The Google Pixel’s Now Playing feature may get location and activity tracking support

The Google Pixel’s Now Playing feature may get location and activity tracking support

When Google announced the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in late 2017, they introduced a feature called “Now Playing” to the Google Pixel series. The feature analyzes background music playback using a combination of software, hardware, and machine learning to show you what song is playing by comparing the audio fingerprint against an offline song recognition database containing tens of thousands of songs. With the launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, Google updated Now Playing to show the history of recognized songs. Now, we have discovered that Google is preparing to enhance Now Playing once more with the addition of location and activity tracking.


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 Google in a future build.

Location and Activity Tracking in Now Playing on the Google Pixel 2 and later?

Currently, Pixel Ambient Services, the system app on the Google Pixel responsible for the Now Playing feature, keeps a record of what songs your phone recognized and when they were recognized. Strings added to the 1.0.229715350 beta for Pixel Ambient Services, released in March, show that Now Playing is preparing to also show the location where songs were recognized as well as the activity you were doing at the time.

<string name="history_context_activation_dialog">" Your Now Playing history can include location and activities, like driving. To include this information, allow "<b>Pixel Ambient Services</b> to access your location on the next screen.</string>\n<string name="history_context_activation_dialog_button_negative">Cancel</string>\n<string name="history_context_activation_dialog_button_positive">Continue</string>\n<string name="history_context_switch">history_context_switch</string>\n<string name="history_context_switch_subtitle">Now Playing history will show location and activities, like driving</string>\n<string name="history_context_switch_title">Include location and activities</string>

The feature is not yet live in the latest version of Pixel Ambient Services. We first saw hints that Google would be saving the history of recognized songs back in late April of 2018—a little over 5 months before the feature debuted on the Pixel 3 series. Since the feature wasn’t announced with the Pixel 3a or Pixel 3a XL, it’s possible that Google may announce the feature with the release of the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Alternatively, the company may announce an update to Pixel Ambient Services before the next Made by Google event. If the feature rolls out for users, we’ll let you all know.

Pixel Ambient Services
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

Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman

I am the former Editor-in-chief of XDA. In addition to breaking news on the Android OS and mobile devices, I used to manage all editorial and reviews content on the Portal.

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