Google recently announced it will remove almost 20 Google Assistant features starting January 26. This major change aims to improve reliability and focus on popular features.
After January 26, trying to use these vanishing features will trigger a notification. The features will completely disappear on February 26. Google wants users on the latest Assistant version too. So it will prompt updating if you have version 12 or older.
According to Google’s blog post, this refocusing on quality over quantity will improve the Assistant. Losing minor features can upgrade the overall experience.
But the changes may frustrate users who relied on certain features. At least this won’t impact Assistant’s new Bard functionality.
Here are the nearly 20 features being removed:
- Activating Assistant instead of voice search from the Google Search bar mic icon. You’ll need to say “Hey Google” or long press the power button.
- Controlling audiobooks with voice commands. You can still cast from mobile.
- Setting music, radio, or media alarms by voice. Use routines or standard alarms instead.
- Managing recipe cookbooks and videos by voice. Search recipes online/YouTube instead.
- Using a voice-controlled stopwatch. Set timers/alarms instead.
- Calling devices or messaging groups by voice. You can still broadcast at home.
- Sending emails, videos, or audio messages by voice. Make calls/texts instead.
- Rescheduling calendar events by voice. You can still add new events.
- Using App Launcher voice commands in Maps’ driving mode. Regular voice control still works.
- Scheduling Family Bell announcements by voice. Create a routine instead.
- Asking to meditate with Calm by voice. Request meditation on YouTube/etc instead.
- Controlling Fitbit Sense/Versa activities by voice. Use the buttons instead.
- Viewing sleep summaries by voice only on Google Displays now. Ask third-party clocks instead.
- No caller ID on speakers/displays unless using Duo.
- Checking “Commute to Work” estimates by voice. Request commute times instead.
- Accessing travel itineraries by voice. Check flight status instead.
- Asking for contact info by voice. You can still call contacts.
- Voice actions like payments, reservations, social posts. Open your apps instead.
- Voice control for Family Link will no longer be available.
- Streaming content to a Group or Speaker will only work with YouTube Music premium accounts.
This massive feature purge focuses Google Assistant on its most popular capabilities. The company feels trimming down will improve overall quality and reliability.
But the removed features will surely frustrate certain users. Google argues the changes are necessary to keep improving Assistant. Users will decide if the new direction pays off long-term.
– Tom Bowen