Google is focusing on the visual experience of Android 12. The latest fruit of that endeavor is a bit of fresh paint on the Discover feed. Google Doodles, the little shifting variations on the Google logo, have appeared at the top of the feed for a while now. But with the latest version of Google search installed on Android 12, Doodles now theme the background of the feed itself. Neat.
Unlike most other developers, unfinished features constantly appear in Google's updates, hinting at plenty of new content in the works. Following an update to the Google app on Android, a new "Guacamole" menu is appearing in the Assistant settings list for some users. Once active, it'll let certain tasks be performed without saying "Hey Google" at all.
Google Assistant is arguably the best voice assistant on a smartphone right now — from making restaurant reservations to holding calls for you, it can do so much. But if you're not in the mood for talking, an upcoming feature will give you a handy, speech-less way of getting Assistant to help you out.
Last year, Google swapped Chrome custom tabs for an in-app browser in the Google app for Android. While the new browser was flashier, it was sort of a downgrade as it lacked certain features. It seems like Google is working on improving the experience with a bottom bar in the latest Android beta.
You won't have to go to a galaxy far, far away to meet a beloved character who has been an internet sensation since it first featured in Disney's The Mandalorian show last year. Thanks to Google, you can now virtually place a life-sized Grogu — colloquially known as Baby Yoda — right in your room.
AR animals came to the Google app at just the right moment earlier this year, when many of us were stuck inside due to the pandemic and in need of cheering up. Since the feature first launched in April, Google has steadily added to the available creatures with various mammals, insects, fish, birds, and even several species of dinosaur. The latest critters all have one thing in common: they hail from down under.
Although Google Maps still doesn't have dark theme support, a workaround as been spotted that could give us a glimpse of what the feature will look like when it does arrive. Some searches in the Google app load their own stripped-down Maps view, and if you can get the app to work in dark theme on your phone, that Maps view is dressed up in a snazzy dark theme, too.
After a large number of complaints about a bug affecting Assistant on Android Auto, Google has finally released a fix along with the latest version of the Google app that should put the issue to bed. A post outlining the problem on the Android Auto support site received more than 1,200 upvotes and a similar number of replies from other afflicted users.
Google introduced Chrome custom tabs five years ago, and most apps use them these days. Instead of creating their own custom browsers, developers can just hand over websites to a Chrome tab without the added bulk of a regular browser interface. The advantage is that devs don't have to spend resources on creating their own webview implementations and that users can quickly open these custom tabs in proper Chrome without reloading or losing their scroll position. It's a great system. But Google wouldn't be Google if it stuck with a great system (looking at you, YouTube Music).
Last year, both Google and Apple added dark theming options into their mobile operating systems, with many system apps supporting the feature. Some apps took longer than others, though, like Google's own search app. We reported that its dark theme was available through the Play Store Beta program earlier this year, and now the feature is rolling out to all users on Android 10.