Google Assistant prepares keyboard dictation, Driving Mode, and connecting to health services for sleep data

Google Assistant prepares keyboard dictation, Driving Mode, and connecting to health services for sleep data

Google Assistant has become the centerpiece of many people’s lives, a tool that can share information, control devices, and provide key reminders. We dug deep into the latest Google App update to see what else Google Assistant will be able to do, and we discovered some new features on the way, including keyboard dictation for select Pixel devices and a dedicated driving mode.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Google Assistant Driving Mode

Google App version 11.31.9.29 rolled out today on the Google Play Store, and it has signs that Google Assistant’s Driving Mode may finally launch. We managed to surface the onboarding UI for the new feature, though we were unfortunately unable to actually launch the new Driving Mode.

Google Assistant’s Driving Mode was first announced at I/O 2019 where we got our first look. It’s meant to replace the Android Auto app for phones, though Google will still offer the phone interface through a separate app that acts as a shortcut to the old UI. We’ve been waiting for this Android Auto replacement since it was teased at I/O 2019, and it looks like we won’t have to wait much longer for it to go live.

However, it looks like the final UI will look a bit different than what we were expecting. In fact, the new car mode UI shown in Google Maps for some users last week more closely matches what’s shown in the screenshots. The new car mode UI is very clean and reminiscent of Android Auto for Android, with itself provides a clean, minimal interface and quick access to features and services.

The new car mode UI in Google Maps which could be part of Google Assistant’s upcoming driving mode. Credits: AndroidPolice

New Google Assistant Keyboard Dictation

We were also able to enable the new Google Assistant’s integrated keyboard dictation feature, as shown below running on a Pixel 4. In Gboard, you can tap the microphone button to dictate messages and send them (or delete them) all without having to feverishly type it out. You can already do this with the integrated voice input, but once this version of the feature rolls out, you won’t have to download standalone voice models in Gboard. That’ll save some storage space, but the new Google Assistant’s on-device machine learning models should enable voice dictation that’s quicker and more accurate.

 

As you can see in our quick hands on demo, the new feature seamlessly integrates into the keyboard and does a decent job of dictating messages. Of course, we activated it before it’s official launch, so it’s possible that it isn’t running as smoothly as it should be. The last time we saw this feature in action, it was much, much slower, although that’s because it was running on a modded first-gen Pixel device. The keyboard dictation UI was also a bit different, so we’re not sure which of these two interfaces will end up as the final version. We’ll hopefully find out soon, though.

The new Google Assistant is only available on the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5. Thus, this new keyboard dictation feature will likely be limited to these devices as well.

Connecting to Health Services for Sleep Data

Finally, new strings in Google App version 11.31.9.29 suggest that you’ll be able to connect Google Assistant to health service providers like Fitbit in order to let the Assistant access your sleep data.

<string name="sleep_account_linking_action_button_positive">Connect</string>
<string name="sleep_account_linking_legalese">&lt;p> Your Assistant will get access to your &lt;xliff:g id=provider example=Fitbit>%1$s&lt;/xliff:g> sleep data. Google Assistant will use this data to answer your sleep-related questions across your devices that have personal results turned on. &lt;/p>&lt;p> On devices where you have proactive health and fitness results turned on, the Assistant will show this data, suggestions, and related content without you having to ask. This data also helps troubleshoot and improve your health and fitness experience with the Assistant. Once your Assistant successfully fulfills your request to update, show, or answer questions about this data, Google will delete your audio query. The text from your request and other Assistant usage information is used to troubleshoot, develop, and improve Assistant services. &lt;/p>&lt;p> &lt;b>Things to know&lt;/b> &lt;ul> &lt;li>Disconnect your Assistant from &lt;xliff:g id=provider example=Fitbit>%1$s&lt;/xliff:g> in your Assistant settings.&lt;/li> &lt;li>Turn off personal results, or just your proactive health and fitness results, in your Assistant settings.&lt;/li> &lt;li>Review and delete your Assistant activity at myactivity.google.com.&lt;/li> &lt;/ul> &lt;/p></string>
<string name="sleep_account_linking_legalese_title">Connect %1$s to your Google Assistant?</string>

According to the strings, once connected to a health service, Google Assistant will be able to use your sleep data to answer sleep-related questions. And if you have devices with proactive health and fitness results turned on, Assistant will show this data along with suggestions and related content without you having to ask.

Google
Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.

About author

Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.