Every week, I examine somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred app updates while looking for changes. The most interesting things turn into APK Teardowns or Download posts. Many of the remaining updates are unremarkable, amounting to a few bug fixes, routine updates to libraries, or even just pixel-level adjustments to layouts and images. However, there are usually a few updates that land somewhere in between. I don't want to spam readers with dozens of short posts, but I hate to ignore things that people might want to know about, so I'm going to wrap up the leftovers for a little weekend reading and call it Update Notes.

Special thanks to נתנאל מ for the great hero image on this post!

Google app v8.18 beta

As is becoming tradition, an update to the Google app began rolling to the beta channel just in time for it to play with users over the weekend. As updates go, this one may be the least eventful I've seen in many months, thus the demotion to a spot in Update Notes rather than a dedicated post. So far there's no sign of changes to the live interface, and the teardown only adds a couple minor follow-ups and what looks like the reimplementation of a settings screen.

New voice search settings screen

There's a new layout for what looks a lot like the voice search settings screen. I describe it that way because the options are mostly the same, but the way they're organized is a bit different and there are a couple of new options. In case you don't want to go looking it up on your own phone, here's what that screen looks like currently:

Rather than make anybody read the layout XML of the new screen, I'll spell out the structure here – or just skip down to the next part where I comment on the differences. Bold lines can be tapped to open a different screen or toggle a setting, italics are summary text under a title, and underlines are titles for sections.

  • Language
  • Spoken results
    Opens a dialog box with the options: All voice searches and Hands-free searches only.
  • Offline speech recognition
    Manage downloaded languages
  • Hide offensive words
    Offensive words will be replaced with asterisks (*) in the search box
  • Okay Google
    • "Ok Google" detection
      Opens the hotword settings
  • Hands-Free
    • Voice search on Bluetooth devices
      Enables voice search when you have a Bluetooth headset connected
    • Bluetooth headset
    • Wired headset

There's obviously some difference between the current and new screens, but they're quite similar. Aside from losing the Voice Match shortcut, which should remain accessible at the top level of the Google Assistant settings, everything in the current screen will also appear in the new screen, albeit possibly with a different name. The one notable change is to the setting for "offensive words" which are now obscured by asterisks instead of being blocked entirely.

The new version of the screen introduces a couple of new settings, as well. Both can be found in the Hands-free section at the bottom. The first enables voice search via Bluetooth devices, which differs a bit from the existing option that "records audio" through Bluetooth devices if they are connected. The other addition is a toggle for wired headsets, which is really no different than the Bluetooth option, but is of course technically less secure than wireless devices.

strings

<string name="hands_free_category">Hands-Free</string>

<string name="prefTitle_ttsMode_hub">Spoken results</string>
<string name="prefDialogTitle_ttsMode_hub">Spoken results</string>

<string name="prefSummary_profanityFilter_hub">Offensive words will be replaced with asterisks (*) in the search box</string>

<string name="prefSummary_ttsModeOn_hub">All voice searches</string>
<string name="prefValue_ttsMode_always_hub">allVoiceSearchesHub</string>
<string name="prefSummary_ttsModeHandsFreeOnly_hub">Hands-free searches only</string>
<string name="prefValue_ttsMode_handsFreeOnly_hub">handsFreeOnlyHub</string>
<string name="prefTitle_voiceSearch_bluetooth">Voice search on Bluetooth devices</string>
<string name="prefSummary_voiceSearch_bluetooth">Enable voice search when you have a Bluetooth headset connected</string>
<string name="prefTitle_wiredHeadset">Wired headset</string>

<array name="prefEntries_ttsMode_hub">
<item>@string/prefSummary_ttsModeOn_hub</item>
<item>@string/prefSummary_ttsModeHandsFreeOnly_hub</item>
</array>
<array name="prefValues_ttsMode_hub">
<item>@string/prefValue_ttsMode_always_hub</item>
<item>@string/prefValue_ttsMode_handsFreeOnly_hub</item>
</array>

