Google Assistant to lose features ahead of Bard integration

Google Assistant on a Pixel Fold
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is making some changes to its Assistant on Android devices.
  • Prominent voice-based actions are getting axed, including 17 new changes.
  • The changes are extended to the Google Search app as well.
  • Users can no longer trigger Assistant from the search bar in the Google app.

Since its inception, Google Assistant has probably been one of the most utilized features on Android devices. However, while it is still being utilized on plenty of devices, it is not being used as effectively as the search giant anticipated it to be. As such, Google has decided to axe some of the "under-utilized" features through its Assistant app across the board.

Most of these features appear to be voice-based, that is, the ability to use your voice to instruct the Assistant to perform tasks, notes Google in the accompanying blog post. The company says these changes are imposed to make Google Assistant more helpful than before.

At least seventeen features will be removed and/or changed soon; however, starting January 26, utilizing these features will give users a notification indicating that the feature may soon no longer be available to them. The full list of changes can be viewed on the accompanying support page, out of which a few of the affected features per the list include:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Asking to meditate with Calm. You can still ask for meditation options with media providers such as YouTube.

Some changes will also be seen on the Google app. In the search bar, hitting the microphone icon will no longer trigger the Assistant; instead, search results will pop up per your query. This means that users won't be able to do notable actions like "send a message" by hitting the microphone icon in the search bar.

Users can still activate Assistant by using the "Hey Google" command on their Android devices or by pressing the home/power button or through the Google Assistant app for iOS handsets.

Google Assistant with Bard email demo

(Image credit: Google)

Google ditching these features for Assistant is likely in favor of the upcoming Assistant with Bard, which was announced last October. We recently saw the early version of Assistant with Bard, where Bard was learning assistant-related tasks. These new changes in Google Assistant appear to make the shift to Assistant with Bard easier, especially if the users are left with two assistants to choose from.

These changes also come as Google lays off hundreds of employees from various teams, including the Google Assistant team.

Vishnu Sarangapurkar
News Writer

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.

  • fuzzylumpkin
    They've been steadily making assistant worse for years, but I think this is the first time they've openly admitted to it.

    The real kick in the teeth to people using any of the axed features is Google claiming this move "makes the assistant more helpful"... how? you lying bunch of four asterisks
  • Mooncatt
    Guess I'm glad I don't use Google Assistant. Well, I guess I technically do for voice dialling a call, but that's hardly something assistant worthy (Motorola had a better version of this a decade ago as a stand alone feature). As long as that remains, it's all I care about due to my work requiring hands free calling.