Google is rolling out v8.22 of its self-titled app. You'll now find a new widget for Sound Search hidden away, and a teardown includes several topics related to auto-downloading podcasts, Google Assistant for Households, a page for your contributions, and an animation to promote the upcoming Pixel Stand.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • New Sound Search shortcut

Sound Search shortcut

A new Sound Search widget has been added to the Google app, though it doesn't appear to differ in any functional way from the older widget, which is also still present. Visually, the two are actually quite a bit different. The older version had no label or logo on it, just a single musical note. The new widget is actually named Sound Search and aligns with the standard icon baseline, plus it will carry the Google logo as a badge on the Pixel Launcher (and other launchers if supported). Regardless of the looks, they launch the same window to listen for music, so you're free to pick whichever widget fits the aesthetics of your home screen.

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.

Auto-download and share podcasts

Google launched its podcast player without... well, without features. So now those are getting filled in as the team gets around to them. One of the obvious first steps is auto-downloading podcasts so users won't have to do it all for themselves.

There's not much here to look at, but the key details are labeled. You'll be able to automatically download new episodes, and there's an option to restrict downloads until you're on WiFi. Were you expecting more? You probably shouldn't be.

At least for the moment, this is about as extensive as the options appear to be, though there are probably more on the way. I would at least expect to see a limit on the number of new episodes that are allowed to stack up, which is fairly standard on most other podcast players.

<string name="settings_for_your_podcasts">Your podcasts</string>
<string name="auto_downloading">Auto Downloading</string>
<string name="enabled_auto_downloading">Enabled for %1$s podcasts</string>
<string name="auto_download_new_episodes">Auto download new episodes</string>
<string name="auto_download_only_on_wifi">Only on WiFi</string>

You'll also gain the ability to share your favorite podcasts with others. A Share command appears to also be on the plate for the interface, but hasn't been added yet.

<string name="share_podcasts">Share</string>

Your Contributions

A new menu item for the navigation drawer has been added. This one is called Your Contributions. Unfortunately, there's not much more to see at this time. It's basically just a placeholder until more is added.

<string name="contributions">Your Contributions</string>

excerpt from /menu/material_drawer_menu.xml
<item android:id="@+id/contributions" android:actionLayout="@layout/drawer_entry" app:showAsAction="always" app:actionViewClass="com.google.android.apps.gsa.shared.ui.drawer.DrawerEntry"/>

There are a few things that might appear in a page about contributions, but the most obvious would be the screen in Google Maps that goes by the same name. That page holds reviews, photos, ratings, and so on. The remaining possibilities are considerably more niche or don't really make sense in this context, like Crowdsource, Opinion Rewards, or YouTube. On the other hand, Google may be planning to launch new features that would encourage users to provide feedback or new content that would belong here.

Follow-up: Google Assistant for Households

We've been following the progression of a feature called Google Assistant for Households (or perhaps Family Sharing) for a while as it appeared in both the Google and Home apps. The latest update doesn't provide much new information, but in a small promotional line, it does reveal that members of a household will be able to send messages to other family members, assign reminders, and share lists.

<string name="assistant_settings_household_family_manager">(Family Manager)</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_household_managing_subtitle">Broadcast group messages, assign reminders, and share lists with up to 6 family members</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_household_user_is_family_manager">You (Family Manager)</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_household_user_self">You</string>
<string name="assistant_settings_household_welcome_page_assistant_image">Assistant image on the welcome page</string>

Pixel Stand animation

There's no secret that the Pixel Stand will be one of the featured accessories launching with the Pixel 3, and it's already something of a foregone conclusion that it's going to have the phone behave a bit like a smart display. In the latest update, Google slipped in a new animation showing a phone propped in the stand as it carries out a slideshow of photos from its gallery. This obviously isn't revealing anything we didn't already know, but it's sorta cute.

Oh, and as if to rub a little salt in the wound, note that the phone is lacks both bezels and a notch. Someday, Google, but not today.

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