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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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Chrome OS Settings and Shortcuts to appear in launcher alongside Android apps

With Android tablets being... Android tablets, Chromebooks are quickly being adapted to fill the void. On supported devices, they combine the utility of Android apps with the flexibility of an adaptive (and productive) form-factor. The latest tweak, presenting Android-style Settings and Shortcuts apps in the launcher, further affirms the role Google's Chrome OS is set to assume. 

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Google Maps shortcuts are live for some users with 14 quick actions to choose from

In Cody's past teardowns of Google Maps, one option popped up a few times: Shortcuts. Until now, we hadn't seen the feature yet and hadn't received any tips about it, but it looks like it's starting to go live for some users. Our tipster has it in his Google Maps v9.72.2 but we can't replicate it on our versions yet so it seems to be a server-side update.

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Google has killed the shortcuts at the top of the Feed

Remember those shortcuts at the top of the Feed in the Google app for things like weather and restaurants? They've been missing from the app for the past week or two. Turns out, their absence isn't an oversight. Google has intentionally removed those shortcuts from the Feed. 

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Google Maps v9.70 beta enables adding and removing visited places, prepares to display showtimes and sell tickets, continues work on shortcuts, and much more [APK Teardown]

Google Maps has a new beta peeking out on devices. After a great deal of poking around, the list of changes for the interface is pretty sparse, but as always, there's a ton to discuss from the teardown. There's more from the home screen shortcuts, showtimes with ticket sales, detail fields for food photos, and way more.

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Weekend poll: Do you use app shortcuts?

Ever since Android Nougat 7.1 (and the second N Developer Preview), developers have been able to add a second set of actions to app shortcuts in supported launchers. By long-pressing a supported app on the homescreen or app list, you can quickly access specific functions in it. Although we've had the feature for over a year, not all developers have updated their apps to take advantage of it, and plenty of us forget that the option is even there. What about you, do you use app shortcuts?

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Google Maps v9.68 makes indoor maps easier to spot, prepares intelligent 'out of range' warnings, and much more [APK Teardown]

For many people around the world, this is the holiday season. We're packing things up and hitting the road to visit family and friends. Most of us will put at least some part of our trip into Google's hands as we launch Maps and wait for it to tell us which turn to take next. A new version hit the beta channel yesterday to prepare for some of these road trips. There are a few new features and a boatload of items for a teardown.

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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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Google Maps v9.60 brings usable Picture-in-Picture mode, prepares for adding personal notes to locations, food reviews, and more [APK Teardown + Download]

Friday saw the launch of video submissions by Local Guides, some of which are already popping up. But that wasn't the only thing to come with the v9.60 update, the Picture-in-Picture mode added in the last update has been fixed and now offers a useful window into your trip while you're using other apps. There are also several new topics for a teardown, including personal notes for locations, food reviews with photo submissions, and much more.

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The Google Home app now features customizable user-defined shortcuts for Assistant

One of the draws of having a personal assistant is being able to control various things through it. Alexa is popular partially for this reason and Google Home/Assistant has been slowly catching up since its launch. Just a few weeks ago, our very own Cody noticed that Google was implementing direct support for IFTTT in the Google app for user-defined actions. Well, this has finally appeared in the Home app in a "Shortcuts" menu in the Assistant section.

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