You might not have noticed that Google updated its Phone app last week, but just because you don’t see anything new doesn’t mean there aren’t big changes on the way. In its customary teardown of the latest APK, Android Police has found some tantalizing features that are likely on the way as Google prepares for an Android O overhaul.
Among the myriad things Google’s new mobile OS will bring when it launches later this year is a cahnge to the way alerts are handled. Called Notification Channels, they will let users decide which kind of notifications they will receive from a specific app, so you won’t be bombarded by alerts you don’t want. In the Phone app, Google will be dividing notifications into several categories, including incoming and outgoing calls, missed calls, and voicemails. So, if you want to know who called you but don’t care about the messages they leave, you’ll be able to specify that in the settings.
Google is also looking to add new messaging capabilities into the Phone app. In know what you’re thinking—the last thing we need is another way to send messages on our phones—but these seem pretty useful. For one, recipients will now be able to reply to texts sent when their call is rejected, with a series of pre-written response, like “This is urgent. Call me back,” and “Not urgent, we can chat later.”
Additionally, Google seems to be adding MMS capabilities into the phone app so you won’t need to jump to another app to send a picture to the person on the other end of a conversation. Android Police has uncovered strings related to sending and receiving photos, which presumably will allow you to select a photo from your phone through a new option on the call screen, as well as view a picture sent to you.
Finally, the teardown has uncovered a pair of strange pictures. As seen above, one depicts a cat paw and other a dog paw, though it’s unclear what their purpose is. It’s likely related to some kind of secret Easter egg silliness, but we’ll have to wait and see whether they ever make an appearance.
You can side-load the Google-signed APK from APK Mirror, but keep in mind that none of these features are live yet. Also note that the Phone app is only meant for Nexus and Pixel phones.
The right call: We don’t generally pay much attention to the Phone app, but these features look to definitely make the experience more pleasurable. Now, if only someone other than our parents actually called us.