Ok - here's the deal. A Google Search update happened, which means it's teardown time. Normally I post about unreleased, work-in-progress stuff, but Google Now is so context dependent, that it's pretty much impossible for me to tell if something is implemented or not. The one thing I've learned from my months of using Now is that Google Now is in charge, and you're just along for the ride. So, for today's post, we're just going to shoot for "new things that didn't make it onto the 'What's New' list." If you can get them to show up, awesome. Send me a screenshot and I'll update. For the most part though, this article is going to raise a lot of questions, and not have many answers.
Since we're disqualifying things in the What's New list, (because we already know about them) we should probably take a look at it first:
What's in this version:
For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean), Google Search keeps getting faster, plus:
- Events nearby
- Suggestions to help with your research
- Boarding passes from Gmail (United only, more to come)
- Search by camera when at museums or shops
- Weather at upcoming travel destinations
- Approximate monthly summary of walking and biking activity
New voice actions:
- Post to Google+
- Say "What's this song?" to find the song you hear
- Say "Scan a barcode" to find product info
So then, what's in the code that's not in this list? A lot. For starters, there's some "beta" stuff that I'm pretty sure we aren't allowed to play with.
Reply To SMS With Voice
There are 3 new files that end with the word "beta." These all have to do with a "handsfree" mode, and there are a few new string entries that give us an idea of what's cooking.
<string name="permission_sms_voice_notification" />
<string name="permission_sms_voice_notification_desc">Allows starting up activity for handling sms notifications by voice.</string>
<string name="sms_notification">Text message. Say Google to continue.</string>
<string name="sms_notification_action_choice">Say call back, respond, or cancel.</string>
<string name="call_back">Call back</string>
<string name="sms_reply_dictation_start">Start dictating response.</string>
<string name="sms_reply_action_choice">Say okay, or cancel.</string>
So it sounds like there will be a mode that will take over SMS notifications. The description only states that it will "handle SMS by voice." It shows commands for replying by voice, and I would imagine that means reading texts out loud as well. This will probably be a toggle-able thing for driving. Can anyone get this to work now?
<string name="birthday_view_contact">View contact</string>
<string name="birthday_wish">Wish happy birthday</string>
<string name="birthday_wish_gplus">Wish happy birthday on G+</string>
The What's New list mentions "birthdays" but that's rather ambiguous. It has shown your birthday for a while, but now it shows your contact's birthdays, too.
<string name="social_update_post_to_network">Edit in %1$s</string>
<string name="social_update_network_not_supported">"Can't post to this social network from this device."</string>
I found stings for doing voice command social updates for Twitter and Facebook. Facebook doesn't work, but Twitter does!
It seems to only post the first part of your message for right now. This will also only work with the official Twitter app. I only had Falcon installed originally, and it gave me the "Can't post to this social network from this device" message.
Yes, you heard right, [email protected] is back from the dead. There's a new file called "at_home_card.xml" and a few new strings that have to do with home automation.
<string name="at_home_turn_on_lights">Turn on the %1$s lights</string>
<string name="at_home_turn_off_lights">Turn off the %1$s lights</string>
So I guess the plan is, you go buy one of the smart light bulbs they showed off a million years ago, and when you're at home, you'll have a Google Now card pop up that will let you control your lights. It would be a little dumb to have an app just for light bulbs, but a Now card would be perfect. Now if only they would actually release this stuff.
And yes, this is really [email protected]; the code is full of "com.android.athome" references.
Play Store Ratings?
There is a new file called "play_store_rating_bar.xml" and image files for the stars you would normally use to rate Play Store apps. Any idea why this would be here? Maybe one day Now will remind you to review recently installed apps. That would be handy. [Note from Cameron: Or annoying.]
Google Goggles Has Moved
If you thought the new camera search functionality was a lot like Google Goggles, you aren't alone. All the image search stuff is actually referred to as "goggles" in the app, so my guess is that the standalone version is going away. Just like the @home light bulbs, having an app just for image scanning is pretty lame. I welcome the convergence - it is a search, after all.
From the "interesting to no one but me" department, there's news that the Google Goggles Team each has a personal sandbox in the Google Search app that they are allowed to somehow access from the app. I found this in the array file:
The first part of each URL is a name. A little bit of Googling and you can find out that "dpetrou" is David Petrou, "mbridges" is Matthew Bridges, etc. So say hi to the Goggles team. Hi Gogglers! How has the move been?
Now that we have everyone's name, a bit of stalking gets you posts like this...
...which further confirm that Goggles is now part of Search.
One last bit of bonus news: A few of these people also list themselves as being on the Project Glass team. So it's a safe bet you'll be able to use Goggles on actual goggles pretty soon.
That's it for this update. If you can somehow get voice SMS reply to work, or think you have an idea of what the ratings stars are for, let me know in the comments.