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Thursday, June 2, 2016

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Google Maps gets a new beta version

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 02:39 PM PDT

If you're down for testing the latest and greatest apps, Google just gave the Maps app its own official beta version. You'll have to sign up to test this new beta, and it might be buggy and dysfunctional, so this isn't for everyone.

If you want to give it a shot, hit the source link and hit "Become a tester." You'll then get beta versions as updates in Google Play like you normally do for the regular version. Let us know how you like it!


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Google teaching its self-driving cars to honk

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 02:39 PM PDT

Honking isn't the most pleasant sound in the world, and I'm sure you hate it even more if you live in a densely populated area with lots of traffic. But a car's horn can be critical for avoiding dangerous situations, and can even be used in a friendly way (to an extent).

To make its self-driving cars better and safer, Google is teaching them to honk when necessary. The cars can give short honk bursts to warn people that the car is there, like if someone is backing out of a blind driveway, or it can honk continuously to avoid a dangerous situation.

The honks were first played only in the cabin so the drivers could note if the honk was done appropriately, but now the cars are able to honk out loud. Google aims for this honking to be as polite as possible, so you likely won't hear a Google self-driving car laying on the horn anytime soon. Keep beeping, self-driving cars.


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Pebble Core gets Amazon Alexa support

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 02:39 PM PDT

Pebble and Amazon have partnered together in an unexpected way. During the Kickstarter for its latest round of products, Pebble has announced that its Core keychain fitness/hacker do-it-all device will have Amazon Alexa support.

Alexa is Amazon's virtual assistant that usually running on Echo devices. With Alexa on a Pebble Core, you have a fully portable virtual assistant thanks to the device's 3G connection. You'll be able to play music, control your home's smart functions, shop on Amazon, hear the news, and ask questions all using your voice.

While the partnership seems odd at first, a portable Amazon Echo in the form of the tiny Pebble Core sounds like a great idea. If you haven't backed the Kickstarter, now is an even better time to do so.


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Deal: Moto X Pure Edition 64GB and Moto 360 Sport for $399

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 02:39 PM PDT

Looking for a deal to knock your socks off? Motorola is currently offering a combo deal that rivals some Black Friday deals. Right now, users can score a Moto X Pure Edition with 64GB of storage plus a Moto 360 Sport for just $399, or $350 off the regular price of both items. Getting the deal is a little complex, so we've itemized it below to make it easier to follow.

  1. Follow this link to the Moto X Pure Edition.
  2. Change the storage size to 64GB and add it to your cart.
  3. Type in the coupon code: CLASSOF2016
  4. Follow this link to the Moto 360 Sport.
  5. Choose the White or Flame model and add it to your cart.
  6. With both items in the cart, type in the coupon code: JUNEMOTO360

Once that's all said and done, your cart total should be $399.99. To top it all off, Motorola is also offering free shipping on the order. This is a perfect way to celebrate graduation, or simply to treat yourself with a couple of new devices. You could even use it as an excuse to get a really great Father's Day gift. In any case, we're not sure how long this deal will run for, so if you're looking to save, it's better to act now than wait too long and miss the sale.

Are any of you looking into nabbing this deal?


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Motorola Releases New Camera App In The Play Store, But Only For Its 2016 Devices

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 01:56 PM PDT

moto

Motorola has long had the worst camera app of any mainstream OEM, which is a bummer as the 2015 Moto X Pure had a decent sensor finally. Now, Moto has posted a revamped camera app in the Play Store, but you probably can't use it yet. It's only for use with the company's 2016 devices like the Moto G4 and upcoming Moto X refresh.

Right off the bat, you'll notice the new camera app has full manual controls.

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Motorola Releases New Camera App In The Play Store, But Only For Its 2016 Devices was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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YouTube Red subscribers receiving offer for free Chromecast

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 01:41 PM PDT

If you subscribed to YouTube Red, you're in for a treat. Some subscribers have received an email from Google offering them a free Chromecast to reward them for their subscription, which is a great way to get more people to watch YouTube on the big screen.

Before you get excited, there is some bad news. This appears to only be for people who specifically signed up for YouTube Red, not for those who have Google Play Music All Access and got YouTube Red at the same time. So if you have YouTube Red but didn't specifically subscribe to it, you're likely not getting that email.

