26
Jun
nexusae0_Search-Icon_thumb

Google Search was just updated to version 2.6, which means it's teardown time! As usual with Google Search, it's impossible to bring up the new stuff "at will." Cards pop up entirely based on a bunch of crazy inputs that I can't easily replicate (emails, location, etc) so there's no way for me to check if new code is functional or not. So, I'll just cover everything that's not in the change log, and if you manage to see a live, working version of something, just send in a screenshot.

First up, the changelog:

For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean):
- Information about shows you're watching on your internet-connected TV (US only)*
- Saved offers when nearby a redemption location
- New voice action: play music from your phone or the Play Store
- Voice actions tips
* Requires phone/tablet to be on the same network as your TV

The full version number is pretty interesting: "2.6.7.721924.arm." I love that we are specifying processor architecture in the version string now. Presumably there are x86 versions floating around out there.

New Cards

There's quite a few new cards that aren't in the change log. I'm not sure if they work or not, but I am sure that they are new in this version. Send in your screenshots if you spot them:

Car Rental

There are layout files for "car_rental_card_dropoff.xml" and "car_rental_card_pickup.xml." They'll display your booking number and pickup and return date, time, and location. The "Pickup" card has buttons for "Navigate," "Get Directions," "Manage Reservation," and "Gmail," while the "Dropoff" card swaps the last two buttons for "Nearby Gas Stations" and "Call Rental Provider."

I'm guessing the "Gmail" button means Now will be scraping all this info from your email account.

<string name="drop_off_rental_car">Time to drop off your rental car</string>

This bit of text isn't referenced in either of the card layouts, so it will probably be a traffic/time/location reminder, similar to the current calendar appointment functionality.

Event Tickets

There are currently a few event cards, but this one is all about getting in to the event. Search 2.6 ships with "event_ticket_barcode_card.xml," which will show a scannable ticket barcode just like the airport boarding pass card. Besides the obvious barcode, this card will display the showtime, show stars, an event video or image, time to leave, and information about your table reservation. If you've got a reservation, you'll see the seat label, section, and row of your spot. It will also display the door open time and venue.

There are buttons along the bottom for "Navigate," "Get Directions," "Manage Reservation," and "Gmail," just like the car rental card.

Sporting Event Tickets And Stats

Sporting events are getting a carbon copy of the events card detailed above. It all maps out pretty nicely, just imagine a raucous stadium instead of a quite auditorium. The header will be in an "X vs Y" format and they'll be some stats of some kind.

<string name="concert_barcode_card_reason">A recent email confirmed your concert ticket</string>
<string name="sport_event_barcode_card_reason">A recent email confirmed your sport event ticket</string>

Strings for sporting events and regular events confirm that these two also get their information from Gmail data mining.

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There's a new stat layout that gets injected into the usual sports cards, too. Thanks to Greek_Ice and Matt for the pictures!

Wallet Loyalty Cards

The change log mentions Google Offer cards, but there's also code for a "Wallet Loyalty Card" ...card. It's my understanding that Google Wallet uses loyalty cards over NFC, and they're automatically applied when you tap with your phone, so I'm not sure what good a Google Now card would do.

I see this making sense if Google launches a non-NFC loyalty card system, or maybe I'm just reading into things too much and this is just a really dumb "don't forget to pay with Google Wallet!" ad.

Demo Voice Actions

If you tap the microphone button and scroll down, you'll see a whole list of example voice actions.

2013-06-26 18.35.532013-06-26 18.35.592013-06-26 18.36.092013-06-26 18.36.162013-06-26 18.36.202013-06-26 18.36.27

Thanks to Jdban for this one.

Experiments

<string name="internal_api_cards_preferences_category">Internal API cards</string>
<string name="experimental_internal_api_cards_checkbox">Enable experimental cards</string>
<string name="experimental_internal_api_cards_checkbox_message">Go back to the card list for this to take effect</string>

<string name="now_forced_experiments">Now experiments</string>
<string name="now_forced_experiments_desc">Enter a comma separated list of experiment IDs</string>
<string name="now_forced_experiments_error">Input must be a comma separated list of experiment IDs</string>

There some new experimental functionality built into Search for the Googlers to play with. Entering a comma separated list of experiment IDs you would like to enable sounds particularly terrifying. If anyone manages to hack this into reality, let me know.

Google Goggles Is Still Dead

If you were hoping for Goggles to come back the search app, I've got some bad news. They've stripped even more Goggle functionality from Search in this update. You used to be able to hit the menu button and pick "Search with Camera," and the visual search interface would pop up, but that was removed in 2.5.

Maybe Google has a severe, irrational hatred of triggering a special search from the menu button. Consider the new TV audio search functionality, which, instead of just letting you hit "menu" and pick "Search TV Show," they require that you have an internet connected TV, so they can detect that the TV is "on" over your Wi-Fi network, and pop up a "TV Search" card. TV search is just a special audio search; there's no reason to require a newer TV other than so they can be clever and pop up the card when your TV logs into your Wi-Fi.

Maybe Goggles was removed just because they couldn't figure out a "start" interface for it. It seems silly to have your search app do text and audio searches, but not image search.

Conclusion

That's it for this teardown. If you happen to be renting a car or something and see the car rental card pop up (or any others) let me know!

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.
  • Roberto Giunta

    And yet you can't still turn on and off things like bluetooth and WiFi on your device although Google Now from the beginning said that this will come 'soon'.

