levels and different structures, and so on. Even with these issues accounted for, there's the false data coming from private/gated parking spots, taxis dropping users who look like they immediately found a parking and reached their destination, and bus stops showing up in the data sets as popular parking spots.

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Google is working on ways to help identify page-freezing code in Chrome

Modern websites are extremely complex, composing of code running on both the user's device and the web server. Trying to perform all the tasks required to load a page, like rendering the content and executing JavaScript code, can often cause the browser to become unresponsive.

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