YouTube Red is a pretty great deal at $9.99 a month for ad-free YouTube, along with exclusive YouTube content, offline videos, background YouTube Music listening, and the addition of Google Play Music All Access. And with a $35 Chromecast thrown in, it's even better. You'll have until June 19th to get the Chromecast, so let us know if you receive your email!


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VLC v2.0 Is Rolling Out With Network Browsing, Merged Android TV Version, And More

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 01:37 PM PDT

vlc

VLC is one of those apps that takes beta testing seriously. The developers have been testing a big revision (1.9.x) for ages, and now it's finally rolling out on Android as v2.0. This update finally embraces the LAN part of VideoLAN Client with proper network browsing, and that's only the start.

Here's the full changelog posted by VideoLAN, which eschews the usual bullet list format.

2.0 introduces a large number of features, notably network disk browsing (Windows shares, UPnP, NFS, FTP, SFTP...), favorite folders and URLs, video playlists, rewritten notifications and control, popup video and a rewritten history.

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VLC v2.0 Is Rolling Out With Network Browsing, Merged Android TV Version, And More was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Maps Now Has A Play Store Beta - Get It Right Here [APK Download]

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 12:59 PM PDT

betamps

There's a Google Maps beta channel on the Play Store now, and you can sign up for it at this link. You can also download the new APK, version 9.27, directly from APK Mirror if you prefer, right here.

betamsg

We're still rooting around in the app to see if there's anything new, so let us know if you find anything! (Remember, Maps was also updated last week to v9.26.1, so anything from that update is not new).

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Google Maps Now Has A Play Store Beta - Get It Right Here [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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VOEZ, The Spiritual Sequel To Rhythm Game Favorite Cytus, Lands On The Play Store

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 12:22 PM PDT

imageDeveloper Rayark International seems to be in something of a groove for anime-themed rhythm games, if you'll pardon the pun. After a surprise hit with Cytus, the company is back with a similar game. VOEZ is different enough in tone and structure that it doesn't feel like a direct sequel, but it's safe to say that those who liked the original Cytus will also enjoy the new game. It's a free download on the Play Store, supported by in-app purchases for unlocking levels without getting high scores.

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VOEZ, The Spiritual Sequel To Rhythm Game Favorite Cytus, Lands On The Play Store was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Play Music v6.9 Brings Podcast Support To Android Auto And Relocates The Genre Selector In New Releases [APK Download]

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 11:57 AM PDT

music

It has been a few weeks since Play Music formally launched its take on podcasts, so it goes without saying that there are probably a few things left to be done. An update to version 6.9 takes care of one of the bigger gaps in the functionality by putting podcasts onto its Android Auto interface. Also on the list for this update are some small-to-medium visual tweaks. As usual, the apk is available for download at the bottom of this post if you're interested in jumping ahead of the normal rollout.

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Play Music v6.9 Brings Podcast Support To Android Auto And Relocates The Genre Selector In New Releases [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google May Be Rolling Out A "Show Installed Apps" Toggle In Play Store As Part Of New "Top Charts" Layout

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 11:36 AM PDT

playtoggle

For years, I have longed for the ability to remove apps I already have from results or lists in the Play Store (even back when it was the Android Market). It seems Google is finally, really testing such a feature according to screenshots we've received from a tipster. The current implementation of the "Show installed apps" toggle only appears in app lists, not search results, as far as we can tell.

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Google May Be Rolling Out A "Show Installed Apps" Toggle In Play Store As Part Of New "Top Charts" Layout was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Facebook Is Probably Killing Chat On Mobile Site, Already Forcing Users To Messenger App Instead

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 10:53 AM PDT

fbmessenger

According to a new dialogue on the mobile Facebook website, the company will soon be forcing users of the service to download the native Android Facebook Messenger app in order to even view conversations.

The mobile site has been pushing users to download Messenger for some time, but it in the last few days, Facebook has begun much more aggressively shuffling mobile web users who go to the chat (messages) tab over to the Messenger app.

Read More

Facebook Is Probably Killing Chat On Mobile Site, Already Forcing Users To Messenger App Instead was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Xiaomi Mi Band 2 features 20-day battery life, OLED display, and costs $23

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 10:37 AM PDT

Xiaomi has announced the Mi Band 2, which was originally rumored to be released in early May, with some impressive improvements across the board.

