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Smart speaker sales up 187% in Q2 2018: Google Home leads the pack, Chinese market sees rapid growth

With the ultra-affordable Google Home Mini and Echo Dot often on sale for as little as $30, it's no surprise that sales of smart speakers have gone through the roof over the past 12 months. The global market saw year-on-year growth of 187% in Q2, with total shipments increasing from 5.8 million in 2017 to a staggering 16.8 million for the same period in 2018. Google's lead from Q1 has been retained — it sold 5.4 million Home devices in the second quarter.

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Google Goggles is dead, now prompts users to install Lens

When Google Lens was first announced a year ago, many pointed out its similarities to the long-abandoned Google Goggles app. Both were designed to identify objects in pictures, but Lens is far smarter thanks to a healthy dose of machine learning.

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Google is adding subtopics to comparison queries for quicker access to common questions

Anyone who's used Google search recently will know how many different cards that have been implemented as of late. Google is now taking this a step further by including automatically generated expandable tabs that elaborate on different aspects of searches with comparisons, such as "quartz vs granite."

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Firebase announces new in-app messaging capabilities, enhancements to the console and Crashlytics services, and more

A big new set of services began rolling out to Firebase users today. Google's mainstream service for push messaging and other app services just announced an assortment of new capabilities. The big addition in this update is a new in-app messaging feature that enables quick announcements and offers to users, and can be tied to certain user behaviors. There are also big revisions to the management console and statistics tracking views, upgrades to the Crashlytics services, a new history view for Remote Config, and more.

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Samsung Brazil tried passing two stock photos off as Galaxy A8 camera samples

Remember when Huawei tried passing a photo from a $4,500 camera off as one from the then-new P9? Samsung Brazil's just done the same thing, but with a lot less justification, by attempting to pass a stock photo off as a sample from the Galaxy A8's front-facing camera - twice.

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Confidential Mode comes to Gmail Android app

Google's big Gmail redesign earlier this year added a handful of new features, including Confidential Mode. The Android app hasn't gotten all the new Gmail tools, but Confidential Mode is rolling out today. You don't even need to update the app—just take a peek in the menu.

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New Google Express stores arrive by the dozens, as expansion continues unrestrained

It hasn't even been two weeks since we last shared with you a list of the latest retail partners to sign up with Google Express. The company's online-shopping platform has seen some tremendous growth over the course of the past few months, but the pace really feels like it's been picking up lately.

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Report: Google to open its first flagship retail store in Chicago

Google's most frequent corporate comparison is Apple, but one significant difference between the two tech titans is their differing retail presence. Although Google has occasionally had pop-up stores and some limited existence inside other retailers like Best Buy and Curry's, it's never had its own dedicated retail stores—though it was previously rumored to be working on a set in India. But, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Google may be close to finalizing a lease alleged to be used for a new retail flagship in Chicago's Fulton Market district.

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Google Duo turns two years old today

Two years ago today, Google released its 'Duo' video chat app for iPhone and Android. It was designed to replace the video chat component of Hangouts, just as Allo was supposed to supplant Hangouts' messaging functionality. Fast forward to the present, and Duo has definitely achieved its goal of making cross-platform video chat easier, even if it's not the runaway success Google probably hoped for.

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