An update to the Google app hit the beta channel yesterday and it brings back the Notification toggles for Assistant devices that had briefly appeared a few months ago. Also in tow are some visual tweaks and a revised list of the types of devices certain Assistant features work with. A teardown also turns up new commute settings, a few bits about getting your kids set up with Google Assistant and Home, and a pretty cool feature for the newly announced Pixel Buds.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • Toggle notifications for Google Assistant devices
  • New device types listed for Assistant
  • Cosmetic tweaks

Notifications on Assistant

Back in April, switches titled "Notifications" appeared on some of the Google Assistant configuration screens with the Google v7.0 update. They were removed with a subsequent update, but strangely stayed absent since then. With the latest release, they are finally back and probably here to stay.

Thanks to the launch of Reminders on Google Home, it's finally important to have control over certain notifications on Assistant-based devices. At least that's what this setting seems to control.

These screens can be found by going into the Assistant settings in the Google app (though, there are other ways to get there), and then opening eligible items in the Devices section. As far as I can tell, Android TV isn't eligible, but phones and Google Home are.

New device types listed for Assistant

Left: v7.12. Right: v7.13.

This one is really more of novelty detail, but it's worth noting that Assistant's feature screens now list more supported device types. As the screenshots above show, the list went from just speakers, phones, and watches to also include laptops and televisions–obviously related to the recent addition of Android TV and the upcoming addition of Chromebooks.

And as a quick topper, here are the new strings for both device types:

<string name="assistant_settings_availability_android_tv">TVs</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_availability_chromebook">Chromebooks</string>

Cosmetic tweaks: New icons

I normally skip small changes to icons, but we've been getting an inordinate number of tips and we want to let everybody know that we saw them. Anyway, there are a few icon swaps in this update, most notably in the navigation drawer where the icons for Customize and Manage Searches have been exchanged. The keyboard icon on Assistant was also tweaked, as were a couple others. (Sorry, basic icons do not excite me.)

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.

Commuting isn't just for Maps

It seems like just yesterday–or a week ago–that Google Maps briefly revealed its upcoming commuting feature. Now the Google app appears to be upping its involvement in commuting. A new layout for a configuration screen has been added with a pair of options to allow users to choose their mode of transportation. It lines up closely with Google Maps, minus the choice to pick a motorcycle, but it lacks the scheduling options that make the implementation in Maps so interesting.

strings
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_travel_mode_header">How do you get to work most days?
Your Assistant will use this setting for questions about your commute</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_bike">Bike</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_bike_key">COMMUTE Bike</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_drive">Drive a car</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_drive_key">COMMUTE Drive a car</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_title">Getting around</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_transit">Take public transport</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_transit_key">COMMUTE Take public transport</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_walk">Walk</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_commute_walk_key">COMMUTE Walk</string>

<string name="assistant_settings_other_travel_mode_header">How do you usually get around?
Your Assistant will use this setting when giving you directions to places other than home &amp; work</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_other_bike_key">OTHER Bike</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_other_drive_key">OTHER Drive a car</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_other_transit_key">OTHER Take public transport</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_other_walk_key">OTHER Walk</string>

<string name="assistant_commute_preference">assistantCommute</string>

from /xml/assistant_commute_settings.xml
<PreferenceScreen
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
<com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.shared.DescriptionPreferenceCategory android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_travel_mode_header" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_commute_travel_mode_header">
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_drive" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_other_drive_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_transit" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_other_transit_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_walk" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_other_walk_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_bike" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_other_bike_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
</com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.shared.DescriptionPreferenceCategory>
<com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.shared.DescriptionPreferenceCategory android:title="@string/assistant_settings_other_travel_mode_header" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_other_travel_mode_header">
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_drive" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_commute_drive_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_transit" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_commute_transit_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_walk" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_commute_walk_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
<CheckBoxPreference android:persistent="false" android:layout="@layout/left_side_widget_preference" android:title="@string/assistant_settings_commute_bike" android:key="@string/assistant_settings_commute_bike_key" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_radio" />
</com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.shared.DescriptionPreferenceCategory>
</PreferenceScreen>

The one thing that distinguishes this from Google Maps is that it acknowledges some people may use one form of transportation for work and something else for their other needs. This is pretty common with people that live in close proximity to the businesses they need, like grocery stores, making it practical to walk or ride a bike; but they might work further away, making a car more practical.

Google has always been pretty focused on learning your day-to-day routines, so it's likely that scheduling will happen naturally. I would expect that Google will ask you to set your modes of transportation so it can more easily identify which types of interruptions are likely to affect you.

Google Home & Assistant for kids

Earlier this year, Google Home gained the ability to differentiate between voices and perform actions using more than one account. During today's presentation, Google announced that it would be expanding that capability to be aware of children. There are plenty of details, but there was never a direct comment about whether children would have their own accounts or if their voice patterns would be used. Not that these weren't fairly obvious, but a few of the lines below serve as confirmation that a child's Google account can be added and matched with a voice pattern.

The usual warnings are given in relation to children and an adult will have to be there to give consent, but otherwise the process looks pretty similar to adding any regular user to Google Home.

strings
<string name="hotword_enrollment_enroll_screen_parent_passover_text">When you are ready, pass the device to %1$s to create their voice pattern</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_intro_summary">With the Google Assistant, %1$s can do things like play games or check when their class party is on Calendar. While some experiences are designed for kids, most content is intended for general audiences. &lt;a href=\"%4$s\"&gt;Learn more&lt;/a&gt;&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;If you let %1$s sign in, the Google Assistant will use their voice to access their personal results based on their account.&lt;br&gt;&lt;br&gt;Similar voices or recordings might be able to access %1$s's personal results, too. You can turn off these results any time in Assistant settings.</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_intro_summary_learn_more_link">https://support.google.com/families/answer/7521263</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_intro_title">Meet %1$s's Assistant</string>

<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_selector_title">Parent permission needed</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_selector_subtitle">Choose who's nearby to help you get started with your Google Assistant speaker</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_parent_selector_family_fetch_failed">Error fetching family.</string>

Pixel Buds: On Head Detection

Probably the only marginally-kept secret of the event was a second pair of Assistant-enabled Bluetooth headphones, or rather, earbuds. It's not that anybody doubted there would be earbuds at some point, only that the full-size headphones were a sure thing. Now that the Pixel Buds are public, there is one feature that didn't get mentioned that does set them apart from most wireless earbuds on the market: They can detect if they're still in your ears. The feature is actually titled "Smart detection," which may not be the best name, but the description makes it clear that they will pause music when a bud comes out of your ear.

strings
<string name="bisto_device_ohd_pref_title">Smart detection</string>
<string name="bisto_device_ohd_pref_summary">Pause music when it is out of ear</string>
<string name="confirm_disable_ohd">Yes disable</string>

<string name="bisto_device_disable_ohd_title">Disable smart detection?</string>
<string name="bisto_device_disable_ohd_summary">By disabling your headphones will remain active until it's manually disconnected from bluetooth settings. This can impact headphones battery life.</string>

new in: /xml/assistant_device_id_bisto_settings.xml
<SwitchPreferenceCompat android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/bisto_device_ohd_pref_title" android:key="bistoOhd" android:summary="@string/bisto_device_ohd_pref_summary" />

I don't know about anybody else, but that one feature is a big selling point to me. If there's some reason I need to pay attention to something else, I'd much rather pull the earphones out than hunt for a button to pause my music or a podcast.

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: 7.13.18 beta

Google
Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free