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Google pulled the Pixel 2's Android 8.1 developer preview factory images

Looks like there are a few more hiccups to be found with Google's Android 8.1 developer preview. In addition to pulling all the OTA files, Google has also placed a hold on the developer preview factory image for the new Pixel 2, though images for other devices, such as the larger Pixel 2 XL, are still available. The explanation? A bootloader configuration issue. 

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Power off and restart screens get a new coat of paint, and restart screen now says 'Restarting...'

Restart functionality has been in many Android skins for years, but Google only officially introduced it to stock Android last year with Android 7.1. However, the pop-up that appeared when you hit the restart button still showed the default text for a shut-down instead of 'Restarting...', which is much more logical. Android 8.1 Oreo fixes this issue, and brings a splash of color to both the shut-down and restart screens to go with the new power menu design.

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Android Pay adds 11 new banks, offers more detail on support for Synchrony

Android Pay has grown substantially since the original launch to cover all the major banks in the US. However, there are a lot of small banks and credit unions. It's hard to even believe there are so many, but here we are with yet another list of new financial institutions. There's a twist this time, though. Google has also provided additional details on which Synchrony private label cards are supported by Android Pay.

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Firefox support for web-based Google Earth is in development

After two years in development, the web-based Google Earth 9.0 debuted earlier this year. The new version runs entirely in the web browser, but it only works in Google Chrome. This is because it used Portable Native Client (NaCl), a technology that allows C and C++ code to run in the Chrome browser. Since no other browser bothered implementing NaCl, the Earth web app was exclusive to Chrome.

That is now changing, as the Twitter account for Google Earth revealed that Firefox support is in the works:

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YouTube TV coming to Android TV, Xbox One, Apple TV, and smart TVs

Google's long-rumored live TV service finally arrived earlier this year as 'YouTube TV.' Even from the start, it was a pretty solid offering, and Google has continued to add more channels and expand to more areas. But for a service called 'YouTube TV,' the lack of smart TV/Android TV applications was a major omission. To date, the only way to watch content on the big screen has been with a Chromecast.

That changes today, as YouTube has announced that applications for Android TV and Xbox One will be released within the next few days.

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Google Photos v3.8 has a fancy new Lens animation [APK Download]

Google Lens is taking its sweet time getting ready for its full-fledged debut. The juiced-up version of Google Goggles is already available to those who use the first- and second-generation Pixel smartphones, but it's cooped up in the Photos app and has yet to appear in Assistant, as promised back in May at I/O. One of the reasons for this delay appears to be aesthetic, as Google Photos v3.8 shows off a new animation while Lens is analyzing a photo.

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Want Ambient Display to show battery level? Star this issue and let Google know (but don't comment)

These days, a lot of phones come with some form of ambient/always-on displays. Samsung, Motorola, LG, and Google all have phones with a variant of this feature, and it can really come in handy if you just need to check something in a pinch. But while Google has updated its Ambient Display with 8.1 Oreo, it's still missing one crucial feature: battery level. However, you can help push Google to add it by starring this issue in its Issue Tracker.

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Pixel 2 XL, but not Pixel 2, now sold on Google Store in Italy and Spain

Google's hardware has always been difficult to purchase, if you happen to live outside of a handful of countries. The original Pixels were only sold by Google in six regions - Australia, Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, and the United States. The Pixel 2 and 2 XL were originally limited to those regions as well, but now the XL is expanding to Italy and Spain.

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Android Auto is crashing randomly for many Pixel 2 and 2 XL owners [Update]

For the circumstances in which Android Auto is used, you'd think that Google would pay extra attention in getting everything just right. But with issues in just the past few months regarding Maps, the Ok Google command, and Play Music, it's clear that that's not the case. Our latest Android Auto issues come from owners of Google's brand-new Pixel 2 XL.

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Changing Google's domain will no longer give results from another country

Until today, if you wanted to use Google Search in another locale or language, all you had to do was type Google into the address bar with a different country code top level domain (ccTLD for short) and you'd be good to go. This might be useful if you lived abroad but preferred to have your search results more tailored towards your home country, or if you lived in a smaller country and simply liked the results from google.com better.

In a blog post today, Google has announced that it will be changing the way it labels country services in Search, so that search results will be customized to a user's location, independent of whichever domain is in use.

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