AIAssistant - HomeGoogle

The Google giveth, and the Google taketh away

Yesterday Google announce they were removing 17 features from Google Assistant and changing the ways in which you can access it in the first place. The features going away are listed here and include

  • 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, transfering 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.

But not only that, starting January 26, 2024 they’re also changing how you can access assistant. That change is listed here. The main change is you will no longer be able to use the search bar to access assistant, but you can learn to long press the power button instead. As I don’t voice search generally, the search bar will become somewhat useless to me.

This comes amidst a fresh round of layoffs with hundreds reported being let go from the Assistant team.

The idea, it appears, is to drop functionality that is difficult to implement and maintain in favor of shoehorning Google’s AI Bard + Assistant into one package that conceivably could handle many of the routines going away. Unfortunately they go away first before a functional AI comes online and asks you where Sarah Conner is.

This leaves Assistant significantly less useful than it was, at least in the short term. Why they didn’t maintain as is and introduce a “let me talk to Bard” option beats me. The race to AI everything seems to be introducing buggy AI left and right.

Oh well, it’s progress I assume. Would have been nice if the progress was smoother.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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