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HTC wants 'U' to know about its January 12th announcement

HTC has something new coming. It's probably a phone, or at least something phone-adjacent, though the company has made a few interesting tangents in the last few years. Whatever it turns out to be, it will be shown off on January 12th. Exactly where and when hasn't been disclosed - HTC sent us the image above and a brief snippet of text, with no city or venue to go along with it. Presumably we'll be getting that information sometime in the next three weeks.

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This is very likely NVIDIA's 2017 refresh of the SHIELD Android TV, which may come in two sizes

There have been rumblings that NVIDIA was planning a refresh of its popular Android TV set top box at CES in January, and based on pictures we've obtained, that definitely seems to be true. While we don't have any specifications or features to share, we can show you what the new box(es!) and their accompanying control devices look like.

Visually, the new boxes and TV controller seem identical to the outgoing model - there's really nothing that's changed there as far as I can see. The gamepad, however, is sporting an overhauled design with some rather interesting geometric cues. I can't say I love the look, but the new shape does seem a little more ergonomic than the old controller.

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Not dead yet: Report says number of in-use Galaxy Note7s still vastly exceeds all LG V20s

Over two months ago, Samsung stopped production of the Galaxy Note7 permanently. Recalls ensued across the globe, and returns have exceeded 90% of devices sold. Today, if a report from app research firm Apteligent is to be believed, that still means there are more Galaxy Note7s out there in use than there are LG V20s. A lot more. Apteligent's report suggests that there remain well over twice as many Note7s out in the wild as there are LG V20s. The Moto Z just barely comes in above the Note7, too, and according to Apteligent is actually declining in popularity, which is a bit weird.

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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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Android 7.0 Nougat starts rolling out for the Xperia X and X Compact

When Android 7.0 Nougat started rolling out in August, Sony announced a list of devices that would get the official update sooner or later. These updates started at the beginning of the month with the Xperia X Performance and XZ and now another duo of phones is getting the Nougat treatment: the X and X Compact.

The update was announced a few hours ago by Sony's Twitter account, stating that the rollouts are phased and might be coming to certain regions before others. But XperiaBlog had actually spotted the update a couple of days prior and provided more details regarding it: it's rolling to the Xperia X (F5121), Xperia X Dual (F5122), and Xperia X Compact (F5321) and is marked as build number 34.2.A.0.266.

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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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