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Heads up, Android users: there's a Google Search update that just landed in the Play Store. Google's tendency for staged rollouts means that some of you might not get an automatic update for a few days, but as usual, we've got the APK download below. There are a few noticeable visible changes in the integrated Google Experience Launcher, but that's about it as far as new features go. This is an incremental update after the massive 3.1.8 update from last month.

What's New?

The tricky thing about combining your search and homescreen apps is that now you've got two new things to maintain. A few Nexus tablet users discovered this after updating to Android 4.4 and finding that the fancy new homescreen had a few issues, notably that the icons and integrated search bar will overlap. The latest update to Search in the Play Store moves the search function to a more subtle icon on the left edge.

Screenshot_2013-12-11-16-17-48 Screenshot_2013-12-11-16-21-58

Old on the left, new on the right.

Other changes include slightly larger icons on the homescreen, at least for some devices, and the "Settings" icon that appears after a long-press on an empty region of the homescreen has been modified to one gear instead of two. It's more in line with the adjusted aesthetic in KitKat.

Screenshot_2013-12-11-17-10-22 Screenshot_2013-12-11-16-56-55

Our indefatigable teardown team has noticed a few changes in the strings.xml file, most of which look like they're associated with the contact recognition feature. This allows Google Now to more easily associate voice commands with contact names for calls, texts, and the like.

<string name="contact_opt_in_learn_more_url">https://support.google.com/mobile/?p=gqsb_contact_recognition</string>;

<string name="contact_upload_for_communication_actions_title">Contact recognition</string>

<string name="contact_upload_for_communication_actions_desc">"Let Google use your device contacts to understand who you're trying to reach"</string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_header_opted_in">"Contact recognition enabled Touch the mic to get started"</string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_up_arrow">↑</string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_header_not_opted_in">Improve contact recognition</string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_prompt">To complete this voice action, Google needs to use your device contacts. &lt;font color=#4285f4>Learn more&lt;/font></string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_no">No, maybe later</string>

<string name="contact_opt_in_yes">"YES, I'M IN"</string>

This feature has been around for a while, so there aren't any new technical capabilities on display. Contact recognition is on by default in the US, so we're guessing that these additions describe a pop-up menu that's only enabled in certain regions where local privacy law requires it. See this page in Google Now support for details (those settings aren't visible to US users). The opt-in features may not even be enabled yet, but there are many more mentions throughout the underpinnings of the updated app.

Update: commenter Jooyoung Hong has seen the info above in the form of a new Google Now card. He's in the United States, so I guess that dashes our regional theory. Thanks, Jooyoung!


These seem to be the only major changes in the app, but we're combing through the rest of the code. We'll let you know if we find anything juicy.


The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

File name: com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox-

Version: Android 4.1+

MD5: 33f99ddd60a112ee5be0337d02d64927

Thanks, @TheNewsHQ and Steven Zeck!

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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

    Yay on the tablet fix!

    Anybody seeing anything else?

  • Iman Kareem

    This is an incremental update after the massive 3.4.8 update from last month.
    how does 4 overule 1?

    • Shawn Cheever

      I'm not 100% sure of the original filename for Google Search but it does say "googlequicksearchbox" - could this be just an extension of the main app?

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

        Nah, that's what the pname really is. com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox

        • Shawn Cheever

          Ah ok. Thanks for clarifying. Working good here on my Nexus 5 & 7

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

      It's 3.1.8. Was a typo. Fixed it, thanks. I'm guessing he used the numpad to type this in.

      • Iman Kareem

        :) Google keyboard for the win #random

  • Shawn Cheever

    Even though GEL is technically only available on the Nexus 5 I'm happy to see Google fixing this for tablets. I wonder if this is their "beta" stage before rolling out the Launcher apk to the Play Store.

    • Simon Belmont

      Totally agree. I think it is the "beta" stage before a general roll out.

      It would also explain why Android 4.4.1/4.4.2 enabled transparency for the lock screen status and navigation bars on Nexus devices (minus the N10) other than the Nexus 5 (which already had it). So you get the consistent transition with transparency in the lock screen into the home screen (GEL).

      • Shawn Cheever

        Nice observation! Hadn't even noticed.

    • Michael

      Android 4.4.2 runs on my huawei mediapad (t-mobile springboard). Up to 12.12.2013 it was perfect - but now google changed google search and now all screens are broken. Hope they will fix it with a new update

      • Shawn Cheever

        Did you try clearing data on the search app? If that doesn't work maybe uninstalling the update will help you.

