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Google Play Store now lets users decide how to download apps

Google Play Store now lets users decide how to download apps

Smartphones are built for the Internet. Almost every functionality and every app seem to be designed with the presumption of an Internet connection always available. Naturally, installing and updating apps also require that. Internet access, however, isn’t available everywhere all the time. And in some cases, it can even be expensive. Google Play used to be indiscriminate about Internet connections. Either you had one or you didn’t, end of story. Fortunately, now it will be more forgiving, allowing users to choose not to download or update apps unless they’re on Wi-Fi.

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Wear OS gets a mandatory quality review process on Google Play Store

Wear OS gets a mandatory quality review process on Google Play Store

Google is making a bit of noise about something that users may have presumed has actually been the case even when Wear OS by Google was known by a different name: Android Wear. The Android maker is now giving smartwatch app developers a heads up to tell them that starting next month, all new Wear OS apps are required to undergo a review process before being listed on the Google Play Store. This is to ensure the quality of apps that should really be a primary concern in the first place.

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Android Pie makes call recording impossible without root

Android Pie makes call recording impossible without root

Google giveth and Google taketh away. New software versions are often expected to bring in new features and remove bugs but it isn’t unheard of for things to happen the other way around. There are some cases that features presumed to be there forever are suddenly yanked out without as much a warning. That definitely feels like the case with the sudden inability of non-root call recording apps to work in Android 9 Pie. That said, it probably shouldn’t come as surprise despite being an unfortunate “regression”.

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Microsoft Your Phone app available already on Windows 10 version 1803

Microsoft Your Phone app available already on Windows 10 version 1803

Microsoft has been giving Insiders a foretaste of features and changes that are coming in the next Windows 10 version. Naturally, it is presumed that those features won’t actually be arriving until that version rolls out later this year. That was definitely the presumption for the “Your Phone” app that promises a seamless connection between Windows 10 and, at least initially, Android smartphones. It turns out, though, that the app is now generally available to all, even on the current 1803 version of Windows 10.

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Google Voice update gives app a welcome refresh

Google Voice update gives app a welcome refresh

Google Voice sometimes feels like the forgotten service in Google's portfolio, but a new app update has given the calling service a quick refresh. Launched on iOS with an update this week, the new app won't blow anybody away with its new functionality, but it does make using Google Voice a little easier if it's your primary voice call system.

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Twitter Lite expands to 21 countries, gets push notifications

Twitter Lite expands to 21 countries, gets push notifications

They might be getting a lot of flak for fake news and inconsistent rules, but social media is just as big if not bigger than ever. It could be even bigger if they actually reached markets where even traditional sources of news and communication have a hard time catering to. That’s why there is a sudden rash of “lite” versions of social apps designed to cater to emerging markets with slow Internet and cramped phones. And now Twitter Lite, one of the first to do so, is making it’s going places before everyone else does.

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Google Assistant getting Smart Display smart home UI

Google Assistant getting Smart Display smart home UI

Smart speakers are all the rage when it comes to smart home products and its pioneers are trying their best to build up on that new cash cow. Back at CES early this year, Google revealed its roster of Smart Displays to take on Amazon’s Echo Show. All of those, of course, revolve around Google Assistant. But to make sure that those without such big screens don’t feel too left behind, Google seems to be pushing a small update to Google Assistant on smartphones to bring it on par with Smart Displays, at least as far the same user interfaces go.

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Gmail Android, iOS apps can now disable conversation view

Gmail Android, iOS apps can now disable conversation view

Gmail has changed the face of email for better or worse. It has offered a free service that is putting even paid premium services out of business. It has pushed for a minimalist interface that made Yahoo! Mail look and feel like the Titanic. But perhaps one of its most controversial “innovations” is one that is both hated and loved: the conversation view. Google has conceded back in 2010 that not everyone is a fan but it only offered a toggle for Gmail on the web. Mobile users won’t feel so left out anymore now that they too will have that power.

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Microsoft Your Phone app begins its test run for Android, iOS

Microsoft Your Phone app begins its test run for Android, iOS

Microsoft tried, and tried hard it did, to corner both PC and mobile markets. It failed and is now practically left renting on its rivals smartphone platforms. That doesn’t mean, however, that it will have to settle for a less than ideal experience. Back its BUILD conference in May, Microsoft revealed its plans to seamlessly connect your Windows 10 PC and your phone with a “Your Phone” app. And now with its latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build (17728), it’s finally getting the ball rolling.

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YouTube dark mode comes to Android at long last

YouTube dark mode comes to Android at long last

You would think that being owned by Google means that YouTube would prioritize adding features on Google’s platforms. After all, there are already too many app developers coming first to iOS and only to Android later (or never) that Google doesn’t need to make matters worse. And yet that was exactly the case with YouTube’s dark mode, which is already available everywhere except Android. Well, that changes now, at least for the lucky few that have the feature rolling out to their Android phones.

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Attack of the zombie apps: unmaintained and rotting in stores

Attack of the zombie apps: unmaintained and rotting in stores

Mobile app stores kicked off the most recent digital gold rush. It was a market that was almost easy to break into and, if you’re lucky, profit from. But as the dust slowly settled and the market stabilized, some developers were left disillusioned, penniless, or simply bored. Many just walked away towards the next big thing (like VR), abandoning their once carefully crafted apps. And now we’re left with a growing pile of unmaintained apps that both pose a threat and, at the same time, still hold some nuggets of gold we need to mine.

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VLC blacklists Huawei smartphones for misbehaving

VLC blacklists Huawei smartphones for misbehaving

Android is famous for its fragmentation, but there is another “mini-fragmentation” going on when it comes to its apps. Region lock is something the plagues not just smartphones but even gaming consoles as well and there is also the case of OEM-specific apps that you can’t install on competitor’s phones. At least not without room. VLC’s case, however, might be the first time when an app actually blacklists phones from a specific manufacturer. And it’s all because Huawei might be a bit too aggressive in killing background apps.

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