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Google app v6.9 beta is preparing to offer smarter autocomplete suggestions, search offline maps, and introduce a custom image viewer [APK Teardown]

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.

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Google appears to be testing a new, rounder search widget

Have you noticed the Google "pill" widget on the Pixel launcher doesn't bear much resemblance to the traditional search box? Well, it looks like Google is changing that. Several users have noticed a new search box design popping up on their devices. It's curvier and cleaner looking.

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Search recommendations now appear inside Google search results

Google has long offered related searches at the bottom of search results, but this is a bit different. The above widget, which now appears for some users when you tap on a search result and then go back, shows relevant searches to whatever page you tapped on.

As opposed to the related search results at the bottom of each results page, this appears directly under whatever link you picked. Considering the vast amount of searches I do on my phone don't require me to scroll all the way down to the bottom, it makes sense to add recommendations directly into results. Additionally, the results seem to be tailored to the link itself, as opposed to being based on your query.

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Google Search now has a RGB/Hex color converter

Google has been working to bring more and more functionality directly into search results, without the user having to visit a seperate site. You can now find your IP address, run a speed test, convert units, and more all from Search. Following that trend, now Google has added an RGB to Hex converter.

If you're unfamiliar, RGB and Hex are both color spaces used to identify colors. For example, #000000 in Hex and (0,0,0) in RGB both refer to Black. Searching 'RGB to Hex' brings up a simple color picker that shows results in RGB and Hex. You can search any Hex or RGB value, and it will show the color in both formats.

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EU may fine Alphabet, Google's parent company, for anti-competitive practices on Android

It's no secret that Android is heavily integrated with Google search. Google Now (soon to be Google Assistant) is the primary voice assistant, and Google search is included on every device with the Google Play Store. According to Reuters, Google also pays device manufacturers to keep Google as the only search application on Android devices, and the European Union isn't thrilled.

EU antitrust regulators are ordering Google's parent company, Alphabet, to cease providing incentives to keep Google search installed exclusively on Android devices. A 150+ page EU document outlines the issue, stating that Google "cannot punish or threaten" manufacturers for not complying with its conditions.

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New Google app beta adds 'In Apps' home screen shortcut

The latest version of Google's Android app has done away with the Google Now branding, but there's something else lurking inside v6.5. That "In Apps" feature that was first officially announced a few weeks ago and mentioned alongside the LG V20 unveiling has showed up. As the name implies, it lets you search inside your apps more easily.

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Google search on mobile rolling out AMP optimized pages for all supported results

If you have never heard of Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, it's exactly what it sounds like. AMP documents are minimal web pages, with the same basic HTML syntax, designed to load as quickly as possible (even at the cost of some functionality). Web developers can create AMP versions of their webpages, with Google mirroring every page on its own servers for the quickest load times possible. For example, here is the AMP version (left) and normal mobile site (right) from Forbes:

screenshot_20160920-141039 screenshot_20160920-142411

What you can't see is that the AMP page loaded in under a second, and the Forbes page took about 20 seconds.

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Google Drive now has enhanced search with Natural Language Processing

Finding that one important file hidden in a sea of unrelated documents is never fun. Thankfully, Google is seeking to help solve that problem - at least for Google Drive users. Starting today, the Google Drive search bar on the web app can use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to help you find documents. For example, searching "show me presentations from last year" brings up all your documents modified in last year with a presentation file type.

nlp

Google claims that this feature will only become more accurate as time goes on, so don't get your hopes up for perfect results quite yet. For example, I have a collection of old operating systems on ISO files, and when I search "iso files," a single JPEG file appears.

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Google seems to be testing a new look for search history in the Google widget, and you can try it now

The next time you do a search on your phone, you may notice something unusual—the search history drop down has a new look. Well, it's new for some people. It's more compact with search terms in a series of blocks. This appears to be the default for a few users, but everyone can try it with a little keyboard trickery.

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Nice Bing Search update adds videos and lyrics for music search, video previews, and other improvements

God bless its heart, Microsoft is trying hard to keep its apps updated and interesting on Android. Some of them are quite popular (50M downloads and above) while others like Bing Search are... hanging on. But that's not for lack of effort.

In the latest Bing update, there are quite a few nice video features being sprinkled in. You can preview videos inline (with sound off) in the search results. You can also tap videos after doing a music search to play them synchronously with the lyrics. And there is a new way to discover videos related to the one you're watching.

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