        • Michael

          Sure - cleared cache.
          Of course is it possible to install the old version. Just now i've expanded the old and the new google search apk and look for a solution. BTW inside of the apk are resources for several resolutions (mdpi,hdpi,xhdpi,xxhdpi9). The problems will happen in phone as in phablet mode.

  • http://profiles.google.com/geoffreyzub Geoffrey S. Zub

    On my Nexus 10 it made the launcher worse, shiftedhalf of the icons off the screen to the right, had to downgrade to get them to where I could reach them...

    • Shawn Cheever

      Does clearing data/cache change anything?

    • Bruce

      Totally screwed up my Nexus 10 as well

    • Steve Secor

      Yeah, definitely a downgrade on the N10.

  • miri

    The Grid is smaller on my 2012 Nexus 7 (5x5 instead of 6x6) And it's not tied to this update, but if you say "Ok Google, listen to [Artist Name]" it will shuffle all music by that artist if you have All Access rather than playing a single random song.

    • Andrew

      You're right. I had a bunch of icons along the bottom and right side of the screen on my Nexus 7 (2013) and after updating they're gone!

      • http://urban-scholar.com/ LaRosa Johnson

        Same here. You'll even notice in the picture in the post that the new launcher is missing the Play Store icon. I can move an app into that spot, but upon rebooting the device it disappears again.

    • Steven

      I don't think the music part is related to this update. I've noticed the past few days whenever I say to play an artist or song, it will start the Radio instead of just that song or that artist. Annoying really.

    • Artevius Hardin

      That was one of my biggest issues with that command. If I wanted to listen to one song I'd say its name instead play artist. So glad this was added. It lessens the amount time and reasons you may want to touch your phone while driving.

      • sss

        The problem is that if you dont have music all access...your fucked, the command will do nothing.

  • Mateusz Cichon

    There is also Hangouts update to 2.0.217 (944332-30)

    • Derek Traini

      Hmm, care to share apk?

      • Luqmaan Mathee

        Check the older posts on Android Authority.

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

          Anything in there? Seems minor and not worth the time.

          • abobobilly

            I think there was only "MMS Fixes" thats all.

          • Mateusz Cichon

            It was in 2.0.216

          • Mateusz Cichon

            Can't see anything new.

  • Frisi

    Im having issues. Each time I change screen orientation it would open the keyboard and the search dropdown. Plus, icons are way big now, and I lost a row. Nexus 7, 2013

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

      The keyboard issue isn't happening on the 2012 N7, and I'm keeping the 2013 one on the old version for now.

      Edit: Mataeusz's advice from another thread here is to clear data for the Search app. It should fix the issue.

  • Guest

    Whenever I rotate my 2013 N7 the keyboard pops up and the search bar is selected, this happening to anyone else?

    • Frisi

      Happening to me as well.

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

      God damnit, thus bug is back? It was happening in the original version, then got fixed, now happening again.

      • Mateusz Cichon

        Can be easily fixed by clearing Google Search data.

        • Frisi

          Annnnd thank you. :) Had some other issues, but that fixed everything. :)

          • Mateusz Cichon

            It clearly shows that GEL is not ready for public yet.

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


    • Frisi

      Fixed it by uninstalling the Launcher in Settings -> Home and delete the launcher. Install Launcher APK again. Worked for me.

    • Andrew

      I had that happen right after I installed the update. A reboot seemed to fix it.

  • Iman Kareem
  • Ryuuie

    I think people didn't like that you couldn't actually have an empty homescreen. Well..



    • alwin006

      Can you share those wallpapers please ?

    • Simon Belmont

      Do you have Google Now on? If so, wouldn't that second home-screen that looks empty always be there anyway even if you had nothing on it?

      I haven't tested that out myself. It's just what I guess would happen in that scenario.

      • Ryuuie

        Yes, I have Now on. The second home screen wouldn't be empty because that's considered the first homescreen while Now is off to the left. Before this update, you couldn't have an empty homescreen.

        • Simon Belmont

          Hmm. But that's what I meant.

          If you have Google Now on and the second home screen (technically the first after Google Now) is empty, it still has to exist (even if it's empty). Maybe I'm just not reading what you're saying correctly (it's late here).

          • Ryuuie

            It's ok, it's late here too. :P Basically, without this updated Google Search app, you weren't able to have a home screen that had nothing on it. It had to have at LEAST one icon on it.

            Now, it's able to be completely empty with no widgets or app shortcuts.

          • Simon Belmont

            I knew you couldn't have a completely empty home screens (if you remove everything, for example, the home screen is deleted). But the first home screen, I assumed, COULD be empty since SOMETHING had to exist to put icons and widgets on in the first place (you couldn't just have the Google Now screen all by itself, lol).

