In recent weeks, the latest version of Google Discover has widely rolled out, while the Google app is testing more Material Theme and redesigned Assistant controls. The Google app now jumps from version 8.x to 9.x, with work underway in Google app 9.0 on the new Assistant for the car form factor, Interpreter mode on Smart Displays, and Podcasts.
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.
Broken Google Weather integration
One of the most useful aspects of the Pixel Launcher and the Pixel’s Ambient Display is the weather. Unfortunately, the Google Weather integration appears to be broken with the latest Google app beta. Both the current temperature and condition are missing, thus also removing the useful shortcut to open the full forecast.
Users can still swipe to Google Discover or the Google app, as well as ask Assistant. Oddly, the Google app’s At a glance widget is functioning normally. Weather at the top of the Pixel Launcher and AOD is still available in the latest stable version (8.91.5).
Update 1/16: Version 18.104.22.168 (versus 22.214.171.124) this morning fixes the missing Google Weather integration on the Pixel Launcher and Ambient Display. The update is available now via the Play Store.
Google has very ambitious plans for Google Podcasts by applying machine learning to make possible a host of new features. As teased at launch, Google is now testing episode closed captioning. We have successfully enabled this feature as of Google app 9.0, with the audio player featuring a new “CC” button.
When tapped, a window appears just above the audio controls. The transcript is live updating, with the current passage bolded while everything else is light gray. This transcription box remains open even when audio controls are minimized. Quality-wise, we have spotted some errors in our brief usage, but it does handle punctuation quite well.
Automating closed captioning is possibly a significant development for making shows available worldwide without costly translation services. Meanwhile, it could be quite useful when searching the body of an episode, but there is no sign that is in development yet.
Meanwhile, Google Podcasts is gaining search suggestions in show notes. An “Explore topics in this episode” section automatically highlights major items and then offers search terms. It’s unclear if Google Podcasts is just looking at episode titles and show notes, or if it’s using the closed captioning to surface the topics.
Google Assistant with rounded corners
For the past several weeks, the Google app has been testing redesigned controls that put Lens, voice, and keyboard entry side-by-side in a new pill, while moving Assistant Updates and Explore below for increased reachability.
Building on that, the app is now testing rounded corners for Google Assistant. Matching the Google Material Theme, this difference is purely aesthetic, but quite appropriate and fitting.
Google Assistant for cars
At CES 2019, Google and its partners announced a new class of Assistant device for cars that we’ve been tracking for the past several updates as “kitt.” The Anker Roav Bolt and JBL Link Drive is an always-on microphone that acts as a bridge between your phone and a car’s sound system.
These car accessories feature auto-pairing and are not too different in concept from Assistant headphones. In fact, “bisto” is interestingly used in reference to the process of unpairing a car from your Google Assistant.
<string name=”bisto_confirm_removing_device_car”>Your Google Assistant has been removed from your car accessory.</string>
<string name=”disable_assistant_confirm_message_car”>”Your car accessory won’t have access to the Google Assistant, so you won’t hear your messages, calendar events, and other important info. However, your use of this accessory is still subject to the “<a href=”https://www.google.com/policies/terms/”>Terms of Service</a>”.
If you want to set up your Assistant later, touch & hold the Home button on your phone.”</string>
<string name=”kitt_unlink_dialog_message”>The following devices will be removed from Google Assistant:</string>
<string name=”kitt_unlink_dialog_title”>Unlink %1$s Account?</string>
Google app 9.0 also notes how Assistant on car accessories can respond even if your phone is locked, while there are related feedback strings.
<string name=”screen_locked_info_car”>Your Assistant can respond on your car accessory even if your phone is locked. You can turn this off in Assistant Settings.</string>
<string name=”tos_accept_send_diagnostics_car”>”Send Diagnostics. Improve your car accessory experience by sending diagnostics, usage data, and crash reports to Google.”</string>
At CES, Google also announced an Interpreter Mode for Google Home speakers and Smart Displays. Similar to Assistant’s existing translation feature on headphones, it makes the Home Hub an always-on translation tool.
<string name=”interpreter_thinking_animation_description”>The assistant is thinking</string>
In other developments, Google app 9.0 includes a lovely shout-out to our weekly APK Insight teardown efforts. We’re quite honored with that mad professor status, but do wonder if this overt “hi” is hiding an in-development feature in plain sight. We’ll get back to you on that!
<string name=”hi_9to5g_and_ap_menu_item”>E. Gadd</string>
How to update?
You can sign-up for the Google app’s beta program here or by heading to the Play Store listing on Android and scrolling to the bottom. The latest beta version of the Google app is immediately rolled out when it’s available.
We do not post APKs to download directly given the legal challenges associated with copyright and possibility of removal. Meanwhile, that model is perilous given Android App Bundles and Google Play’s Dynamic Delivery.
Thanks to JEB Decompiler, which some APK Insight teardowns benefit from.
Dylan contributed to this article