    • evcon

      Many phones now have this in the notification shade or in the quick settings (depending on the skin of Android), so it's a little redundant. Google Now is more about contextual (real-world) information anyway.

      • Roberto Giunta

        But it would be soooo fun to turn it on and off by voice!

        And a more egoistic answer: None of that will come to the rest of the world.

    • Kaushal

      I use utter app to do that.

  • Jdban

    So if you go to google now and press the microphone, and then don't say anything, some stuff pops up below it. It now offers suggestions of what to say based on contacts and stuff: http://i.imgur.com/1fQ7IFg.png

    Looks like its new too.

    • AndreKP2124

      Sniff sniff It stinks.... I smell Apple lawsuit...

      • Matt McKee

        Why?

        • AndreKP2124

          Because, Apple has a lot of "Siri Patents", and between them there might be one that have to be with Voice Commands like "I would like my alarm for 5:30am" or "Remember me to eat slower when I'm in lunch", etc... Remember the day they banned Galaxy Nexus, because of that stupid "Siri Patent" called "Universal Search". Now I wished to the last big moon: "Please, make that patent to be invalidated" (Sorry for my English)

    • http://us.playstation.com/ps4 Mark Cerny

      When you press the microphone, your using voice search, not google now -_-

      Look it up. Learn the differences.

      • Rob Sheppard

        Cool. Be a bit more condescending, why don't you? I like how you know the difference between Google Now and Voice Search, but not the difference between the 'your' and 'you're'.

        Look it up. Learn the differences.

        • http://us.playstation.com/ps4 Mark Cerny

          Well their I mean they're similar. A lot of us make that mistake.

  • Greek_Ice

    I've noticed the Sports Card (namely Baseball) has been updated as well. It now displays the respective team's stats including: Win/Loss record, PCT, and GB.

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

      oo, could i get a picture of that?

  • skitchbeatz

    seems like some of these tickets would work best in Google Wallet... sigh...

    • Aaron Jaeger

      If you read up on the Google Wallet Objects API, you will probably agree that it is likely that Google Wallet _will_ house these tickets/passes/loyalty cards. Google Now will only be responsible for presenting the user the appropriate ticket/pass/loyalty card at the right time so they don't have to go digging in their Wallet for it.

      • skitchbeatz

        I really hope you're right. After all of these updates i'm afraid Google Now will become inundated with too many cards.

        • Aaron Jaeger

          I'm pretty confident: the Google Wallet sessions at I/O, which can be watched on YouTube, more or less describe how it will work.

  • JLishere

    "Listen to" or "Play music by" now shows a cover photo if your search matches an artist in the Google Play Store.

  • JLishere

    The UI for local directions and navigation is slightly enhanced. The font for business names is bigger and the icon will change based on whether you asked for "directions' (a blue turn arrow) or 'navigation' (a blue navigation arrow). I'm also glad that Google can still recognize the mode of transportation you asked for.

    • ChavaM

      Hasn't it been that way for a while now?

      • JLishere

        The layout is the same but there are subtle changes (font, spacing and slightly improved icons). I also noticed that Google is starting to serve the new map tiles instead of the old, but it only happens on some searches. Not sure why.

    • Tyler

      Just did the same search and this is what the old version looks like. Looks like they changed a few cosmetic things but it still functions the same.

  • nsnsmj

    I really wish they'd bring camera search back. They could've just left it in until they figured out a better way to let the user initiate it. The standalone Goggles app is kinda ugly, in my opinion, and the Google Now camera search interface (if you could even call it that) looked so much better.

    • Ryan Stewart

      It also seemed to be more responsive, especially when reading barcodes and the like.

  • Ryan O’Neill

    What if hotword detection worked from the lockscreen? Just turn on the phone, say "google", and then search from there.

    It wouldn't even drain battery because the lockscreen is only shown for several seconds.

  • Tommy Thompson

    Has there always been the voice command to ask what song is playing right now? If not, thats new.

    • miri

      I'm pretty sure it's been there, if not from the beginning, then close to it. Also, if you tap on the microphone while a song is playing, a music note will appear and clicking on that will identify the song.

    • Tyler

      You've been able to ask it "what song is this" for quite some time now.

  • miri

    Probably late to the party, but since when has "When is my next appointment?" worked?

    • Blydro

      Since always....

      • akshay7394

        Doesn't work for me even now.

  • Zhuowei

    In case you're wondering, the Dogfood features are enabled based on LogLevel, stored in a Protobuf file in /data/data/com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox/app_shared_prefs/StartupSettings.bin . Sadly, Protobuf files are difficult to edit, so I can't get it to enable :(

    I'll try to make a modified APK instead for this./

  • AnthonyRyan89

    I don't see the update I'm still on update 2.5.8.675703

  • Leonardo Baez

    is posible a link to the app? mine still didnt updated

  • Ryan Stewart

    I'm gonna let you finish but Google's adding of location based reminders was the greatest Google Search/Now update of all time. Of all time!

    • Matthew Fry

      I tried 'remind me to put in my contacts when I get home.' I got the notification like 2 hours after I got home. Thanks Google...

  • Chris Wueste

    Are we going to get NCAA football tracking before the season though?

  • RSerda

    WTH.. still no update for this... have received all the other Google App updates released over the last 24 hours... Movies and TV... GMAIL.. but no SEARCH update for my N4..!? :/

    • Aaron Guzman

      Try tapping on the app in the Play Store. Even though it says there is no update the Play Store will (at least for me) allow you to update it.

      I was getting impatient for the update too and found that I could update it by going directly to it in the store.

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