New Google App Beta References Android 8.1, API Level 27

A teardown of the latest beta version of the Google Android app — build number 7.11 — references Android 8.1 and its related API Level 27, suggesting that some developers from the Alphabet-owned company are already using the Android 8.1 software development kit (SDK) to create apps for the company's popular mobile operating system. The references to the new version of Android found in the Google app's code clearly indicate that the next iteration of the platform will bear the 8.1 build number, though it remains to be seen whether it will also be marketed under the Oreo moniker. While some recent discoveries in the Master Branch of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) which also hinted at Android P suggested that Android 8.1 might never happen, the clear code references to this particular version found in the Google app are a much stronger indicator of the opposite.

Android 8.1 is likely to debut alongside the Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2 smartphones which Google is rumored to launch next month, similar to how the company released the original Pixel series with Android 7.1 Nougat just over a month after Android 7.0 hit the stable channel last year. Since Google introduced no name changes as part of the jump from Android 7.0 to 7.1, it's likely that Android 8.1 will also ship with the Oreo label. The new beta version of the Google app doesn't reveal any specifics regarding the capabilities of Android 8.1 and how the operating system may differ from the previous version, save for the unsurprising fact that it will be accompanied by a new application programming interface level which will replace the API Level 26.

The Google app's Account and Privacy section is also set to be updated with the option of disabling Google's integrated screenshot management tool, as suggested by the same teardown, though it's currently unclear when the tech giant may ennoble its offering with this particular functionality. For the time being, users who prefer a third-party screenshot tool or don't want one suggested to them altogether within Google's service are out of luck and will have to remain patient until the firm addresses their wishes. The latest update for the app also ships with an automated Bluetooth audio routing recommendation message which will seemingly be displayed to users when they connect to a vehicle and even provide them with a shortcut to enable the feature from the same prompt. Additionally, the app is packed with a variety of new icons which can be seen below.

The Google app beta build 7.11 also contains new references to Bisto, a new product category that the Mountain View, California-based tech giant is reportedly developing. At least some Bisto devices are said to be launched in the form of in-ear headphones compatible with the Google Assistant, previous APK teardowns and rumors suggested. The newly uncovered references to these devices also hint at the existence of two previously unreported feature, with one of them being a greeting message which will appear on a smartphone each time the user pairs it with a Bisto device, notifying them about its battery level. In a similar vein, Bisto devices will also generate a permanent battery level notification on a compatible handset, the code suggests, though it's currently unclear whether users will be able to turn off this feature or if the functionality will even be enabled by default.

Previous reports also indicated that Bisto products will have at least one physical or touch-sensitive key which users will hold to communicate with the Google Assistant, with the new version of the Google app now also hinting at similar gadgets with three buttons. As the app's code contains feedback strings which reference the "top," "middle," and "bottom" keys, the trio will apparently be arranged in a vertical manner. Those specific strings pertain to the Google Assistant's speech-to-text algorithms and their ability to work in conjunction with an unspecified messaging service but don't reveal more details about the system. First Bisto devices may be announced by Google in early October, simultaneously with the launch of the Pixel 2 phones.

Finally, the new version of Google's flagship Android app also contains indications that the company is working on revamping the user interface for creating Google Assistant shortcuts. From the looks of it, the interface Google is currently developing will offer a wider variety of options in regards to shortcut categories, presenting you with separate sections for user-defined actions related to individual gadgets like speakers and thermostats. Alternatively, it's possible that those functionalities are already live provided that you know which syntax to use when wording commands and that Google is actually working on a tutorial to teach people how to take advantage of them.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]
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