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Google VR SDK graduates out of beta ahead of expected October 4th Daydream viewer announcement

At this year's I/O, Google announced Daydream, a VR platform for phones and the headsets that go with them. We expect Google to reveal its in-house design for a Daydream VR viewer device on October 4th.

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Unlocked Moto Z now available for pre-order through Motorola, Z Play available through Amazon and Best Buy

After several months of exclusivity with Verizon, the Moto Z is now available for pre-order as a GSM unlocked variant for a whopping $699.99. In addition, the unlocked model of the newer (headphone jack-equipped) Moto Z Play can be pre-ordered, but for a more reasonable $449.99. Unfortunately, the Moto Z Droid Force is remaining a Verizon exclusive.

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[Update: gone] ASUS's ZenFone 3 Deluxe and Laser are now purchasable on Amazon in the US, but won't ship for a few weeks

We first heard about the newest additions to the ZenFone lineup back in late May, but ASUS didn't elaborate on availability for the United States. The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe and ZenFone 3 Laser are now available to buy on Amazon for $530.48 and $206.95, respectively. However, they still won't ship for at least two weeks (if Amazon's information is correct).

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Samsung says half of recalled Note7 phones in US have been exchanged

As it turns out, people don't want to hang onto exploding phones. Samsung initially started the Note7 Exchange Program earlier this month in the United States, offering owners of affected Note7 devices the choice of a fixed Note7 or a S7/S7 edge. Over a week later, the CPSC officially began working with Samsung to handle the recall.

The program appears to be somewhat of a success, with the company reporting "about half" of the recalled devices have been exchanged. Samsung also revealed that 90% of customers exchanging their Note7 opted to receive a new Note7, instead of another Galaxy device.

Samsung didn't reveal any other details about the program, or exchange numbers in the United Kingdom & Ireland program.

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Android apps show up in stable Chrome OS for the first time

Android apps on Chrome OS are not a new thing. In 2014, Google announced that it was working with a few select partners to bring certain apps to Chrome OS. Only a small number became available, and it was never really a consumer-facing project. Earlier this year, Google said that the experiment was scrapped in favor of a different system. Android apps would now run in containers, which would open the whole Play Store to Chrome OS users. This new approach would come to only some Chromebook models which had to be running the dev and beta channel builds.

Now, according to both the Chromium Projects page and the Chrome Releases blog, Android apps are coming to the stable channel for the Asus Chromebook Flip and the Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T.

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Motorola releases Moto Z Droid kernel source code

Certain Android manufacturers do a good job of regularly supplying kernel source code, and Motorola is one of them. Nearly two months after the Moto Z Droid became available from Verizon, Motorola is now posting those files online.

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Chatting with Google: The many ways Assistant replaces or augments OK Google, Google Now, and Now on Tap

Hi Google, it's me Rita. I believe we've met before. Somewhere between Gmail, Google Photos, and Chrome, you must know a lot about me. Things I might not want others to discover, so hushhhh. (There are thousands of people reading us, let's not tell them about my love for Winnie The Pooh.) But our relationship doesn't feel equal; I barely have any information about you. Your new guy, this Assistant you've sent here to talk to me, I'd like to get to know him better. He looks a lot like the other guys you've sent before, Now and On Tap, but he seems special.

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Google+ is now a core service on Google for Work (or Google Cloud)

For months, we have seen Hangouts shift from Google's primary messaging service to being focused on business use. The official Google for Work (which is in the process of becoming Google Cloud) blog has announced that Google+ is moving to the same purpose, and is now a core feature for businesses to use.

Starting immediately, Google+ will have "the same technical support and service level commitments as any other core service, like Gmail or Google Drive," according to the blog post. This shows that Google is serious about the future of Google+, perhaps not with a focus on the average user, but no doubt both parties will benefit from continued support from Google.

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Pixel Launcher and Android 7.1 Sneak Peek Part 2: The return of Launcher Shortcuts [APK Teardown]

Part 1 of this teardown broached the subject of a new set of circular launcher icons Google is creating for use on the homescreen, possibly just for the Pixel Launcher. It likely speaks to future plans for the look and feel of Android, but there's no denying that new icons are cosmetic – they don't actually do anything. Part 2 of this teardown switches over to the functional side as evidence shows Launcher Shortcuts will return with Android 7.1.

The Launcher Shortcuts API was introduced with the second Android N Developer Preview and quickly gained attention as a spiritual copy of the Home Screen Quick Actions introduced with iOS 9, and inspired many theories that pressure-sensitive screens would become a standard in Android.

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Google's Pixel phones will be IP53 rated, meaning no dunking your Pixel or hosing it down

Hopes of highly water-resistant Pixel phones have, according to a reliable source we've trusted in the past, been dashed. Google's new handsets will be advertised as having IP53 dust and water resistance, which essentially amounts to almost no enhanced water resistance at all. For reference, the HTC 10 also has this rating, and is not marketed as being water-resistant.

The "3" in IP53 means a device will not experience damaging water ingress when upright at an angle not to exceed 60 degrees from vertical while being sprayed by relatively low-pressure (somewhere between 7-20PSI or 50 to 150kPa) water. This probably means very little to you phrased this way, but IPX3 is essentially saying the device will not experience water ingress (i.e., water won't get inside) when held at a relatively upward angle in your hand during use in very heavy rain or when lightly splashed.

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