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Android Q timeline: Six betas planned, final release in Q3

Today is Android Q day, and behind the scenes we're frantically flashing this new beta to see what's new, but plenty of new details have been revealed officially. Among the most important is the timeline for beta releases going forward. Six beta releases are planned in total, with the final release due in Q3.

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Play Store developers will need to target their apps for Android 9 Pie by this fall

Google is continuing to push Android developers to use the latest API features. Last November, all applications submitted to the store were required to target Android 8.0 Oreo or higher — meaning they would have to support runtime permissions and other breaking API changes. As expected, Google is now stepping up the requirements.

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[Update: Now affordable] Google's .dev domains now available for a cool $11k, sensible pricing due later this month

Google has introduced a few top-level domains over the years, including .google, .apps, and even .lol. Last year, the company announced the .dev TLD, intended for use by software developers. Registration has been open to select partners since January 16th, but now anyone can buy a .dev domain — as long as you have $11k.

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ARCore update allows developers to create Snapchat-like face filters with ease

While there aren't many practical uses (yet) for Google's ARCore library, it's still an incredible technical achievement — especially considering most of the depth-sensing is done entirely with software. ARCore 1.7 is now rolling out on the Play Store, with a new Augmented Faces API and other improvements.

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Actions on Google now supports Chinese (traditional) language

Google Assistant can do a lot of awesome things, but that list would be much shorter without developer support. That's what Actions on Google is all about—it helps developers integrate apps and services with Assistant. Thus, you can shout at your phone and smart speakers more often. Now, developers can start supporting the Chinese (traditional) language in their Actions.

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Google gives up on Android Things as an IoT platform, now will just be for smart speakers and displays

Google's operating system for lightweight Internet of Things devices, the fittingly-named Android Things OS, was originally intended to run on a wide array of hardware. It has seen the most success in Google Assistant-powered smart displays and speakers, and now that's the only product category Android Things will be certified for.

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Trusted Web Activities will help Android apps natively integrate web content

There are cases when content can't be embedded into an application, such as a credit card payment verification, and developers need to direct users to an external page. They can do this by using the device's default browser, WebView, or Chrome Custom Tabs (CCT) depending on their need. None of these are ideal in terms of user experience, however, as they would either have limited functionality or show the site's URL on the screen. Google is looking to solve this with the introduction of Trusted Web Activities (TWA), which are essentially full-screen web pages integrated into an application, without displaying the URL or other browser-related interface elements.

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Future Chrome update may kill some ad-blocking extensions

Horror stories about Chrome extensions secretly copying user data, injecting ads into pages, or mining cryptocurrency in the background have become all too common. In October of last year, Google laid out its plans to make extensions safer, which included future changes to APIs. As it turns out, those changes may prevent most content blockers from working.

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Google bans apps that promote or sell unapproved substances on the Play Store

At times, it feels like Google is playing whack-a-mole with all the head-scratching apps that have popped up on the Play Store. Every few weeks, there's an update to the Google Play developer policy, clarifying something, adding new restrictions, and generally trying to curb as much as possible the amount of spammy, harmful, and sometimes illegal apps on the Store.

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Play Store to phase out 32-bit apps on 64-bit devices by 2021, all new apps from August 1 must be 64-bit

While Apple phased out 32-bit apps on iOS over a year ago, Google has been taking its time — likely because there are still many 32-bit Android phones and tablets still in use. Google announced in December 2017 that 32-bit apps would eventually be phased out on 64-bit devices, and now the company has provided specific dates for the process.

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