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Google has completely messed up Assistant's 'shopping list' feature

Starting April 10, Google moved Assistant's excellent shopping list feature from Keep to Express, which means that users that rely on Google Keep, like me, to track shopping items are going to have a harder time.

The gist is this: Google is pushing its Home speaker and Express delivery service to make it relatively easy for people to save a shopping list and fulfil the order in one fell swoop. That's great, because Google Assistant is awesome for that. Until recently, asking Google Home, or Google Assistant on your phone to "add eggs to my shopping list" would automatically populate a running list in Google Keep. So far, so good, since Keep is ubiquitous, available on the web or mobile, and is saved offline in case you're somewhere that doesn't have internet service.

With this change, Google now saves the list to either the Google Home app, or Google Express. If you have neither, the list opens a Chrome tab, which is only accessible through a mobile browser and has no actual desktop web presence. It's also not available offline.

For someone like me, who has access to neither Google Home nor Google Express, this change is for the worse. The kicker, too, is that using the Google search tab on your phone, either from a browser or in the "Feed," saves your written requests to... Google Keep. Yes, the confusion is real.

Also, why won't Google Assistant let me add pears?

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

71 Comments
  • The new list feature sucks! I use the shopping list on Keep a ton and the new layout is purely a change to get you to shop on Google Express, but it only insured I will never buy from Google Express.
  • Yep...same here.
  • Totally agree.
  • Umm... "OK Google, add pears to my Google Keep shopping list" Then it's default from there.
  • Tried that just keeps adding to the new list in Home not Google keep
  • This change also removes the ability for me to use my Android Wear watch as my shopping list, which do every time I shop for groceries.
  • On the other hand hand, you can now add things to the list from Wear which didn't work at all in 1.5 and was broken in 2.0,(would create list and add one item, then fail to add additional items), so you can add to the list but not use it in Wear. Personally, I preferred the opposite. OurGroceries, you can add from Google Home, but not assistant on the line or watch (yet) but you can view/check off on the phone. I don't understand why this is so hard to get right. Apple makes it work. Add from any device, use from any device. Most useful feature of a smartwatch and Google can't get it together....
  • you should try Bring, it works great on Android Wear https://www.getbring.com/#!/app
  • Not a surprise. I've only used assistant for around a day, but the general experience seems worse than that of the products it replaces... Classic Google, unfortunately.
  • Wtf. I'm fully invested into google home. This is so lame and frustrating
  • You should have gotten an Amazon Echo or a Dot. I rarely use it to shop Prime, but that is convenient. As for shopping lists, I use OurGroceries, which is available on all platforms and lets you share with other accounts. The Echo/Dot has a skill for OurGroceries.
  • You do realize that the app, not Amazon, provides the skill for it to work on the Echo platform... and that the app, not Google, can also provide actions to let it work on Assistant/Home, also. It's not some conspiracy, it's just that the app creators have had longer to program for one platform. I'd willing to bet that about the same number of apps had support for Echo four or five months after it's SDK support was released as have support for Assistant/Home now. Yes, there are hiccups with one platform and other hiccups with the other platform, but a lot of the issues are just that apps have not yet been updated with full support because development and testing actually take some time.
  • What's your point? The fact that OurGroceries MAY support Google home someday doesn't help anyone right now.
  • Our Groceries is already supported on Google Home. Just ask to speak the assistant to speak with Our Groceries.
  • My point is that you are blaming Google for a problem that is 100% the fault of the developers of your precious app.
  • I wish OurGroceries would add the ability to work with Google Home.
  • It does.
  • It does? I haven't found that yet. Thanks. What's the best way to get it to work?
  • Works with home, but not other Assistant enabled devices (phone, watch) yet. See the faq on their web site for instructions. This was added within the last few weeks.
  • But this system is so much better and more intuitive!!! Why so much whining?!
