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Google to close Russian engineering office

Google to close Russian engineering office

Google plans to pull its engineering office from Russia, leaving in place only workers tending to its partnerships, sales, support, communications, and marketing. The information comes from the Wall Street Journal, which says a Google spokesman wouldn't state the company's reason for closing its engineering office. The business move follows the nation's crackdown on both Internet companies and Internet freedoms.

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Google is making it really hard to get a Nexus phone this year

Google is making it really hard to get a Nexus phone this year

Google’s Nexus might set the bar for Android, but it probably won’t be a gift you give or receive this holiday season. After a report Google was discontinuing their Nexus 5, Google confirmed it was still around — just on a sabbatical. Google says the Nexus 5 will be back next year, likely in January. With that, we’ve got little recourse for actually snapping up a Nexus smartphone right now, since both are out of stock via Google Play. If you were hoping to see a Nexus in someone’s hands this year, you might be out of luck.

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Microsoft acquires HockeyApp – not what you think it is

Microsoft acquires HockeyApp – not what you think it is

The acquisition team at Microsoft have made known their purchase of HockeyApp, a group that creates a testing grounds for apps. Mobile developers are able to launch HockeyApp in iOS, Android, or Windows Phone then launch their app, testing out its flaws in the process. Microsoft will be taking HockeyApp as it exists today offline, integrating this simple system into Visual Studio, their suite of tools for development of content for all manner of devices, mobile or otherwise. Financial terms have not been discussed.

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Google’s iOS app gets Material Design, Maps

Google’s iOS app gets Material Design, Maps

Material Design sure is pretty, but if you’re on iOS — you’re not getting the full effect. You can still take advantage of Google’s new visual design with the Google Search app for iOS, which has been updated today to take full advantage of Material Design. It’s not just better looking, though. It’s also smarter, and will have you searching and re-searching faster than ever. Google has also baked Maps right into Search, giving you street view imagery and optional directions, all from the search app.

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Chromecast update brings new look, easier casting

Chromecast update brings new look, easier casting

Chromecast has been updated for Android today, and rolls in a fresh new look and some exciting new functionality. Visually, Chromecast app owners will get that good, good Material Design makeover. Though there isn’t much to the Chromecast app as-is, the visual punch comes just in time; Android Lollipop and Material Design are rolling out to handsets now, and will be coming to more soon enough. Using the app isn’t just pretty, though — it’s easier, as friends no longer have to join your WiFi to share to your Chromecast.

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You can now stow your own My Maps in Google Drive

You can now stow your own My Maps in Google Drive

With yet another holiday fast approaching, Google is trying to help make your vacation planning a lot easier, and keep you inside its ecosystem of services while doing so. But even if you're not dreaming of your remote island getaway, getting Google's My Maps creation tool inside Google Drive is still a convenience for any traveler, or even just a digital surveyor, as it puts all your custom-made maps in a single location, stored on Google's cloud, of course.

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Google News to shut down in Spain

Google News to shut down in Spain

Google News has faced a fair bit of opposition in recent times from publications struggling to sustain themselves in the digital age. Many publications have demanded Google pay for showing news it sources from them, even if it is only a snippet, and the Internet giant has strongly opposed such measures. While Google did see victory in Germany last year, it hasn't had the same fortune in Spain, and now it has announced plans to shutter its service there.

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Android Wear “Lollipop” update brings brightness boost, ease in use

Android Wear “Lollipop” update brings brightness boost, ease in use

A new update is coming to Android Wear devices this week straight from Google. This update will bring Easier Navigation to smartwatch face UI, a set of new Modes (including Sunlight Mode for amped-up brightness), and App Improvements - including control from the smartwatch for notifications and additional per-app information in the Android Wear smartphone app. This system update will be released alongside a Google Play update with a new category: watch faces - over a dozen of them right off the bat.

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Android Wear watch faces hit Google Play

Android Wear watch faces hit Google Play

For the first time in the history of wearables, Google Play has its own wearables category for Android Wear - only it's not just dedicated to apps, it's made for watch faces. The "watch faces" category on Google Play will be launched today with dozens of "official" designer, artist, and brand-made watch faces for Android Wear devices. Google is also releasing new developer tools for Android Wear, including an official Watch Face API, so that additional watch faces can be made by all developers with great speed.

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Nokia’s HERE Maps arrive on Google Play, coming to iOS in early 2015

Nokia’s HERE Maps arrive on Google Play, coming to iOS in early 2015

You know Nokia the handset maker, but are you familiar with Nokia the services provider? After dislodging their hardware division and shuffling it off toward Redmond and Microsoft, Nokia has become a services company first, hardware (distant) second. One of their more fascinating and profound services for consumers is HERE, a Maps app that is putting the rest of the world on notice. After a beta period meant for testing the app and finding bugs, HERE is now rolling out to Android users, and will challenge Google Maps in a significant way.

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