04
Apr
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Google Search teardowns are always a huge mess, because there's really no way of knowing what is or isn't implemented. I'm up against a scary combination of Now's entirely context-based UI and Voice Actions, which has absolutely no UI. Rather than try and guess at what does or doesn't work, I'll just post everything that Google neglected to add in the change log. If you manage to see something working, send in a screenshot and I'll add it.

If you follow me on Google+, you'll know that APK Teardown has been in a bit of a dry spell lately, but wow, Google has made up for it today - there is a treasure trove of hidden things in this update.

Step one is to build a proper change log, so let's take a look at the starting point Google has supplied us with:

For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean):
- Real time package tracking from select carriers
- Quick feedback and settings on cards
- Faster Google search results

Let me get the "I told you so" moment out of my system right away: "Faster Google search results" is layman speak for "We enabled SPDY," which was chronicled in the last Google Search APK Teardown. The system works!

wm_2013-04-03 17.51.58wm_Screenshot_2013-04-03-18-42-15

"Quick feedback and settings" are these cool little (i) buttons at the top right of cards. They bring up a set of dark-themed links under each card for settings, feedback, and card justification. The (i) button means the microscopic menu button that used to be on each card (right) is dead - and good riddance, they were way too difficult to press on most phones.

2013-04-03 18.39.28

The feedback for the Events card is particularly impressive - it asks if each individual suggestion is useful, almost as if Google is building a Pandora-style service that will track your event interests. I usually find the stuff in this card pretty irrelevant, so any kind of interest tracking would be welcome.

wm_2013-04-03 17.54.08wm_2013-04-03 18.18.19

"My stuff" is a brand new section that Google neglected to mention in the change log. It houses all of your customized settings for Google Now cards. Here you can edit Places, Sports Teams, and Stocks.

wm_2013-04-03 21.56.36wm_2013-04-03 21.56.27wm_Screenshot_2013-04-03-21-58-34wm_Screenshot_2013-04-03-21-56-20

Since settings are now on the main screen, directly below the cards, the settings section has gotten a revamp. Here's the new layout (left 2) vs. the old layout (right 2). In the new layout, any section with a description (for instance, Gmail cards) can be tapped on for more options.

wm_2013-04-03 21.57.34wm_2013-04-03 22.19.24

There is a new option for using voice actions through a Bluetooth headset and an option to display the weather for work and home when you're away. Tapping on the weather card will once again show you a detailed forecast.

wm_2013-04-04 00.22.25

If you scroll the bottom bar all the way over, you'll see there's a new option to only search "Applications." It's interesting that they opted to call this "Applications" and not "Google Play" (even though this only searches the Play Store). I guess the iOS version searches Apple's store. (There is an iOS version, right?) Discovering this on your own is nigh-impossible (I found it digging through the code) so inclusion in the change log might have been a good idea.

Update: The Nearby Attractions card now shows closing times in big, green text. Thanks to Developer Steven for sending this in:

BHCXz55CAAAcWYk

Now for the presumably hidden stuff:

Reminders

Capture

Reminders are set to be the next big feature for Search. There are icons for time and location-based reminders, and another icon for "action reminders," which is a combination of the time and location icons.

<string-array name="edit_reminder_day">
    <item>Today</item>
    <item>Tomorrow</item>
    <item>Weekend</item>
    <item>Set date</item>
</string-array>
<string-array name="edit_reminder_time">
    <item>Morning</item>
    <item>Afternoon</item>
    <item>Evening</item>
    <item>Night</item>
    <item>All day</item>
    <item>Set time</item>
</string-array>
<string-array name="edit_reminder_location_trigger_type">
    <item>Arrive</item>
    <item>Leave</item>
</string-array>
<string-array name="edit_reminder_location">
    <item>Home</item>
    <item>Work</item>
</string-array>

You'll be able to specify reminders by date, time, location, and arrival/departure; so "Remind me to buy milk when I leave work tomorrow" will be a possible command soon. This is a list of all the parameters it will recognize, including options for specifying an exact date and time.