The improvements begins with the fact that the new Mi Band 2 boasts a 0.42-inch OLED display, something that the original Mi Band didn't have. The display will show not only the current step count, but also the time of day, calories burned, heart rate, and more. There's a capacitive button on the Mi Band 2 which, when pressed, will show that data. You can also lift your wrist to view that info.

xiaomimiband2smartphone

Xiaomi says the Mi Band 2 features a new band which will "firmly" hold the capsules in place this time around. The company says the band is software and more "skin-friendly."

The Mi Band 2 features a 70mAh battery which the company says will run for 20 days on a single charge. It's IP67-rated for water resistance, and it can track your sleep as well. It supports devices running Android 4.4 or newer, as well as iOS 7.0 and up. If you have a compatible Android-based device, the Mi Band 2 can unlock your device without you needing to input a password.

The Mi Band 2 lands in China on June 7, and it will retail for 149 yuan in the region. That's about $23 USD. While the original Mi Band did make an appearance in other countries, like the United States, Xiaomi isn't saying if the Mi Band 2 will make it out of China anytime soon.

What do you think of the Mi Band 2?


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Verizon begins pushing Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 09:31 AM PDT

Just one day after updating the Galaxy S5 to Marshmallow, Verizon is turning around and updating the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as well. It's been a bit of a wait, but the carrier seems to be on a roll with updating devices. The update brings the software to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which includes a whole host of new features and changes. Here's a list of some of the highlights that users will find.

  • Now On Tap: the contextual version of Google Now
  • Doze: a battery-saving feature for when your phone isn't in use
  • Individual app permission controls: grant specific permissions and refuse others
  • Wi-Fi Calling
  • Updated TouchWiz UI
  • Ultra High Quality Audio
  • Android for Work support

Marshmallow isn't a complete overhaul update, but it changes some things behind the scenes and introduces Now on Tap, which is improving each and every day to become even more useful. As a whole, customers should find the update quite useful and pleasant, especially with the addition of Wi-Fi Calling, which makes it even easier to have crystal clear calls.

Keep an eye out for your update and drop a comment below when you receive it!


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AT&T unveils AT&T Thanks, its customer appreciation program

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 09:31 AM PDT

In a time when all of the wireless carriers are striving to stand out, it becomes more difficult than ever to attract customers. AT&T is making a renewed effort to its customers, as it has just announced AT&T Thanks, a new customer appreciation program for AT&T customers. Let's take a look at some of the perks that will be offered through the program.

  • Ticket Twosdays allow AT&T customers to buy one movie ticket and get another one free on Tuesdays at participating movie theaters. This perk begins on June 30.
  • Live Nation Priority Pre-sale allows AT&T customers to get early access to sales for some of the biggest concerts of the summer. Select customers will also have the opportunity to purchase special experience passes, such as meet-and-greets with artists.
  • DIRECTV Unique Content will bring exclusive content to select DIRECTV customers.
  • Special Offers will bring unique and diverse offers and content to customers. These will include concert tickets, data giveaways, device discounts and more.

While AT&T Thanks offers a variety of rewards for customers, it remains to be seen if the program offers enough relevant rewards to actually benefit customers. Pre-sale access is great, but there are plenty of customers who likely would have been just as happy, if not happier, to receive an occasional free pizza instead.

AT&T customers, what do you think of the perks offered by AT&T Thanks?


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Facebook Is Testing A "Use Less Data" Switch In Its Android App

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 09:25 AM PDT

fbdata

Facebook appears to be testing a new option in its Android app among some users that will make the app use less of your precious geebees. However, it doesn't appear to be anything beyond a simple photo resolution switcheroo, reducing the size of images that appear in your News Feed so that downloading them consumes less data. Interestingly, the toggle for the feature is positioned directly at the top of Facebook's labyrinthine sidebar menu, which is prime real estate.

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Facebook Is Testing A "Use Less Data" Switch In Its Android App was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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T-Mobile begins teasing Uncarrier 11; announcement on June 6

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 08:46 AM PDT

If there's one thing we've learned over the past few years in the wireless carrier industry, it's that you need to be different to succeed. T-Mobile revived itself by overhauling its strategy to become the Uncarrier, making wild and bold moves that other carriers wouldn't even consider. That strategy turned the company around and resulted in a more competitive wireless industry than ever.

The magenta carrier is back again today, and this time, it's teasing another big move. T-Mobile will be announcing its Uncarrier 11 initiative on Monday, June 6 at 1PM EST.

