Google Search was just updated to version 2.6, which means it's teardown time! As usual with Google Search, it's impossible to bring up the new stuff "at will." Cards pop up entirely based on a bunch of crazy inputs that I can't easily replicate (emails, location, etc) so there's no way for me to check if new code is functional or not. So, I'll just cover everything that's not in the change log, and if you manage to see a live, working version of something, just send in a screenshot.

First up, the changelog:

For Android 4.1+ (Jelly Bean):
- Information about shows you're watching on your internet-connected TV (US only)*
- Saved offers when nearby a redemption location
- New voice action: play music from your phone or the Play Store
- Voice actions tips
* Requires phone/tablet to be on the same network as your TV

The full version number is pretty interesting: "" I love that we are specifying processor architecture in the version string now. Presumably there are x86 versions floating around out there.

New Cards

There's quite a few new cards that aren't in the change log. I'm not sure if they work or not, but I am sure that they are new in this version. Send in your screenshots if you spot them:

Car Rental

There are layout files for "car_rental_card_dropoff.xml" and "car_rental_card_pickup.xml." They'll display your booking number and pickup and return date, time, and location. The "Pickup" card has buttons for "Navigate," "Get Directions," "Manage Reservation," and "Gmail," while the "Dropoff" card swaps the last two buttons for "Nearby Gas Stations" and "Call Rental Provider."

I'm guessing the "Gmail" button means Now will be scraping all this info from your email account.

<string name="drop_off_rental_car">Time to drop off your rental car</string>

This bit of text isn't referenced in either of the card layouts, so it will probably be a traffic/time/location reminder, similar to the current calendar appointment functionality.

Event Tickets

There are currently a few event cards, but this one is all about getting in to the event. Search 2.6 ships with "event_ticket_barcode_card.xml," which will show a scannable ticket barcode just like the airport boarding pass card. Besides the obvious barcode, this card will display the showtime, show stars, an event video or image, time to leave, and information about your table reservation. If you've got a reservation, you'll see the seat label, section, and row of your spot. It will also display the door open time and venue.

There are buttons along the bottom for "Navigate," "Get Directions," "Manage Reservation," and "Gmail," just like the car rental card.

Sporting Event Tickets And Stats

Sporting events are getting a carbon copy of the events card detailed above. It all maps out pretty nicely, just imagine a raucous stadium instead of a quite auditorium. The header will be in an "X vs Y" format and they'll be some stats of some kind.

<string name="concert_barcode_card_reason">A recent email confirmed your concert ticket</string>
<string name="sport_event_barcode_card_reason">A recent email confirmed your sport event ticket</string>

Strings for sporting events and regular events confirm that these two also get their information from Gmail data mining.


There's a new stat layout that gets injected into the usual sports cards, too. Thanks to Greek_Ice and Matt for the pictures!

Wallet Loyalty Cards

The change log mentions Google Offer cards, but there's also code for a "Wallet Loyalty Card" ...card. It's my understanding that Google Wallet uses loyalty cards over NFC, and they're automatically applied when you tap with your phone, so I'm not sure what good a Google Now card would do.

I see this making sense if Google launches a non-NFC loyalty card system, or maybe I'm just reading into things too much and this is just a really dumb "don't forget to pay with Google Wallet!" ad.

Demo Voice Actions

If you tap the microphone button and scroll down, you'll see a whole list of example voice actions.

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Thanks to Jdban for this one.


<string name="internal_api_cards_preferences_category">Internal API cards</string>
<string name="experimental_internal_api_cards_checkbox">Enable experimental cards</string>
<string name="experimental_internal_api_cards_checkbox_message">Go back to the card list for this to take effect</string>

<string name="now_forced_experiments">Now experiments</string>
<string name="now_forced_experiments_desc">Enter a comma separated list of experiment IDs</string>
<string name="now_forced_experiments_error">Input must be a comma separated list of experiment IDs</string>

There some new experimental functionality built into Search for the Googlers to play with. Entering a comma separated list of experiment IDs you would like to enable sounds particularly terrifying. If anyone manages to hack this into reality, let me know.

Google Goggles Is Still Dead

If you were hoping for Goggles to come back the search app, I've got some bad news. They've stripped even more Goggle functionality from Search in this update. You used to be able to hit the menu button and pick "Search with Camera," and the visual search interface would pop up, but that was removed in 2.5.

Maybe Google has a severe, irrational hatred of triggering a special search from the menu button. Consider the new TV audio search functionality, which, instead of just letting you hit "menu" and pick "Search TV Show," they require that you have an internet connected TV, so they can detect that the TV is "on" over your Wi-Fi network, and pop up a "TV Search" card. TV search is just a special audio search; there's no reason to require a newer TV other than so they can be clever and pop up the card when your TV logs into your Wi-Fi.

Maybe Goggles was removed just because they couldn't figure out a "start" interface for it. It seems silly to have your search app do text and audio searches, but not image search.


That's it for this teardown. If you happen to be renting a car or something and see the car rental card pop up (or any others) let me know!