Android Auto users were given a pleasant surprise when v6.9 of the Google app enabled the 'OK Google' activation phrase while driving (for many people). We haven't spotted any other visible changes with this release, but there are some interesting things buried in the apk that are also worth checking out. It looks like the search bar's autocomplete is about to gain some new tricks and there's a new (or at least improved) native image viewer in development that appears to have custom support for some of Google's custom search results.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Smarter autocomplete

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Most of us are pretty comfortable using Google's search bar, and ever since it began offering a dropdown with autocomplete suggestions, it has become a very efficient way to search both your phone and the web. However, it could be argued that the autocomplete suggestions can be based too literally on the things you type. Judging by some new text, there are plans to begin inserting suggestions in the autocomplete dropdown with related, but not necessarily verbatim phrases as you're typing.

<string name="regular_app_result_suggestion_message">This app page is related to what you’re typing.</string>
<string name="regular_app_suggestion_message">This is an app that’s related to what you’re typing.</string>

<string name="regular_query_suggestion_message">This term is related to what you’re typing.</string>
<string name="entity_suggestion_message">This search is related to what you’re typing.</string>

<string name="regular_url_suggestion_message">This is a web page related to what you’re typing.</string>
<string name="remove_url_history_message">This is a web page you’ve visited before and it’s related to what you’re typing.</string>

<string name="regular_query_learn_more_url">https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/106230?hl=en</string>

The URL above points to a Google support page that describes autocomplete, which is what leads to the expectation this will be a change to the autocomplete suggestions.

These phrases describe suggestions based on things "related to what you're typing" and may offer up apps, web pages, searches, or just different terms. There aren't any examples or more specific explanations to give away what exactly this will look like, but it's not hard to imagine Google might begin proposing search queries that would offer more results, currently trending topics, or possibly terms that get even more specific than those that were already chosen.

Searching offline maps

Possibly a continuation of the new autocomplete feature above, there are also signs that Google will be able to make suggestions based on the offline maps already stored on your phone. There are only three strings to see, but they clearly show a scenario where your search term may turn up something found in a locally stored map.

<string name="search_maps">Search Maps</string>
<string name="search_your_offline_map_areas">Search your Offline Map Areas?</string>
<string name="local_intent_search">Looks like you are trying to find a location while offline</string>

Technically, this is something that can already be done in the Maps app, it's just making the transition to the Google search on your phone. Nevertheless, it's fairly obvious that this could be a helpful feature when you happen to go offline, and doubly so for users that don't know (or forget) that they have a searchable map already downloaded.

Native image viewer

A bunch of new text with the prefix "image_viewer" was added with this update. Normally this would look pretty mundane, but some of the strings branch off to odd subjects including: recipes, products, and videos.

About half of the strings represent fairly standard things we expect to see with Google's image viewer on the web, including a title, option to view the original image, related images, and even a menu command to "search by image." There will also be options to save images or share them with friends. None of these are particularly unusual, but they've always been provided to Android users through a web page, making it a little surprising to see they will get a native interface.

code

<string name="image_viewer_image_description">Image titled %1$s</string>
<string name="image_viewer_visit_site">Visit page</string>
<string name="menu_view_original_image">View original image</string>
<string name="image_viewer_more_options">More options</string>

<string name="image_viewer_related_images_title">Related images</string>
<string name="image_viewer_related_image">Open related image %1$s</string>
<string name="image_viewer_view_all_related_images">View All</string>
<string name="image_viewer_view_all_related_images_accessibility">View all related images</string>
<string name="image_viewer_more_related_images">More related images</string>

<string name="menu_search_by_image">Search by image</string>

<string name="image_viewer_share">Share</string>

<string name="image_viewer_save">Save</string>
<string name="image_viewer_saving">Saving…</string>
<string name="image_viewer_saved">Saved</string>
<string name="image_viewer_view_saved">View saved</string>
<string name="image_viewer_save_failed">Couldn't save the image. Please check your Internet connection.</string>
<string name="image_viewer_saved_description">Saved. Remove image.</string>
<string name="image_viewer_saved_to_google">Saved to Google</string>
<string name="image_viewer_remove_failed">Couldn't remove the saved image. Please check your Internet connection.</string>
<string name="image_viewer_removing">Removing…</string>

image

Example of a result from an image search.

Things start getting more unusual with some strings related to recipes. These aren't just titles, there are labels to represent ingredients, cooking time, and the total number of servings to expect.

<string name="image_viewer_recipe_ingredients_label">Ingredients include:</string>
<string name="image_viewer_recipe_time_label">"Time: "</string>
<string name="image_viewer_recipe_yield_label">"Yield: "</string>
<string name="image_viewer_bullet">" • "</string>

Another bundle of separate strings seems to represent products users can purchase online. This set of labels represents the basic details like brand name, price, if the item is in stock, and reviews. Some of these details match pretty closely with fields you might find in Google Shopping.

<string name="image_viewer_product_brand_label">Brand</string>

<string name="image_viewer_product_price_label">Price*</string>
<string name="image_viewer_product_unknown_price">--</string>
<string name="image_copyright_message_price_disclaimer">* Check website for latest pricing and availability. Images may be subject to copyright.</string>

<string name="image_viewer_product_reviews_label_missing">Reviews</string>

<string name="image_viewer_product_in_stock">In stock</string>
<string name="image_viewer_product_unavailable">Out of stock</string>

<string name="image_viewer_related_products_title">Related items</string>

Finally, there's a set of strings related to videos. Like the previous two groups, this one covers basic details like the video creator, its duration, publishing date, counters for views and likes, and a section for comments.

<string name="image_viewer_video_author_label">By</string>

<string name="image_viewer_video_view_count_label">Views</string>
<string name="image_viewer_video_likes_label">Likes</string>
<string name="image_viewer_video_comments_label">Comments</string>

<string name="image_viewer_video_duration">(%s)</string>
<string name="image_viewer_video_upload_date_label">Published</string>

<string name="image_viewer_video_watch_label">Watch</string>

It's an odd collection of strings, to be sure. The only common element among these three subjects seems to be that Google will often return them in search results with custom formatting.

At this time, it looks like Google is moving its image viewer to a native implementation, possibly to achieve smoother animations or for some other display improvements. Perhaps videos, recipes, and products were special enough that they warranted additional coverage. Alternatively, these elements could be part of a new design that will become part of Google assistant in the future.

Download

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.

Version: 6.9.31 beta

Google
Google
Developer: Google Inc.
Price: Free