It doesn't matter that it's Friday night, Google is still readily rolling out updates to its apps. The latest is a beta release for the Google app, bringing us up to v8.4. Changes are pretty sparse on this one, but there are a few cosmetic tweaks, plus we're getting some more details on the nature of the Read Later feature discussed in the previous teardown.

What's New

Strictly speaking, there aren't any functional changes in this update that have shown up in our examination so far, but it's worth noting that the case of the disappearing text and broken settings seems to be fully resolved. This was fixed with a minor update that rolled out a few days ago, but if you've been avoiding the v8.3 branch, rest assured that v8.4 seems to be working just fine.

Cosmetic changes

If you feel like you're seeing some blown out text in this update, it's not your eyes playing tricks on you. Some of the headings in the Google Assistant settings area have been enlarged.

 

Left: v8.3. Right: v8.4.

There's also a tweak to the 'add reminder' card in the Recent screen (if it's showing) that now vertically centers the text.

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 wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. 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. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Follow-up: Read Later, meet Recent Activity

With the previous Google app teardown, we discussed a new Read Later feature in the works, which likely gives users the ability to store offline copies of articles and web pages for later viewing. The latest update builds upon that with a couple more details about how it will work for users.

 

Articles marked for Read Later will be stored locally for seven days. To find them, you'll go into the Recent screen where previously visited pages are available for quick navigation. It looks like pages marked for Read Later will be mixed in with pages that aren't; however, you'll be able to hit a button or some other control to filter the selection and show just the locally stored articles.

Quote
<string name="recently_download_to_read_later">Download to read later</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_read_later_title_text">Add pages to read later</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_read_later_body_text">We will keep the items downloaded on you device for 7 days.</string>

<string name="recent_only_read_later">Only read later</string>
<string name="recent_read_later">Read later</string>

<string name="my_recent_activity">My recent activity</string>
<string name="recently_overflow_title">More Options</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_enable_recent_title_text">Find your recent activity in here</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_enable_recent_body_text">We will display your activity of the past 7 days in here.</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_enable_recent_button_text">Change settings</string>

<string name="recently_empty_state_my_activity_title_text">Need a page you found over 7 days ago?</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_my_activity_body_text">Discover and control all of your Google searches in My Activity.</string>
<string name="recently_empty_state_my_activity_button_text">Go to My Activity</string>

Follow-up: Slideshows on smart displays

Barely worth mentioning, but it appears this wasn't previously implemented. The slideshow feature on the upcoming smart displays seems to have just received a play/pause feature. Or at least more text was added... Without one to test on, I'm not really sure. There may also be a countdown timer associated with the pause mode, so it may automatically resume after some period of time.

<string name="quartz_photo_list_slideshow_button_pause_content_description">Pause</string>
<string name="quartz_photo_list_slideshow_pause_text">Next photo in %d</string>
<string name="quartz_photo_list_slideshow_play_text">Slideshow paused</string>

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.

Google
Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free