01
Nov
search_app_icon

After having successfully survived a thunder-snowicane and completed a black-ops mission into a post-apocalyptic New York City to pick up a Nexus 4,  APK Teardown HQ is back up and running. We've accumulated a bit of a backlog, so today's entry is a 2 for 1 deal: Google Maps 6.14 and Google Search 2.1.

Google Maps

Maps is getting real-time traffic rerouting!

Now, you might be saying "But Maps already takes traffic into account, look at this blog post!" but let's take a look at what that blog post really says:

You don’t have to do anything to be routed around traffic; just start Navigation like you normally would, either from the Navigation app or from within Google Maps. Before today, Navigation would choose whichever route was fastest, without taking current traffic conditions into account. It would also generate additional alternate directions, such as the shortest route or one that uses highways instead of side roads. Starting today, our routing algorithms will also apply our knowledge of current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates. That means that Navigation will automatically guide you along the best route given the current traffic conditions.

Traffic is currently calculated when you hit the 'navigate' button, and then traffic calculation is over. Say you're taking a two hour road trip, and, 5 minutes into your trip, an accident happens in the tunnel you were supposed to take. Today, Maps will still tell you to take the tunnel, because it only takes traffic into consideration during the initial route calculation.

It sounds like this is going to change. There are now several references in Maps to a "route_around_traffic" message, which sounds like it will popup while you are navigating, and say "Hey this route isn't good anymore, do you want to change?" Here's the text for it:

<string name="da_reroute">Reroute</string>
<string name="da_reroute_to_avoid_traffic">Reroute to avoid traffic?</string>
<string name="da_reroute_time_savings" formatted="false">Save %s via %s</string>
<string name="da_speech_reroute_to_avoid_traffic" formatted="false">Traffic ahead. Reroute to save %s via %s</string>

The "save %s via %s" stuff will probably be in the form of "Save 20 minutes via Route 66."

In order for this message to be necessary, Maps would have to be periodically checking traffic conditions and recalculating new routes while you drive. When it finds a better route, it will prompt you with these messages. This would be really helpful for a long trip, and it's something that shouldn't be too hard to implement.

I can't show you the actual UI, but I can show you the components of the UI:

<public type="id" name="da_routeAroundTrafficButtonPanel" id="0x7f10012c" />
<public type="id" name="da_routeAroundTrafficCancelButton" id="0x7f10012d" />
<public type="id" name="da_routeAroundTrafficConfirmButton" id="0x7f10012e" />
<public type="id" name="da_routeAroundTrafficPromptPanel" id="0x7f10012f" />
<public type="id" name="da_rerouteTimeSavedMessage" id="0x7f100130" />
<public type="id" name="da_reroutePromptMessage" id="0x7f100131" />
<public type="id" name="da_rerouteInlineButtonPanel" id="0x7f100132" />

So, just picture a popup box that says "Reroute to avoid traffic?" with the time you'll save placed somewhere, and "Confirm" and "Cancel" buttons. Actually, a popup box might be too intrusive while you're navigating - it will probably be a notification.

Google Search

Google Search will be learning a few new tricks as well, the most exciting of which is probably the last thing that gives me Siri/S-Voice envy: how to hold a conversation. If tell S-Voice to "Send text to Bob," it will say "Ok, sending text to Bob, what would you like it to say?" and then you can verbally dictate a message. These 2 or sometimes 3 step voice interactions are much more natural and easier than the perfectly-executed "verbal command line" that Voice Search requires.

Check this out:

<string name="voice_disambiguation_confirmation">Calling %1$s.</string>
<string name="voice_contact_call_confirmation_prefix">Do you want to call %1$s at %2$s? Say okay, cancel, or try speaking again.</string>
<string name="voice_number_call_confirmation_prefix">Do you want to call %s? Say okay, cancel, or try speaking again.</string>

It's a baby step, but an important baby step. Search will soon ask you for confirmation for "call [contact]" commands. I'm honestly not sure if this works right now or not. I've done a million "call [contact]" tests, and I've never seen it pop up, but maybe I'm not confusing Search in just the right way to trigger this. Has anyone seen this?

The other new Search tidbit is NFC support, which many people spotted in the permissions while updating. A teardown reveals absolutely nothing, which means it's probably not being used for anything right now. The thing is, I can't even imagine a hypothetical use for it. Please speculate in the comments.

