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Google Assistant now shows ads in some answers

New and improved answer styles are rolling out for Google Assistant, including more visual and interactive elements. The update comes with one change that's not an improvement, though: depending on your query, the Assistant might answer with ads like the ones you see in normal Google searches.

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Pixel 3a shows up on the Google Store, continues to be very poorly kept secret

It seems the budget Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL phones have something in common with their flagship equivalents besides the brand name — they're being leaked a lot. Just today, Google added both phones to the Play Developer Console, and now the 3a has made an appearance on the company's online store.

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Google updates Gmail widget with modern Material Design

Widgets, once one of the most appealing features of Android and now all but abandoned. A few years ago, an update to a widget, especially one from a Google app, would be noticed immediately and we would get dozens of tips about it in the span of a few hours. Nowadays hardly anyone uses widgets to even notice or care. So you may forgive us for not seeing this major change in the Gmail widget, which occurred toward the end of last month.

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Google Assistant now answers questions with larger cards and more visuals, adds built-in calculators and tools

Google Assistant is largely considered to be the top mobile assistant out right now, but even the best can improve. Starting today, Google is updating how Assistant displays the answers to your questions. The updated answer cards are larger with more visuals, and there are even some new tools built-in.

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Google Pixel 3a and 3a XL Play Console evidence points to mid-2019 launch, Verizon availability

Over the past few months, details have slowly leaked about Google's upcoming budget Pixel devices — believed to be named the 'Pixel 3a' and 'Pixel 3a XL.' Both phones have now appeared in the Google Play Developer Console, under their already-known codenames.

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Google disbands its AI advisory board before it even starts work

We all want to avoid a Terminator-style future where the machines have conquered humanity, but how do you do that? This is just one of the problems Google's Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was supposed to help answer. It won't, though. Following some very public drama, Google has decided to dissolve the board and look for a different approach.

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YouTube picture-in-picture support for non-Premium subscribers is spreading beyond the US

For years and years now, mobile users have clamored for the same experience watching YouTube on their small devices as they have on a computer. You can keep YouTube playing and switch to another tab or app, you can resize that window and open another one side-by-side, and all of that without paying for a subscription. On mobile, however, non-paying users had to wait until 2016 and YouTube's multi-window support to be able to do something else while watching a video. If you wanted more perks like background playback and picture-in-picture, you had to be a Red, now Premium, subscriber.

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[Update: It's back] BBC blocks its content from Google Podcasts

Podcasts are a prime example of the internet doing something right. You aren't forced to use one particular service, but you can freely choose how you'd like to consume your favorite content. Well, if you happen to be a Google Podcasts user and an avid BBC listener, those times are over for now. The British network is blocking all its content from Google's app and Assistant.

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Google Maps adds traffic slowdowns to incident reporting

For years, Google Maps users begged the navigation service to borrow the incident reporting feature from its peer down the virtual hallway, Waze. But it wasn't until last November that we got a sneak peek at the new option, then a month later, it popped up for many more users. It didn't work at first, was briefly removed, then returned in a functional state. The Maps team isn't content with just crash and speed trap reports, it has recently added a new type of incidents: slowdowns.

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[Update: Sony support page] Google is experimenting with sponsored channels on Android TV home screens, and users are pissed

Much to the chagrin of users, some Android TV boxes and television sets have been surfacing home screen channels with a whole row of sponsored content. A similar feature that shows featured Play Store apps is switched on by default, but it's easy enough to disable it. The new sponsored channels are proving a little harder to get rid of.

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