  • Because, and this is important, the emperor isn't wearing any clothes. I'm getting tired of genuine criticism of things which could've been done better being dismissed as"whining". Also, the squeaky wheel gets the cheese. Also, whining about whiners whining is whining, why are you whining? Unless you're being sarcastic, in which case I agree, as should be obvious.
  • The squeaky wheel gets the cheese???? You mean grease right????
  • Nah, it's a saying. You might be confusing it with a different saying "the early bird gets the grease". Those birds sure do love that grease... Almost as much as i love a good squeaky wheel of cheese...
  • You let the monkey out of the bottle man..
  • Not my circus, not my monkey!
  • Um, the saying is "the early bird gets the squeaky grease wheel of cheese". Let's get it right people.
  • This is a lame attempt to attract Amazon Prime members to Google Express. That's all it is. And, IMO, it won't work.
  • Oh neat, another on the growing list of reasons to sell my Google Home and buy an Echo.
  • I realize this isn't important to everyone, but one reason I absolutely love my Echo and Dot is because it makes it so much easier to listen to Audible books at night vs. doing it from my phone. "Alexa, continue my audible book"
    "Alexa, set sleep timer 20 minutes" It's also terrific for so many other things. And I added a custom "Ask Google" skill if I want to get info from Google.
  • I only use Keep and NOT in the market for a Google Home devise. So GOOGLE that really SUCKS. I will not be going to Google Express as I am a Amazon PRIME member and will remain!
  • They should give you the option on where you want the list created. Hate that I have to go to a web browser to see my list!! There are a lot of complaints about this, and I hope that Google notices and does something about it!
  • Google now was far more reliable if you ask me. The assistant just isn't ready yet.
  • Hey Google, change back to Keep.
  • Google mess lots of things up at the moment
  • It's almost monthly now. "why won't Google Assistant let me add pears?" maybe the same reason we have to keep saying "OK Google", just to use the assistant. When android "O" hits, people are gonna be pissed.
  • Finally a proper reaction for Google's dumb decision!!! You are HERO man! :-))))
  • Google Now had a perfect voice command structure for lists like this. I could say "Add scotch tape to my Target list" and it would add scotch tape to a list called "Target." I could say "Add Pears to my grocery list" and it would add "Pears" to my list called "Grocery." My wife and I survive because of Keep. We share several shopping lists so that when either of us goes to the store, we can get what both of us need without having to ask. It's wonderful. And with my old MotoX, I could maintain my lists hands free. When I got a pixel, Assistant forced me to use only the one list for everything, which isn't the way I work. At least it was still in Keep, but I don't want my Target and Home Depot lists to mingle with my grocery list. I want separate lists for each store. Now it's going to move it out of keep entirely, meaning I will never use assistant to update shopping lists ever. It's a shame really.
  • Of course, if you don't insist on talking to your phone, you can still create whatever lists you want to in Keep.
  • Try using the keyboard when you are driving, or if you have arthritis. Talking to the phone is beneficial, and this move by Google is silly
  • When I'm in the kitchen, looking for something in the fridge and I notice we're out, I just say, "OK Google, add milk to the shopping list" and the phone wakes up wherever it is, and says, "okay, I've added milk to your shopping list." Super cool. Now I've figured out I have to say, "OK Google, make note to buy milk" and "buy milk" is added as a Keep Note (instead of as an item on a Keep list), so still infinitely better than Google Express, but a little bit less convenient than a list.
  • One of my reasons of moving from Amazon's Alexa to Google Home was Home's shopping list. Alexa's Android app was so slow it was very frustrating to use while grocery shopping, plus it would have to reload (slowly) often during a single grocery run. Home's Google Keep integration was simple, fast, easy to share, and worked from mobile, desktop or Android Wear. Moving it to Express does keep it simple but jettisons all the other benefits that Keep had, so it can integrate with a service I don't even subscribe to! If a user is an Express Subscriber, by all means offer to switch their shopping list to Express. But if they are not, the service that handles Shopping List requests should be Keep. Remember Google we are supposed to "be together, not the same".
  • Not a fan of this either. For me, the biggest annoyance is that my shopping list was set up in Keep with a location reminder, so my updated list popped up whenever I arrived at my local grocery store. Can't do that with Home. Grrr.....
