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New shortcut in Google search allows you to refine results with specific terms

If you've made any kind of specific Google search, you've probably seen results that aren't a perfect match. Such results often include an indicator that they're not exactly what you're looking for: "Missing: whatever." Now, these results include the option to search again and only show results that include that missing term.

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Assistant launcher shortcut showing up unexpectedly for many users

You've been able to install a launcher shortcut for Google Assistant from the Play Store for a while now, but we've started receiving reports that the icon has been showing up unexpectedly in the launchers of people who haven't done that.

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Google Assistant shortcuts can make your Home say anything

Back in May, Google Assistant added support for shortcuts, allowing you to say one thing and have Assistant perform another command. For example, I set "night" as a shortcut for starting ambient noise on my Google Home. But you can just as easily have fun with it, when combined with Assistant's 'repeat after me' command.

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Split-Screen Creator makes a shortcut to instantly launch two apps in multi-window mode

When David wrote his first impressions of the Note8, he mentioned one feature of the Apps Edge that lets you create a shortcut to immediately launch two apps in split-screen. And that got me jealous. See, I don't use multi-window on my phone all that often, but on my tablet, it's a different story. I'm often editing Android Police's posts, which requires Chrome and a Google Docs file to be open at the same time so I can take notes. But I have to manually open these and set them up each time. A shortcut would be a welcome simplification of that process.

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Cortana 2.5 adds optional lock screen functionality [APK Download]

While Google Assistant is rolling out to more devices, Microsoft is continuing to improve its own virtual helper. Microsoft's Cortana assistant made the jump to Android in 2015, and has continued to improve since with regular updates. The latest update, version 2.5, allows users to add Cortana to the lockscreen.

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Material design guidelines updated with guidance on cross-platform design, app shortcut icons, help, & more

Since Google introduced material design in 2014, the questions of whether and how to use the design language on other platforms like iOS has lingered. But Google hasn't been a stranger to material on iOS. Inbox users for instance should feel right at home moving between iOS and Android, as many of the interface's core components are shared.

In an update to the material guidelines today, Google is taking a more explicit position on the matter with new guidance for bringing material design to iOS and web. The guidance definitely isn't comprehensive - it doesn't dive very deep into the more nuanced considerations for cross-platform design like platform-specific feature sets, esoteric navigation and action patterns, etc.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: App shortcuts are supported in the Google Now Launcher

There were some interesting features announced as part of the launch of Google's Pixel phones. While some are exclusives to the new handsets, others are a part of the new Android 7.1 Nougat. One of the headlining features for the new OS version is the App Shortcuts API, a way for apps to offer fast access to select screens and functions. If you've been looking forward to trying it out, the Google Now Launcher in combination with today's developer preview fully supports app shortcuts and there's already plenty of examples to try out.

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Google Maps v9.39 adds a handy traffic widget and hints at live data about busy places [APK Teardown + Download]

Google Maps made it into the update cycle this week, bumping the version number up to 9.39. This update appears to be a bit lighter than many from the last few months, but it's not completely lacking improvements. There's a new shortcut that can be used to jump directly into the traffic screen. A quick teardown also reveals a potential improvement to the busyness chart on many locations. As always, we've got a link below to pick up the APK.

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Play Newsstand v3.4 Adds Home Screen Shortcuts To News Sources And Topics [APK Download]

We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs. However, there is one potentially handy new feature making an appearance: home screen shortcuts.

What's New

This is the semi-official changelog:

  • Home icon support: Get direct access to a news edition or topic by adding an icon to your device home screen.
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Inbox v1.9 Adds New Compose And Reminder Home Screen Shortcuts [APK Download]

The updates came rolling in quickly this morning. Among them was a fresh bump to Google's Inbox app – the email app for people without time for email. This release was a little light on truly new features as far as the main interface is concerned, but it finally brought a feature to light we've been expecting for a few months: home screen shortcuts to jump straight into writing a new email or scheduling reminders.

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The new shortcuts are called Compose and Reminders. They were first revealed during a Teardown of Inbox in early March and they appear to work as expected.

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