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Chrome 56 adds official Web Bluetooth API support, New Tab page changes, experimental WebVR, and more [APK Download]

Chrome 56 is the first release of 2017, and like always, it has a fair amount of new features for both users and web developers. This release is focused primarily on Web Bluetooth and improvements to Android Pay on the web (through the Web Payments API), so let's dig in and have a look.

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Android 7.1.2 adds option to set where a live wallpaper will be applied

There's a new version of Android rolling out in beta, and it doesn't seem to change much. One thing we've spotted is an improvement to setting live wallpapers. A year ago it seemed like Google was going to let live wallpapers die, and now here we are. Now, you can pick where they'll be applied in Android 7.1.2.

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Plex gets Alexa support for the ultimate home theater experience

Plex is simply awesome. I have been using the media server in some form or another for years and the Lifetime Pass sales are always extremely tempting. So when the service gets a new feature or addition, I pay attention. In this case, Amazon's personal assistant and Plex are coming together via a new Alexa skill.

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Google adds a recipe carousel UI to your culinary search results

I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of football, but I have been to some Super Bowl parties that were actually fun. As I am sure most will agree, good food is crucial to the success of most any gathering. Being the host comes with a series of challenges, one of the largest being what to cook. Google has people like you in mind, and it is rolling out an update to Search that brings a carousel of culinary suggestions and full recipes.

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Open GApps can now optionally install Google Assistant

Google Assistant was introduced at Google I/O last year, as a more personal voice assistant than Google Now. Since then, it has been made available on several platforms - Pixel phones, the Google Home, Android TV, and Allo. But Assistant is still unavailable on non-Pixel phones without a special build.prop tweak. Now the Open GApps team has made enabling Assistant a little easier.

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NVIDIA SHIELD Pro (2017) available for $299.99 at various retailers

NVIDIA's SHIELD gaming set-top box is the hottest news in Android TV this year. The console was announced at CES at the start of 2017 and the regular version with 16GB of storage started shipping in the middle of January. But if you were waiting for the Pro version and its expanded 500GB of storage, you'll be happy to know that it's now available for sale.

Beside the larger 500GB storage, the Pro version has a MicroSD slot and a MicroUSB port (both of which can't be found on the regular 2017 SHIELD) and ships with the new controller but the old remote in the box.

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[Update: Halted in mainland Europe, M9 expands] Android 7.0 Nougat OTA rolling out to the HTC 10, 10 Lifestyle, and One M9 in Europe

About a week ago, we learned that the Android 7.0 Nougat would be released for the HTC 10 in Europe within 2 weeks. And right in the middle of that timeframe, the roll out has started.

Graham Wheeler, Product and Service Director for HTC EMEA, tweeted that the 1.17GB OTA has started with Unlocked HTC 10 units, but only in the UK for now. Other European regions should follow.

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Android 7.1.2 adds the fingerprint swipe gesture for notifications on the Nexus 5X

Android 7.1.2 started rolling out a few days ago with bug fixes and cryptic "enhancements" for Pixels and Nexuses. One of the more visible changes you'll notice if you own a Nexus 5X is a new option under Settings -> Moves. There's a new Swipe for notifications toggle that enables you to swipe down on the fingerprint sensor on the back of the 5X to drop down the notifications. It's a nice gesture that lets you check notifications without removing your index from the back of the phone or trying to reach the top of the display with your thumb.

You might remember that there was a bit of controversy over the feature back in November.

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Samsung Pay Mini to launch in South Korea for all Android smartphones

The web component of Samsung Pay has long been rumored to be coming, so it's no real surprise to see it formally announced today. The service, which sees Samsung attempting to broaden its services offerings in response to Google, Facebook, and Apple, will go live in South Korea before the end of the first quarter.

Samsung Pay Mini is comparable to how Android Pay works to pay for items online. E-tailers opt in to the service, which means as long as the dedicated app is downloaded, users can easily and quickly pay for products or services without needing to fill in forms or get cards out.

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New Google Artworks Live Cases feature Opening Ceremony designs worn by the New York Ballet

The simulation hypothesis is a scientific proposal that the world in which we live is, in fact, a massive and incredibly complex computer simulation. Many people in the United States are being won over by this theory, because lately it feels like we're all tiny characters in an increasingly cruel game of The Sims, right about the time that the omnipotent player-god gets bored and starts to screw with us. In completely and totally unrelated news, here are some fresh Live Case designs from Google. Enjoy.

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