Google Home v1.30 is rolling out today with a minor feature rebranding and some internal changes that show continued development on Google for Households, possibly with support for multiple homes. There are also more features for the smart home remote control, and Smart Displays will use the Google Home app to set up Duo calling. As always, download links are at the bottom.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • Renaming Backdrops to Ambient mode

Backdrops becomes Ambient mode

  

Left: v1.29. Center: v1.30. Right: looks the same in both versions.

It's a purely cosmetic change, at least for now, but we'll have to get used to a new name. The feature that had Cast devices cycling through assorted image galleries is getting renamed to Ambient mode. Nothing seems to have been changed beyond the name and most places where it's referenced, but a rebranding like this is usually a sign that something else will be happening in the near future. There is one small oversight where the Backdrop name happens to still be in the title of the screen actually used to change the settings.

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: Google Assistant for Households

A few months ago, the Google app came along with a few references to something it was calling Google Assistant for Households, which seems to carefully identify differences between members of your home. We've seen continued growth as Google may want to learn their birthdays and relationships to each other and give them common titles for how they are linked to you.

Now the Google Home app is getting in on the game. Quite a few new placeholder strings have been added that will be used for managing members of the household and their status, so to speak. All of the strings are empty, but their names give away the intent pretty clearly. The basic summary is that people can be invited to join a group, and they can accept or decline.

There are also strings related to "managers" and how they are invited. It looks like roughly the same situation, but would presumably give them the ability to invite or remove members from the group.

Quote
<string name="add_household_member_label" />
<string name="delete_invitee_failure" />
<string name="delete_invitee_success" />
<string name="cell_label_unassigned" />
<string name="applicant_header" />
<string name="applicant_message" />
<string name="accept_applicant" />
<string name="accept_applicant_failure" />
<string name="invitee_header" />
<string name="invitee_message" />
<string name="join_this_home" />
<string name="join_this_home_desc" />
<string name="reject_applicant" />
<string name="reject_applicant_failure" />
<string name="reject_button_text" />
<string name="request_failed" />
<string name="request_sent" />
<string name="send_request" />
<string name="invite_manager_failure" />
<string name="invite_manager_success" />
<string name="message_managers_only_you" />
<string name="new_manager_invite_message" />
<string name="new_manager_summary_header" />
<string name="new_manager_services_message" />
<string name="new_manager_settings_message" />
<string name="confirm_manager_message" />
<string name="confirm_manager_title" />

<string name="resend_manager_invite_failure" />
<string name="resend_manager_invite_success" />
<string name="structure_invite_accepted_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_declined_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_device_migration_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_device_migration_title" />
<string name="structure_invite_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_nickname_hint" />
<string name="structure_invite_nickname_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_nickname_title" />
<string name="structure_invite_personal_results_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_response_title" />
<string name="structure_invite_response_title_default_home" />
<string name="structure_invite_services_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_settings_message" />
<string name="structure_invite_summary_header" />
<string name="accept_button_text" />
<string name="confirm_button_text" />
<string name="decline_button_text" />

Notably, there are also "applicant" strings, which means that somebody can ask for some type of permission. It's not really clear if this is for people applying to join a household or applying to become a manager. Either way, it's unusual to see both an invite and application workflow, but perhaps it'll make more sense when we get a few more details.

Multi-home support, maybe?

I will be the first to say that I'm skeptical about framing this section as multi-home support because it can easily be interpreted differently, but I also recognize that this is a scenario Google really must support. If you live in more than one location, as many college students and regular working travelers often do, you may be part of more than one household group.

There are now placeholder strings that look like they might allow users to add multiple homes. They describe just a few basic functions, including adding new homes, giving them names, and opening device settings for them. Without any more text or meaningful references in source code, that's about the most that can be seen from what's here.

Quote
<string name="add_another_home_label" />
<string name="home_name_hint" />
<string name="home_naming_page_body" />
<string name="home_naming_page_title" />
<string name="home_picker_header_body_move_device" />
<string name="home_picker_header_title" />
<string name="device_settings_home_label" />
<string name="default_pending_home_name" />
<string name="duplicate_home_name_error_msg" />
<string name="edit_home_name_hint" />
<string name="empty_home_name_error_msg" />
<string name="home_settings_add_to_home" />

But as I said, there's no way to be certain that these have anything to do with multiple homes based on just the string names, at least not when there's a product named Google Home that they could be referring to. It's entirely possible that these were only added as part of a new interface for setting up Google Home devices. With that said, I just wanted to put this out there as a possibility.

