Google’s latest on its list of merciless murders is the Assistant’s “animal of the day” feature. While it’s not likely that the individual command product will make the Killed by Google Graveyard anytime soon, once it’s officially phased out by the end of the month, it will mark the end of an era for the Google Assistant.
9to5Google caught the coming change in a note that popped up after typing “animal of the day” into Android’s Assistant search bar. Indeed, I tried it myself on the Pixel 8, and then Google served up a dialog box with the following message:
By the way, unfortunately, animal of the day is going away at the end of November. After that, I’ll still be happy to answer other questions about your favorite animal to keep learning.
As of publishing this, Google has yet to update the support page with a note that this feature is going away. I contacted the company to inquire about the Animal of the Day command and whether there was official word of its closing this week. Google responded with the following statement:
As we continue to make Google Assistant even more helpful, we’re prioritising the most popular features people love. As a result, Animal of the Day will no longer be supported starting November 27. Users can still ask Google Assistant questions about their favorite animals like “Hey Google, where does a fox live?”
I imagine there are parents and educators out there who are bummed this feature is going away. It’s a minor offering in the grand scheme of “ambient computing” that was initially the vision behind Google Assistant. But with the company’s latest foray into AI projects that help it compete with the bigwigs, the Assistant doesn’t seem like the priority it once was.
It became apparent that we were headed in this direction when the company stopped supporting third-party smart displays earlier in the year. The Nest Hubs are still supported, but the network of Lenovo smart displays I’d invested in has reached the end of life. I’m still figuring out what to do with the e-waste.
Months after that discovery, Google also deprecated Conversational Actions, which allowed developers to build custom experiences for the Assistant. Those are all gone now. If you want a custom “brand” command, you’ll have to hop into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, which continues to employ skills.
The Assistant remains a significant part of the Android operating system and the Google-led smart home, but the forecast suggests a massive change in the winds ahead. There are rumblings that Google will offer a “classic” version of the Assistant that doesn’t integrate the Bard chatbot. Maybe this is to appeal to Android diehards who aren’t as interested in Google’s AI foray as someone who mainly deals with it in the browser.
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