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Essential Phone camera update adds autoHDR mode and improves performance

The Essential Phone has the hardware to compete with phones that cost much more than its revised $500 price, but specs aren't everything. Case in point: the camera. The Essential Phone has a pair of 13MP camera sensors, but the performance was poor. Essential has been working to improve it with updates, and the latest one claims to address HDR. There's finally an autoHDR mode and a new HDR algorithm.

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[Deal Alert] Get 20% off on Google Express orders placed in the app (up to $20 off w/ coupon code)

Google Express can be a quick and easy way to get the stuff you need delivered to your door. Whether you just don't have the time to pick up toilet paper at the corner store or a lack of vehicle space prevents you from transporting that TV, Google Express is a good service to plug the gap. And now you can get 20% off (via coupon code, up to a total $20 discount) for orders placed in the Google Express app.

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YouTube Music v2.19 hints at new Premiere subscription service [APK Teardown]

In the later half of last year, we saw the first hint that YouTube may be launching a new subscription tier or service called YouTube Plus. Aside from seeing that particular name spread to the other apps in the YouTube family, there hasn't been anything new about the 'Plus' branding specifically. However, it seems there's yet another name popping up: YouTube Premiere.

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Google adds 'Winter Sports' and 'Blocks' AR stickers to Pixel camera [APK Download]

Google's AR efforts go back a few years to the Tango developer devices. It took time for Tango to become a consumer product, and Google killed Tango after just two phone releases. Now it's all about ARCore, which you can experience in the Pixel camera. There's a new version of AR Stickers today that enables two more sticker packs. Strangely, the stickers are a separate download this time.

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Chrome will show all HTTP sites as 'not secure' later this year

For years, HTTPS was regarded as only necessary for sites handling critical information, like bank portals. The movement for all sites to use HTTPS has gained traction over the past few years, partially thanks to the availability of free SSL/TLS certificates from Let's Encrypt, and partially thanks to browsers encouraging sites to switch. Starting with version 68, Chrome will start marking all HTTP sites as 'Not Secure.'

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[Update: Now available for everyone] Google Maps Go beta expands to the US

Google started a beta program for Google Maps Go—the lightweight low-data version of Google Maps—back in January, but at the time you couldn't actually install it on non-Go phones or in most countries. That was a bit disappointing; while the app itself might be nothing more than a shell for the PWA accessible via Chrome, it was still bound to come in handy as a shortcut for those on slower connections. Now Google has decided to let more of us in on the fun, as the beta program on Google Play has expanded to the US.

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Play Store v8.9 hints at modular APKs, peer-to-peer sharing of app updates, and viewable edit history for reviews [APK Teardown]

Version 8.9 of the Play Store began rolling out earlier today, but as usual, you're probably not going to spot a lot of changes. However, I've been watching the last few updates and there have been clues for a few projects that are slowly coming together. Some truly cool things may be coming to us later this year, including what appears to be apps that can be downloaded in separate pieces. It also looks like users in data-constrained regions will soon be able to share updates with each other. Finally, we may soon be able to see a history of the edits users have made to their app reviews.

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[Update: Now being populated] Google Play Store shows a new Notifications section for some users

It appears that the Play Store team is testing another new feature in the Android app, though you may like this one more than the new tab bar that's been rolling out to more and more devices. In the side menu of the Play Store, some users are seeing a new Notifications section, right below My Apps & games.

Tapping on it opens a dedicated Notifications screen, where both of our tipsters have only seen the below "You're all caught up" graphic.

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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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