Google 7.21 Teardown Shows Major Changes To Assistant & More

Version 7.21 of the Google application beta started rolling out last week and a new teardown of the APK reveals some possible upcoming features for the application. If the inactive code in this APK is anything to go by, the Google app could be getting a massive array new features in the future - with most tied in with Google Assistant. For example, the code in the APK builds on previous work toward allowing custom Google Assistant hotwords. Specifically, a feature called Google Temperature launches a training process associated with teaching Assistant to respond to words other than "Ok Google" or "Hey Google." Since the new code has been added which allows the feature to actually be enabled when the inactive code is run, this is at least one previously hinted feature that may actually come to fruition.

The biggest change, however, appears to be the addition of code for a hardware button that reportedly isn't meant for use with phones. This could be associated with Chromebooks using Android to run the Google app or to a new range of Android tablets. It may be associated with both. An included error message seems to suggest that a custom hardware button could be "trained" to launch assistant. Several strings of code associated with that - one of which reads, "Add the Google Assistant to your homescreen" -  also indicate that a home screen Assistant shortcut similar to a widget could be created instead of a hardware button being assigned. Beyond that, more code has been added relating to the ability to set default speakers or a television for playback via the app or Assistant's settings menu. Other lines of code tied in with playback seem to indicate that Assistant may be able to personalize recommendations based on TV or source recognition features found in prior updates to the APK. Delving further into Assistant, new code has been added to allow images taken via the Lens search feature to be donated to Google for review in order to improve the feature. A toggle has, in fact, been added to Assistant settings for Pixel devices, according to the source. Finally, new notification channels seem to be in the works that have been labeled for Assistant, Hand-off, Miscellaneous, and Proactive. A dedicated notification channel for the Google app's search widget also seems to be in the works.

Meanwhile, Google app users may have greater control over their Google feed in the future with new options to see more or less of a topic, rather than dismissing it outright. They may also be getting a new bottom bar menu which replaces the tab for upcoming items with an Assistant tab, in addition to adding text labels for the icons. Also included in this update is a string of code specifically related to storage permissions settings which suggest that Google is still working on adding a dedicated app-based photo editor for screenshots. Last but not least, although the feature is still not live for users, Google's screen-enabled Quartz devices get some new shopping related code as well with this update. The changes allow users to see more information about their shopping cart, including how many of each item is in their cart and the ability to place the order.

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