<PreferenceScreen xmlns:launcher="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto/com.android.launcher3" xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android" xmlns:app="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res-auto" xmlns:aapt="http://schemas.android.com/aapt" android:title="@string/voiceSearchPreferences">
<com.google.android.apps.gsa.speech.settingsui.language.LanguagePreference android:entries="@array/emptyArray" android:title="@string/prefTitle_language" android:key="language" android:dialogTitle="@string/prefDialogTitle_language"/>
<Preference android:title="@string/prefTitle_language" android:key="languageFullPage"/>
<ListPreference android:entries="@array/prefEntries_ttsMode_hub" android:title="@string/prefTitle_ttsMode_hub" android:key="ttsMode" android:defaultValue="@string/prefDefault_ttsMode" android:dialogTitle="@string/prefDialogTitle_ttsMode_hub" android:entryValues="@array/prefValues_ttsMode_hub"/>
<Preference android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/prefTitle_downloadLanguagePacks" android:key="downloadLanguagePacks" android:summary="@string/prefSummary_downloadLanguagePacks"/>
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/prefTitle_profanityFilter_hub" android:key="profanityFilter" android:summary="@string/prefSummary_profanityFilter_hub" android:defaultValue="true"/>
<PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/okay_google_category" android:key="ok_google_preference">
<PreferenceScreen android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/prefTitle_hotwordDetector" android:key="hotword" android:fragment="com.google.android.apps.gsa.speech.settingsui.hotword.HotwordSettingsFragment"/>
</PreferenceCategory>
<PreferenceCategory android:title="@string/hands_free_category" android:key="hands_free_category">
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/prefTitle_voiceSearch_bluetooth" android:key="bluetoothHeadset" android:summary="@string/prefSummary_voiceSearch_bluetooth" android:defaultValue="false"/>
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/prefTitle_bluetoothHeadset" android:key="lockscreen_search_bluetooth" android:defaultValue="true"/>
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/prefTitle_wiredHeadset" android:key="lockscreen_search_headset" android:defaultValue="false"/>
</PreferenceCategory>
</PreferenceScreen>

Multi-language support

It goes without saying that supporting any one language is a challenge, and supporting more than one at a time is a monumental feat. Google announced multi-language support for Assistant back in February, but there wasn't a timeline or many details beyond the initial set of languages: English, French, and German.

For the first time, there's a little bit of activity in the Google app that represents multilingual support. A few lines have been added that mention mixing languages is in beta. One specifically disclaims Assistant as still learning how to understand two languages together and promises continued improvements.

<string name="assistant_settings_language_beta">Beta</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_language_beta_context">Your assistant is still learning how to use these languages together. It will get better over time.</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_languages_device_warning">These languages won\'t work on some of your devices.</string>

Follow-up: Eyes-free

There's also a bit of new text for the eyes-free feature that made a minor appearance in the v8.16 teardown. The additions are trivial, but it shows that a notification will pop up to ask users to authorize the Google app to access notifications so they can be read aloud.

<string name="notification_assistant">Assistant</string>
<string name="notification_heading">Allow Assistant to read notifications to you</string>
<string name="notification_text">To hear your messages, calendar events, and other important info, give the Google app access to your notifications.</string>
<string name="notification_settings">SETTINGS</string>

Follow-up: Translation mode

Not significant, but a title was added for the Translation feature for smart displays discussed in the teardown of v8.15.

<string name="feature_name">Translation mode</string>

Google
Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Google Pay v2.72

There's not much to say  about the latest updates, nothing appears to be different in the UI, and the teardown only turns up some additional lines related to a payment type referred to as 'Thermo' in the text. However, since it was skipped previously, let's cover it now.

Thermo: Carrier Billing... and more?

The first appearance of the Thermo name was somewhere in the v1.x line, roughly around the beginning of 2018 or late 2017. At the time, one line clearly showed that this was tied to carrier billing, so it looked like the intent was merely to label line items appropriately if they came had been billed to you by the carrier and happened to appear in Google Pay thanks to the feature that shows purchase history for linked payment methods.

strings
<string name="action_add_se_thermo_payment_card">Thermo</string>
<string name="thermo_name">Name</string>
<string name="thermo_postpaid_explanation_label">Pay your bill each month</string>
<string name="thermo_postpaid_label">Postpaid</string>
<string name="thermo_prepaid_explanation_label">Add money to your card before using it</string>
<string name="thermo_prepaid_label">Prepaid</string>
<string name="thermo_year_of_birth">Year of birth</string>
<string name="thermo_confirmation_title">Confirm your information</string>
<string name="thermo_area_label">Residence</string>
<string name="thermo_basic_information">Basic personal information</string>
<string name="thermo_carrier_explanation_label">Connect and pay with your phone bills</string>
<string name="thermo_carrier_label">Carrier billing</string>
<string name="thermo_choose_card_title">Choose a card</string>
<string name="thermo_company_name">Name service</string>

With the v2.71 and v2.72 updates, a few new lines popped up that suggest there's more to this. It looks like there may be a perk associated with Thermo that links points with miles. This brings to mind plenty of credit cards that reward spending with air travel, but in this case, the text seems to suggest you'll gain points alongside the miles. Regardless of the specifics, this is probably something to look out for if you're a fan of reward programs.