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Peterson Silva

    At first I was like "Hey, of course there are plenty of possibilities for Google Now + NFC", but... I've got nothing either O_O

    • fixxmyhead

      get a better phone. the new nexus is uber cheap so theres no excuses

      • Peterson Silva

        What does that have to do with this comment? =x

        • Thomas Lovett

          He probably thought you meant "I've got neither", instead of "I've got nothing either"

      • John O’Connor

        no excuses + nexuses = nexcuses??

        • fixxmyhead

          good one

    • http://twitter.com/Twitteninja ZZ

      Dull option: Sharing search results.

  • Derek Edwards

    Awesome, thanks for the breakdown. When will these be available?

  • http://twitter.com/dl_evans Dustin Evans

    For NFC... Imagine scanning a location tag and Now asking if you'd like to "Check in using Foursquare, Facebook, or Latitude"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii
      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667020551 Jose Torres

        ditto

    • casinrm

      Google Now is the evolution of search so I imagine it's the perfect spot for personalized ads. Imagine you're walking in an area and it's about lunchtime and it knows your favorite restaurant is near there. It may pull up an ad which when tapped on gives an NFC coupon or something like that.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I noticed Navigation doesn't actually re-route based on traffic and consistently lost out to my Garmin because it wouldn't realize there's traffic ahead. On occasion, I'd see if there are alternate routes, and they'd show faster time.

    So I say to this: HELL YES.

  • jab416171

    The NFC is for the docking mode for the wireless charging dock.

    • tsunami1609

      It'd be cool if you had it set to default to a music player, for example. You dock your music player and (if you enable it) it'll automatically listen to you say "Play 'X' ". For the multimedia dock we all want.

      • mersch

        You could do that via Tasker. Tell it to recognize when in dock. Launch task. task=music player x

        • tsunami1609

          I'm aware. It's just nice to have google add in these features out of the box :)
          Everything just seems nicer, even if it isn't

        • Justin W

          Yes, but it won't launch the specific song you request it to. I haven't found a way in Tasker to actually manage this, but overall it's a really useful tool for automating things.

  • nsnsmj

    Love these. Great post!

    If you try the updated voice search on iOS Google already has made it a little more conversational. Ask it things like "How are you?" or "Sing me a song." or "What is the best (smart)phone?" and you'll get canned responses like you get with Siri. The iOS version is also, dare I say it, a little faster sometimes too. Searching for YouTube videos takes you straight into the YouTube app on iOS as well. You can also see the words you speak as you say them on the iOS version.

    So I'm assuming the iOS version is a little ahead. The voice search part anyway, as it lacks Google Now features.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zachary.s.green zachary green

    I love Android police, and I've had it ask me for confirmation once on the latest update. Immediately after i got the return, my phone went to the cyanogenmod logo. I only saw the card for a split second, but the layout looked like the normal "call person?" card, but instead of the blue bar going across the card, there were two buttons

  • JLishere

    Google voice search is already smarter than before (with the latest update). Google now remembers your most recent query so you can ask a series of questions without having to repeat yourself. For example, you can ask "how old is Barack Obama", followed by "who is he married to", followed by "how old is she", etc. - and the answer cards work! It looks like the app is getting ready to understand even more conversations in the future. Siri looks like old technology now.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      WOW! I had no idea. That's awesome.

      • PhilNelwyn

        Sorry Mr Amadeo, but one doesn't talk to Google Now, and Google Now doesn't speak, or you wouldn't be able to do it when it's turned off...

        • A.Noid

          One does talk to Google Now. just because you don't, don't assume you can't.

          • PhilNelwyn

            lol
            Yeah sorry, you can talk to it, like you can talk to a wall, it just doesn't listen and doesn't answer.
            As soon as you tap the microphone icon, it's Voice Search you talk to, NOT Google Now.

          • John O’Connor

            The real question is, who am I talking to when I say "Hi Galaxy" to my Galaxy S3 that is running Jelly Bean but obviously has SVoice still? Schizo phone

          • PhilNelwyn

            S-Voice?

          • John O’Connor

            S-voice is Samsung's proprietary voice engine that is licensed from and powered by vlingo. The Galaxy series has used this by default instead of Google's speech engine.

          • PhilNelwyn

            That was not a question, but an unsure answer.
            I know, it's confusing.
            I've put a question mark because the only S3 I've ever handled was running ICS, but I think that even on Jellybean, it's S-Voice you talk to when you say "hi galaxy."
            Hmm below said no, is it true? Does Google Voice Search respond to "hi galaxy" on a Galaxy S3 running Jellybean?

