It's time for another Google app update. The beta release of v7.20 follows the trend of making few changes to the interface or functions, but there's a lot to see in a teardown. Thanks to resources harvested from the app, there are clues pointing to a new hotword to wake the Assistant, which may finally mean custom hotwords. We can also see more updates for smart displays and podcast management. There may even be a redesigned order tracking feature coming that keeps better track of status changes.
Left: v7.19. Right: v7.20.
The one visual change that might stand out in this update is a new icon for the Recent app shortcut. No change in function, this one is just a new icon.
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.
Hotword activation, possibly for custom phrases
After a few years of saying "OK Google" or "Hey Google" to get the attention of our phones and other gadgets, we're going to see a new activation phrase coming online. At least that appears to be inferred by a few new lines of text. They include the standard examples of things you can say to wake a device, but one in particular notes that you can speak as many as three separate phrases to get the ball rolling. Obviously, two of those are the phrases we already use, but there is a place for a third phrase, which is definitely new.
<string name="opa_first_screen_tgoogle_title">Teach your Assistant to recognize \"%1$s\"</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_usage_sample_title">Your Assistant will now respond when you say things like:</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_usage_example_first">%1$s, what\'s my name?</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_usage_example_second">%1$s, what\'s the traffic to work?</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_usage_example_third">%1$s, tell me about my day.</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_usage_sample_end">You can also still say \"%1$s\" and \"%2$s\" to talk to your Assistant.</string>
<string name="opa_first_screen_tgoogle_summary">You\'ll be able to access your Assistant directly by saying \"%1$s\"</string>
<string name="hotword_enrollment_tgoogle_summary_header_title">\"%1$s\" is now available</string>
I'm reluctant to declare that this is a truly custom hotword, at least not while the text above is a bit too vague to be sure, but it certainly could be. This has been a top request from users ever since always-listening support was enabled on the original Moto X, so it would certainly be a crowd pleaser if Google can finally give users that extra level of customization.
Smart Displays and video calling (with Duo)
Last year, we saw a run of teardowns focused heavily on Bisto and basically all things tied to Assistant. This year, at least for the next few months, we can expect the same to be true for smart displays, which are codenamed Jasper. The latest addition brings up a feature we've been expecting for a while: Video Calling.
There was never any doubt Google Duo would be the video chat app of choice. In fact, this very functionality was demonstrated in products during CES by the likes of Lenovo, JBL, and others. What's interesting about the new additions is that they're clearly related to the Duo teardown that revealed Google account sign-in was on the way. Unfortunately, this doesn't really answer the question of whether or not you'll be able to sign in multiple phones to a single Duo account, but at least it reinforces the idea that we'll be able to have multiple devices ring when a call comes in.
<string name="duo_preference_title">Duo video calling</string>
<string name="assistant_device_id_jasper_duo_preference_category_title">Video calls</string>
<string name="jasper_duo_account_title">Duo Account</string>
<string name="jasper_duo_knock_knock_summary">See the caller's video before you pick up. And let people you call see your video while their phone rings. <a href=\"https://support.google.com/duo/answer/6376115\">Learn more</a></string>
<string name="jasper_duo_not_signed_in">Not signed in</string>
<string name="jasper_duo_signed_in">Signed in</string>
<PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/assistant_device_id_jasper_duo_preference_category_title" android:key="@string/assistant_device_id_jasper_duo_preference_category">
<PreferenceScreen android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/duo_preference_title" android:key="jasperDuo" android:widgetLayout="@layout/preference_widget_next" android:fragment="com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.devices.jasper.JasperDuoFragment" />
<com.google.android.apps.gsa.assistant.settings.shared.DescriptionPreferenceCategory android:title="@string/assistant_settings_common_device_id_category" android:key="@string/assistant_device_id_jasper_preference_category">
<SwitchPreferenceCompat android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/jasper_duo_knock_knock_title" android:key="jasperDuoKnockKnock" android:summary="@string/jasper_duo_knock_knock_summary" android:defaultValue="true" />
<Preference android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/jasper_duo_account_title" android:key="jasperDuoAccount" />
Smart Displays: notifications and reminders
We've also talked about notifications on smart displays, but the progress looked a bit underwhelming at the time. There's still not a lot of activity on this front, but there are some new strings and layouts that show it is progressing. The latest additions include titles and placeholders for basic notification details, including the badges that show how many notifications are waiting. One minor note is that this also shows there will be reminders supported on smart displays – as if there was ever any doubt.
Smart Display: Photo gallery slideshow
I know, one more obvious thing in a row, but I'll keep it quick. One of the obvious features of the smart displays we've seen is that they also function as digital photo frames. We already know that they will have a screensaver-like function that slowly cycles through your photos, but there are a couple of new strings for play and pause buttons. Naturally, that means there will be an option in the photo viewer to start a slideshow on the spot.
Order tracking is just one of the helpful things Google does. Unfortunately, it's not always very accessible or informative. About a dozen new strings were added that will convey the status of an order. The labels span the regular shipping process from shipped to delivered, and covering some of the common special conditions, like packages that have been delayed or are available for pickup. There are also labels for non-shipping details, like if an order has been cancelled.
<string name="shipped_with_estimation">Shipped, delivery expected %s</string>
<string name="out_for_delivery">Out for Delivery</string>
<string name="available_pick_up">Available for Pickup</string>
<string name="action_required">Action Required</string>
<string name="more_orders">More Orders</string>
We keep talking about podcasts, but they never seem to materialize. Even though podcasts seem to be taking unusually long to launch, at least we keep getting hints at new aspects and features worth caring about, so at least we're not facing a Duke Nukem Forever situation.
The latest additions speak to two main points. First, signing into your Google account is necessary to subscribe to podcasts and sync listening history across multiple devices. I know, that's pretty obvious, but it doesn't hurt to have that spelled out. Also, it confirms there will be syncing of some kind. There's no mention of syncing the play time of an individual episode, but I wouldn't rule that out.
Additional strings also reveal a bit about downloading episodes. It seems that episodes will be automatically removed 30 days after they are downloaded, or 24 hours after they're completed. For most people, 30 days should be enough to listen to an episode or make a fair assessment that a user isn't actually going to get to it. Likewise, a 24-hour window should be fine for going back to listen to part of an episode or replay it for somebody else.
<string name="sign_in_message">Sign in to subscribe to podcasts and access your listening history on other devices</string>
<string name="sign_in_reject">Not now</string>
<string name="sign_in_accept">Sign in</string>
<string name="downloaded_episodes">Downloaded episodes</string>
<string name="download_setting_message">Downloaded episodes are removed after 30 days or 24 hours after completion</string>
<string name="all_downloaded_episodes">All downloaded episodes</string>
<string name="homebase_link_tool_tip_message">See your subscriptions here</string>
<string name="opt_in_message">Web & App Activity is turned off. Turn it on to access your podcasts and listening history on other devices.</string>
<string name="remove_completed_episodes">Remove completed episodes</string>
<string name="remove_unfinished_episodes">Remove unfinished episodes</string>
<item quantity="other">After %1$d days</item>
<item quantity="one">After %1$d day</item>
<item quantity="other">After %1$d hours</item>
<item quantity="one">After %1$d hour</item>
Bisto's in-ear detection
We'll end on a subtle change to some text for the Bisto headset. In earlier teardowns, we could see that Bisto could support the ability to turn themselves off if they were removed from your ears. In the latest update, the text has been updated to say they will be paused when just the right earbud is taken out. This might not matter to most people, but it's a common behavior
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.