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Google VR Services gets an update in preparation for Daydream VR

Daydream VR was revealed alongside the Pixel phones and Google Home last month, but while those other things began to ship, news surrounding Google's latest virtual reality headset remained sparse. However, the Mountain View-based company has just pushed an update to Google VR Services, the framework needed for Daydream VR to work with the Pixel and Pixel XL.

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Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are the first devices compatible with T-Mobile's new 4x4 MIMO and 256QAM technologies for faster data speeds

Back in September, T-Mobile announced several improvements to its network's infrastructure that would help speed up data transfers significantly. There were two folds to the strategy, 4x4 MIMO and DL-256QAM/UL-64QAM, as well as two devices promised to be compatible with these options first: the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

First, 4x4 MIMO is already available in 319 cities and has the potential to double the data paths between the cell network and phones for better speeds in congested areas. It turns out that 4x4 MIMO was already enabled in the update that rolled out to the T-Mobile Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge back in September, but it wasn't mentioned in the official changelog. Cellular Insights tested out firmware G935TUVU4APIA on the S7 Edge and verified that 4x4 MIMO was working on it.

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InBrief
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'Netbanking' is showing up as a payment method on the Indian Play Store

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The new Play Store UI that Google leaked in one of its own videos is real, and it's going live for some

As many Android enthusiasts may know, Google is constantly experimenting with new features and UI changes for its apps. Just a few days ago, in a recently published Google video featuring the Pixel, we noticed a never-before-seen Play Store UI on the device. This user interface possessed a new color scheme, a larger "Install" button, and more. Now, we're starting to see elements from that video pop up on enthusiasts' devices.

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Play Store has a new Trending section for entertainment, and it's fantastic

It feels like Google changes the Play Store UI every few weeks. A larger button here, adjusting the font size there, and so on. But the new 'Trending' section on the Play Store is absolutely new, and is both incredibly useful and well-designed. The new addition can be found in the entertainment section, just below the new movie releases.

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Google is testing a new layout for hints and search shortcuts

There's always a Google A/B test going on in the background to figure out what could get users to better discover options or take them to what they're looking for faster. One of these tests was a series of search shortcuts that had a very distinct circle design in the Google Now (now known as Feed) page right below the search bar. That interface didn't spread to a wider user base, but it appears that Google is still toying with the idea, albeit in a different look.

Below are a couple of screenshots from two different users who are seeing these shortcuts or hints below the search bar.

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Alexa skills get full Amazon.com pages with direct links and better discoverability

Amazon's Alexa voice control system has taken off very well thanks to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap, as well as an open platform that lets developers implement any and all skills they want and let users access them. The problem, as we've pointed out before, is discoverability. With thousands of skills available, users had to dip into the Alexa mobile app (or the Alexa website), and either search for a keyword or browse by category. The app (and the site) were slow, you couldn't filter by 3 or 4 star rated skills only, searching for keywords in the skill's review was impossible, and most importantly, you had to be signed in to Alexa to know what skills were available.

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Brutal YouTube tester JerryRigEverything finds a lot of plastic in Sony's 'premium' Xperia XZ

If you haven't at least glanced at YouTube gadget aficionado JerryRigEverything (whose real name is Zack), you should close this tab and go do that. He puts new phones through excruciating damage tests for "entertainment purposes only" - it's the kind of thing that we're not really supposed to do in our standard reviews (unless the phone dares us to kill it). In a breakdown of the Xperia XZ, Sony's current premium flagship which retails for $700, Zack found a surprising amount of materials that were less than premium.

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Google Home: First impressions and thoughts

Google Home preorders have started arriving and interested consumers can head down to certain brick & mortar stores to pick one up starting today. I've been messing with Home for a little while and I feel like there's already quite a bit to say about it.

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Samsung will push OTA with 60% charge limit to all US Note7s in the coming days

Samsung is pulling out the big guns to encourage Note7 holdouts to turn in their phones. In the coming days, it will send out an OTA to all Note7s in the US that limits the battery to a 60% charge. So, it's not just T-Mobile. The new software will also nag you incessantly about returning the phone.

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