There’s a new beta update to the Google app making the rounds. Like so many others, this one doesn’t bring a lot of changes when it is first installed, but there are plenty of bigger things under the surface waiting to break out. While you can begin donating images to Google Lens today, the future also promises to have smart displays with shopping and YouTube suggestions, more places to set your default output devices for Assistant, and more.
Google Lens donations are live
In a teardown of the Google app last month, we saw that there would be an option to share images taken through Lens with Google for review by real people. As of version 7.21, that option can now be set.
The setting is a little buried in the Google app. You can find it in the Assistant settings -> Phone (or Pixel), and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the toggle. It is disabled by default.
This should allow Google to get a better idea of how well Lens is performing, if there are ways to improve, and perhaps even give guidance on the types of things people are trying to identify.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android’s application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It’s possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it’s officially announced and released.The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don’t expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Tuning your Google Feed
The Google Feed lost a bit of relevance after it was renamed from Google Now and it could no longer be launched with a long-press (or swipe-up) on the home button. Nevertheless, it’s still a fairly important part of Google’s software experience on the phone. However, the content that appears in the Feed is only as good as Google’s impression of what you want to see.
If you get article suggestions that don’t suit your taste, you can already mark your disinterest in the specific topics or publications. Likewise, adding topics to your lists of interests or even the mere act of tapping on some articles to read them is telling Google you want more. There is even a micro-question on some suggestions that asks “is this card useful right now?” Despite these options, you may want to give more active feedback, and that appears to be what Google is working on. New text shows users will be presented with options to request more or less of certain topics.
<string name=”reaction_show_more”>Got it. We\’ll tune your feed</string>
<string name=”reaction_we_will_show_less_of_this”>We\’ll show less of this</string>
Given that these are very binary choices, and the string names are prefixed with “reaction,” I suspect users will see these options when they either dismiss a story from the feed or after returning from reading the article. Regardless, Google is open to additional feedback that might help make its suggestions a little more useful.
Shopping on smart displays
During the first teardown to seriously discuss Quartz, Google’s smart display platform, many new features were mentioned. Some had significant details while others only got a passing mention, mostly because they didn’t appear to be fully implemented. One that didn’t get a lot of time was the topic of shopping.
In the original post, there was text relating to product names, availability, price, reviews, and more. At the time, it looked like only browsing was supported in the then-current form of the software. The latest update brings the text that shows ordering functionality is now implemented as well.