version 2.71
<string name="thermo_provision_title">Enjoy Thermo even more on your phone</string>
<string name="thermo_provision_subtitle">Link your milage to earn points automatically</string>
<string name="milage_option_1">Milage option tbd</string>
.version 2.72
<string name="thermo_point_link_message_not_linked">Link your Thermo account to keep on earning points with every use</string>
<string name="thermo_point_link_title_not_linked">Earn Thermo points</string>

Google Pay
Google Pay
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Google Fit v2.01

Fit has undergone more than just another Material Theme makeover like we've seen with many other recent Google apps – it now looks and feels like an entirely different app. However, most of the functional elements remain intact and there aren't really many new features to speak of. Nevertheless, there are a few things to discuss that didn't make it into our previous posts, so here we go.

Notification channels

Changes to notification channels in apps are rarely interesting, but it's worth noting that some potentially confusing things are happening to them with the Fit v2.0 update. One thing many users may not realize is that apps can wait to create channels until they're going to use them, and it's possible to create and then abandon channels. This normally doesn't matter, but it can become a problem with apps like Android Messages that creates channels for individual contacts, but gives you no way to remove those channels even if you remove the contact.

Left: v1.82. Center: v2.01 after update. Right: v2.01 fresh install.

As it turns out, the channels created in earlier versions of Google Fit were not removed with the update, but those channels appear to have been left hanging out for those updating from an old version. A fresh install will not have any channels, as you can see from the screenshot on the right. I bring this up because it may be possible that you'll open up the channel settings to turn off or change settings for a channel and unknowingly pick a channel that has been abandoned.

Does that mean there aren't any channels? Nope, quite the contrary, there are actually more channel names shown in a teardown than ever before. Most are simply the obvious channels that already existed, but they've been broken down into more granular options, but there's another we'll talk about in the next section. Here's the full list with descriptions, though some of these may never pop up:

  • Activity tips
    Get tips to help you meet physical activity recommendations
  • New features
    Get updates about the latest Fit features
  • Goal adjustment
    Get suggestions to increase or decrease goals
  • Completed goals
    Get updates when you reach your goals
  • Goal progress tips
    Get tips to help you meet your activity goals
  • Workout tracking
    Get status updates for tracked workouts
  • Medication reminders
  • Your activity
  • Coaching messages
  • New features
strings
<string name="notification_channel_activity_tips_label">Activity tips</string>
<string name="notification_channel_activity_tips_description">Get tips to help you meet physical activity recommendations</string><string name="notification_channel_fit_updates_label">New features</string>
<string name="notification_channel_fit_updates_description">Get updates about the latest Fit features</string><string name="notification_channel_goals_adjustment_label">Goal adjustment</string>
<string name="notification_channel_goals_adjustment_description">Get suggestions to increase or decrease goals</string><string name="notification_channel_goals_completed_label">Completed goals</string>
<string name="notification_channel_goals_completed_description">Get updates when you reach your goals</string><string name="notification_channel_goals_progress_label">Goal progress tips</string>
<string name="notification_channel_goals_progress_description">Get tips to help you meet your activity goals</string><string name="notification_channel_workout_tracking_label">Workout tracking</string>
<string name="notification_channel_workout_tracking_description">Get status updates for tracked workouts</string><string name="notification_channel_medication_reminders_label">Medication reminders</string>
<string name="notification_group_activity_label">Your activity</string>
<string name="notification_group_coaching_label">Coaching messages</string>
<string name="notification_group_new_features_label">New features</string>

Medication reminders

As I mentioned in the last section, there was one interesting notification channel that stood out: Medication reminders. Google Fit began its life with a fairly strict focus on fitness and physical activity, but branched into tracking water consumptionnutrition, and even sleeping habits. As we recently saw in an exclusive look at the upcoming Google Coach, medication tracking was also mentioned among the new features.

<string name="notification_channel_medication_reminders_label">Medication reminders</string>

Given that medication reminders are now a notification channel, and basically everything else about the current Fit app sounds like an incomplete version of what Google Coach is likely to be, I think it's safe to assume there won't actually be a brand new app, but just another major update to the Fit app in the future. Okay, I know that's fairly obvious, but some people suggested this could be a brand new app, which is looking pretty unlikely now.

New Play Store listing

From time to time, Google's developers will include things like app descriptions and other text in the APK for some reason or another. In this instance, it looks like the text intended for the Play Store listing has been included. I don't see anything particularly significant that isn't covered or already known, but the description is at least more thorough than what you can read on the Play Store today.

