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October OTA for Pixels should fix some Bluetooth issues, additional patches coming soon

Despite numerous software updates attempting to fix the problem, one bug has persisted on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL - Bluetooth. Ever since release, both phones have had problems connecting to (and staying connected to) Bluetooth devices, and the recent Android 8.0 Oreo update seemed to make things worse. Google is once again trying to fix the Pixels' Bluetooth woes.

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New Android Wear 2.0 features can now be delivered through the Play Store, no OTA required

Android Wear is entering a potentially critical time. Wear 2.0 hasn't been received nearly as well as might have been expected, with many observers understandably worrying for its future. Watches were conspicuously absent from Google's big hardware event last week, and the Google Store site refresh has removed all non-Google products, including LG's recently released Android Wear watches.

Wear fans could use some more good news to add to the recent announcement of the Oreo beta program for the LG Watch Sport, and it looks as though we have exactly that. Googler Hoi Lam took to Google+ yesterday to share some new information about future updates to Android Wear 2.0.

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Google Image Search on mobile is getting an updated UI

Google doesn't tend to rest on its laurels when it comes to the design of its search interface, be it in the Google app or in browser, and it's always testing new ways to make search results easier for users to navigate and in turn generate those all-important clickthroughs. A couple of months ago badges were added to make it easier to find recipes and products, and now further changes have been made that make the image search UI a little clearer.

It's when you tap on a result that things change. The new design includes an "X" in the top left corner to go back to the image search results, the same as would happen if you hit the back button.

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Google prepares deeper Duo integration with your dialer and Messages, goes live in Phone app v13

Duo has started to establish itself in Google's Android suite of apps and products, and the company has recently been preparing to integrate it further into its existing apps and thus make it easier for any Duo user to video call their contacts. Now we have one integration going live and two on the way.

Duo video call option on the in-call screen

Artem spotted this on the in-call screen of the new Pixel 2 XL during Google's event last week. A "video call" button shows up when talking to a contact who has enabled Duo, and tapping it hangs up the current voice call and starts a Duo video call with that person.

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Google Assistant now sounds more natural thanks to DeepMind's WaveNet technology

When Google acquired British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind back in 2014 nobody was really sure why. It was a secretive company without any consumer-facing products, but it clearly had some technology of interest in Mountain View. DeepMind is now part of the wider Alphabet structure, and now a little bit more is known about what goes on there, including the work it does for Google.

One of the latest projects to come out of DeepMind is called WaveNet, a deep neural network for generating more natural artificial speech recordings, and its use case at Google is obvious. Google Assistant should sound much more human now that WaveNet has been incorporated into it.

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[#JustGoogleThings] Google broke setting reminders in Search yet again

At this point, I'm pretty certain that there's a switch somewhere in Google's code for its Search algorithm that someone keeps flipping on and off inadvertently... or maybe they like toying with people's workflows and feelings.

Two months ago, we reported that setting reminders in Search on a desktop was not working anymore. The feature had been introduced in 2015 and worked by simply typing, "remind me to something" in Google Search on a desktop. It was quite handy since it blended in with your workflow while on your desk, not requiring you shout at your phone or manually type it in.

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Google Play Store may start showing an app's top chart ranks in its listing

Among the craziness of last week, we received one tip about a minor but welcome change in the Play Store that was showing up for some users: when browsing an app's listing, you might see a new line below the Install/Uninstall button that displays its current top chart rank, as shown for Spotify in the screenshot above.

That is useful when you reach an app's listing from the Play Store's search and you're not sure how popular it is. You might be more convinced to download it or buy it if you knew it was in the top 10 or 20 or even 100 in its category on the Play Store.

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Google Assistant shortcuts can make your Home say anything

Back in May, Google Assistant added support for shortcuts, allowing you to say one thing and have Assistant perform another command. For example, I set "night" as a shortcut for starting ambient noise on my Google Home. But you can just as easily have fun with it, when combined with Assistant's 'repeat after me' command.

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Google Home Mini codes for Pixel 2 pre-orders will be sent within 4 weeks of the phone shipping

When pre-orders went live during the Google event last week, there was a bit of confusion regarding the free Home Mini you get for purchasing a Pixel 2. Google has recently updated the listing for the Pixel in the Google Store, and it's started emailing some extra information to those who made a purchase. Free Home Mini promo codes associated with a Pixel 2 pre-order will be emailed within 4 weeks after the phone ships. 

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