Google Phone app prepares to add support for call recording
The Google Phone app is the pre-installed dialer application on Google Pixel smartphones (which are some of the best Android phones you can get), devices in the Android One program, and most recently, Xiaomi smartphones sold in Europe. When Xiaomi announced that all of their phones sold in Europe would come pre-installed with the Google Phone app, some users were disappointed because that would mean losing the ability to record phone calls, a feature present in the stock MIUI dialer application. Xiaomi promised that this feature will be “obtainable” in 2020, and now the first hints of call recording support in the Google Phone app have shown up.
Version 43.0.289191107 of the Google Phone app rolled out for my Pixel 4 earlier today, and after decoding the resources, I discovered that Google added a new layout, icon, and other assets pertaining to call recording in the dialer app. New strings also reveal that there will be an in-call button to initiate a new recording.
<string name="incall_label_record">Record</string> <string name="incall_content_description_record_unchecked">Record</string> <string name="incall_content_description_record_checked">Recording</string>
Recording the audio from a phone call is a feature that was previously possible in Android versions before Android 9 Pie. In Android 9 Pie, Google closed the workarounds that developers used to enable recording the audio in phone calls. Since Google hasn’t provided an official call recording API since Android 6 Marshmallow, users have to rely on OEMs to enable call recording support in their pre-installed dialer applications. Thus far, Google has not offered an official way to record phone calls in the Google Phone app, forcing Pixel and Android One users to root their phones if they want to do so. While we know that Google is working to bring back call recording APIs in a future version of Android, that means users with a pressing need to record phone calls (for personal or business reasons) will have to find other means to do so.
Even with the addition of this code, we don’t know if Google will enable call recording for all users of the Google Phone app. The addition of code related to this feature coincides with Xiaomi’s recent announcement, which leads us to believe that this feature is intended for Xiaomi smartphones. However, there’s nothing about this feature that requires a Xiaomi phone, so it should be simple for Google to enable it for Pixel and Android One users as well.
Despite the addition of these new resources to the Google Phone app, the in-call button for call recording has not yet surfaced in the latest version of the app. We will be attempting to enable this feature and will update this article with screenshots if we are successful.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.