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Some Nexus 6Ps have developed a battery early shutoff problem, and it's becoming a safety issue

A number of Nexus 6P owners have reported an alarming battery problem with their phones as of Android 7.0 being released for the handset, which causes the phone to power down when the battery gauge still shows anywhere from 10 to 60% battery remaining. How widespread the issue is at this point isn't clear, but the main thread on the Google issue tracker has 229 stars. There are also a significant number of threads describing the problem on Google's Product Forums (see: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Owners have linked it to Android 7.0, but even those who have attempted flashing back to Marshmallow report the problem still occurs, though generally at lower indicated remaining battery percentages than on Nougat.

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The Google Pixel appears to have a widespread speaker issue, but a software fix could address it

We've received a number of tips about this one, and it's definitely a bit annoying: the Google Pixel appears prone to producing harsh clipping or distorted sound through its speaker when playing certain audio at maximum volume. This trailer of The Mummy demoes the problem well - the first clip you'll hear is around 10 to 11 seconds in, and the issues continue thereafter. The problem appears to be widespread and currently is part of a post on r/android with nearly 1800 upvotes, as well as a long thread on the Google Product Forums. The issue does not seem to affect all Pixel handsets - some do not produce the distorted sound even at maximum volume, and there does not seem to be any consistency in terms of Pixel versus Pixel XL handsets being affected.

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[Deal Alert] Best Buy offering Pixel phones for $10-15 per month plus $100 gift card when you activate on Verizon

Verizon had a killer deal on the Pixel and Pixel XL for Black Friday, and now Best Buy is running an even better version of the promotion. Pick up a Pixel from Best Buy, and you can get it for as little as $10 per month. They'll also throw in a $100 Best Buy gift card for your trouble. There wasn't a gift card included with the Verizon deal on Black Friday.

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The first Waymo self-driving car is a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan

Google announced last week that it was getting out of the self-driving car business. That doesn't mean self-driving cars won't be a thing around Mountain View anymore; the project is simply being spun off into its own Alphabet company called Waymo. Now, Waymo CEO John Krafcik has posted some details of the company's first self-driving vehicle. It's a minivan built in cooperation with Chrysler.

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Google Assistant can track Santa, tell holiday jokes, and spin the dreidel

Google has added a few entertaining Easter eggs to Google Assistant since its release, including fully interactive quiz games. In the spirit of the season, a few new holiday-related commands have made their way to Google Assistant.

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Android Pay supports 31 new banks and credit unions

One of the disadvantages of Android Pay is that banks, credit unions, and credit card companies have to support it (as opposed to Google Wallet NFC payments). Thankfully, support has greatly expanded in the past few months, with Chase being the last major holdout in the United States.

Now Android Pay has started working with 31 additional banks and credit unions. Here is the full list:

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Less headache for Creators: YouTube channels will no longer have two types of URLs

For the few of you who have a YouTube channel, there was one headache-inducing issue that everyone kept running into: channel URLs could take one of two formats: youtube.com/ChannelName or youtube.com/c/ChannelName (the latter being based on Google+). While this seems like an innocuous annoyance, it used to cause plenty of confusion for viewers who weren't aware of the difference and tried to reach a channel but didn't find it there. Silly.

Now YouTube is consolidating these two URL formats. Either of the two will take you to the YouTube channel, regardless of which format you set up first as a creator.

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PSA: Gmail can now preview Docs, Sheets, and Slides even if the corresponding app isn't installed

One thing I have often found annoying was how Google Drive could at least preview Docs, Sheets, and Slides, even if the corresponding app wasn't installed, but Gmail couldn't. Gmail used to try routing these links to the different apps if they were installed, but in case they weren't, it would open the file in the browser.

That's changed in the latest versions of Gmail. I tested it on v 6.11.6.14 and compared with v 6.9.25.13 on another device. Both devices only have the Google Drive installed and none of its subsidiaries. When I tapped on an attached or linked Docs file on the older version, it opened it in Chrome and showed a pop-up to remind me to download the Docs app (left screenshot below).

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Google Search is testing new Recent tab, Offline and Lite search modes

Google is on a testing spree with server-side changes in the main Search app. Based on feedback from several readers, it looks like there might be changes afoot to the side menu, introducing a new feature and improving on ones we've seen before but that haven't been widely implemented yet.

Recent search tab

Whenever you perform a search within the Google app or widget, you have a couple of ways to access it again: you either remember the exact words you used and try the same search, or you access your Google activity dashboard, or you use the trick of tapping the Google icon to open a consequent search as a separate page to leave the previous one lurking.

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Google Contributor is being discontinued in favor of a newer iteration due in early 2017

Google Contributor was a very interesting proposition for those of us in the web publishing industry. It allowed sites like Android Police to offer readers an option to pay a little bit of money per month to remove some ads and thus have a better experience reading us while also helping us stay in business. It was launched in August of 2015 and has thus far stayed limited to users in the US. Today though, Contributor is being discontinued.

Users are receiving an email that explains that there's a new and improved version of Contributor that will launch "early next year" and that, in the meantime, the current Contributor will be discontinued.

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