<activity android:name="com.google.android.voicesearch.fragments.reminders.EditReminderActivity" android:exported="false" />

There's also this new voice actions activity for reminders, so, if you haven't guessed already, the primary interface for this will be verbal.

<string name="my_stuff_preferences_summary">My sports teams, stocks, places, reminders</string>
<string name="my_stuff_preferences_summary_no_reminders">My sports teams, stocks, places</string>

In the text for the new "My Stuff" section, and there are versions with and without the reminders feature listed, so it sounds like you'll be managing reminders from that screen.

<string name="set_reminder_add_trigger">When would you like to be reminded?</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_arriving">When I arrive at <xliff id="location" example="Times Square">%1$s</xliff></string>
   <string name="set_reminder_leaving">When I leave <xliff id="location" example="Times Square">%1$s</xliff></string>
   <string name="set_reminder_arriving_home">When I arrive home</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_leaving_home">When I leave home</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_arriving_work">When I arrive at work</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_leaving_work">When I leave work</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_set_time">Set time</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_set_place">Set place</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_empty_label">…</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_submit">Set reminder</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_edit">Edit reminder</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_opt_in_prompt">To set reminders you need to be opted in to Google Now</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_opt_in">Opt-in to Google Now</string>
   <string name="edit_reminder_menu_cancel">Cancel</string>
   <string name="edit_reminder_menu_set">Set</string>
   <string name="edit_reminder_time_trigger">Time</string>
   <string name="edit_reminder_location_trigger">Place</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_saving">Saving reminder …</string>
   <string name="set_reminder_error_saving">"Can't reach Google at the moment"</string>

Judging by all this text (and a few layout files), it looks like you'll be able to set a reminder non-verbally, too.

<string name="reminder_card_reason_time">You asked for a reminder at this time</string>
<string name="reminder_card_reason_location">You asked for a reminder at this location</string>

<string name="no_upcoming_reminders">No upcoming reminders</string>
<string name="no_past_reminders">No past reminders</string>
<string name="mark_reminder_done">Mark as done?</string>

<string name="snooze_button">Snooze</string>

You'll be able to see past reminders and mark existing ones as 'done.' I'm also going to take a wild guess and say that this "Snooze" text is for reminders, too.

It doesn't look like this will integrate with any other app, so those of you dreaming of Google Keep integration can just stop right now. It looks like all editing and task management you would need to do will be located in the search app. Between this, Keep, and Google Tasks, that will make three competing To-Do list apps from Google - four if you count Calendar. *sigh*

On the bright side, this looks extremely finished. I would expect reminders to launch very soon.

App Ratings

star_rating_1star_rating_1_5star_rating_2star_rating_2_5star_rating_3star_rating_3_5star_rating_4star_rating_4_5star_rating_5

Sure, application search went live with this update, but there is also a metric ton of star rating images that I don't think are used anywhere.  I had spotted Play Store rating stars in an earlier teardown, but nothing ever came of it. These are new stars, so it looks like Google is still playing with the idea.

Website Update Tracking

This one might be active - send in a screenshot if it shows up.

<string name="website_updates">Website updates</string>
<string name="website_card_summary">When new content is available to a website you visit frequently.</string>

<string name="website_update_read_full_story">Read full story</string>
<string name="website_update_justification">A website you visit frequently has been updated</string>
<string name="website_update_question">Are updates from these sources useful?</string>

I spotted text and code for a new card that alerts you when one of your favorite websites has updates.

What an awesome idea! I wish there were a Google service dedicated to keeping track of my favorite websites.

rage

Location-Based Transit Preferences

<string name="transit_station_card_feedback_question">Do you usually want to see schedules for this location?</string>
<string name="transit_city_card_feedback_question">Do you usually take transit in this city?</string>

This sounds super handy. There are strings that suggest Now will start keeping track of your transit preferences based on your location. Personally, I drive all the time, until I go to New York, where I use all mass transit, all the time. This sounds perfect. This is another one that might be live - if you've got a screenshot, send it in.

Update: It's live!

Screenshot_2013-04-04-12-30-49

Bradley Albert Nemitz send in this screenshot of transit preferences in action. Thanks!

