google Assistant's future is likely in question at the moment, thanks to layoffs in the department at the search giant and also because of another cut-related announcement. Google shared this week that it is removing a bunch of features from Google Assistant, as well as its smart devices, like Google Home and Nest Home products. Is this the beginning of the end for Assistant as we know it or a re-focus on making it good again? Only time will tell.
GOOGLE ASSISTANT FEATURES CUT: In a short blog post, Google explained that they will try to “continue to make Google Assistant more helpful” by “prioritizing the experiences you love and investing in the underlying technology to make them even better,” which means removing a bunch of features that are supposedly underutilized. There are 17 features in a list provided on a Google Support page that touch on everything from stopwatches to using your voice to send audio messages or emails. Some of the features do seem like few would use them, but removing all of the recipe and cooking follow-along features from smart displays seems odd, as that is one of their most useful in-the-kitchen features.
Here's the full list of Google Assistant features that are going away:
- Playing and controlling audiobooks on Google Play Books with your voice. You can still cast audiobooks from your mobile device.
- Setting or using media alarms, music alarms, or radio alarms on Google Assistant enabled devices. You can create a custom Routine that has similar behavior or use a standard alarm.
- Accessing or managing your cookbook, transferring recipes from device to device, playing an instructional recipe video, or showing step-by-step recipes. You can use Google Assistant to search for recipes across the web and YouTube.
- Managing a stopwatch on Smart Displays and Speakers. You can still set timers and alarms.
- Using your voice to call a device or broadcast a message to your Google Family Group. You can still broadcast to devices in your home.
- Using your voice to send an email, video or audio message. You can still make calls and send text messages.
- Rescheduling an event in Google Calendar with your voice. You can still schedule a new event.
- Using App Launcher in Google Assistant driving mode on Google Maps to read and send messages, make calls, and control media. You can still use voice control on Google Maps the same way.
- Asking to schedule or hear previously scheduled Family Bell announcements. You can create a custom Routine that has similar behavior.
- Asking to meditate with Calm. You can still ask for meditation options with media providers such as YouTube.
- Voice control for activities will no longer be available on Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 devices. You'll need to use the buttons on your device to start, stop, pause, and resume activities. You can still voice control activities on Pixel Watches.
- Viewing your sleep summaries will only be available on Google Smart Displays. You can still ask for sleep details by voice on third-party smart clocks.
- Calls made from speakers and Smart Displays will not show up with a caller ID unless you're using Duo.
- Viewing the ambient “Commute to Work” time estimates on Smart Displays. You can still ask for commute times and get directions by voice.
- Checking personal travel itineraries by voice. You can still ask for flight status.
- Asking for information about your contacts. You can still make calls to your contacts.
- Asking to take certain actions by voice, such as send a payment, make a reservation, or post to social media. You can still ask Assistant to open your installed apps.
You'll notice that some of the features being removed have alternatives or suggestions to replace them, but not all. Some of these features are just going away for good. We hope these changes won't make you run for the garbage immediately and can find some alternative use for the hardware. Maybe play some soothing music?
These changes (or cuts) will start around January 26. If you use the features mentioned above, you could see or hear a notification about their end date.