Update to the Google app have been rolling out at a faster rate for a little while now, and each brings fewer and fewer overall changes. The latest update has remarkably few changes or additions, but it has shed a lot of old and unused text, which isn't a bad thing. However, one of the additions speaks to one other thing that might be going away soon: The Google Feed widget.
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.
Feed widget to be replaced by At-A-Glance
Top: At a glance widget. Bottom: Feed widget.
A pair of new lines were added that spell the likely end of the Feed widget. Neither line explicitly names the Feed widget, but they explain a widget won't be available soon, and that if you want to see weather, calendar, and other updates, you should replace it with the At-A-Glance widget. It really only makes sense that this is about the Feed widget itself.
<stringname="deprecation_warning">This widget won\'t be available soon. For info like this, get the new Google At-a-glance widget. <font color=#4a90e2><nobr>LEARN MORE</string> <stringname="widget_disabled">Looking for weather, calendar, and other updates? Install the new At-a-Glance widget. <font color=#4a90e2><nobr>LEARN MORE</string>
The Feed widget probably won't be missed by many. It has looked pretty outdated as Google's design language has evolved beyond the original Material look, and as the screenshot above shows, it may even be broken now. Only the current temperature shows up, and it looks like a few things aren't aligned properly. (At least that's what it's doing on all of my phones.)
It's not clear if this will have any impact on the full Google Feed screen, but seeing as it has only had relatively minor cosmetic changes over the last year, this might be a sign of things to come. The Feed has been progressively buried deeper in the interface, and with Google News taking over much of the same role, this might be the first step in moving users away. Of course, this is just speculation.
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.