Card "Backs"

wm_2013-04-03 17.51.58

Fun fact: The new dark info panels that pop out of the cards are internally referred to as "Card backs." It is very clearly not the back of the card, so I'll take a guess and say the cards either used to flip over and display these options or they will at some point in the future. Flipping over would be neat.

Mysterious Help Cards

There is some kind of "help" initiative being cooked up for Google Now.

googlenow_help_avatar

This thing is called "googlenow_help_avatar.png." "Help Avatar" might immediately conjure up images of Microsoft Office's Clippy, but usually this image is used a placeholder for your profile picture. I have no idea what it's for.

<item type="id" name="help_card_headline">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_example">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_date_preview">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_date_preview_day_of_week">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_date_preview_day">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_date_preview_month">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_time_preview">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_time_preview_hour">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_time_preview_minute">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_image_preview_1">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_image_preview_2">false</item>
<item type="id" name="help_card_refresh_example">false</item>

Here are all the individual elements I could find for the help card. It all has to do with to do with examples, dates, times, and images.

<string name="refresh_example">Show another example</string>
<string name="help_quoted_example_query">“%s”</string>
<string name="time_preview_minute">:%s</string>

There are also these strings - I'm honestly not even sure if they're related to the help cards. This section's up to you, commenters. Any ideas?

Mysterious Contact Stuff, Part 2

The 2.3 update came with lots of mysterious contact-related stuff, and 2.4 is piling on even more.

ic_action_add_contact_normalic_action_copy_normal

There's this "ic_action_add_contact_normal.png" image, and, again, the "ic_action" designation means it would an actionable link at the bottom of a Google Now card.

There is also a "Copy" icon, which I'm guessing is contact-related just by the internal placement of the text:

<string name="copy_to_clipboard">Copy to clipboard</string>
<string name="clipboard_label">Contact details</string>

<string name="copy_all_text">Copy all text</string>
<string name="share_contact">Share contact</string>
<string name="add_contact">Add contact</string>
<string name="clipboard_contact_title">Contact</string>
<string name="copied_to_clipboard">Copied to clipboard.</string>

There are a few layout cards for "Recognized Contact," too.

My only thought is that maybe this is for business card image recognition? That used to be a feature of Google Goggles, which is now integrated with the Search app. I couldn't get it to recognize any business cards, though.

Conclusion

Whew! Is it just me or was this teardown HUGE? I guess their new strategy is to try to overwhelm me with work. That's not going to work, Google!

Like I said in the intro, Google Search is always difficult to nail down. So if there's anything I called "hidden" that isn't actually hidden, take a screenshot and let me know.

That's it for today. See you next update!

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.
  • http://www.facebook.com/piyush3d Piyush Bardekar

    First

    • Jays2Kings

      No, the facebook event hasn't happened yet.

  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir
  • Kaushal

    I've searched a lot but haven't found a solution to this.. Is anyone annoyed with the "Phone" search on Google Now? The problem is that I have to wait for the online google search to finish before I can select Phone. Isn't or shouldn't there be a way to make Phone search the highest priority? Most of the times, I don't want online search; I just want to search for an app or contact or an Evernote note.

    • Freak4Dell

      For me, it will pull up the Phone results as I'm typing. If I hit enter, then it has to do a web search first, but if I just don't hit enter, I can select from the results it pulled up automatically, or hit "Search Phone" to show more Phone results.

      • Kaushal

        Yes, but that doesn't work for everything. The instant search works only for applications and contacts, I think. It doesn't work that way for Evernote search for example; I have to hit that search icon and then click on Phone.

  • LeDerp

    Website update tracking got me lol'ing like a retard at work. Thank you, sir

    • Tomi Golob

      LOL...

  • http://twitter.com/Fysi Richard Ashton

    'What an awesome idea! I wish there were a Google service dedicated to keeping track of my favorite websites.'

    Yes, it would be called Google Alerts. Not Reader.

    http://www.google.co.uk/alerts

    • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.mennitto Andrea Mennì
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo

      Alerts is for search queries, not specific web sites. I guess you could throw in a "site:" operator, but Reader would be better for that.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    can you upload the ic_reminders_ time image file? don't think I seen it in holo assets

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/ron-amadeo/ Ron Amadeo
      • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

        thank you!