  • That's my biggest annoyance right there. Being able to use location reminders was my go to, now to keep that function, I have to manually maintain the Keep list and lose Assistant... Few steps backwards IMHO...
  • They messed up a LOT of stuff. I can't even say "OK Google, lets go home" anymore. It just does a web lookup. It used to just navigate me home. I have to be specific. OK google. Navigate to home. That's not how people talk. Natural language, guys! You had it, almost.
  • I absolutely agree that the change in Google Assistant messed up the already working great shopping list feature. Where is the common sense in this change? This is Google making software decisions like Microsoft makes software decisions - no consideration for the customers using the feature.
  • I've used Google since it was a research project; most of my personal info is tied up in Google services. And yet, I'm increasingly finding Google's execution to be utterly baffling. For example, Alexa can give me info from all the Google calendars I can view from my linked account, while Google Home limits me to events entered directly on my primary account. Hangouts turns into a business tool, in favor of very limited messaging apps that no one wants to use. And now Assistant takes my shopping list and puts it in a service I'll never use? Do you really want me to give up on you, Big G?
  • :( this upsets me. I love telling GA to add stuff to my shopping list that updates in Keep. I have been using keep for shopping lists even before Google Assistant existed.
  • Totally agree, Google you screwed up on this one!
  • Let me start by saying I love Google products but will use whatever product works best for a specific task. My business runs on Chromeboxes, I use a Nexus 6P and I own Google Homes, Chromecasts, Smartthings, Amazon Echos and Dots. Google and Amazon are competing for the voice automation market and they both have their strengths but Google has a huge advantage with its knowledge base until it does things like moving the shopping list out of Google Keep. The shopping list was one of the things that made the Google Home better than the Echo. At first it annoyed me that Google Assistant prevented me from adding items to specific lists like I could with Google Now, but I dealt with it and assumed that they would bring back the selective list feature some time in the future, but now they have completely removed the ability to add pictures, delete checked items and use the list in areas that have no internet access (many supermarkets). I'd like to have a Google employee respond to how this is a better product. I understand that you want to have everyone buy products through Google Express but this is the wrong way to do it. There is no reason why the list can’t also be mirrored in Google Keep where it is significantly more useful. Since the voice interface only works with this inferior product you are ultimately forcing us to use it. Either allow us to use the Google Assistant/Home voice interface with specific lists like you could with Google Now or mirror the list in Google Keep. This will make everyone happy and prevent people from going elsewhere. Remember, the Hangouts, Allo and Duo confusion just made people switch to WhatsApp. Please, don’t force people to use a different service.
  • Google, how about giving us a choice instead of forcing everyone onto Home or Express? Some of us don't have a Google Home, or we prefer to shop for groceries in the typical brick-and-mortar.
  • I just keep running grocery lists in Keep, and then I can add items easily by voice. Bypassing Google Assistant now works for me.
  • Whatever happened to allowing the consumer the choice where you build a shopping list? If I wanted to be told what I like, I'd move to Apple.
  • Wait a minute. Was is not Eric Schmidt that said Google users want Google to tell them what to do ?
  • Why? Because Google has become the new Apple. They know what's best for you, and you'd better agree. FWIW, I agree that this is a stupid change.
  • No, Google telling you what to think and do was their plan all along.
  • This it a horrible change. I have been using Google Now and currently Assistant to add to my Keep shopping list. Not I cant? This is a fail. Now I know Google wants to put all its "ads" for "Express" in the new SHopping list but come on, its not available where I am. Now I suffer. Come on Google, I love you but... Oh Google.
  • This stinks. Google Keep is probably my favorite Google service and shopping list was my favorite feature of Keep. I know I can manually create shopping list but adding them via voice is so much better.
  • Agreed. I tried the service. Terrible. Who the hell wants to go to a Web page and then get hard sold on a shopping service. Bogus. The list won't allow you delete anything and is extremely limited in its abilities. Will not use. We should all boycott this!
  • Sigh...I guess it's back to adding things manually. 😟
  • I'm starting to think Sundar P should be replaced. Satya N has done a much better job turning MSFT around