            Oh well. I guess I'll have to install this update and see what you mean.

          • Ryuuie

            Ok, I think I get what you mean (there's a possibility I don't...hold on to your hat!..or...shirt..or..something..).

            I uninstalled the Search update and tried to delete the icons on the first home screen. It was the default Google folder and the Play Store icon.

            Then it switched over to the second screen...where I was able to delete everything and have an empty home screen with Now off to the side.

            So....I don't know what's going on. :D

            I know I wasn't able to do this before... :| I'm confused too.

          • Simon Belmont

            I've read there's a bug where if you have a home screen with a single app on it, and then uninstall that app, that home screen will be empty but stick around. Maybe this is similar to that? ;)

            It's weird. Needless to say. :)

          • Ryuuie

            Your guess is as good as mine, so I'mma just say probably! lol

            Whatever the cause, I like it and I hope it stays forever. :P

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

      On the Nexus 5, I just added a new home screen by copying an icon to it, then removed the icon, and the screen disappeared. Can you do this for a 3rd screen? Maybe it's only working because you only have 2 screens - that makes sense. I bet that's what this is, and it was always this way.

      • Ryuuie

        I created 5 screens, removed the icon from one and the screen disappeared from them all. Now I'm back to the first screen but with no icons.

        I seriously remember this not being a thing before the update (maybe before 4.4.2?). I remember it not letting me have an empty homescreen.

        • miri

          If you have Google Now enabled, then in the screenshot you have one home screen and the other is Google Now. Not having any home screens would break the launcher so you've always been able to leave it empty if it was the only one.

          I think the issue you're remembering is that if you have multiple home screens, you can't leave your first one blank because it would be removed and the second would take it's place. That's still the case.

          • Ryuuie

            Yeah, I mean that you couldn't have the first one blank. I have it blank now and the second one isn't there anymore. Not sure what's going on right now. :v ...I just woke up so, forgive me if nothing I say makes sense at the moment, hah.

    • fredrikaw

      Yea, please share the wallpapers. They look really awesome! :D

      Found one of em'

      • Ryuuie

        I did below. :)

  • http://www.mscha.nl/ Michael Schaap

    On my Nexus 7 2012, after installing this update, GEL threw away many of the folders and widgets on my home screens.
    Turns out that there's one less column and row, so any foldetbir widget that touched the last column or row was thrown away without warning.

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. And that looks really weird with the quick launch icons at the bottom.

      One said has two and the other has three, for a total of five. Not very pretty.

      • whispy_snippet

        Oh bloody hell you're right. I just rebooted my 2013 N7 and lost my bottom right folder. This is ridiculous.

        • Hctr

          Same here, after installing the update for Google Search, anything in the bottom right corner is deleted.

          • whispy_snippet

            Surely Google will sort this one out pretty quickly...

          • whispy_snippet

            Fortunately Android is so stable and smooth these days that we can all probably get away without rebooting for quite a while!

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

      Maybe there's a tablet-specific version that behaves differently?

      • Michael

        no, take look inside of google search apk and you will find the resources for different resolutions. This is a bug of google search (perhaps they do not detect the correct dpi)

    • WretchedGenius

      Same here, with both my 2012 and 2013 Nexus 7's. Looks like thew update reduced the grid size and made the icons slightly bigger.

      • http://www.standupforkids.org blackroseMD1

        Nah, it affects my HTC One running 4.4.2 SlimKat as well. Hopefully Google pushes out an update soon.

    • Michael

      Same problem
      Got my Update from Playstore (using Huawei 7 Mediapad with cyanogenmod 11.x( android 4.4.2)

      Now i have less icons on the desktop and the updated change the whole screens on my launcher desktop, widgets are lager or thrown away.
      Even if change DPI from 160 to 140 there are less icons.
      Then i deinstalled google search and installed the old version ..everything was fine.
      Hope that google will change this problem

  • Jooyoung Hong

    Hey Artem,

    Just a heads up about the contact recognition thing.

    • Jooyoung Hong

      Hm, weird. It only seems to recognize "legit names".

      I say send a text message to "baby", and it doesn't recognize the contact.
      I say send a text message to "Jessica", and it does.

    • Simon Belmont

      I assume you're located outside of the US? Maybe that's why it shows up for you (as the article suggested, your country may require it by law).

      OR, it's something new for everyone. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

      • Jooyoung Hong

        nope in US

        • Simon Belmont

          Thanks for the reply. I guess it's a "feature" for us all, then.

          I'll have to try it out myself. Cheers.