  • Greek_Ice

    Excellent breakdown as usual Ron. Really looking forward to those "action reminders" and location based transit cards.

  • Jeremy Gilliam

    Thanks for the teardown!

  • http://twitter.com/HandNF NF

    I'm sure a lot of this stuff will be ready for I/O. Although maybe Android 6.0 will have to include a "Babble" for Tasks.

    Google seems to love redundancy.

    Also, website updates seems like a neat feature except for Currents does something similar.

  • Danny Holyoake

    What happened to posting status updates to Twitter, Facebook and Google+? I could've sworn you uncovered that in a teardown once.

    • XBIRDIE98

      The Twitter and Google functionality was shown to be live - I can confirm it works. Unfortunately, I can't get Facebook to post from the search app, which I believe was also confirmed.

  • Jivester

    Yeah south Jersey!

  • mechapathy

    No! Not clippy! "It looks like you're doing an APK teardown. Can I help you with that?"

  • Guest
  • Guest

    Please, continue with beating this dead horse.

    http://i.imgur.com/CyPNZ5H.gif

  • Nick V

    I love these APK teardowns. One of my favorite features.

  • http://twitter.com/ElooieIV Edward Lewis

    Maybe they planned on killing reader so that they could integrate the backend into Now... Basically just trying take reader back from 3rd parties.

  • duse

    1) How can I use my Bluetooth headset to play music in the car? Enabled the featured, went to Google Now, hit the mic, said "listen to song name", but then the mic just stays activated listening for more input. Isn't it supposed to recognize what I said at that point and start playing the song? I've been waiting for voice actions over Bluetooth forever!

    2) Is it just me, or have they removed granularity from the notifications? You used to be able to set notifications for each card individually, now you can only turn on or off "Weather, sports & others" all together. So there's no way to receive sports notifications but not weather? What the hell?

  • fifarunnerr

    I don't have a screenshot available, but the Location-Based Transit Preferences are live in the latest version of Google Now. They'll appear after pressing the (i) icon on a bus/train station card.
    It's part of the quick feedback, just like the feedback for the nearby events.

  • Fifth313ment

    I hate the new way the Google Search app deals with notifications! You can no longer disable a notification based on card! Before I used to disable weather card notifications and allow "time home" notifications but now I have to have both enabled or neither, ARRGGGGGGG GOOOOOOOOGLE! Anyone else bothered or have a way to fix this other than going back to the older version?

    • duse

      Same here, and I didn't realize "time home" was included with "others." That sucks. I loved "time home" and don't want weather notifications. I hate it when Google gives us power user options, and THEN decides to dumb it down and take those options away. What was wrong with how it was? Novice users aren't even in this settings screen, I promise you.

      • Justin Swanson

        I think they just made it better. All of your card notifications in one place, all of your notification bar notifications in another. What's the problem?

        • duse

          I'm not sure what you mean by "All of your card notifications in one place, all of your notification bar notifications in another." All they did was consolidate the notification on/off toggle for several types of cards. This is a problem for the reason I mentioned in my post above - I DO want sports and "time to home" notifications, I don't want weather notifications. With the new setting I either take all three or leave all three.

          • Justin Swanson

            I see now... my mistake... It does seem rather strange they would lump the sports, weather & 'others' into the same toggle.

          • duse

            Yeah, it really does, and I don't think this really simplifies it very much for anybody. Google does this a lot - they put in a lot of advanced options, then realize they need to make it simpler, and go too far, or do it in a poor way that's not actually any easier to use. Look at how many times the Google+ UI has changed. They should think before they act a bit more.

    • Barton82

      You could try turning off the weather card and keeping notifications on. It should not show weather notifications anymore.

    • Davy Jones

      Can't you just disable weather cards in the "Google Now: All Cards" menu? There is a toggle for "weather" and it even lets you choose which weather cards you want to get.

      • Freak4Dell

        I can't speak for him, but I want to see the weather card. I don't want to see the notification. I don't need it crowding up my notification drawer every time the temperature changes, but I would like to be able to swipe up and see what the temperature is.

