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6

Google and Santa are teaming up to bring the festive spirit to your devices (Update: APK Download)

Christmas Eve is only 20 days out, and as such, Google has teamed up with Santa's Elves just in time to spread the festive spirit around the world. Google Assistant will offer you fresh broadcasts from the North Pole Newscast every day, and the Elves have polished up the Google Santa Tracker, which lets you explore Santa's village starting today.

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13

Android Auto tests two new UIs for Google Assistant, launcher customization and weather are live (APK Teardown)

Changes to the UI of Android Auto are few and far between, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few things in testing from time to time. There are (at least) two interfaces in the works right now, one of which appears to be rolling out to some people, and we have screenshots of both. Also, for those waiting for the ability to customize the apps in your launcher or get the temperature in your status bar, both appear to be live for everybody now.

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53

Google Recorder v1.1 availability expands to Pixel 2, 3, and 3a (APK Download)

Google's Recorder app has been one of those especially popular revelations from the launch of the Pixel 4, and rightfully so —the voice transcription and search features are incredible. However, plenty of people weren't happy with the Pixel 4 exclusivity. That changes now...kinda. The Recorder app is now also officially available to the Pixel 2, 3, and 3a, but that's about it.

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19

VLC 3.2 revamps audio and video player, improves TV interface, and adds keyboard shortcuts to Chrome OS (APK Download)

VLC is one of the best media players. It's available on pretty much any platform and able to play almost every audio and video file type you could think of. Its UI on Android has become a bit stale over the years though, so with the recently released version 3.2.3 of the app, the developers have decided to polish up the looks while also adding new features to the Android TV and Chromebook variants.

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52

(Update: Weather rolling out) Android Auto v4.8 is ready to add app drawer customization and persistent weather [APK Teardown]

The latest update to Android Auto is making the rounds and it's potentially a pretty major update, even if it's not immediately obvious. There aren't going to be any major visible changes upon installing the update, but one of the most requested features, a customizable app drawer, appears to be ready for launch. Also on the lineup is a persistent temperature display, which may also be rolling out soon.

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13

Samsung Music comes to Android Auto [APK Download]

Samsung phones come with a pre-installed music player. Apart from supporting local music playback, it also integrates with Spotify, which lets you combine your personal library with the one from the streaming service. However, on Android Auto, you had to resort to the dedicated Spotify app, as Samsung Music never worked with Google's in-car software experience. That has now changed with the latest update to Samsung's app, which enables playback and control on your vehicle's dashboard and brings support for Android 10.

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11

Google Files lets you cast local media from your phone [APK Download]

Google Files started out as a Go app and has since been promoted and shrugged off that denomination. It's still a lightweight application aimed primarily markets with low-bandwidth internet, so most of its features don't rely on the internet, such as device cleaning and peer-to-peer file sharing. The app has now also gained support for local media casting, finally bringing it on par with many third-party apps that have supported this for almost as long as the Chromecast protocol has existed.

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6

Play Store navigation becomes simpler on Wear OS [APK Download]

Google may have just bought Fitbit, but it still has to take care of its home-grown wearable OS, Wear OS. While you could argue that the platform feels pretty much dead in the water, the company still adds new software features every once in a while, like a redesigned system navigation a year ago. Now Google has decided to give the Play Store on watches a facelift and has released a new version that makes it easier to navigate it on the small screen.

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35

(Update: LG G8X) ARCore renamed to Google Play Services for AR, adds support for Pixel 4 and more devices

Google is always hard at work on adding ARCore support to new devices. This time around, those include the brand-new Note10 and 10+, but other than that, a bigger shift has occurred on the company's AR front – that is, if you count marketing and naming schemes as big shifts. The catchy ARCore Play Store listing makes way for the cumbersome phrase "Google Play Service for AR." The change has already been visible for a while, but the company only introduced the new name in the app's changelog last week, along with announcing support for 60fps rendering on capable devices.

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37

Google Messages gets new share and download buttons in image viewer [APK Download]

Google's design language is ever-evolving, and thus its apps are always changing, too. The same is true for Messages, which has only recently received automatic dark mode support on Android 10 and the ability to set chat reminders. The most recent tweak is far more minor, though. Messages version 5.2 sports a redesigned image viewer that moves the share and save buttons from the top to the bottom, making them more accessible.

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