Android Pay Expands to Czech Republic and Brazil

Android Pay

Android Pay continues its global expansion this week with the tap-to-pay service launching both in the Czech Republic and Brazil.  The addition of these two countries comes on the heels of the service’s expansion into Ukraine last week.  Now Android users in these two countries will be able to use their phones to pay for goods & services where it is accepted.

In the Czech Republic, over 144,000 locations now accept Android Pay including retailers like Billa, McDonald’s, Lidl and Penny Market.  For Brazil, that country becomes the first Latin America country to have the service available.  It too is available through a wide range of retailers and is available for customers of Banco do Brasil and Caixa.

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Action Launcher Update Brings Adaptive Icon & Folder Support

Action Launcher

The ever popular Android launcher, Action Launcher, has yet another big update rolling out this week.  Version 31.2 of the app brings several new features along with support for the Essential Phone.  This update comes just two weeks after the last major update to Action Launcher which brought several Pixel 2 looks & feels to the launcher.

In this new build, support for adaptive icons is now available.  This is a big feature of Android Oreo as readers likely know by now.  The cool thing is, this new feature will work in the launcher if you are running Android Lollipop (version 6.x) or later.  This new adaptive icons has also been extended to the folders and this is all included in the free version of the app.


For those of you who are on Oreo, support for Android 8.0’s widget and shortcut pinning is now added to Action Launcher.  If you have the Essential Phone PH-1, good news is in this version of the launcher for you too.  Your phone is now supported.

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Google Search Gets Improves Job Search Information

Google Search Job Search Information

In July of this year, my company was purchased.  The last week of September, the sale was completed.  And, in the first week of October, my role was eliminated.  Yeah, it sucks but fortunately for me, it looks like the job search is nearing an end.  But when I see the improvements that Google Search is making for job seekers, it makes me smile as they are certainly trying to make what can be a painful process easier.

Teaming up with the likes of LinkedIn, Glassdoor and PayScale, Google Search now not only allows you to see jobs in your area, but also can give you an estimated salary for those roles.  This adds to the already powerful job searching features in the app, which Google rolled out earlier this year.

In addition to this new salary information in Search, Google has listened to feedback on the feature and have now added a much more granular location filtering feature.

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Google Play Music Update Drops Android Wear APK

Google Play Music

Google Play Music has a new update rolling out that significantly drops the size of the app as well as Adaptive icons.  The update is version 8.5 for those keeping score at home and the slimming down of the app comes primarily from the dropping of the Android Wear APK that was built-in the main app.

The requirement of the Android Wear APK was a holdover from pre-2.0 Android Wear when in order to control music on your watch, you had to have the app installed.  Google’s sorted that out with standalone app support in 2.0 and now in 1.x versions of Android Wear.  What this means is that the APK is simply no longer needed.

By stripping out the APK, Google was able to reduce the app size significantly, but nearly 2MB.

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November Android Distribution Report Released – Nougat Biggest Gainer

Android Distribution Report - November 2017

The November Android Distribution Report has been released by the Android team at Google and it reflect improvement in adoption of the latest two major versions of the platform.  Only Android Nougat (7.x) and Android Oreo (8.x) showed gains in this months reports, with all previous versions showing declines.

For those who may be new to Android, each month Google releases an Android Distribution Report that reflects the versions of Android that hit the Play Store over the course of a 7-day period.  This month’s report was for the seven days ending November 9, 2017.

The biggest loser in this month’s report was Marshmallow (6.x).  It saw a 1.1% drop in usage, down to 30.9% over the October report.  Marshmallow remains the most widely used version of Android at that 30.9% with Android Lollipop (5.x) a close second at 27.2%.  Lollipop, like Marshmallow, saw a drop but only by .5%.

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Camera Comparison Video on the Pixel 2 XL and the Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

From a stats perspective, the camera in the Pixel 2 XL is better than that of the original Pixel XL.  But if you can pick up a deal on the Pixel XL, are you sacrificing too much in photo quality?  That’s the question that fellow Google Top Contributor Scott Peachey tries to answer in his latest comparison.

Scott gives a detailed overview of the cameras in both the 2 XL and the original XL from a video, images and selfie images of both devices (he even squeezes in some Pixel 2 discussion in there too).  He explains his method for testing and you can see the results of the comparison in the six minute video.

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November Updates Bring Screen Fixes to the Pixel 2

Google Pixel 2 XL White

The Google Pixel 2 lineup, particularly the XL, have had a raft of user complaints about the displays on the devices.  The two chief complaints have been around the color saturation and “burn-in” on the screen, particularly with the navigation keys on the screen.  For their part, Google has rightfully explained that some of the issues are related to the P-OLED display that is used on the Pixel 2 XL but committed to having updates out for the lineup to address those issues.

Those updates are a part of the November Android Security Update which was released yesterday.  In amongst those updates, there are two specific items for the phone that address these items.  First, there is now a new color saturation setting in the Display settings of the device.  Now you have the option to select “Saturated” to enhance the color vibrance.  This should help enhance the colors on the phone, particularly the XL model where the complaints have been the loudest.

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