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Those RCS chat 'hacks' for Google Messages will stop working by the end of the month (Update: More details from Google)

Before Google saved us all from the tyranny of the carriers, some enterprising folks worked out a sort of "hack" that enabled Google's RCS/chat services, letting us all send messages with the futuristic protocol, even if we weren't in one of the few supported markets. When it did finally start rolling out in the US, Google said that those using the hack would eventually be migrated after the initial rollout was complete. Now Google has announced that it is disabling that "hack" workaround by the end of the month.

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57

'Google voice typing' now has. Automatic punctuation, and it's screwing up. People's messages. (Update: Fixed)

While many bilinguals have their issues with Google's speech-to-text algorithms, native speakers or those who have their phones set to one language only generally don't suffer from too harsh inconsistencies. But Google has started adding an incredibly error-prone automatic punctuation feature to its voice typing input method that can't be turned off, and it's driving. People. Nuts.

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6

Google moved your phone backups in Drive's desktop site — here's how to find where they are now

Google has recently tweaked how you get to your phone backups from the desktop version of Google Drive. Previously accessible from the navigation menu on the side, they've been relocated inside the "Storage" view that shows all your files by size.

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29

'Autofill code from Messages' feature spotted, makes entering SMS-based 2FA keys a snap

Last year, a new "verification code autofill" setting appeared as part of a Play Services update that promised to plug the SMS-based 2FA gap for apps that use Android's snazzy SMS Retriever API for verification codes. In short, it would be another way to autofill SMS 2FA codes that might be able to work with any app, regardless of developer support. And based on user reports, the feature may be rolling out.

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36

Slide for Reddit kicked from Play Store as age rating issue spirals into bogus content policy violation

Slide for Reddit is a reasonably popular third-party, cross-platform, open-source Reddit client. In my humble opinion, it's the best one out there (don't @ me), but fans of the app may have noticed that it disappeared from the Play Store in the last couple of days. It turns out, the developer ran into a small problem with the app's rating, which, thanks to Google's stereotypically terrible developer support, quickly exploded into a full-blown suspension of the developer's account.

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63

Google Pixel 4 / Pixel 4 XL case roundup: Reviews of the best (and worst) cases out there (Updated)

Times have changed since the era of the $349 Nexus 5 and $499 Nexus 6P; instead, practically every flagship smartphone nowadays, Google's included, costs at least $800. The $800 Pixel 4 and the $900 Pixel 4 XL feel pretty great in the hand caseless, but if you don't want to risk damaging your shiny new gadget, a case is a must. A screen protector would be good to have, too.

This roundup will feature a wide variety of cases (and some screen protectors). Each review will contain the pros and cons, a few paragraphs on the experience, and a verdict. We will continually update the list as more cases come in.

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12

Android's Twitter account reminds us of the feature divide between Nest Hubs and third-party Assistant smart displays

Google isn't the best at explaining its own products. Yet another example of this happened only a few days ago, as the official Android Twitter account posted about a Google Assistant feature that seemed to be new at first glance. However, it ended up being a reminder that not only is Google bad at explaining what its products do, but also that the feature divide between the Nest Hub and third-party Assistant smart displays is alive and well.

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108

Chromebooks will now get up to eight years of updates (Update: Two eligible so far)

The greatest long-term issue with Chromebooks is their fixed lifespan — unlike PCs, where operating system updates are not tied to specific devices, most Chromebooks only get between 5-6 years of updates. It started to look like Google was finally trying to change that last year, when the company gave most Chromebooks another year of software support, and now Google says at least some Chromebooks released this year will get eight years of updates.

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28

Google Podcasts gets a proper home on the web, but it's still missing tons of features

Google Podcasts is already more than one and a half years old, but development is excruciatingly slow — not too dissimilar to YouTube Music. The podcast player has always been lacking an easily accessible web interface; it has only been available via Google search workarounds since March last year. Now, the company has finally rolled out a proper web version for a more complete podcast experience on podcasts.google.com, but it's still not on par with the Android app.

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50

Frontrunner emerges among potential Pixel 4a codenames, helping to narrow down hardware expectations (Updated)

A report from XDA Developers today cites the existence of three codenames potentially related to Google's upcoming affordable smartphones (or phone), and evidence discovered alongside those names paints a more confusing picture of the situation than ever. The long and short of it: there could be two Pixel 4a variants after all, and one of them could support 5G.

According to XDA, the three codenames of note are sunfish, redfin, and bramble. Sunfish is allegedly equipped with a Snapdragon 730, a 4G-only Qualcomm chipset for mid-range phones.

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