Now 4.1 teardown reveals upcoming features like voice comms, read-aloud notifications

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 9 Jan 2015

The Search 4.1 update added some cool new features to Now, but there’s a lot more lurking underneath the hood.

Android lice tore into the A, finding evidence that has even bigger ambitions for its digital assistant. ile there is no guarantee that any of the discoveries will make it into a future update, it provides a hint at how wants to bring even more of its machine learning prowess into Android.

y this matters: Now is one of Android’s best features because it more deeply ties you to services, turning your phone into a more useful tool. It’s Android’s main trump card over iOS, putting key information right on your home screen, instead of keeping it locked away inside separate applications.

A smarter Now

One interesting find is something called oject Hera. The best we know about it so far is that it’s part of ’s continuing effort to more deeply tie together the web, Android, Search. Think of it as the next step in Material Design, which has been used to bring a unified look across all of ’s products (think how Inbox looks the same on mobile or the web). If can more deeply tie your search data, messages, other info to interact between the web   Android it makes the latter just that more powerful.

The code hints at more direct social network sharing capabilities. The icons are similar to those used on Glass, so all those news alerts, TV suggestions, other cards that pop up could one day be quickly shared to your favorite network.

The lock screen also gets attention, with some kind of interaction for headsets, devices like Glass, or just more voice comms. You can already use the “Okay ” comm without unlocking the phone, but clearly has plans for building in more capabilities here. The code indicates that similar to how the Moto X reads aloud information, your phone may be able to read to you key notifications.

One feature that’s already in place is the way the Now uncher will now hang around in the foreground when you’re interacting with certain apps. This could vary, of course, depending on your specific device’s user interface. But it’s a better visual cue for what task you were working on.

Another item I’m rooting for is the capability to copy text over from your browser to your phone. shbullet recently added a feature like this, but it would be great to have it as a native Android feature. The code Android lice found offers some good evidence, so let’s hope it shows up eventually.

No matter which of these pan out, you’re likely to see a lot more Now interaction in the future of Android. ’ll keep an eye out for such features should they ever materialize.