Details on Uncarrier 11 are scarce, though T-Mobile says it's "turning it up to eleven," though that sounds a lot like marketing fluff. Some recent rumors have suggested that Uncarrier 11 may be a new customer appreciation or loyalty program. This program would offer T-Mobile customers regular rewards and prizes, such as free food, as well as chances to win other prizes.

We'll have to wait and see how Uncarrier 11 turns out. Stay tuned next Monday and we'll keep you covered on the happenings.


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Top 10 new Android games this week: NeoWars, Astra

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 05:42 AM PDT

Welcome back to Android Gaming Weekly, our weekly recap of new game releases. We still plan to cover upcoming releases and games we're playing, but this column is dedicated to new games that you can start playing right now. Check out our top picks and let us know in the comments section if you have any suggestions for next week's post.

Astra

DescriptionA game inspired by Greek mythology. AstrĂ¥ is the adventure of Hemera, the goddess of daylight. Help her fight darkness, and discover the wonders and secrets of the unique AstrĂ¥ universe.

 

Swordbreaker The Game

Description:  Through the dense fog our hero noticed a dark silhouette of a dark castle. Eventually his old rain-soaked map brought him to his target. He didn't have anything with him except for his favorite sword and remainings of an old armor with an unusual device – a sword-breaker.

 

PsyCard

DescriptionPSYCARD is a minesweeper-like game set in a cozy cyberpunk dystopia. Use your psychic powers, and some risky luck, to determine the position of the hidden cards and become the champion.

 

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

DescriptionGuide two brothers, Naia and Naiee, on an epic fairy tale journey using specially designed, dual virtual joysticks. Control both brothers simultaneously as you experience co-operative play in single player mode .

 

NeoWars

DescriptionNeo Wars is a sci-fi themed node-based RTS game with deep tactical gameplay. Land your harvester on a planet to gather its resources. Connect to an empty resource field to take it over, and build an efficient distribution network between your harvesters. But beware, you are not alone.

 

Alice in Wonderland PuzzleGolf

Description: YOU are the ball! Go down the rabbit hole in over 70+ clever and sometimes diabolical Putt Putt puzzle levels. Aim, roll and explore the fantastical world of Alice's Puzzle Golf Adventures, inspired by the famous Lewis Carroll novels.

 

Skateboard Party 3

DescriptionSkateboard Party is back! This third edition of the popular sports franchise features professional skater Greg Lutzka. Skateboard Party 3 brings the thrill of skateboarding to your mobile device! Hop on your board, learn new tricks and improve your skills in 8 completely unique locations.

 

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

DescriptionTed Alspach's castle-building board game comes alive on Android! The winner of the prestigious 2015 Mensa Mind Games award tasks players with building extravagant castles for King Ludwig of Bavaria. Castles are constructed one room at a time, with a different player each round setting the prices for the others, resulting in a competitive, engaging game where building is as much fun as winning!

 

Goat Simulator Waste of Space

Description You've already been through the zombie apocalypze in Goat Z and made friends with NPCs in the computed world of Goat MMO Simulator. What on earth is there left for you to do? The answer is NOTHING! Thats why we leave earth behind and travel to space!

 

Tiny Monkey Escape

DescriptionTiny Monkey Escape is a game that sets a new benchmark of the platfomer or RPG runner genre as it combines a casual arcade jumper and RPG gameplay with tons of skills and abilities to learn and upgrade.

 


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Google+ 8.0 Encourages You To Share More And Improves Post Reporting [APK Download]

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 05:39 AM PDT

google-plus-8

Google+ is hitting v8.0. But don't let this major version jump trick you into thinking that you should expect big changes in the app. It's still the same Google+ you've grown to know since it was last redesigned, but with a few small changes here and there. Even Google's own Luke Wroblewski is quick to downplay the modifications.

So what should you expect in version 8.0? The usual fixes and general improvements along with three new features.

Read More

Google+ 8.0 Encourages You To Share More And Improves Post Reporting [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Facebook Messenger Adds Direct Reply On Android N And Will Soon Overhaul Over 1500 Emojis

Posted: 02 Jun 2016 02:56 AM PDT

facebook-messenger-quick-reply

Direct Reply, which was introduced in Android N, aims to help you act on some notifications right away, without having to head into the app first. Its benefit is easily felt in communication apps and we've seen it so far implemented in Hangouts and a couple of other messaging apps. It's now making its first appearance in Facebook's own Messenger, in version 74.0.0.5.65 which is only available to beta testers of the app (or through APK Mirror).

