Recent updates to Google Phone have focussed on expanding Call Screen in the U.S to older Pixel devices, and introduced a dark theme. Google Phone 29 — currently in beta — more widely rolls out the real-time text (RTT) feature that we’ve been tracking for the past several releases.

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.

Real-time text

After tracking for the past several releases, real-time text is now available in Google Phone and lets users communicate via text during a phone call. The feature is aimed at assisting users that are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability, or “need more than voice alone.”

There is a new Accessibility menu option to “allow messaging within a voice call” that has to first be enabled in settings. Afterwards, there is a new RTT icon to turn on the feature during calls.

The text that you enter appears to the other person in real time, unlike with chat messaging. For example, if you make a mistake and then delete it, the other person can see the mistake and the deletion.

On the privacy front, Google notes how RTT calls are saved as a message transcript that users can access after the fact in Call details from the Recents tab. The call transcript on Pixel devices is stored locally within the Phone client and not accessible to other applications. Other advisories include:

  • You can use RTT to call emergency services.
  • RTT calls include an audio stream. To mute or un-mute your microphone, tap Mute Mute.
  • You can have multiple RTT calls going at the same time.

Google Phone 29 enables RTT, but it appears to also be rolling out via a server-side update to version 28. We’ve managed to enter RTT, but so far the experience is buggy, with the recipient hearing dial tones as the caller types, or the call crashing immediately after answering.


How to update?

You can sign-up for Google Phone’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 Phone 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.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: