Google is eliminating seventeen “underutilized” Assistant functions

Google is removing 17 “underutilized” features in Google Assistant to focus on “quality and reliability,” the company announced on Thursday. The news comes as Google is laying off hundreds of employees in its Google Assistant, hardware and other divisions. Setting or using media alarms, music alarms, or radio alarms on Google Assistant enabled devices. You can use Google Assistant to search for recipes across the web and YouTube. Using App Launcher in Google Assistant driving mode on Google Maps to read and send messages, make calls, and control media.

Google is making some changes to Google Assistant, announcing the removal of 17 features that are deemed “underutilized.” According to the company, this decision is part of their effort to prioritize “quality and reliability.” From January 26, users who try to use any of these features will receive a notification stating that the feature will no longer be available after a certain date.

This announcement comes at a time when Google is also facing lay-offs in multiple divisions, including Google Assistant, hardware, and others.

Some of the features being removed include the ability to send emails, videos, or audio messages using voice commands. Users will also no longer be able to perform tasks such as making reservations, sending payments, or posting on social media just by using their voice. While Google is providing workarounds for a few of these features, not all of them will have alternative options.

Here is a complete list of the features that Google is removing:

  1. Playing and controlling audiobooks on Google Play Books with your voice. However, you can still cast them from your mobile device.

  2. Setting or using media alarms, music alarms, or radio alarms on Google Assistant enabled devices. You can create a custom Routine with similar behavior or use a standard alarm.

  3. Accessing or managing your cookbook, transferring recipes from device to device, playing instructional recipe videos, or showing step-by-step recipes. However, you can still use Google Assistant to search for recipes online or on YouTube.

  4. Managing a stopwatch on Smart Displays and Speakers. Although, you can still set timers and alarms.

  5. Using your voice to call a device or broadcast a message to your Google Family Group. But, you can still broadcast to devices in your home using your voice.

  6. Using your voice to send an email, video or audio message. However, you can still make calls and send text messages using your voice commands.

  7. Rescheduling an event in Google Calendar with your voice. You can still schedule a new event.

  8. 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 in the same manner.

  9. Asking to schedule or hear previously scheduled Family Bell announcements. You can create a custom Routine with similar behavior.

  10. Asking to meditate with Calm. But, you can still ask for meditation options with other media providers like YouTube.

  11. Voice control for activities will no longer be available on Fitbit Sense and Versa 3 devices. You will need to use the buttons on your device instead.

  12. Viewing your sleep summaries will only be available on Google Smart Displays. However, you can still ask for sleep details using your voice on third-party smart clocks.

  13. Calls made from speakers and Smart Displays will not show up with a caller ID unless you are using Duo.

  14. Viewing the ambient “Commute to Work” time estimates on Smart Displays. You can still ask for commute times and get directions using your voice.

  15. Checking personal travel itineraries using your voice. But, you can still ask for flight status.

  16. Asking for information about your contacts using your voice. However, you can still make calls to your contacts.

  17. Asking to take certain actions using your voice, such as sending a payment, making a reservation, or posting on social media. You can still ask Assistant to open your installed apps.

In addition to these changes, Google has also announced that the microphone icon in the Google app will now trigger search results instead of activating voice commands for tasks such as turning on lights or sending messages. This change will also affect Pixel devices, as the microphone in the Pixel Search bar will now activate voice search instead of Assistant.

Google is inviting users to provide their feedback on these changes by using the command “Hey Google, send feedback.”

This update comes three months after the introduction of Assistant with Bard, a new version of Google’s assistant that utilizes generative AI technologies to handle a wider range of tasks and provide personalized responses. It is unclear if today’s announcement is related to the launch of Assistant with Bard.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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