Latest Microsoft Launcher Beta Brings a Number of User Requested Features

Microsoft Launcher

Microsoft is one of the most consistent at updating their apps for Android with the company’s launcher, Microsoft Launcher being no exception.  The latest beta of the launcher is rolling out to testers and it shows that the Redmond company isn’t just updating their launcher, but listening to what users want in it.

The new beta build is version 4.7 for those keeping score and it brings an expansive change log with it.  First, you can now get a new daily background on your phone.  While you can do this today, it only can come from Bing daily wallpapers.  Now, based on user requests, you can set up your own custom set of wallpapers to be rotated daily on your device.  Oh, and those wallpapers can be set to be scroll-able.

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Third Chrome 65 Based Beta of Chrome for Android Released

Chrome for Android

For those who have the Chrome for Android beta app on their phones, a new update is rolling your way.  The third Chrome 65 based build has been released, bringing the version up to 65.0.3325.85.  It is the third consecutive week that the beta version of the browser has been updated for Android.

Unlike other beta programs in the Play Store, there is no sign up to get the Chrome beta for Android.  You can download it here and install it on your compatible devices.  Like all beta software however, its not recommended to run it as your daily browser or deploy it into production as there are likely still bugs to be found and there could be performance issues.

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Essential Phone Can Now Get The Android Oreo Beta via an OTA

Essential Phone Copper Black

While the company continues to get their Android Oreo build ready for the Essential Phone, Essential has made the process of getting the beta build and updates to it far easier.  They have no enabled a new OTA update mechanism for beta testers meaning that you don’t have to sideload it.

The option for an OTA update is now listed as an option on the Essential Beta Builds site.  Once you select the OTA option, you will need to sign up with your name, email address and your device’s serial number in order to be fully registered and to receive the latest beta build.

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Google Reply Brings Smart Replies to Many Messaging Apps

Google Reply Smart Replies in Hangouts Notifications

Google Reply, the app that adds the ability to use smart replies to a variety of messaging apps on your Android phone, has been released in beta by Google’s Area 120 team.  For those that aren’t familiar with Area 120, it is the experimental development area within Google.  For those who are familiar with Microsoft Garage from Microsoft, it is the same concept.

Google Reply adds smart replies to the notification shade for Android Messages, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts and Twitter Direct Messages.  But it also brings the ability to send auto replies for when you are driving or, later on, when you are exercising or sleeping.  It is a handy app indeed.

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The Google App on Android Gaining Screenshot Editing Tools

Google App Editing Tools

The beta version of the Google app for Android has a new update rolling out that brings a handy screenshot editing feature – but it only works within the Google app itself.  The new feature has arrived in version 7.21 for those keeping score at home and, given it is in beta, it will likely hit the stable channel for everyone over the course of the next couple of weeks.

The new screenshot editor allows you to take a screenshot of something in your Google app feed, search results, or pages viewed within Chrome custom tabs in the app.  Once you snap the screenshot, by pressing the Power+Volume Down button on virtually all Android phones, you will get a lower notification for you to edit or share the screenshot.

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Second Chrome 65 Based Beta Build of Chrome for Android Released

Google Chrome for Android

A second Chrome 65 based build of Chrome for Android has been released to beta testers in the Play Store.  The new build is 65.0.3325.74 for those keeping score at home.  This new build comes just over a week after the first Chrome 65 beta was released for Android.

Generally Chrome 65 across all platforms is an evolutionary update with focused efforts on code clean up, stopping rogue code execution and general performance improvements.   As for Chrome for Android, this update does contain some improvements around syncing of content.  For those who want to deep dive into the code changes, here is a partial log of what’s changed.

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Essential Phone Beta Testers Receive The First Oreo 8.1 Build

Essential Phone - Pure White

For those enrolled in the beta testing program for the Essential Phone, it is time to check for a system update.  The first beta of the company’s Android Oreo 8.1 build has been released and testers will be receiving the update via an OTA download.  As you may recall, Essential pulled the Oreo 8.0 build last month, citing issue with stability in the build, and decided to scrap it to move straight to 8.1.

The build has the February Android Security Update patch included and also has a fix for a common problem for users of the Essential Phone:  Slow scroll jitter.  Users have complained that the phone has a lot of jitter when slowly scrolling up or down a patch.  This beta has a fix for it and appears to be working well.  All in, the OTA update is just over 500MB in size so WiFi downloading is a must.

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Chrome OS Beta Channel Moves Up to Chrome 65

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

The Beta Channel for Chrome OS has a new update rolling out this morning that takes it onto the Chrome 65 train of the platform.  The new build is 65.0.3325.65 (Platform version: 10323.30.0) for those keeping score at home and if you are in the Beta Channel, type chrome://help in the omnibar of the browser to force the update.

This is the first build in the Beta Channel based on Chrome 65, following up on three different Chrome 64 builds over the last half of January through the beginning of this month.  Those with a keen eye will note that the build number is the same as the last Dev Channel build of the platform, which was released just yesterday.

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