Google Play Store has came a long way since it's first appeared on Android going, going through various redesigns and changes with each Android versions. Google continuously work on it adding and removing features from time to time. Today I am going to share about some features which may and may not come to Play Store because Google like to test and kill things.
I keep a close eye on the Play Store updates with each version. Although Google Play Store app is heavily encrypted and sometimes it makes finding things difficult but I manage to find features because they add and remove feature flags in each update. I shared about some of these features on Twitter and my telegram channel, so if you haven't saw them before then keep reading. :p Also this blog is not a professional website and I am not a native English speaker. So please excuse my grammer mistake and quality of posts.
1. Google Play Store Cubes
I am tracking this feature since I first spotted in January 2023 and Google is still working on it. Google has kept this feature a complete secret (Just like Shorts in Play Store, I had seen some flags about Shorts but couldn't figure it out) and they are adding only minor bits of code with each in Public Release version. When I spotted it initially the User Inferface for Cubes was just a skeleton as you can see in the screenshot below -
Apparently in next few updates the skeleton UI was not accessible but it was there and is still there. It was either the home page for Cubes feature or a part of it.
After few updates Google added a widget for the cubes and a icon as well and it currently looks like this -
So what is "Cubes" actually
After following it for months, I can assume that it is going to be a central hub for discovering new apps and games from various categories such as food, social, watch (videos I guess), listen (music), games, shopping and all apps (MRU). Each category will show recommended apps and content from each of these categories. The icons of these categories are visible in the widget above and the code (actually they are flags) is-
Also the code indicated that "Cube" could be a new tab in the navigation and it will show up in the account switcher and once it's rolls out, you will go through a onboarding process. Also the cubes will have a preference screen where there may be some settings related to this feature. (Fun fact - the account switcher is called Google One menu, and is controlled by a library which is part of almost all Google apps).
There was a base64 string in the AppContentServiceContentFetcherSettings_client_integration_config which is related to cubes and after decoding it I found package name of Video and Streaming apps (15+ apps). I think the content in "Watch" category will appear from these apps.
All these are speculations because there are no other strings which can clearly explain about "cubes".
2. Download Buddy
Download Buddy is just a codename for the installation progress bubble feature. I initially spotted this feature maybe 6+ months ago and it is still a work in progress. Since then Google has updated the UI a little bit and made it compatible with for accessibility users.
When this feature is on, a movable floating arrow on the side of the screen after you tap on the "install" button for any game or app. When you open this floating bubble, it will show the downloading progress of apps. You can keep using Play Store and when the install is finished you can open it directly from the floating bubble. You don't have to go to home screen or app listing page again. Bubble can be dismissed and it can show maximum 10 apps. Here are some screenshots -
3. Form Factor Chips
Well, this is not the name of the feature. Form factor means phones, watch, tablets, Chromebook or other Android based devices. Google have a "sync app to devices" feature which let you install apps on other devices from your phone. This form factor chips thing is an addition to existing sync feature.
Suppose you want to install an app on your WearOS smartwatch (if the app is compatible for watch) but want to see the screenshots and ratings of the app which are specific to watch. You can check ratings and screenshots from the phone directly without opening Play Store on your watch. Here are some screenshots -
4. Navigation Bar in Detail Page
I shared this feature first in my telegram channel and now is in beta testing for many people. By default the app details page in Play Store doesn't show the navigation tab bar but Google is enabling the tab bars on details page now. This is for details page only and it will not be available in manage apps section or the search results page. Here is the screenshot which I shared in my channel -
5. Open App Reminders
Sometimes there are apps which we use rarely but keep them installed so we can just use them whenever needed. There are apps which we install and forget that we have them installed in the long list of apps in our launcher drawer.
Now Google Play Store will remind that you have certain app installed which you haven't opened in x days. I spotted this feature in recent version of Play Store and can be enabled with flags only for now. There are certain days limits set by Play Store. Like you haven't opened an app in 4 days, it will show you a notification. If you ignore that notification, it will show notification again in 5 or 6 days. It can remind you only two times.
OpenAppReminders__initial_reminder_delay - 259200s
6. Various UI changes
Google is working on the redesign of various pages of Play Store and making the Play Store looks better on tablets and foldables. The term "Univision" is being used in the flags for such UI changes. It seems like Google is doing a refactor of Play Store using modern dev things like compose/kotlin. On tablet/foldables, Google is testing smaller cards on homescreen of Play Store. Left screenshot is the old UI which has bigger cards and consumes too much space and shows less content. Right screenshot is the current version which Google is testing. There are other things in testing regarding tablet/fold UI, specially related to multicolumn layouts making screen show more content instead of just showing the phone's layout on big screen and stretch them.
Also here is an example of the recently redesigned notification and offer page. Previously there were two tabs for notification and offers, but now they merged both things and it's just a single page now. Left is new, right is old.
I am not sure when these all changes will roll to everyone. There is no timeline provided by Google for these things (because they don't even announce them always) There are other many little things to write about but aren't worth mentioning at this time. I will keep sharing about them in my telegram channel. :)