          • Hmm

            Not on a JB device.

          • PhilNelwyn

            Google Voice Search respond to "Hi Galaxy" on Galaxy S3's running Jellybean?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Definitely didn't know this. Right on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

      annnnndddd you get an upvote.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nikhilkaduskar Nikhil Kaduskar

      Well, it some times works and some times doesn't... You ask for "number of planets in solar system" and later ask for "their names", it fails. I tried few other examples as well, didn't work... Still it's superb whenever it does! :)

      • JLishere

        I think it only works when Google finds an answer card for your question (from the Knowledge Graph) - when it does, Google can figure out the next question. If you get a standard results page, Google doesn't remember your query and you have re-specify your topic. Hopefully, it will work better in the future - Star Trek computer!

      • br_hermon

        Same experience here. I asked "how tall is the Empire state building?" It gave me a card and spoke back the answer. When I then asked "where is it located?" it came back and just gave me web results. It had no idea what "it" was. But the Obama thing works. At least it's making head-way :)

    • Larizard

      Damn, i just tried this and it works.
      "How old is Angelina Jolie?" - "Angelina Jolie is thirty-four yrs old."
      "How many children does she have?" - "Six."
      "Who is she married to?" - "Angelina Jolie partner is Brad Pitt."

      /MINDbLOWN

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/no6969el Noel Barcellos

      I did this and it did not work.

  • http://profiles.google.com/zachary.s.green zachary green

    For NFC, maybe verbal confirmation for android beam? Payment? Hmm...

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548946468 Bryan Tran

    Send Google searches through Android Beam? Not searches that appear in the browser, but rather through the Google Search app that was updated with these permissions.

    Or...NFC Info? A built-in scanner app that detects what the tag does and why, like Google Ears but for tags. A long shot, but I really have no idea :P

  • Isidhu

    for the google now for calling, i would speculate this kicks in when google is uncertain of or cant find the matching contact. right now it just dials the closest match it can find.

  • http://twitter.com/Malcolmest Malcolmest

    Use NFC to share search results with another NFC device? Maybe just to share any cards you have on your Google Now that could be useful on a second device.

    • Justin W

      That already is tied with your Gmail account, isn't it? As long as you are signed in to both devices with the same Gmail account, the same cards should show up for both, as far as I know.

      • http://twitter.com/Executioner1337 Executioner

        Actually, my recent queries were in GNow that I searched for on my PC.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.walters.1422 Brandon Walters

    I don't like the idea of conversations with Google Now as a default feature. I've found the back and forth that happens on Siri to be too time consuming. The inclusion of voice commands such as send, cancel and confirm would be helpful, though.

  • Alchemy08

    Thank goodness for the real-time rerouting.

  • Brandon Parvin

    With the latest update google now is recognizing dial"name" or call "name"

    • Prateek

      Yes it does... try calling anyone from your contacts.. even Indian names work

  • br_hermon

    Here's the issue I've run into. I'm not sure where this problem originated from but It might have started in 4.1.1. I used to be able to Say "Call Pizza Hut" or "Call CVS" Even though they weren't in my address book, it would find the closest store to my location and dial it. Now however, when I give that command it tries to call one of my contacts. Its a small issue but one that annoys me because I used to use the feature a lot. It's nice to call a local store without keeping their number in my phone. Anyone else notice this???

    • Alex

      ALWAYS, it wasnt like the before the last 2 updates i think...

    • h_zee13

      I just tried this on my Nexus S running AOKP M1 and it worked just fine.

      • br_hermon

        I'n on a GNex, Bugless Beast 10/10 Build. Anyone else?

        • Stephen Zipprich

          I use BB as well, and have had issues with voice dialing in the past.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    Added Google Now stuff is welcome. I dont use it that much beyond sending texts but making it more fluid is nice.

    Maps, that is big. I use the hell out of maps, so navigation rerouting will be helpful. Hopefully that will also soon come with a "detour" option. That was a nice feature that came with my old garmin, the ability to say "skip the route for X miles, I know there is a problem that you dont."

    Oh, and add offline navigation please? Not that i dont have connectivity, I just want to cache to make it as quick as possible.

  • kelly mullenax

    NFC how about using your phone to unlock start you car.. unlock your house... keep your medical records.. geocaching...

  • Guest

    Maybe the NFC is for the future car dock? Because there aren't any of the pin dock connectors on the Nexus 4, maybe the car dock will induction charge, and output through NFC?