Follow-up: remote control for smart home devices

A couple of months ago, the Google Home app gained its own remote control interface for Cast devices. It only offered some basic functionality, but it gave users the ability to control playback of music and videos without having the app installed that originally started the Cast session. Just last month, a teardown of v1.29 included signs that Google Home would likely add more device types to the list, including thermostats and door locks.

The latest update moves further in that direction and adds a few more interesting details. This time, the thermostat labels show that users will also be able to activate an Eco mode if one is available, not just the heating and cooling modes that were previously listed. Also, there can be a readout of the ambient temperature.

A few new lines also indicate that lighting will also become a supported device type, but it's not fleshed out with anything beyond that. Of course, we could have safely guessed that smart bulbs would be on the list eventually.

Quote
<string name="accessibility_temperature_decrease">Decrease temperature</string>
<string name="accessibility_temperature_increase">Increase temperature</string>
<string name="remote_control_thermostat_ambient">Ambient temperature %1$s°</string>
<string name="remote_control_thermostat_mode_eco">Eco mode</string>
<string name="remote_control_thermostat_mode_eco_short_name">Eco</string>
<string name="remote_control_thermostat_mode_off_short_name">Off</string>
<string name="remote_control_thermostat_mode_other_short_name">Other</string><string name="remote_control_title_lights_in_room">%1$s lights</string>
<string name="remote_control_status_lights">%1$d lights</string>
<string name="setup_up_smart_bulbs" /><string name="remote_control_title_devices_in_room">%1$s devices</string>
<string name="remote_control_status_in_room">In the %1$s</string>

Also of note are some new "tabs" that resemble the format we saw in the same Google Home teardown. These would appear to add cameras to the list, along with the aforementioned thermostats and lights.

<string name="home_tab_coin_camera" />
<string name="home_tab_coin_thermostat" />
<string name="home_tab_light_group_label" />
<string name="home_tab_coin_play" />

Duo support for Smart Displays

Unless you're brand new to teardowns, and news about Smart Displays, and maybe even the Internet... You've probably heard that the upcoming Google Assistant-enabled smart displays will support video calling with Duo. The release date for the first smart displays is fast approaching, so it's no surprise that in-app support is also getting worked out. This update adds the screens for configuring video calling and handling the phone number verification step. There's no point in analyzing it, there's nothing too remarkable here.

Quote
<string name="summary_duo_title">Video calling</string>
<string name="summary_duo_subtitle">You can make and receive Duo calls on your Smart Display</string>
<string name="call_intro_header">Video calling</string>
<string name="call_intro_with_account_body">Use your existing Duo account for video calls on your Smart Display. Your friends and family can reach you at %1$s</string>
<string name="call_intro_legal_footer">You can unlink your Duo account from this device any time in Assistant settings</string>
<string name="phone_selection_body">Start high quality video calls on your Smart Display to anyone who has the Google Duo app. Verify your phone number to create a Duo account. This will also link it with your Google Account</string>
<string name="phone_selection_header">Set up video calling</string>
<string name="phone_selection_info">Google will send a code via SMS to verify this number. Carrier rates may apply.</string>
<string name="phone_selection_invalid_phone">Invalid phone number. Please change it and try again!</string>
<string name="phone_selection_legal_footer">People who know your phone number or Google Account will be able to reach you across Google services. %1$s\10\10You can unlink your Duo account from this device or delete your Duo account anytime in settings</string>
<string name="phone_selection_phone">Phone number</string>
<string name="phone_verification_body">Enter the code sent to %1$s</string>
<string name="phone_verification_code">Enter code</string>
<string name="phone_verification_header">Verification code</string>
<string name="phone_verification_incorrect_code">The code is not correct. Please try again!</string>
<string name="phone_verification_info">Didn\'t receive the code?</string>
<string name="phone_verification_retry_sms">Resend code</string>
<string name="phone_verification_send_code_failed">There was an error, please try again!</string>
<string name="phone_verification_waiting">Please wait %1$s</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 Home
Google Home
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free