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Facebook launches the data-sipping Messenger Lite in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Canada

To call the Facebook suite of apps a bloated mess would be an understatement, most especially the ever-growing Messenger — I think I've used it once, after which I uninstalled it. However, in a surprising turn of events, Facebook has launched the "lite" version of the app in North America, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. 

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Microsoft's Groove Music Pass is dead in favor of Spotify

Microsoft has a streaming music service, though you'd be forgiven if you've forgotten about it (or in my case, forgotten about it several times). The relative unpopularity of it has pushed the tech giant to put to rest its Groove Music Pass in favor of Spotify.

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17 new and notable Android apps and live wallpapers from the last week (9/26/17 - 10/2/17)

Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications and live wallpapers that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous week or so.

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VLC stable sees first major update in a year (v2.5) including an improved UI, search changes, support for Android Auto and PiP

Popular media player VLC just updated the stable branch of its Android app to 2.5, and it's one of the biggest updates in recent memory. This latest update has a dynamic new UI that better fits with Material Design guidelines, PiP mode, Android Auto support, 360-degree video support, and search improvements (including Google search integration), among a ton of other smaller features. As the first major release in over a year, we've been looking forward to it for quite a while. 

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Messenger loses its custom emoji set, will adopt Facebook's on Android and web

You might not have noticed this, but Facebook and Facebook Messenger had different emoji sets. Note the emphasis on "had," because Facebook has just chosen to ditch Messenger's own emojis for the ones that are found in Facebook itself. It's a real tragedy.

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Google Search Lite, the low-data alternative to Search, updated to V0.2 with a few minor tweaks [APK Download]

A couple months back we heard that Google was testing a new Search Lite app. It appeared to be targeting the Indonesian market, and — as the "lite" name would suggest — it's meant to use a bit less data, working better on a slower connection than the old search app. Now it's been updated to version 0.2, and it's brought a tweaked layout with it. 

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SwiftKey Keyboard updated with new default themes and redesigned hub

SwiftKey is undoubtedly one of the most popular third-party keyboard apps in the Play Store, even after it was acquired by Microsoft. SwiftKey is apparently using all that sweet, sweet Microsoft money to make some changes to the app. Starting today, a new version is rolling out with three new default themes and a redesigned hub.

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Google updates the look of the stocks finance card in Search

We heard of Google Finance's complete overhaul a few days ago, but it seems that hints of the new design could be hiding in Google's latest stocks card interface. If you search for any stock value on Google, it provides you with a card that details its price history, performance, and provides comparison against other stocks and news.

Now that interface has changed. Instead of one long page where you scroll down to each separate section you have 4 tabs for Overview, News, Compare, and Financials. The blue line in the graph has also been replaced by a filled green one, and the different history periods are now tappable buttons instead of tabs.

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[Update: There's an easier way] Tip: You can edit the shortcuts at the top of the Google Feed, sort of

Google has been toying with changes to the Google Feed in its eponymous app all year, seemingly settling on a translucent look when you swipe right from your launcher home screen, or the three-tab interface in the full app. Google may still be testing different options, so yours may not be the same as mine, but I find it a lot worse than what I had before, especially as I can't swipe away cards to dismiss them anymore.

Another fairly recent introduction, in both views, are the shortcuts at the top of the feed (see above image). By default, four of them are on display: current weather, Eat & Drink, Translate, and Solitaire.

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Disney merges its TV apps into 'DisneyNOW'

In the past, Disney has had one app for each of its TV networks - Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD. That means three apps you have to manage, and (at least) three times you have to enter your cable credentials to get access to all available content. Now the company is consolidating all three into the new 'DisneyNOW' app.

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