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Gboard v6.9 prepares Smart Replies to messenger notifications, deeper Bitmoji integration, and more [APK Teardown]

Yesterday brought us a new version of Gboard, bumping the version number up to 6.9. There's not much in the way of changes that you'll see right away, but there is now a semi-hidden feature that will tell you about changes when they happen. However, a deeper look into the APK does reveal plans to add a feature that provides suggested responses to go with messaging apps that implement Direct Replies. Also, the MAKE A GIF feature from the iOS version is making the jump to Android, Bitmoji support is getting baked in, and there's a universal search feature in the works.

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Android Wear v2.8 app update adds darker background and 'improved notification glanceability'

Gone are the days when OTA updates were necessary to add new features to your Android Wear watch. Now, Google can add new features via the Android Wear app. A new version of the Wear app is rolling out today with a few notable changes. The theme is darker, and notifications are getting some potentially interesting changes.

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You still can't delete or upgrade films and TV episodes on Google Play

As long as Google Play Movies has existed, there has been one major problem - you can't delete movies or TV episodes from your library. That might seem like a minor issue, since it doesn't cost users anything to keep content, but it has become more pressing since Google Play added support for 4K movies.

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WhatsApp Business launches officially for Android in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the USA [APK Download]

WhatsApp Business was officially announced in September of 2017 but back then you had to sign up for a beta, register your interest, and hope to be picked to give it a try. Now the app is made official and it's launching for Android in 5 countries to begin with, with a roll out "around the world" in the coming weeks. The lucky five are: Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US. Yes, the US, where everyone says they don't use WhatsApp. I also find it odd that the launch post mentions how businesses in India and Brazil rely on WhatsApp a lot for their communications, but then these two countries aren't among the list to get it first.

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Jam City unveils a teaser trailer for 'Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery'

Jam City's upcoming RPG Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (not to be confused with Niantic's planned augmented reality Harry Potter title "Wizard's Unite") has just had a teaser trailer released that shows off a few key details of the game. It would appear that players will be creating a personalized Hogwarts student avatar to then roleplay what it would be like to attend classes, learn magical skills, and form friendships or rivalries in the Harry Potter universe.

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Instagram starts showing activity status in direct messages

In its quest to become the only app where you share photos, moments, and messages, Instagram is adding one new feature to its direct messages: activity status. Just like you'd see when a person was last active on WhatsApp or Telegram or plenty of other messaging services, now you can do the same on Instagram and chide them for not replying with "oohs" and "aahs" to the preettay pic of a sunset that you just posted or the kissy face you messaged directly to them. Or you know, there's one more way to track every online activity of your significant other and get many more proofs and reasons to pick a fight over "Are you still checking out your ex on Instagram?"

I guess this kind of feature isn't for me since I never started an Instagram DM with anyone, like eveeer, and my latest reply to anyone was about 16 weeks ago.

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Huawei endorses Google Jibe RCS, will start including Android Messages on phones

Adoption of RCS, the successor to the SMS/MMS standard, has remained relatively slow among carriers and devices. Google has spearheaded the effort by building its own 'Jibe' RCS hub and integrating it into its Android Messages SMS app, making it easier for carriers to support it. Samsung opted to build its own RCS hub, but Huawei has decided to get behind Google's technology.

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It's Wednesday, so here are 29 temporarily free and 22 on-sale apps

Wednesday is here, and the week is more than half over. It's a slim list today, about the same as Monday's, but that's okay. Dig through and see if you find something you like, and I'll see you all Friday.

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Google could block access to hidden and undocumented APIs in Android P

We're probably just a few months away from the first developer preview release of Android P, but there are some hints of what Google's cooking in AOSP. According to a report at XDA, Google might be planning a move that'll upset some developers. New commits suggest Google will remove access to unofficial APIs in the next big Android release.

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Google designer Ivy Ross shows off prototypes of Pixel 2, Pixelbook, Home Mini, and more

Prototypes are always cool to see, but us consumers don't often get to do so. It's nice to take a look at how the designs of products evolve from the drawing board all the way to our homes, pockets, and backpacks. An interview with Google hardware designer Ivy Ross recently went up on The Keyword, and embedded within are photos of several Google products' prototypes.

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