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Alphabet reports earnings: Q4 loss of $3 billion after major tax hit, but hardware shipments "double"

Alphabet reported today in its annual earnings call that the company's fiscal Q4 was a bit of a dismal one, owing to a decision to provision a new tax on foreign assets ahead into the 2017 fiscal year. Basically, Google took a $9.9 billion tax hit in the last quarter of 2017, dramatically lowering the effective net income the company earned for the whole of the fiscal year.

Google lost $3 billion in Q4, but for 2017 overall, it managed net income of $12.7 billion on revenues of $110.8 billion. While net income is down versus 2016 ($19.5 billion), revenues are way up - around 23%.

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A Google Feed 'home' button has appeared in the Google Now Launcher

Google doesn't pay much attention to the Google Now Launcher anymore, but that doesn't mean it's dead. The Google app powers this launcher, so small tweaks show up from time to time. Today, there's a noticeable and somewhat perplexing change in the Google Now Launcher. Some users have a new home button in the search box that launches the Google Feed.

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Google Home can now set alarms with music instead of that obnoxious beeping

The default alarm tone for the Google Home may leave a tiny bit to be desired, but thankfully Google has just introduced an alternative: you can now set your next alarm to play music instead. So the next time you need to set an alarm for an impromptu nap or that bird in the oven, you can be jerked back to awareness with something a bit more entertaining.

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YouTube Go expands to more than 130 countries starting today

Google launched YouTube Go late last year in India, and then it rolled the app out to a dozen or so other nations. Today, it's pushing YouTube Go to most of the world with support for more than 130 countries. No, the US still isn't included, but it wasn't really designed for the developed world. YouTube Go includes features to make the most of a limited mobile data package.

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Google adds exporting feature for saved passwords to Chrome Canary and Dev

Exporting your saved passwords from desktop Chrome has been possible in one way or another for years. However, the feature has always been missing from the Android browser - until now. Google is now testing the ability to import and export passwords straight from Chrome on Android, but only the latter function seems to be working right now.

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Google and five other companies join Universal Stylus Initiative, bringing total number of partners to over 30

There are so many styluses available on the market for different devices, yet those with active features are rarely compatible with devices from other companies. That's why the Universal Stylus Initiative, or USI for short, was created: to "develop and promote an industry specification for a cross-system active stylus." Google, 3M, MyScript, and three other companies have just joined the USI, bringing the total number of partners to over 30.

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Google's Calculator app hits 100 million downloads on the Play Store

Virtually every device with a mobile OS comes preloaded with a calculator app, and Google's products are no different. The aptly-named 'Calculator,' which comes on Google's phones and tablets but is available for download to any device, has just hit 100 million downloads on the Play Store.

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T-Mobile customers are now seeing voicemail transcripts in Google Phone app

The Google Phone app already has a dedicated visual voicemail tab that allows users to listen to and delete voicemails quickly. It's a huge improvement over the clunky voicemail dialing we used to have to endure. However, some T-Mobile users, myself included, are now seeing transcriptions by Google there as well, making the process even easier. This capability was added to the Phone app back in November.

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Google Play services 11.9.75, which fixes Cast device Wi-Fi issues, has hit stable

Last month it was revealed that Google Cast-supported devices were causing networking issues for many. After the story garnered widespread attention, Google quickly pushed out a fix in the form of the Play services 11.9.74 beta. Affected parties were able to manually install this version or jump into the testing program to get it, and it was supposed to fix the issue. But, that was a beta release that not everyone received (since betas are opt-in). The beta seems to have gone well, though, as Google has now pushed these fixes to everyone else via the latest stable release, v11.9.75. 

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InBrief
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Google Calendar's desktop site can now show week numbers

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