Did Search Win With The Google Assistant Loss?

Google announced major changes to Google Assistant, removing close to 20 features and switching how the Google App works with the Google Assistant. This may be a win for Google Search, a loss for Google Assistant, or maybe AI will take over everything in the coming years.

This all also comes with the hundreds of Googlers who were laid off with these changes. It makes you feel that the promise of improving Google Assistant with Bard is more like Bard and AI will replace Google Assistant.

Google said the Google App’s microphone icon will now trigger Search results in response to your queries, not the Google Assistant. Google said “you’ll no longer be able to use the microphone icon in the Search bar to complete actions like “turn on the lights” or “send a message.” This includes the microphone in the Pixel Search bar, which will now activate Voice Search instead of Assistant. And to ensure you have access to the best, most up-to-date version of Google Assistant, you’ll be prompted to upgrade the Google app if you’re using an older version (v12 and older),” Google wrote.

Here is a list of the other changes coming to Google Assistant in the coming weeks, starting on January 26:

  • 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.

Google wrote, “in order to keep improving your experience and build the best Assistant yet, we’re making a few changes to focus on quality and reliability — ultimately making it easier to use Assistant across devices.”

I suspect this will all be replaced by some new form of Google Search Generative Experience at some point, in some way – but who knows.

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