    • Steven

      Do you have it set to English (US) or something else? How did you get that to happen exactly, I just tried "send an email" via voice command and it responded with "to who". Can you also check your search settings under Accounts and privacy and see if you have a checkbox there for contact recognition?

      • Jooyoung Hong

        I'm in the US. so I have mine set to English (US) by default.
        Yeah, before this update I used to get a "to who" prompt. But after the update I tried it and got that pop up.
        Yes Contact recognition box is checked but I'm assuming because I answered "Yes I'm In"

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

          See, none of us even have this box. Or the card.

          • Jooyoung Hong

            Hm..that's really weird. I swear I'm in the US!

          • Steven

            Did you sideload the APK from here, somewhere else, direct from the Play Store? What device do you have? Can you post the exact version in your settings of the search app on your device?

          • Jooyoung Hong

            nope got the update directly from Play Store.
            I have a Nexus 5.

            Edit: Wow I had no idea how much data the search app takes up haha

          • Steven

            I cleared data on the Search app and restarted my device. It showed up after that. Keep in mind if you use GEL you'll have to redo all of your homescreen layouts.

          • Dennis Ulijn

            I had this as well, but only after updating to this version and trying to send an email to someone via google now. Have you tried calling someone or sending someone a message/email?

          • andy_o

            Dunno if people have started getting it yet, but I can say I got it earlier today, seems to be helping a lot in choosing names. I'm in the US and got everything set to English (US).

  • whispy_snippet

    YES. Was really itching for the overlap issue to be sorted on my N7. Happy chappy.

  • andy_o

    What about the fact that when you call Google Now with the gesture the back button doesn't get you back to the app you called it from? (N5, GEL)

  • NinoBr0wn

    Can we download images again?

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


      • Ryuuie

        Wait...they stopped the ability to download images from Google Search? :/ When? :(

        • Mado

          Seriously, it is such a big disadvantage that I make a shortcut just to open http://www.google.com in browser. Copy-paste is much better in the browser, too.

        • Simon Belmont

          Yeah. I noticed this a few days ago.

          It's kind of annoying and I don't see the point. Hopefully they'll bring it back soon in a minor update.

  • Sierra Tango

    I hope they add the page indicators for landscape view too.

  • David Crawford

    uninstalling an app in landscape, still broken

  • Sean Thomas

    I wish the tablet interface was more elegant. Now they have stuff on all four sides with black gradients....it's kind of nasty. Is that just landscape or what?

  • tlingitsoldier

    This update seems to have reverted my hotword back to just "Google", instead of "OK Google". I don't recall it doing that earlier today when I was using it.

  • Stacey Liu

    It's a lot smoother too. The app drawer animation doesn't lag anymore on my Nexus 4.

  • bL4Ck

    Seems like they fixed some bugs, other are still there but got less annoying.

    1. if you moved an icon inside a folder the launcher showed the extra (+) page but didn't remove it after releasing the icon, so an empty page was created. This seems to be fixed.
    2. if you opened the appdrawer and then went back to the homescreen with the home button the settings buttons, accessible only via long press, where actionable even if invisible. This seems to be fixed, but the phone still vibrates as if i pressed one of those buttons.

  • shuter

    This update does not play nice with custom DPI settings. I'm running it on my N5 and N7 (both with lower than stock DPI's) and everytime I reboot the icon at the right end of the dock disappears and I have to re-add it at every reboot... :( hmm wonder if there is a fix?

  • Andy Stetson

    indefatigable... had to google that one! Thought you were making up words!

  • BillygotTalent

    Yay, I always use my N7 in landscape mode and this annoyed the F out of me.

  • W.

    Since this update hit my phone, 'Google Search' has been chewing the battery constantly, even when the device is in airplane mode. It went from 100% to 5% inside of 5 hours. Seriously don't want an Android phone any more with the complete rubbish Google has been pushing to it lately. Begging Santa for an iphone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

    Just updated search and now I'll have to redo all of my home screens on GEL. I'll survive but this is a heads up in case I missed it somewhere.

    • effApple

      This was actually mildly infuriating

  • Muck Rymer

    so no fix for people like me who dont have Google Now wouldnt on your acoount

  • Chaosprower

    I've just noticed that you can now use the Google Now reminders function in Spanish, Italian, German, French and Japanese. I don't know if it's because this update or some server-side thing.

  • Nicolas Alexandre

    Got the updated pushed to my N10 yesterday.

    Aside from the bitch that was the grid resizing and the dock right-most icon vanishing, there seems to be some bug when adding an icon to a new homescreen page.

    Check the screenshot below. The white rectangle gradient background that pops up in transitions doesn't go away after adding an icon/widget to a page on the homescreen.