  • Whoever greenlighted this obnoxious downgrade should be fired.
  • Last straw. Google assistant is a mess and useless. Now is far better and now on tap very useful. Changed my language to US virgin Islands and fixed it... Till they either update that or fix it.
  • Google will probably kill off Keep since we actually like it, and use it. This move on shopping list is Google copying Apple. 'We dont ask you want you want. We give you what you're going to use !'
  • 1. I had a GOOGLE KEEP list called "GROCERY LIST" --- NOT "Shopping List" but "GROCERY LIST". 2, I had it synced with my wife's phone so that we could both say "OK Google, add beans to my Grocery List" and it would show up on the other person's phone in the same collaborated list. 3. Google Assistant seems to have borked this process. Now when I say "Add beans to my GROCERY List" it replies "OK adding beans to your SHOPPING list" and it starts a new list in Google Assistant that is NOT synced with my wife's Google Keep. It's an entirely different list, and its not called "Grocery List" its called "Shopping List" even though I asked it to be added to my GROCERY list! How can my wife and I sync our lists now? And how can we distinguish a GROCERY list from a SHOPPING list which might include hardware or furniture, etc? GOOGLE KEEP was just updated last night with "bug fixes". The update did nothing for this problem.
  • I had purchased a Google Home for myself while my husband had purchased an Amazon Echo for me, (last Christmas). I thought that the Echo didn't answer as many general questions for me so Google won on that front. Lately, though, she can't answer half of my questions so it was just down to populating Google Keep with a grocery shopping list. Now that this function is gone, I won't be using her hardly at all. I miss my Echo. I shop a lot on Amazon so just telling the Echo to add certain items was fantastic. After I decided on keeping Google Home, I gifted my parents with my Echo so that's gone. Hmm, I'm a Google fan and an Amazon fan so it was a hard decision. Now, it's one that I regret. For someone that's not traveling a lot, the Echo is a much better choice than Google Home.
  • Looks like Google has found every possible synonym for "Grocery" to prevent bypassing this new "feature." For example, "pantry" and "food" default to "shopping" so you can't bypass it.
  • My wife and I use the "Our Groceries" app. It keeps our lists synced 24/7 so that either of us can add or remove items from the list and then whoever happens to hit the store first can pick up what is needed. Recently, Our Groceries, added support for both Alexa and Google Home ("OK Google ask Our groceries to add milk eggs and bread"). Perhaps Google Assistant will be next.
  • I can't even access the list from the Google Home app, I have to ask Assistant to show me the list. Weak. Here's the feedback I submitted for Google Assistant:
    "Add x to shopping list" functionality has been severely limited by recent update. Used to add item to shopping list in Google Keep. Keep is an excellent app for lists. You should know this, it's your app. Now it adds items to a list in some godawful mobile website. Can't rearrange items anymore. Can't use on my Android Wear watch anymore. Can't sync list with other people anymore. Can't delete items anymore (!). Can't access list offline anymore. Can't set location-based reminder for list anymore. Just awful. The only new feature this gives me is the ability to search for the items for sale online. I'm not buying luncheon meats online. Nobody is buying luncheon meats online. Google Assistant shopping list is now less useful than Google Gnome.
  • THe list is accessible from the Home app's menu now. I hate it. It worked so well before. I refuse to use it now.
  • I've been playing around with this, trying to get the newly updated Google Assistant to actually work -- without having to use Google Express, which is currently almost completely useless. Here's what I've got so far. Instead of saying "OK Google, add milk to shopping list", I say, "OK Google, make note to buy milk." That creates a new note in Google Keep that just says "buy milk". When I say, "OK Google, open keep" it opens the Keep app and shows all these notes. I can swipe left on any of them to make them go away. So it's not as completely convenient as a Keep List, and I don't know how it would work for sharing with other users, but for a single user, this is the best work-around I've found so far. Anybody come up with anything that works better?
  • If you use Keep and are thoroughly pissed off that Google has moved the shopping list from Keep to Home/Express there is a workaround. If you say "or else" after telling assistant to add the item (ie, hey Google, add sugar to my shopping list or else) then it will add it to your Keep list instead of the new one. Thank you whichever programmer knew the change was a stupid idea.