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Google Home Mini review: Finally

The Google Home Mini is a product so obvious that its announcement likely ushered in more sighs of relief than genuine excitement. Let's face the facts: Google Home desperately needed something to compete with Amazon's popular Echo Dot. Without an entry-level smart speaker, the Home ecosystem was plainly at a disadvantage.

I won't keep you waiting: Google Home Mini is the low on compromise, high on value device we hoped for. It's not perfect, but it more than gets the job done.

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Nest camera integration with Google Assistant is already live

One of the coolest demos in Google's event yesterday came during the Nest section when the presenter used an Assistant command to beam a camera feed to the big screen. A lot of the things Googled showed off aren't available yet, but this one is. You might need to do a little setup, though.

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Google Store is now a Google-only store

There were several major announcements from Google yesterday, but a few changes flew under the radar. One of those was the removal of all Android Wear devices from the online Google Store, including the 'flagship' LG Watch Sport and Watch Style. But it seems that's just part of a larger move to make the entire store comprised of only Google-made products.

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You can now send information from your Google Home searches to your phone

Among the dozens of new features we keep discovering about Google Home is one interesting and very useful new feature. You can now have your Google Home send the results of a search to your phone. It's excellent for those instances when you want to read more about something, check again the result later, or share it with someone through an app on your phone.

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Google Assistant 'routines' will soon let you personalize multiple actions you can trigger with a single command

Wouldn't it be great if upon waking up you could say "Ok Google, good morning" to have your lights and coffee machine turned on while the news is read to you? Similarly, when you go to bed, it would be great if you could say "goodnight" to have your lights dimmed and your security system activated. Well, soon™ you'll be able to, thanks to new multi-step actions that can be added to everyday 'routines.'

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The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have USB-C digital audio, so your third-party USB-C headphones need to support that too

USB-C was supposed to be this savior of all ports, a be-all-end-all of sorts, but so far, I'm honestly lost with the acronyms. USB-C, 3.0 and 3.1 and 3.2, USB-C PD, VESA DisplayPort Alternate Mode, USB SuperSpeed+, and so on... It's becoming increasingly impossible to tell what each one means and what you need to have on your device to make sure it supports fast charging, fast data transfers, external displays, and audio playback.

Here's one more for you to worry about: Digital Audio. If you want your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL to play music on your third-party USB-C headphones, you need to make sure those support digital audio.

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You can now turn on and off your Chromecast-connected TV with a Google Home command

It's the little things you guys. Sometimes, you're sitting in the living room and you just want to turn on your TV without reaching for that remote. Sure, you can ask Home to play something on your Chromecast, which will automatically turn the TV on, but then it'll start playing something while maybe you just wanted to see those pretty backdrops. And forget about turning the TV off, that just didn't work.

Until yesterday that is. Google published a new support document that explains that you can now turn on and off the TV with Google Home. You'll need to have a Chromecast connected to your TV and for the TV to support HDMI-CEC with CEC turned on (basically this is what allows the TV to turn on automatically through an HDMI command).

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Inbox email notifications are currently broken for some users

If there's one feature of an email client that everyone depends on, it's notifications. I mean, if you're receiving emails, it's kind of important to be informed about them, right? Sadly for many Google Inbox users at present, this isn't happening. Notifications for the Android app appear to be broken, and it's understandably making people mad.

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"OK Google, what's this song?" is finally coming to Google Assistant

We don't distribute "finally" in titles gratuitously. In order for a piece of news to earn its "finally," it has to be a popular request and one that's been long in the making and, more often than not, it has to be so logical that its absence baffled us. But today, we have a much-earned "finally" for song search on Assistant.

One of the most beloved features of Google Search has long been asking it what's playing to identify songs around you. It works like Shazam or SoundHound, but without requiring a third-party app. When Google introduced Assistant, everyone was disappointed to see what the command didn't work.

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YouTube is testing a new Activity bottom tab for Shared videos and Notifications

YouTube is one of Google's most server-side test prone apps. Every couple of weeks, sometimes even days, we spot a new layout somewhere that brings a little change to the table. The latest is a renamed 4th bottom tab to Activity.

Activity merges the previous Shared 4th tab (which has been official for all since August) with your Notifications (which until now are hidden under Library -> your profile picture -> Notifications). So there are now 2 top tabs under the 4th bottom tab, yay! The move does make sense though since you can see all your active YouTube shared video discussions with friends as well as catch up on all the recent uploads, live broadcasts, and activity from the channels you follow.

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