Quite a few Google apps were given minor version bumps today, but nothing has been all that interesting until it was teardown time for the latest release of the Google Home app. It doesn't seem to have any changes in the live interface quite yet, but there are a couple of things from the resources that deserve a look. To begin with, we have a status update on the subject of Bluetooth pairing. On top of that, it looks like it will be possible to set default TVs and speakers to be used as output devices for Google Home.

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.

Bluetooth support

We were told back at Google I/O that Bluetooth support was destined for Google Home, giving owners the freedom to use the smart speaker with many more devices, and for streaming audio from sources that aren't necessarily Cast-compatible. It has been a few weeks, but Google is getting closer to delivering on that promise.

A batch of strings were added for the purpose of instructing users on the basics of setting up a Bluetooth pairing. There's not much to learn from this other than the spoken command we can use with Google Home to make it discoverable: "Pair a device." Of course, this won't work until Google flips the switch to activate Bluetooth support in Home, which may still require another firmware update.

code

<string name="settings_bt_header">Paired Bluetooth devices</string>
<string name="settings_bt_positive_button">Enable pairing mode</string>
<string name="settings_bt_discovery_toast">Pairing mode active. Go to Bluetooth settings on your phone or tablet to connect to %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_bt_dialog_title">Unpair %1$s?</string>
<string name="settings_bt_dialog_positive_button">Unpair</string>
<string name="settings_bt_dialog_body">You can pair this device again at any time by saying \"Ok Google, Pair a device\" or tapping \"%1$s\"</string>
<string name="settings_bt_empty">There are no Bluetooth devices paired to %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_bt_date_added">Added %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_bt_discovery_error">Failed to put %1$s into discovery mode.</string>

We have received a couple of tips from people claiming that their Google Home units inexplicably began broadcasting themselves on Bluetooth, though we weren't able to reproduce this ourselves. Nevertheless, it certainly suggests firmware tests already began. Perhaps Google is just waiting to complete the rollout of this app update before finally activating Bluetooth support.

Default output devices

If you've used Google Home for casting videos or music, you may have realized it's slightly clunkier than it may have originally seemed in a lot of presentations. The reason for this is that you have to specify which device to target... Every. Single. Time. What's even more annoying is that you're probably giving an instruction to play something on a device sitting only a few feet away in the same room. It may have taken a little while to happen, but Google is finally going to let users select devices that will be automatically used to play music and videos without specifying each time.

Each Google Home unit will have its own settings so you can configure the one in your living room to target the TV and speakers in there, another in your office can target a bookshelf speaker, and another in your bedroom can use the TV and speakers in there. There are only two settings, one for audio-only devices and another for full video, though I suspect the audio-output list will also allow you to pick TVs.

code

<string name="default_media_page_title">Media playback</string>
<string name="default_media_watch_header">Watch on</string>
<string name="default_media_listen_header">Listen on</string>
<string name="default_media_page_header">When you ask for media from &lt;b&gt;%1$s&lt;/b&gt;, it will automatically play on the selected device.</string>
<string name="default_media_page_self_subtitle">(this device)</string>

<string name="settings_default_media_watch_label">Watch on: %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_default_media_listen_label">Listen on: %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_default_media_title">Default media playback</string>
<string name="settings_default_media_reset_to_default_menu">Reset to defaults</string>
<string name="settings_default_media_loading_label">Loading…</string>
<string name="settings_default_media_not_set_label">Not set</string>

<activity android:label="@string/default_media_page_title" android:name="com.google.android.apps.chromecast.app.setup.defaultoutputdevice.DefaultOutputDeviceSelectionActivity" android:exported="false" />

This will definitely streamline voice commands for media consumption since we won't have to follow the same rigid syntax for specifying a TV, set top box, or speakers every time we want to use them. It will also have the advantage of making things easier for guests if they don't know the names you've given to your casting targets. Although this is a pretty simple setting, I suspect it's going to be one of the most welcome changes to come to Google Home since launch.

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: 1.24.33.6 (12433060)

Google Home
Google Home
Developer: Google Inc.
Price: Free