Google tests Rules, Ramping Ringer, and showing album art in Now Playing history for the Pixel phones on Android Q
Google Pixel 4 leak season is already well underway. From leaked CAD renders of both the non-XL and XL models to live images and official press renders, there’s a lot that we already know about Google’s 2019 flagship smartphones. Google’s next Pixel smartphones may not win any design awards, but if there’s one thing we can count on from Google, it’s the software experience. Based on app teardowns, we can speculate about what new features will be present on Google’s next devices. While digging into Android Q beta 5, we enabled a few features that are likely arriving with the 2019 Pixel 4. Those features include “Rules” to configure the sound behavior on a per-network or per-location basis, ramping ringer to gradually increase the volume level during incoming calls, and lastly, showing the album art in the Now Playing history page.
Rules in Android Q
Shortly after the release of Android Q beta 3, we discovered new strings in the SettingsIntelligence APK that outlined a new feature called “Rules.” The feature helps “automate changes that you regularly make in Settings,” and it’s specifically designed to let you change the sound mode to Ring, Vibrate, Silence, or Do Not Disturb when you either connect to a Wi-Fi network of your choice or you’re near a location you’ve selected on a map. For example, you can set your phone to Silence when you reach work, or you can set it to Do Not Disturb mode when you’re at the movie theater.
I activated this feature on my Google Pixel 2 XL running Android Q beta 5, as you can see in the screenshots below. The current implementation of “Rules” resides in Settings > System. Here you can add rules or enable automatic rule suggestions, which uses location and calendar information to suggest rules.
The feature appears to be fully functional already. I enabled a rule that silences my Google Pixel 2 XL when connected to my home Wi-Fi network, and I also made another rule (not shown above) that silences my phone when I’m near H-E-B, a local supermarket.
The “Rules” feature is part of the Google Pixel-exclusive SettingsIntelligence APK, but it’s unclear whether all Google Pixel smartphones will have access to the feature once it launches. I highly doubt that Google will quietly add this feature in the stable Android Q release or subsequent monthly updates, so I’m betting we’ll see it debut on the Google Pixel 4 release software.
Ramping Ringer Volume
In our first article covering “Rules,” we also discovered a new setting called “ramping ringer.” During an incoming call, this feature will vibrate the phone for a few seconds and then gradually increase the ringtone volume. I managed to get “ramping ringer” to show up in Settings of Android Q beta 5 on my Google Pixel 2 XL. The setting will appear in Settings > Sound > Vibrate for calls, which was previously an on/off toggle but is now a submenu.
The way the feature is designed right now is to let the phone vibrate for 5 seconds and then ramp up in volume over a period of 10 seconds. If you tap on the incoming call heads-up notification at any time, then the volume quickly ramps up to the user-defined ringtone volume. There doesn’t seem to be anything locking this feature to the Pixel phones, but we can’t confirm if it’ll be available on non-Pixel smartphones.
Album Art in Google Pixel’s Now Playing History
With the Google Pixel 2 series, Google introduced a new feature called “Now Playing.” Once every 60 seconds, Now Playing samples the audio in the background using the microphone. If it detects that a song is being played, then it compares the audio fingerprint of the song with the fingerprints stored in the phone’s offline song recognition database. This database, containing a list of songs in the tens of thousands, is updated weekly over Wi-Fi and is based on the most popular songs from your regional Google Play Music catalog.
Since its initial release, Now Playing received an update to show the history of recognized songs. Earlier this year, we discovered evidence that Now Playing will add location and activity tracking support so you’ll have a better idea of where you were and what you were doing when you heard a particular song. Now, we’ve discovered that Google is preparing to show the album art for each song in the Now Playing history.
Although you can look up the album art by tapping on any song in the list and then querying Google, you’ll be able to skip that step once Now Playing is updated to show the album art as an icon on the left side. When activating the feature in its current state, the album art is merely a placeholder, and the code we examined in the latest AmbientSensePrebuilt confirms there’s currently no implementation to actually pull the album art. Even if said album art images end up being tiny thumbnails, having tens of thousands of them stored on your device will add up in size. Therefore, I’m thinking that these images will only be served from online.
Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.