The latest beta version of the Google app is rolling out earlier than expected on a Friday evening. Version 7.21 hints at future devices gaining a hardware Assistant button, while users may soon get the ability to set default speakers and TVs to play content through. Meanwhile, this update enables the ability to “donate” images taken by Google Lens.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

Assistant hardware button

With the Pixel 2, Google introduced the ability to squeeze your phone to activate the Assistant. Version 7.21 now hints at future devices gaining a “hardware_button” that can be tapped to “launch [Assistant] at any time.” There is a corresponding graphic that would be displayed on a layout called “error_hardware_button_training.”

Update: According to Android Police, this hardware button and strings are not meant for phone device types.

“I have received separate verification that these lines are not currently intended to be seen on phones.”

Strings for setting this up also note the ability to add an Assistant tile to the homescreen, like on Android 5.0 devices.

<string name=”opa_hardware_button_training_continue”>Continue</string>

<string name=”opa_hardware_button_training_desc_fallback”>Tap the Assistant button to launch it at any time</string>

<string name=”opa_hardware_button_training_switch_title”>Add the Google Assistant to your homescreen.</string>

<string name=”opa_hardware_button_training_title”>Your Assistant is a tap away</string>

Setting default speaker and televisions

Given the increasing Google Home lineup and availability of third-party speakers, Assistant is working on a setting where users can select “a default speaker for music and audio,” as well as a “default TV for playing video.”

<string name=”media_output_preference_summary”>Choose a device</string>

<string name=”media_output_preference_title”>Default media output</string>

<string name=”audio_output_preference_summary”>Choose a default speaker for music and audio</string>

<string name=”audio_output_preference_title”>Default music speaker</string>

<string name=”video_output_preference_summary”>Choose a default TV for playing video</string>

<string name=”video_output_preference_title”>Default TV</string>

Update: While the Home app already contains settings for “Default media playback,” the strings we’ve encountered in version 7.21 are slightly tweaked in wording. Additionally, the latest version would be present directly in the Google app/Assistant settings.

Donate Lens images

In version 7.18 earlier last month, we encountered references to a feature to “donate” images taken by Google Lens. This would “Allow images taken with Lens in Assistant to be reviewed by humans to improve Google products.” This opt-in capability is now live as a toggle in Assistant settings for the Pixel/phone.

New notification channels for Proactive, Hand-off

The Google app might soon add four new notification channels, including Assistant, Hand-off, Miscellaneous, and Proactive.

<string name=”opa_notification_channel_group_title”>Assistant</string>

<string name=”opa_notification_channel_handoff”>Hand-off</string>

<string name=”opa_notification_channel_misc”>Miscellaneous</string>

<string name=”opa_notification_channel_proactive”>Proactive</string>

Google Feed tuning

In version 7.16 last year, we spotted a way to train your Feed codenamed training. The latest update to the Google app contains more strings describing that functionality. At the moment, users can tap the overflow menu of a Feed card to dismiss and note that they are not interested in a topic.

In the future, users might get more fine tuned controls in the form of a “Less” and “More” reaction.

<string name=”reaction_show_more”>”Got it. We’ll tune your feed”</string>

<string name=”reaction_text_less”>Less</string>

<string name=”reaction_text_more”>More</string>

<string name=”reaction_we_will_show_less_of_this”>”We’ll show less of this”</string>


Version 7.21 includes several strings to “Quartz” or Google Assistant smart displays further detailing recipe and YouTube functionality, as well as an Explore feature.

<string name=”quartz_ganache_ingredient_list_title”>Ingredients: %1$d of %2$d</string>

<string name=”quartz_ganache_instruction_list_title”>Steps: %1$d of %2$d</string>

<string name=”quartz_recommended_content_youtube_description”>YouTube</string>

<string name=”quartz_recommended_content_youtube_description_with_source”>YouTube • %s</string>

<string name=”quartz_zero_state_explore_suggestion”>Explore</string>

This update also hints at new capabilities for smart display, like shopping and ordering. Users will be able to determine the quantity of items in their shopping cart, and place the final order.

<string name=”quartz_shopping_cart_checkout_button_text”>Checkout</string>

<string name=”quartz_shopping_cart_item_quantity”>Qty %s</string>

<string name=”quartz_shopping_cart_size_label”>items</string>

<string name=”quartz_shopping_cart_subtotal_label”>subtotal</string>

<string name=”quartz_order_change_order”>Change</string>

<string name=”quartz_order_item_count_icu”>{count, plural, =0{No Items} =1{One Item} other{# Items}}</string>

<string name=”quartz_order_place_order”>Place order</string>

<string name=”quartz_order_total_format”>Total %1$s</string>

Search widget customizations

Meanwhile, there are more references to the highly desired ability to customize the Search widget that has yet to widely rollout. Specifically, there could possibly be a dedicated notification channel for the “Google App Search Widget.”

<string name=”search_widget_channel_name”>Google App Search Widget</string>

This suggests that the way to enter the customization process/editor would be by receiving a notification.

<string name=”widget_customization_notification_content”>Tap to start</string>

<string name=”widget_customization_notification_description”>Search Widget notifications</string>

<string name=”widget_customization_notification_title”>Customize the look of your search widget</string>

Personalized recommendations based on listening history

Version 7.19 hinted at Assistant gaining TV recognition features. The Google app now hints at receiving “personalized recommendations” from “your listening history.” It’s unclear where exactly that history is derived from; be it TV shows or music.

<string name=”waa_in_accept”>Settings</string>

<string name=”waa_in_message”>Turn on Web &amp; App activity to get personalized recommendations based on your listening history.</string>

<string name=”waa_in_reject”>Dismiss</string>

Screenshot editor

Last year, we spotted the Google app working on a built-in photo editor for screenshots. Version 7.21 contains one string related to permissions hinting that the feature might still be in development.

<string name=”sharebear_storage_permission_denied_toast”>Changes to the image will not be saved.</string>

Bottom bar without Upcoming tab

For the past several versions, we’ve spotted Google working on a redesigned bottom bar for the Feed that features text labels for icons and an Assistant button. The latest iteration we’ve been able to activate in version 7.21 drops the Upcoming tab.

Google Temperature = Custom Assistant hotwords?

During one of the 7.20 betas (7.20.16) last week, strings for a feature called “Google Temperature” were added. While the name suggests something related to the environment, that does not appear to be the case. In fact, it could be related to custom hotwords.

<string name=”assistant_t_google_preference_summary”>Enable Google Temperature</string>

<string name=”assistant_t_google_preference_title”>Temperature</string>

<string name=”assistant_t_google_support_alert_message”>\”%1$s\” is available on Assistant speakers but, not on this phone yet</string>

In version 7.21, we’ve been able to activate a “Temperature” toggle in Assistant Preferences to “Enable Google Temperature.” Oddly, tapping it launches the hotword training process with a new animation (as seen in the video below). The text that shows up is in line with the strings that we previously found pertaining to custom hotwords.

Dylan contributed to this article

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com