Version 8.6 of the Google app for Android devices hit the beta channel earlier this week, debuting a number of new features and changes that are soon expected to hit the stable channel, with its inactive code discovered by 9to5Google also pointing to several others. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant appears to be working on numerous Google Assistant improvements meant to be delivered as part of the app, including a "Households" feature designed to serve as a comprehensive smart home hub. Among other things, the functionality will allow you to add users to a household group and attach various information such as contact details to their profiles.
Google is presently also developing a related feature called "Your People" which already debuted in version 8.0 of the app but was rudimentary in nature and quickly removed, with the latest build of the mobile tool suggesting it's set for a return. The new section will be available through the Contact List service under the Google Assistant Settings tab. Support for Google Assistant-enabled headphones is also being extended, with the beta app allowing users to device whether notification responses can be leveraged when their smartphone is locked, thus providing them with an extra level of privacy if they choose to take advantage of the new option.
The Google Podcasts service is embracing the company's Material Design as part of the beta update, whereas the Google Lens and Assistant icons have also been revamped with the goal of blending into the overall user interface in a more seamless manner. The "Continued Conversation" functionality is also on the way but isn't active in the latest beta version of the Android app, though some of its code is already understood to be functional. Google is expected to push the majority of the current beta features to the stable channel in the coming weeks.