Google app beta hints at Assistant text input, search gestures

Analysis of the code reveals Google's plans to let users ask Assistant questions without needing to use voice input.

google app
Credit: Michael Simon

Google is prepping a new version of its Google app for Android users, and while it can hardly be classified as major, Android Police has discovered a few interesting tidbits hidden in the beta that could bring changes to the way we search and interact with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant acts a little differently on whatever app you happen to be using it on, but it seems Google is working to streamline things a little. The latest update to the app contains a reference to a “keyboard_toggle” and a “type_container,” presumably adding text commands in addition to voice, much like how Assistant works in the Allo app. Android Police also found some more references to Google Assistant for Android Wear, further confirming that Google is hard at work to bring its digital helper to the next version of the wearable OS.

Also intriguing is a reference to something called search gestures, which seems to indicate a built-in shortcut to the search bar. As Android Police explains: “Users will be able to choose a default type of search, including options for In Apps and All. Strangely, these are internally referred to as summons (for In Apps) and web (for All).” In practice, the Search gestures functionality is likely similar to Apple’s spotlight search on iOS, where users can simply swipe down on the home screen to bring up the search bar.

The features here aren’t yet activated in the latest beta (though there is a new feature for Google doodle notifications), but if you’d like to poke around with it, you can side-load the Google-signed APK from APKMirror.

The impact on you at home: While there isn’t anything here that will dramatically change the way we use the Google app, the little tweaks show that Google is working to bring a uniform experience for Assistant.

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