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Firebase announces new in-app messaging capabilities, enhancements to the console and Crashlytics services, and more

A big new set of services began rolling out to Firebase users today. Google's mainstream service for push messaging and other app services just announced an assortment of new capabilities. The big addition in this update is a new in-app messaging feature that enables quick announcements and offers to users, and can be tied to certain user behaviors. There are also big revisions to the management console and statistics tracking views, upgrades to the Crashlytics services, a new history view for Remote Config, and more.

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TensorFlow 2.0 announced with a new focus on usability, preview coming later this year

Most of our audience is at least familiar with seeing the name TensorFlow appear in our coverage. For the uninitiated, Tensor Flow is a machine learning framework/library created by Google that allows developers to leverage the emerging technology for their own uses. Although v1.0 only landed last year, the team behind the project has continued its work, just recently announcing that a preview for v2.0 of the platform would be coming later this year. This update could break compatibility with v1.0 APIs, but with its "focus on ease of use," developers shouldn't run into too much trouble updating.

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Android 9 Pie puts an end to third-party call recording apps

Call recording is a bit of a thorny issue when it comes to privacy. There are also different rules in different places, making it hard for Google to implement a standard in Android without falling foul of the law in certain jurisdictions. Android's official call recording API was removed in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, so third-party app developers have had to be creative since then. As of Android 9 Pie, it looks like Google has put a stop to it altogether.

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Google announces Android Dev Summit on November 7-8 in Mountain View

Google I/O was just a few months back, but Google has another developer-focused event coming up later this year. The Android Dev Summit will be a smaller event that eschews the flashy demos and giveaways that attract non-devs to I/O. It's happening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on November 7-8.

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Play Store beats App Store in downloads for Q2 2018 by 160% but loses in spending by almost half according to App Annie

For a while now, App Annie has been offering its metrics to interested parties so developers can better understand their place in the app economy. Careful examination and integration of data like this, paired with the knowledge of a target audience, can influence where a developer's time can be best spent. And according to App Annie's latest report, Play Store downloads are up significantly, with a 20% rise year-over-year, and 160% higher than Apple's Play Store. On the other hand, consumer spending is still 80% higher on iOS. 

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Some Android developers see huge drops in app installs after Google 'enhances' Play Store algorithms

Last August, Google announced an enhancement to its Play Store search and discovery algorithms, all in the pursuit of a better consumer experience. This was a natural next step after the company said it began tuning its algorithms "to optimize for user engagement, not just downloads" at its Developer Day at the Game Developers Conference in February 2017. In part, these moves appeared to be shots across the bow aimed at getting developers in line. But in recent weeks, it seems we've approached a sort of endgame, and some smaller developers are losing — big time.

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Developers in Cambodia, Kenya, Uzbekistan, and Zambia can now distribute paid apps on Google Play

There are many countries around the world where you can register for a Google Play developer account but not a merchant account, meaning you can create as many apps as you want and distribute them, as long as you want them to be free. Four of these countries are getting proper merchant account registration support: Cambodia, Kenya, Uzbekistan, and Zambia. 

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How Android App Bundles and Dynamic Delivery will change the way your phone gets its software

Installing an app from the Play Store is an almost magically streamlined experience: You find the app you want, tap “Install,” and sit back while Google takes care of the rest. But behind the scenes there's some clever business going on to make sure that your phone gets the particular version of an app that's best suited for it. That process is now getting even more complicated as Google introduces something called the Android App Bundle and a process known as Dynamic Delivery. Let's take a look at what's changing, and how this is going to affect you.

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Actions on Google get integration with custom routines, customizable visuals, support for digital subscriptions and app actions, more

Ever since they were introduced, Actions on Google have been gaining more and more features. They're the backbone behind everything you can do in Assistant with third-party services and apps, and since Assistant is spreading its tentacles everywhere these days, they will become more and more fundamental to the way we interact with our phones, speakers, TVs, and other smart devices. The latest announcements coming out of I/O will help developers achieve more with Actions on Google. 

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Google launches Material Gallery tool for design collaboration [APK Download]

One of the hot topics at Google I/O 2018 has been the evolution of Material Design. The website has been overhauled and lots of new guidelines have been added, with some of the changes being discussed in sessions at the conference. Material Theming is also being introduced to help developers implement the design language in their apps while retaining their own style. Another tool, Material Gallery, has just been launched to help designers organize their projects.

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