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Android Messages v2.5 removes the FAB for new conversations, prepares to launch video calls, read QR codes, and exchange money [APK Teardown]

"The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change." That's a famous quote by the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Nobody knew it at the time, but he had been sent back from the future and was actually making a snarky comment about Google's approach to design. It was only about two years ago when every app was adding FABs (floating action buttons) regardless of how much or little they made sense, and now we're saying an abrupt goodbye to the one in Android Messages as it vanishes with the latest update. Alongside that simple change, a teardown also turns up signs that the app will soon provide shortcuts to launch video calls, exchange money with contacts, and read QR codes.

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Google Contacts v2.2 updates the contact pages with quick access bar, full-width photos, and other UI improvements [APK Download]

If you've been craving some visual changes on your phone, an update to Google's Contacts app is rolling out with a few tweaks that are pretty noticeable. This version brings back full-bleed contact photos and adds a quick access bar. There are also a few other visual tweaks and a filter for the contact list has been moved. As always, you can grab the latest update from the APK Mirror link at the bottom.

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Play Music v7.12 adds an option to prevent external devices from auto-playing music [APK Download]

Smartphones have become a critical component for many of the things we do in our lives. There are still plenty of bugs and weird little things that don't quite work right on our phones, but it's when they have to connect to other devices that many of the strangest behaviors start to crop up. For years, one particular issue has been plaguing users as they connect a phone to their car stereos, headphones, or other audio output devices. Moments after a connection is made, the phone will suddenly and unexpectedly begin playing music – and anecdotally, they're always quite loud. Google Play Music is often blamed for this behavior because it's the app most likely to respond, but there's now a toggle to prevent that from happening.

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Google app v7.12 confirms squeezable sides on Pixel 2, prepares for multi-step shortcuts, resuming podcast episodes, and more [APK Teardown]

As we close in on Google's October 4th launch event, a new beta release of the Google app itself is rolling out with hints about some of the things we may hear about during the presentation. In this update, we find further confirmation that one or both of the new Pixels will include pressure-sensitive sides that wake up Google Assistant. There are also clues about customizable search bars and interchangeable voices for the Google Assistant. And we can look forward to routines, which are basically shortcuts capable of taking multiple actions.

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Google Photos v3.5 prepares for the launch of Google Lens and resumes work on timestamp editing [APK Teardown]

A new version of Google Photos is rolling out to Android users around the world. Like so many recent updates, this one doesn't change much from the user perspective, but it is meant to begin preparations for new features that will be enabled in the coming weeks or months. A teardown reveals more details about what we have to look forward to in Google Lens when it launches. Also showing up are the signs that we might finally get to edit timestamps on our pictures.

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Google+ v9.20 adds notification channels on Android 8.0 Oreo, unfortunately they're not very useful [APK Download]

Notification channels are one of the key user-facing features added with Android Oreo, and almost all of Google's major apps were ready for launch day with their own set of custom channels. A few notable stragglers like Inbox and Hangouts remain, but today's update to the Google+ app means it cannot be counted among them. Unfortunately, the custom channels added in this update are almost certainly not what G+ users were hoping to see.

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Google Phone v12 reveals further Duo integration is coming [APK Teardown]

Over the last few months, Google has been taking small steps to integrate Allo and Duo into different pieces of the phone. Most recently, Allo shortcuts were added to the Contacts app, but today's teardown is more closely related to Duo recording its video chats to the system call log. It looks like Google's next step may involve having its Phone app be a little more forward about Duo.

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HTC adds custom per-app squeeze actions to the U11's Edge Sense

The U11, HTC's second flagship phone of 2017, stands out from the crowd with its squeezable frame. The phone's software can perform custom actions based on how intensely you squeeze the phone - something that this year's Pixels might get too. Now the company is testing a beta update for the Edge Sense app, allowing users to set their own custom actions.

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Allo's in-chat translation feature is rolling out to everybody, v18 also brings adaptive icons [APK Download]

Language is officially no longer a barrier for Allo users, message translation is now rolling out to users everywhere. First discovered back in July with a teardown of v14, translation can be done by long-pressing a message and tapping the Google Translate icon appearing in the title bar at the top. You can also hide the translation with another long-press and a tap on an undo icon.

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This free app hides Android Oreo's "running in the background" notification

Android Oreo displays a persistent notification for each app running in the background, to give the user a better idea of what is happening on their device. But for power users that frequently run apps like Tasker and LastPass, the notification can be plain annoying. Thankfully, there's now an easy way to hide it forever - an app by developer 'iboalali.'

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