Google Assistant Is Losing a Ton of Features

Google Assistant is about to get better, or much worse, depending on which controls you use the most. Google announced that nearly 17 “underutilized” features of Assistant will stop being supported and eventually disappear in the coming weeks.

In a new blog post, Google mentioned that several aspects of Assistant are being discontinued. These include the option to use your voice to send an email or audio messages, set alarms on Assistant-enabled devices, control audiobooks, or manage a stopwatch on smart displays, to name a few. These changes will affect smartphones, smart speakers and displays, watches, and more.

Google provided a full list of all the features being removed:

  • 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 sending a payment, making a reservation, or posting to social media. You can still ask Assistant to open your installed apps.

Additionally, you might notice several changes to the microphone and mobile apps on Android phones, including Pixel devices. For example, the search bar microphone will no longer work for select actions, like turning on/off lights, nor will it launch the Assistant. Instead, tapping the microphone on your device’s search bar will launch Google Voice Search.

The news comes right as Google recently confirmed to The Verge that it laid off hundreds of employees, including members of the Google Assistant team. However, it sounds like Google wants to reshift its priorities and focus on the features owners love and use the most.

If you try to use any of these features on or after January 26th, you’ll be notified by Assistant if it’s no longer available or when that specific feature will stop working. In closing, the search giant said this move will allow it to invest in the underlying technology to make Assistant better moving forward.

Source: Google


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