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Charm your Valentine with the Love AR Playmoji pack for Google Pixel

Google Playground's stickers and Playmojis are pretty fun, and the timely Childish Gambino drop likely brought more attention to the Pixel's AR features. It makes sense, then, that Valentine's Day arrives with another new pack, predictably all pink and heart-shaped.

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Childish Gambino AR Playmoji dances onto your Pixel five months after Google reveal

Some of you may remember when Google showed off an AR Childish Gambino for the newly rebranded Playground app during Made by Google 2018. If you do, congrats! For some reason, Google seems to have edited out that section of the announcement (and perhaps others). Whatever the motivation behind its apparently revisionist take on history, the feature is actually here now. You can download the Childish Gambino Playground plugin today.

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It's Pixel update time: February's images are available to download

It's that time of the month: Google's Pixel updates are landing. Although OTAs don't appear to be rolling out via the traditional means just yet, Google has posted both OTA files and factory images to the usual locations for your side-loading pleasure.

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[Update: Software button may be coming] FYI: Pressing the volume buttons in Call Screen lets you hear the other party

Google's Pixel-exclusive Call Screen feature debuted with the Pixel 3, but it came to the older Pixels several weeks later. In our experience, it can sometimes be useful, though most people just think it's a voicemail greeting and hang up. Nonetheless, in the event that you are able to get the caller to play along with Call Screen, it turns out that you can actually hear what he/she is saying with the press of a volume button.

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Chrome OS Instant Tethering is rolling out to non-Pixel phones

While Chrome OS' offline usability has improved a lot since the platform's early days, there's no denying that an internet connection is still essential to get a lot of things done on a Chromebook. When you're away from WiFi, you can tether your phone's connection, but Google has a smarter ace up its sleeve: Instant Tethering. The feature started showing up two years ago to link two Android devices, was later one of the highlights of the Pixelbook announcement, then expanded to more Chrome OS devices. However, until now, you had to have a Pixel phone (or a Nexus) to set up Instant Tethering.

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Google appears to have fixed the 'check for update' button on Pixels again

In what is likely to be the biggest low-key Android news today, Google seems to have silently flipped the switch (again) when it comes to the "check for update" button on Pixels. On every Pixel device we've tested here at Android Police, tapping the button in the Settings app is successfully pulling down the recent January update.

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January Pixel updates are out now: Pixel 3 video sound quality fix, 5X and 6P finally left behind

The latest pair of Google flagships haven't been without their controversies — it's effectively a yearly ritual as the tech enthusiast community picks apart a new Pixel phone's faults— but subsequent updates typically resolve the vast majority of these issues. Lucky for us, Google claims that another Pixel 3 problem has been resolved with January's update. The issue with low-quality audio while recording video is allegedly fixed. And downloads are posted and ready for sideloading if you're impatiently waiting for this fix to hit your own Pixel 3.

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Google hardware year in review: What worked, what didn't, and what we want in 2019

Google’s hardware division is a rare success story inside a remarkably successful company - and one that has taken the better part of a decade to meet that definition. Its ambitions in the physical product space have grown from a geeky internet sideshow into a full-scale retail assault, and 2018 saw that ascendance continue. For all the naysayers it’s had - and there have been many - Google continues to position its hardware portfolio exactly where it needs to be: in stores. Chromecasts and Home Minis litter hundreds of Walmarts, Targets, and Best Buys, and Pixel smartphones are in Verizon locations across the country.

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Source: Google will launch the Pixel 3 and 3 XL "Lite" on Verizon in spring 2019

Speaking to a source familiar with the company's plans, we've learned that Google intends to launch two new Pixel smartphones on Verizon in early spring 2019 - the Pixel 3 and 3 XL "Lite." An exact announcement date and pricing are not yet known. A Pixel 3 Lite prototype was leaked on a Russian tech blog last month, fueling rampant speculation about where the phone would be sold and how it would be positioned in Google's larger smartphone lineup. Later, renders of the 3 Lite and a larger XL variant were released by OnLeaks.

These "Lite" Pixels will be the first phones in the mid-range Google has released since the Nexus 5X, which launched at $379 in the US in 2015.

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Google Playground and its AR Playmoji come to Pixel and Pixel 2 phones, new Travel pack lands [APK Download]

When the Pixel 3 debuted two months back, Google made sure its new flagship lineup was adorned with all the latest bells and whistles, introducing us to a whole bunch of new features in the process. From the get-go, we were curious to learn which of these might also make their way to older Pixel phones, and when. Over the past few weeks more and more have been expanding to new devices, and the latest to spread the love is Playground and its Playmoji packs, now formally available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL.

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