Get to a healthier and more active life with the new Google Fit!

It's hard to know how much or what kind of activity you need to stay healthy. That's why Google Fit worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Heart Association (AHA) to bring you two new activity goals that can help improve your health: Move Minutes and Heart Points

• Move Minutes
When it comes to your health, it's important to move more and sit less. Earn Move Minutes for all of your activity and get motivated to make small, healthier changes throughout your day, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or catching up with a friend over a walk instead of a coffee.

• Heart Points
Activities that get your heart pumping harder have tremendous health benefits for your heart and mind. You'll earn one Heart Point for each minute of moderate activity, like picking up the pace when walking your dog, and double points for more intense activities like running. It takes just 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week to reach the AHA and WHO's recommended amount of physical activity, which is shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, improve sleep, and increase overall mental well-being.

Google Fit will also help you:

TRACK YOUR WORKOUTS FROM YOUR PHONE OR WATCH
Get instant insights when you exercise and see real-time stats for your runs, walks, and bike rides. Fit will use your Android phone's sensors or Wear OS by Google smartwatch's heart rate sensors to record your speed, pace, route, and more.

MONITOR YOUR GOALS
See your daily progress for Heart Points and Move Minutes. Meeting your goals each day? Based on your activity and goal progress, Google Fit will help you adjust them so you can keep challenging yourself to achieve a healthy heart and mind.

MAKE ALL YOUR MOVEMENT COUNT
If you walk, run, or bike throughout the day, your Android phone or Wear OS by Google smartwatch will automatically detect and add your activities to your Google Fit journal to ensure you get credit for every move. Enjoy a different type of workout? Select it from a list of activities like pilates, rowing, or spinning, and Google Fit will track all the Heart Points and Move Minutes you earn.

GET COACHING THAT FITS YOU
Get customized tips and actionable coaching, such as recommended goal adjustments based on your activity

CONNECT WITH YOUR FAVORITE APPS AND DEVICES
Fit can show you info from many of your favorite apps and devices to give you a holistic view of your health, so you'll never lose track of your progress. These include Lifesum, Wear OS by Google, Nike+, Runkeeper, Strava, MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, Lifesum, Basis, Sleep as Android, Withings, Xiaomi Mi bands, and more.

CHECK IN AT ANY TIME
See a snapshot of your activity history across Fit and your integrated apps in the redesigned journal.

Learn more about Google Fit and see a list of supported apps at: www.google.com/fit

 

ARCore v1.4.18071608

The ARCore updates generally aren't notable for features, but rather for the new devices that are added to the list. This month has been pretty rich with newly added handsets, plus the first Chrome OS device. Strangely, on the same day that the list was expanded to include a few more new phones, a new update to the APK also rolled out that expanded the list slightly further.

Newly supported devices

The additions are really quite short, but that's not to surprising since even the version number barely changed. There are four devices listed, but one is just a phone that had already been on the list with another codename, the Xperia XZ2 Premium.

  • LG
    • V40 [judypn]
    • Q8 [cv7an]
    • G7 fit [falcon]
  • Sony
    • Xperia XZ2 Premium [SOV38] (not actually new)
cv7an
falcon
judypn
SOV38

The new entries on the list include two phones from LG, the Q8 and V40, and another device bearing the codename "falcon." That name has been used by at least three OEMs in the past: Motorola, BORQS, and Future Mobile Technology. The Motorola phone with that name happens to be the first generation Moto G released in 2013. It never received updates to Android 7.0. which is a minimum requirement for ARCore, thus ruling it out completely.

If you've never heard of those other two companies, I'm right there with you. However, both produce phones that could technically qualify for ARCore; but neither company or any of their phones are on the support list, which also makes them a little unlikely. The final possibility is that another brand new phone has been internally named falcon and we've just never seen it before.

Anyway, if you are buying any of these devices and had any doubts that they might not have ARCore support – and I can't imagine why you wouldn't expect them to – then you can rest easy in knowing that they are on the list.

ARCore by Google
ARCore by Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Lens v1.0.18051725

Along the same lines as ARCore, the Google Lens app contains a list of supported devices. In the most minor of minor updates, there are two new devices supported in this version, both by Xiaomi. These are the Mi A2 (jasmine) and the Mi A2 Lite (daisy). These two devices were just released, so this is obviously a routine addition, but maybe it's somehow significant if there was any reason to doubt they would have Lens.

  • brand=xiaomi, deviceName=daisy_sprout
  • brand=xiaomi, deviceName=jasmine_sprout

Google Lens
Google Lens
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free