If you've been living on the beta distributions of the Google app, you probably spent the weekend (and a couple days into the week) with a broken At A Glance widget that couldn't display the weather. The issue has been resolved with yesterday's update, and it seems like things are running smoothly again. Bugs aside, not much changed in the jump to 9.0 for users, but a teardown does show some of the things to come.
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.
Account detection with third-party services
Think about all of the services you've signed up to over the years, including dozens (hundreds? thousands?) that you've since forgotten about. If the day were to come along that one of them becomes useful again, especially through Google Assistant, you might begin signing up and already have an account there that's worthy of linking. It seems Google will begin supporting a semi-automated check that will tell you if a service already has your email address on record and help you link it to your Google account for the future.
The text is pretty generic, only informing users that they can check for your Google email address with a particular service. Oddly, another line explains that the check will include your name, email address, and profile picture. There will be a link that explains why all three details are shared, but I haven't seen a sign that it's available yet.
<string name="gdi_gm2_choose_account_title">Check for an existing %1$s account with your Google email address</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_choose_account_subtitle">To check, we will share your name, email address, and profile picture with %1$s.</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_create_and_link">Create and link</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_agree_and_link">Agree and link</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_choose_account_check_email">Share and check</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_choose_account_use_another_account">Use a different email</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_choose_account_why_to_share">Why Google shares this</string>
<string name="gdi_gm2_no_thanks">No thanks</string>
If a match is found, the existing account can be linked with your Google account for a more robust login. If no match is found, Google will offer to create the account and link it immediately.
Assistant in the car
It's hardly news now that CES is over, but companies have begun announcing devices that effectively add Google Assistant to your car. JBL and Anker will probably be the first to launch their models this spring, but we can surely expect to see more in the future. To go along with these types of devices, are now new messages referencing the use of accessories in the car with Google Assistant.
<string name="screen_locked_info_car">Your Assistant can respond on your car accessory even if your phone is locked. You can turn this off in Assistant Settings.</string>
<string name="tos_accept_send_diagnostics_car">Send Diagnostics.\10Improve your car accessory experience by sending diagnostics, usage data, and crash reports to Google.</string>
While it's not explicitly linked, there are also a few fresh and pretty obviously related instances of the KITT codename that has been popping up lately. This basically wraps up our original 2014 post about Google experimenting with an eyes-free, always listening interface in the car.
<string name="kitt_unlink_dialog_message">The following devices will be removed from Google Assistant:</string>
Another line added for a CES announcement is referencing Interpreter Mode, a feature that will put Assistant into an always-listening mode that translates anything said between two languages.
There's nothing special to say here, but I wanted to point it out for those that might want to know it's in progress.
Saying hello from the Lab
Googlers aren't clueless about our activities here, so many of them have taken opportunities to include messages, jokes, and the occasional trolling in APKs. The v9.0 update includes a short message that says hello to us.
<string name="hi_9to5g_and_ap_menu_item">E. Gadd</string>
excerpt from /menu/monet_menu_items.xml
<item android:id="@+id/egadd" android:title="@string/hi_9to5g_and_ap_menu_item"/>
The line also bears the name E. Gadd, a reference to Professor Elvin Gadd, a character from the Marioverse (appearing first in Luigi's Mansion and about a dozen other games to follow). This isn't just a randomly chosen cameo, there's actually a thematic point to the name. For some Googlers, the E. Gadd label will appear as a menu item on the navigation page in the Google app. It leads to settings for enabling special Labs features — the stuff that's exclusively in testing, not for the general public.
Unfortunately, the Labs section seems to be locked down fairly well, so I've only had partial luck after digging around in the code for a way to activate it. Regardless, it's fun to see even Google's core apps get to hide a little humor for the team.
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.