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Google Hangouts v29 adopts notification channels while dropping some ringtone customization, and more [APK Download]

Hangouts "Classic" is set to retire somewhere around the end of 2020, at which point users will be transitioned to Hangouts Chat and Meet. That leaves quite a bit of time that people will get to continue on with regular communications. Unlike Allo, Hangouts seems to be getting more attention now that there's a ticking clock on it. A new version of the Hangouts app is out and it's making some noteworthy changes. In fact, this is more activity than we saw in the last year leading up to this point.

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Google Messages v4.0 enables renaming of group chats, changes colors for unpictured contacts, and more [APK Teardown]

Google's Messages app came out with a brand new update this week, and while it's sporting a major new version number, the changes are fairly moderate. It's now possible to give custom names to your group chats, and there's a tweak to the UI that makes Messages look a lot more like Google's Contacts and Phone apps. There are also several things to discuss in a teardown, particularly with regards to RCS.

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YouTube v14.06 prepares to raise the limit for offline video quality, and more [APK Teardown]

If you're just about to leave the comfort of Wi-Fi to risk expensive data fees and dead zones — or, you know, get on a plane for 2 hours — you might plan ahead and download some YouTube videos to kill some time. If you're like most people, you still want to see the highest possible quality, so you might have been disappointed that YouTube caps offline downloads at a measly 720p. That may be changing as it looks like the cap will be rising to a cool 1080p in the future.

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Google Duo v47 prepares a drawing mode to doodle on your video messages [APK Teardown]

Google's video chat app Duo has always been a pretty lightweight app, seemingly focused primarily on keeping the interface simple and prioritizing video and audio quality over flooding it with features. We've seen a few features slowly emerge over the last couple of years, and just about as many have been implemented and subsequently removed before launching. While we wait to see the eventual launch of a favorites list for contacts, there's another new feature in development that may liven up your video chats: Drawing mode. There's also another reminder that group calling is on the way.

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Choose Your Own Adventure books enter the world of voice AI with new Amazon Alexa skill

Netflix's recent interactive film Bandersnatch received mostly mixed reviews, but was wholly successful in driving interest in Choose Your Own Adventure-style (CYOA) stories. That was both a boon and a frustration to Chooseco, the owner of the CYOA registered trademark and publisher of the famous book series of the same name. There was finally a resurgence of interest in CYOA stories, but the company didn't feel it was getting proper recognition. After filing a lawsuit with Netflix, Chooseco has now taken its first step into taking advantage of its newfound popularity in the digital age with a CYOA Alexa skill. 

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Google app v9.10 beta update reveals Face Match for Assistant-enabled devices with multi-user support [APK Teardown]

At this point, it's no mystery that Google is digging deeper into facial recognition technology. Earlier today, XDA posted details found in a leaked Android Q build that contains code related to facial recognition, and now a beta update to the Google app adds its own details to the story. It's safe to say that Google will not only support per-device recognition, but will also support it across Assistant-enabled devices with the proper hardware and even allow detection for multiple users where appropriate.

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Gmail v8.12 begins testing Dynamic Email (AMP) support [APK Teardown]

We don't hear much about new technology making an appearance in email, which makes it all the more interesting when it happens. The latest Gmail update includes a sign that Google has begun testing a feature called Dynamic Email in the Android app, and once it goes live for regular users, this may be effectively turning email into an app platform.

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Samsung Galaxy Wearable app update brings watch face preview tab, new settings, and more

Following the Gear S3's substantial Tizen update, Samsung has begun rolling out a update to the Gear S Plugin that's delivering a few changes for its Galaxy Wearable smartphone app. The update delivers a variety of new features and fixes, including a new tab for previewing watch faces and the ability to toggle more settings from the user's phone.

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Google Duo v46 adds partially working 'Favorites' list, prepares Valentine's Day video effect [APK Teardown]

An update to Google's Duo app began rolling out earlier today, and unlike many other recent app updates, there's actually a brand new feature that doesn't appear to be locked behind a server-side switch. Unfortunately, it also appears that it may not be working properly, and might have been left enabled by accident. Duo is also preparing a special video effect in honor of Valentine's Day.

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Google app v9.0 beta is working on account detection with third parties, adds bits for CES announcements, and says hello from the lab [APK Teardown]

If you've been living on the beta distributions of the Google app, you probably spent the weekend (and a couple days into the week) with a broken At A Glance widget that couldn't display the weather. The issue has been resolved with yesterday's update, and it seems like things are running smoothly again. Bugs aside, not much changed in the jump to 9.0 for users, but a teardown does show some of the things to come.

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