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[Update: Official] 'Motorcycle mode' in Google Maps is popping up for many in India

There are a lot of people in the world who ride motorcycles, especially in more crowded areas where cars don't fit especially well. India is one of those places, and many users there are now noticing a 'motorcycle mode' showing up in their Maps alongside car, train, and walking options.

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Latest Gmail and Maps versions have white/inverted nav bars on Android 8.1

White navigation bars are nothing new, with LG phones having had them as options for many years and Samsung recently making them the default to reduce burn-in on its Galaxy phones. Now they're becoming abundant in Google phones with the introduction of Android 8.1 Oreo, both for aesthetic effect and in an attempt to minimize burn-in. Their latest appearances on 8.1 are in Gmail and Maps, where they've found new homes.

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Google Maps is about to get a lot more colorful

The design of Google Maps doesn't get updated very often, so when it does, it's kind of a big deal. The latest tweaks are all about adding a bit more color to the interface and making things a little easier to pick out as a consequence. What you see will also be more relevant to the mode of transport you're using, too.

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Google's rebuilding its Street View panoramas to look better, and here's how

Google's Street View has become ubiquitous. It's one of the pioneering features of Google Maps, and it has become such an integrated part of our modern lives that we might take it for granted. Not long ago, looking around from an arbitrary point on a map would have sounded like science fiction, but today that's just another way to see where something is. Now Google's making that experience even better, by improving how Street View stitches together its elaborate 360-degree panorama images. 

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Google Maps v9.66 adds restaurant wait times and prepares to launch motorcycle mode [APK Teardown]

The latest update to Google Maps is rolling out on the beta channel now. This is the version that brings the just-announced restaurant wait times. That appears to be the only notable addition users will be able to see right away. A teardown also brings more meat to the upcoming motorcycle-specific enhancements.

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Google Contacts v2.3 may add real-time location sharing [APK Teardown]

Google is starting off the week with an update to the Contacts app. After poking around for quite some time, it looks like there aren't any notable changes on the surface, but changes to the resources suggest that we'll soon be able to turn on real-time location sharing with other people directly from within the Contacts app.

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Google Maps now lets you create and share lists of places from your desktop or laptop

Google Maps has gotten a lot more social this year. Earlier in 2017, location sharing was enabled for the masses. Google also launched a feature allowing users to create and share lists of places. However, only Android and iOS users were able to set up these lists, and web-based Google Maps users were limited to just seeing them. That's changing now, as Google begins a phased rollout of the list creation and sharing feature for desktop-bound Maps users.

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Google Maps v9.65 beta may be preparing for a new rating system, new services for Reserve with Google, and more [APK Teardown]

A new version of Google Maps has been rolling out over the weekend, but there's not much to see in terms of big changes. There are a couple of minor additions to be found, including a more obvious link to the offline settings screen and a switch in commute settings to allow for better results with the use of location history. A teardown also reveals a possible change to the rating system, new services for Reserve with Google, and an option to set your preferred mass transit station.

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Google Photos v3.8 adds a shortcut to notification settings, prepares Maps integration and photo book wizards [APK Teardown]

Google began rolling out a new version of the Photos app this afternoon. It's not a particularly feature rich update, it appears to include just a convenient shortcut for notification channels and a promotion for free shipping on photo books. However, a teardown does add a bit more meat to this release as it foretells of some basic integration with Google Maps and some helpful wizards for building quality photo books.

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Google Maps is adding new achievement badges for Local Guides

Those of you who contribute as Local Guides on Google Maps (a club I recently joined) will know that as well as the satisfying feeling of helping other people out; you also gain points for your hard work. Those points help you rise through the ranks, getting a new badge every time you level up and eventually leading to certain perks, such as early access to new features.

To add some extra motivation, Google is about to add some new achievement badges that can be attained by completing different types of tasks. Badge fiends will now have four new ones available to them, which can also be leveled up as you submit information to the service.

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