Google Phone v47 prepares to add Flip to Silence gesture [APK Teardown]

While some of us spend very little time on the phone, it’s still very important that we can make and respond to calls in the most intuitive ways possible. That might involve knowing where buttons are and what direction to swipe, what to look for on a screen, or how some things will react to gestures and button presses. The latest update to the Google Phone app reveals it’s about to get a popular feature for muting call ringers by simply flipping the phone over.

Teardown

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 wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. 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. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Flip to Silence

It’s safe to assume most of us get calls that we’re not going to answer. Regardless of the reason, all that matters is stopping the disruption and getting back to what we’re doing. Virtually all smartphone ringers can be muted by pressing volume buttons, and most OEMs have even implemented a basic flip-to-silence gesture reminiscent to the classic motion of setting a corded phone down to end a call.

Google began testing a different implementation of this gesture with the Pixel 3 that took things a little further. Dubbed “Flip to Shhh,” this version used the same gesture to switch the phone into Do Not Disturb (DND) mode . While DND settings may vary from one person to the next, this was generally less about muting a single call and more focused on shutting out all but the most critical notifications. This began as a Pixel 3 exclusive, but eventually expanded through Digital Wellbeing.

Now Google appears to be putting the more traditional Flip to Silence gesture into operation. New text and a basic settings screen have been included in the latest Google Phone update that describe how it works and a toggle to turn it on.

<string name=flip_to_silence_title>Flip To Silence</string>

<string name=flip_to_silence_summary>To silence an incoming call, place your phone face down on a flat surface</string>

<string name=flip_to_silence_key>flip_to_silence_key</string>

from /xml/flip_to_silence_settings.xml

<PreferenceScreen android:title=@string/flip_to_silence_title
xmlns:android=http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android>

<SwitchPreference android:persistent=true android:title=@string/flip_to_silence_title android:key=@string/flip_to_silence_key android:summary=@string/flip_to_silence_summary android:defaultValue=false />
</PreferenceScreen>

A label was also added for the Flip to Shhh feature, so it’s clear the Phone app will link to the settings page provided by Digital Wellbeing. It looks like this will probably replace the Flip to Silence link if it’s available or enabled. This probably isn’t the perfect solution for those people that would like to allow all calls through DND mode while blocking regular notifications, but perhaps that will be implemented later.

<string name=flip_to_shush_title>Flip To Shhh</string>

I personally prefer Flip to Silence since I almost never want DND mode enabled, so it will probably be enabled on my phone.

Answering 1-way video calls

Some tweaks are coming to the way we answer video calls. A new line indicates there will be an option to answer video calls so that only the caller’s video feed is visible while you only share your audio. There’s nothing yet to indicate what the caller will see — perhaps a mirror of their own video, a profile picture, or just a generic call screen.

<string name=call_incoming_chip_answer_video_as_one_way_video>Answer as 1-way video</string>

This feature removes some of the urgency to answer a video call and possibly reveal your location or that it looks like you just woke up after a long crazy night. In all likelihood, it will be possible to switch into bidirectional video during the call, but that can happen on your own schedule.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but two other lines were added that are meant to deal with connections that aren’t up to the task of carrying the video signal. One is a button that manually downgrades from video chat to a regular audio-only call, and the other is a message that occurs if the connection is bad enough that the video signal simply fails. In practical terms, a 1-way video call would also fare better on limited bandwidth, so it’s possible all three of these were added to account for a shakey connection.

<string name=incall_content_description_downgrade_call>Downgrade call</string>
<string name=video_call_downgraded_to_audio_call_network_failure_snackbar>Poor connection. Video stopped.</string>

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

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