Google faces backlash after stripping features from Google Assistant

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    Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

    TL;DR

    • Google is facing backlash over the removal of key features from the Google Assistant.
    • The announcement has sparked discontent and users are questioning the decision’s impact on the future of Assistant’s functionality.

    In a surprising move not understood by many, Google announced yesterday that it’s cutting around 20 features from the Google Assistant. The company anticipated that these changes could be disruptive for users, and it was right. The changes have left many Assistant users upset and bewildered. Google’s announcement found its way into a subreddit, triggering a wave of discontent among those who use the axed Assistant features on a daily basis. Android Authority readers also commented on the announcement, expressing their concerns.

    Google’s announcement, titled “Changes We’re Making to Google Assistant,” outlined several feature removals that have irked users who have come to rely on the virtual assistant for various tasks. Google insists the removed features were underutilized and are going away to improve the quality and reliability of Assistant. The company also confirmed that Assistant with Bard is not affected by these changes. However, users are not convinced by the justification.

    One user, u/monkeypickles11, expressed their frustration, saying, “This makes no sense. Seems like they are breaking up Assistant and Voice Search. So now have to have access Assistant another way.”

    “Really. I can’t set a timer anymore? The feature was taking up too many resources at Google? What’s Assistant with Bard? Am I using it? How can I install it? More confusing product placement from Google. I have several Google Home devices. The feature set has been stagnant since I bought them years ago, and I’m continuously amazed at what it can’t do. They recently removed one of my most used features, which was the ability to turn off a controlled device after a period of time,” said Android Authority reader Jeffrey Blattman.

    Talking about removing the ability to set media, music, and radio alarms, another user, u/Handaloo, commented, “My kids all use this feature to wake up for school every single day. God damnit Google.” This sentiment seems to echo throughout the Assistant community, with numerous users expressing disappointment and questioning the rationale behind the decision.

    “Really? Can’t set a media alarm like I have for the last few years? That takes up how many resources??? What is Bard? When is it coming out?? Are my Nest devices going to be useless? Amazon, here I come,” said AA reader Martin Shaff.

    One of the biggest grievances revolves around the removal of the microphone icon from the Google Search bar.

    u/jmcghie lamented, “I use the microphone icon for Assistant every day. When my baby is asleep, the last thing I want to do is yell OK Google in order to turn off the lights. Thanks, Google”

    “Seems like such a strange thing to remove? On my home screen, I’ll tap the little mic to quickly set a reminder or turn a light off or something. Seriously need to find a good alternative to Google Home stuff, guess Alexa?” said u/AlexAssassin94.

    While users can still make Assistant queries by saying “Hey Google” or long-pressing their phone’s power button, the removal of the mic button seems unwarranted to users.

    “I’ve kind of ignored all these removals in recent months, but some of these are just getting silly now – I honestly can’t see what reason they’d have for removing some of these. Was the stopwatch really putting such a strain on their resources that it just had to go? Bizarre,” wrote u/tiberiusdraig.

    The removal of Assistant features has also prompted discussions about the future of Google Assistant and its competitiveness in the virtual assistant market. As user dissatisfaction continues to mount, it remains to be seen how Google will respond to the growing discontent and whether these changes will impact the popularity of Google Assistant in the long run.

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