Offline 'OK Google' capability found hidden inside latest Google app for Android update

An excavation into version 4.8 of the Google app also uncovers insecure network warnings, new voice commands, and more tie-ins to what's around you.

google now voice primary
Credit: Jason Cross

All of those cool Google Now voice commands that are at your beck and call may soon work even if your phone isn’t connected to the Internet.

Evidence for offline functionality in version 4.8 of the Google app was unearthed by Android Police when digging through the APK. Several strings of code indicate you may be able to make a call, send a text, play music, or perform other commands without an Internet connection. If you try to use the Google app when you’re offline now (such as in airplane mode or just out of the range of your cellular network) you’ll get the following message: “Can’t reach Google at the moment.” 

The APK teardown also found that your device may warn you if you’re connected to an insecure network. Presumably Google would use its vast array of collected network data to tell you about a sketchy Wi-Fi connection.

There are also more voice commands in the works, which would give you the capability to tell your phone to change the volume or screen brightness. 

Additionally, the code hints at some type of map functionality that would tap into local restaurants, gas stations, transit information or other attractions. Google Now already dabbles in this area by suggesting gas stations or nearby places to check out depending on your location. It’s another sign of how Google wants its service to be the key hub for helping you find things to do when away from home.

Finally, some unearthed icons hint at a widget for your home screen that would launch a reminder. This would be handy if you want to set a new reminder in Google Now but are in a meeting or on the train and don’t want to be one of those people seen talking to your phone.

The story behind the story: The Google app and its voice capabilities are among Android’s key differentiators. Android M will see even deeper integration with Google Now On Tap, which will more directly interact with applications on your device. The future of Android, and mobile devices in general, is about context and anticipating what service you will need and when. Google is well poised to do this given how much information it has about you through its services, through Soundhound’s Hound and Microsoft’s Cortana also want a piece of this action.

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