Google Assistant is going to be shedding some weight as at least 17 “underutilized” features will be removed in the coming weeks.
In a recent announcement post, the tech giant says it wants to focus on the parts of its digital assistant that people actually use, so it will be getting rid of the ones that see little interaction. A list of upcoming dropped features can be found on the Google Help website. They include playing audiobooks on Google Play Books via voice command and asking for information about your contacts. For every feature being removed, the company recommends workarounds you can use to replicate the same action. For example, even though users won’t be able to control audiobooks with their voice, they can still cast them from a mobile device.
Pulling the plug
Not everything will receive an equivalent workaround. Google Assistant’s integration with Calm is getting axed, and there’s nothing you can do to duplicate the service. Google instead recommends playing a meditation video on YouTube.
It’s worth pointing out that although the Help page lists 17 features, the wording implies more will be removed. We reached out asking for details regarding the exact number of deprecated features. This story will be updated at a later time.
It’s unknown exactly when the company will shut everything down. The announcement post states that beginning on January 26, Google Assistant will send a notification telling you a feature “won’t be available after a certain date” if you ask for it. That day officially remains a mystery. However, 9To5Google claims in its report the date is February 26 for most features. The Nest Hub Commute Tiles and Google Maps App Launcher will go offline a little earlier on February 7.
In addition to all of the removals, Google will be making a few tweaks to its mobile app.
Using the microphone icon will now activate “Search results in response to your queries”. But you'll no longer be able to use said microphone for certain Google Assistant actions, like turning on the lights or sending texts. This deprecation extends to the search bar on Pixel phones. On the smartphone, tapping the icon will activate Voice Search instead of Assistant.
The company admits these changes may be jarring for some. If there are issues, they ask that you say “Hey Google, send feedback” to Google Assistant and share your thoughts.
If you're in the market for an AI assistant to help with your daily routine but don't know where to start, check out TechRadar's list of the best smart speakers for 2024.
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