  • Maxwell McQuirter

    FYI, at least on my 4.12 GNexus, the voice search asks for confirmation when I use my headset to make a call. So that feature I can confirm is already live. The auto reroute is great. I'm just awaiting offline routing.

  • erikiksaz

    I was hoping that Google Maps would behave a little bit more like Waze. The only thing Maps needs now is to take into account crowd-sourcing. It's hard to beat Waze when you get realtime updates from users. With so many Maps users the realtime data would be INSANELY accurate.

    EDIT - unless Google already uses location/GPS tracking to determine traffic patterns...

    • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

      I'm almost certain that Navigation has taken into account location reporting data from devices which have elected to share that data since day one.

  • http://twitter.com/a_carlson A. Carlson

    There's a difference between Google Now and the Google Search app.

    Google Now is ONLY the predictive cards that appear when you open the Search app. Search, Voice Search, and Voice Actions are all separates services within the app -- and have nothing to do with Google Now.

    If you want to doublecheck, go into the Search app settings and turn off Google Now, then try using Voice Search and Voice Actions.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      True. I'll update. Thanks.

      • PhilNelwyn

        Nice! Thank YOU.

  • Justin

    Damn Google is going ham with technology!
    I used to dislike to even save my search history.. mainly because I browse "big ass" images too much and my gf has a little butt :/ ...
    Now though... Google Now though!! I succumb!
    Beam me up to the future where Google has married a mind chip and search so I can say..
    "Google... send me all you got of Alexis Texas... NOW!"

    • BlazeSeven

      LOL

    • Fatty Bunter

      So does that mean you're going to stop searching for "big ass" images, or you're just going to accept that your gf might find out your true butt-sized desires?

      • Justin

        She knows... just not to what extent... lol
        I will just make use of that multiple account device login.
        When I get a JB device my first query will be:
        "Google, how do I ACTUALLY make my girls ass look big in these jeans"

    • HeeHee

      Brilliant...lol.

    • Tyler

      Might i suggest using incognito mode in chrome. It's Ctrl + Shift + N if you're too lazy to click on it in the menu :)

  • J A

    Awesome post. For NFC support I'm thinking using android beam to send over a calendar meeting and it going straight to google now as a card. Or someone beaming you a search result like movie times that instead of taking you to the browser, just become a card. I'm also thinking of a save for later feature, for example someone beams over a contact or game and instead of getting it in your phone you simply save it for later as a card.

  • http://twitter.com/Pascalwb Pascal

    FIrst navigation would have to work in my country.

    • Tomi Golob

      I know ,right? I dont know were they thinking at Google when they skipped the navigation and traffic reporting in many European countries. I mean what the fuck,why dont they just allow for every EU country to use navigation...or the rest of the world for that matter. The moded version of Maps navigation works perfectly on my phone. But so many people dont have a rooted phone or they dont know abt moded Maps. Oh,even if navigation works,we still dont have traffic info....what gives?!?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bella.pease.75 Bella Pease

    Hi Ron,

    I pulled the chrome.apk from the Nexus 4 system dump and was disappointed to see that the app info still showed as version 18. On the chromium logs, the next Milestone for Chrome on Android has been listed as version 24 for quite a while now, I like Chrome but it is still not as smooth as Stock AOSP browser 4.1.2, and is slower in benchmarks. On my Nexus 7 @ 1.6 GHz I get 1100ms~ on stock aosp browser, but only 1300~ on the latest updated version of Chrome.

    I was really hoping that Chrome would receive a major update in Android 4.2, as it would be a shame if the Nexus 4 & Nexus 10 suffer in reviews, because of a less than ideal browser. Do you know if the Nexus 4 software you have in your hands is final, or is there still hope for a much improved version of chrome before launch.

    Thanks

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    I think I know a little about the NFC permission, but I can't confirm it. It should be for a few Google Now cards that haven't been enabled yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667020551 Jose Torres

    Now that Navigation would be constantly looking for alternate routes DURING the trip, would this new feature will drain my battery even more? My battery has a very hard time keeping the charge up while the Nav is on as it is.

  • Jonathan Wong

    Offline navigation would still be nice.

  • Cody

    I am confused. My Google Maps version is 7.5.0 (#705001724)

  • Dale Huhtala

    And Canada gets screwed again...none of the new features work in Canada. Nobody from the U.S. would ever drive across the border right? Chile has the features, but not Canada...
    The new navigation options make it impossible to use as a GPS in a car - all the shortcuts are gone and traffic views are a nightmare.
    Not impressed with Google Maps lately...