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Facebook Messenger Adds Direct Reply On Android N And Will Soon Overhaul Over 1500 Emojis was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Hangouts v10.0 For Android Adds Direct Share Support (APK Download)

Posted: 01 Jun 2016 07:20 PM PDT

hangouts

Hangouts for Android version 10.0 is now available for download - the big feature add? Direct share support, allowing you to share content directly to your commonly-used Hangouts contacts straight from the share menu. For big Hangouts users, this is a huge convenience when sending things like photos, videos, or even just simple links.

Screenshot_20160601-183407 Screenshot_20160601-184810

The version 10.0 APK doesn't contain any other major changes that we've yet found. We did notice, as in the right-hand side image, that the send button now has a drop-shadow when it's grayed out.

Read More

Hangouts v10.0 For Android Adds Direct Share Support (APK Download) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Facebook Messenger may be getting optional encryption

Posted: 01 Jun 2016 05:37 PM PDT

Encryption in a messaging app is a no brainer. It offers a level of privacy that many users want, especially in recent times where privacy is a major concern and the lack of privacy is so obvious. But it can have consequences for future features.

This is why Google's Allo messenger has optional encryption that isn't enabled automatically. Using encryption means that the smart reply features and bots that Allo offers will not work, since it requires your messaging data to function. It's great that Google offers it at all, but it makes sense why it's not enabled by default; it defeats the purpose of the app.

Facebook is in the same boat, with future plans to add smart bots to Facebook Messenger. These bots will require user data to function, so encryption would render them useless. However, rumor has it that Facebook will be adding opt-in end-to-end encryption to the Messenger app anyway.

With so many users of Facebook Messenger and so many people in general wanting encryption, this would be a good move on Facebook's part. Not everyone needs bots or smart communication, as privacy may be more valuable. Some are angry that it isn't enabled by default, but in the end it makes sense. What are your thoughts on encryption in messaging apps? Should it be enabled by default (rendering many services unusable), or should it be available as an option so you can get the most out of the app? Let us know int he comments!


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Google Keep Gets A Revamped View On The Web, Plus Auto-Completing Lists, Link Previews, And Duplicate Detection

Posted: 01 Jun 2016 05:15 PM PDT

ListsUpdate-2Google's Keep had humble and simple beginnings, but it's become one of my go-to tools for organizing my life (such as it is). Today the web and desktop extension version of the service gets a revamp, with a new interface that takes more than a few hints from the Inbox layout. There's a brand new left pane to the UI that includes quick links to Notes, Reminders, user-set labels, the archive, and trashed items.

Read More

Google Keep Gets A Revamped View On The Web, Plus Auto-Completing Lists, Link Previews, And Duplicate Detection was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Chromebook updates disabled on some devices due to critical bug

Posted: 01 Jun 2016 04:47 PM PDT

There's a significant issue with a few models of Chromebooks, but you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Google has confirmed that there is a critical bug in the Chromebook automatic firmware updater and thus the company has suspended automatic updates until it is fixed.

There is a critical bug in the firmware updater that we are actively investigating which may impact few devices during an auto update: Lenovo N22 11.6, Acer Chromebook R11, Sanance / Chromebook 14, Asus Chromebook C300SA and ThinkPad 11e Chromebook. As a precaution, we have temporarily paused the automatic updates for these units until we are confident the problem is root caused/resolved. We should be able to resume automatic updates in the next coming days and confirm on this bug accordingly.

It seems the issue is that people are getting stuck on old builds without a way of updating, and apps have even stopped working due to people being stuck on old versions or even unstable channels.

If you own one of these Chromebooks, your device won't be updated automatically for at least a few days. If you happened to run into an actual issue, Google should be working on fixing it.


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Inbox v1.24 Hints At New Virtual Assistant To Help Keep Your Current Tasks Organized [APK Teardown]

Posted: 01 Jun 2016 04:09 PM PDT

inbox

Inbox has proven itself to be an invaluable tool for people that haven't got the time or patience (or a crazy set of filters) to deal with a constant barrage of incoming mail. Not only that, but it has been progressively gaining features that make it reasonably competent as a to-do list and time management tool. The latest update to Inbox, there's evidence that Google is about to take this another step in this direction by adding an "assistant" to help with keeping emails and tasks readily available.

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Inbox v1.24 Hints At New Virtual Assistant To Help Keep Your Current Tasks Organized [APK Teardown] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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