Google App tests suggestions and Lens shortcut in the search widget, new At a Glance features, simpler Discover Interests, Podcasts redesign, and Photos sharing from Assistant
The Google App is massive because of how many different services it contains. It’s got Google Search, Google Discover, Google Podcasts, Google Assistant, and Google Lens all under the same roof. With so many different services, it’s hard to keep up with all the smaller changes that Google is testing. We’ve been tracking some of the developments in the latest versions of the APK, and here’s a summary of what we recently found.
Google Search Widget Changes
One of the first changes that we noticed is new search suggestion chips that are shown in Gboard when the search widget is tapped. These appear to be recommended search terms that are generated not by your keyboard history, but by Google’s trending search terms. Of course, terms like “weather,” “sports,” “videos,” and “news” are front-and-center. A few times we spotted a shortcut to open Google Lens in the search box, however, this didn’t always appear for us.
New At a Glance Features
The “At a Glance” widget is available for any launcher app through the Google App, and it hooks into your Google account to show you your upcoming Google Calendar events, flight information from Gmail, and traffic information from Google Maps. We’ve spotted toggles for 3 new features in the works: Reminder alerts, experimental Google Assistant actions, and Alarm alerts. Although we couldn’t get any of these features working, we’re happy to see that Google is expanding the functionality of the widget. Most people don’t change their home screen layouts, and the At a Glance widget is included by default in the Pixel Launcher. Hopefully, we’ll see these new features roll out with the upcoming Google Pixel 4 release.
Google Discover Interests
Almost exactly 1 year ago, Google rebranded Google Feed to Google Discover. This service curates news from across the web based on your Google account history. Some power users complain that Google Discover’s tailoring of news has started to show more clickbaity content in recent months, not to mention all the complaints about advertisements showing up in feeds. You can customize what shows up in your Google Discover feed by opening the Google App and navigating to the “More” tab then tapping “Customize Discover,” though you’ll need to go through a few pages before you can see all of the “topics” that Google has decided you are “interested” in.
Google may be making its “Customize Discover” page a bit simpler, as I spotted a new “Interests” page that listed all of the topics that I followed and the topics that I hid. This is much cleaner-looking and simpler, and it looks like it also consolidates your preferences with the notifications you receive from the Google App.
Google Podcasts Redesign
Google Podcasts may not be up to snuff with the top-rated podcast apps on the Google Play Store, but it has slowly grown its feature set in the past few months. Google is now testing a new media player UI with a much larger card to show off the episode artwork, centered text for the episode title and podcast series, and an overflow menu icon. This expanded player UI also gives you more room to tweak the sleep timer or playback speed.
Sharing Google Photos through Google Assistant
Lastly, Telegram user @RaghavTheGreat sent us a tip about a new action he noticed in Google Assistant. If you ask the Assistant to look up photos from your Google Photos collection, you’ll get a list of relevant photos. This feature is already present for all users of the Google App, but what our tipster noticed is that he was able to long-press and select the photos that were shown to him. He could then share these photos using the standard share sheet. We couldn’t replicate this ourselves, so we’re assuming it’s rolling out to some users via a server-side test.
That’s all we spotted for now. You can grab the latest version of the Google App from the Google Play Store or from APKMirror, whichever you prefer. As usual, we don’t know when any of these features will roll out widely, but we’ll let you know when they do.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.