An update to the Google app is rolling out a bit earlier than usual for the week. Besides small tweaks, there's not much to see, but a teardown is turning up some interesting additions to the APK. Google has resumed work on allowing services to stand in for Notes and Lists functionality with Assistant. There are also a few more settings making the jump to a central 'General' screen.
As always, there are minor tweaks and changes that really don't need to be enumerated here. However, I did feel like it was worth briefly pointing out that the recently rebranded Discover section (formerly Feed) was not fully rebranded before this version. The navigation menu still had an item named Customized Feed until it was changed with the v8.24 update to Customize Discover.
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: Notes and lists haven't been forgotten
Think back to the launch of Google Home and you may remember that at one time it was using Google Keep as the automatic recipient of notes and lists. This was, quite frankly, pretty good. There were a lot of bugs and implementation details to work out, but it was easy enough to open the Keep app to make manual changes if necessary. Unfortunately, about a year and a half ago, Google moved the shopping list functionality to Google Express.
As if to tease us, signs appeared in a teardown that suggested notes and lists would soon allow third party developers to register their own apps to fill this role; but that happened five months ago and there hasn't been much notable activity since. However, this version brings some new text that confirms the feature is still in development, albeit still with no real hint for when it will go live.
<string name="notes_lists_provider_link_title">Link account with %1$s</string>
<string name="notes_lists_provider_link_description">Account linking and selection will provide %1$s with permission to access your Lists and Notes data from Google Assistant. Any changes you make to your lists and notes data will be visible to %1$s.\10\10Sounds good?</string>
<string name="notes_lists_provider_unlink_title">Unlink account from %1$s</string>
<string name="notes_lists_provider_unlink_description">Assistant Notes and Lists data will no longer be updated with %1$s. Existing data in %1$s will not be deleted.\10\10Sounds good?</string>
Follow-up: General settings page gains three more options
Most of the last few Google app updates have been slowly adding duplicate copies of various settings to a "General" page that has yet to appear. It comes as no surprise that the latest update is following this trend. The latest additions include:
- Show feed
Get stories based on your interests
- Data saver
When data saver is on, your feed won't get the latest content
Play video previews automatically on Wi-Fi
Excerpt from /xml/general_hub.xml
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/turn_on_interest_feed" android:key="@string/show_interest_feed_preference" android:summary="@string/interest_feed_details_hub" android:defaultValue="true"/>
<SwitchPreference android:persistent="true" android:title="@string/turn_on_feed_data_saver" android:key="@string/feed_data_saver_preference" android:summary="@string/feed_data_saver_details_hub" android:defaultValue="false"/>
<ListPreference android:persistent="false" android:title="@string/autoplay_video_previews_hub" android:key="@string/autoplay_video_previews_preference" android:dialogTitle="@string/autoplay_video_previews_hub"/><string name="autoplay_video_previews_hub">Autoplay video previews</string>
<string name="autoplay_video_previews_preference">search_video_preview_autoplay</string><string name="feed_data_saver_details_hub">To help you save data, your feed won\'t automatically refresh.</string>
The options for Show Feed and Data Saver come from the Your Feed screen, and the Autoplay option can be found in Video.
Creating albums in Photos?
It's an odd one, but there are messages in this update relating to creating albums in Google Photos. Unfortunately, there's not much to explain what this will be used for.
<string name="album_create_error_message">Make sure you\'re signed in to Google Photos app as %s and backup is complete</string>
<string name="album_create_error_title">Can\'t create album</string>
The guess I'm most inclined to make is that users will be able to create albums in the Google app for the purpose of setting up slideshows for Chromecast-enabled devices.
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.