        • Davy Jones

          Oh I see what you mean, not sure what is up with that grouping. This really could be solved with some more effective UI. Instead of using "off/on" toggles under cards they should use a 3 step "off/on/notify" toggle for each card. Then they could drop the whole "notifications" menu entirely.

  • crankerchick

    "What an awesome idea! I wish there were a Google service dedicated to keeping track of my favorite websites."
    I LOLed.

    Great teardown Ron, always a good read. Excited for the reminders, but really wish they integrated with Keep and the stock task application.

  • nsnsmj

    Thanks for doing another teardown.

    This update is pretty great, but I have to admit, I don't like the way some things in settings have been changed. I'm sure this doesn't bother everyone, but one annoyance for me is that Google grouped "Weather, Sports, & Others" notifications as one thing. I'd prefer to have them separate. Also, there just seems to be less control and customization given to users over what is displayed in the cards. They seem to have over-simplified and dumbed things down. :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/dileepanm Dileepan Mohanachandran

    Wait! So, Search with camera has been live for some time? When did Google integrate Goggles into this?

  • http://profiles.google.com/hephastus Kurleigh Martin

    Excellent as always Ron. What I am noticing though is that when I ask "what's the weather today " instead of the card and verbal readout I'm getting just web results. Even more curious is that this behavior is only on my N7 and TF300 not on my N4! Thoughts?

  • Drayon
  • Floss

    Tracking shipped packages has to be just about the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    • lolo

      ... and something "track checker" from play store does for years now and very comfortable for many services around the world.

  • http://www.dylanmccall.com/ dylan-m

    All this and it still insists that I work at a single place from Monday to Friday every week, and refuses to accept any information to the contrary. I wish they would fix that :(

    • Freak4Dell

      Have you tried manually setting your workplace in the Places settings? Or do you not work at a static place?

      • http://www.dylanmccall.com/ dylan-m

        Nope, I don't work in a static place. To make matters worse, the last time I tried _removing_ my workplace (since my work schedule is all in my calendar anyway) it went completely wonky and started suggesting (and automatically setting) completely incorrect workplaces out of the blue. I think I cause it a great deal of confusion, unfortunately.

        • Freak4Dell

          Ah...yeah, obviously they can't predict where you work if you don't work in one place, but they could definitely make it easier to remove that altogether. It will probably get better over time.

  • Freak4Dell

    I'm thinking these updates, and probably some more, will be a headline presentation at I/O. I just hope they did something unique with the location-based reminders, because if not, I can already hear the Apple crowd's chants of "we had it first."

  • mikeym0p

    Has anyone noticed a microstutter when you fling to the ends of the GNow list? They removed the glow animation and it causes a very quick clip in the scroll. It only happens if you hit the edge with acceleration and not scrolling with your finger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Vinh-Tran/511021743 Andrew Vinh Tran

    What about the full resolution images when you search Google images? Before you would have to click on original source to view it clearly.

  • Adrian

    Has this always been in GNow?: tapping weather card opens the weather forecast card displayed with time slider so you can see the weather forecast for any time of the [selected] day.

    Btw: awesome teardown as usual, Ron! Keeping Google honest. :)

  • Sootie

    Awesome work as usual Ron, do you think the help thing might be like a live chat with a google employee, like an online "genius bar" so it shows your pic and theirs and the date and time you asked for help or something?

  • BRIM

    Really dislike how they went away from the CARDS when searching. Now it being tied into the results directly does NOT look intuitive as it did before. Why does GOOGLE doe this?? And "Navigate Home" only returns local Home Depot locations. So that's broke. Great.

  • mikeym0p

    I asked Google to 'take me home' I noticed a change in the card.
    You can now specify, in a really small drop down the navigation option you wish to use. I'm assuming transit isn't there because I haven't taken a train since I've used Now.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ds1ssyc00xbz022/zs8__yhycfvN4IjdupR1tE_LlhI8LNsVEjrMvJhwzmU.png

  • conor rynne

    god dammit...ive recently released an app that does the location-based reminders....

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