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Google Ruins the Assistant's Shopping List, Turns It Into a Big Google Express Ad (arstechnica.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Google Assistant, Google's voice assistant that powers the Google app on Android phones, tablets, and Google Home, has just gotten a major downgrade. In a move reminiscent of all the forced and user-hostile Google+ integrations, Google has gutted the Google Assistant's shopping list functionality in order to turn it into a big advertisement for Google's shopping site, Google Express. The shopping list has been a major feature of the Google Assistant. You can say "Add milk to my shopping list," and the Google Assistant would dutifully store this information somewhere. The shopping list used to live in Google Keep. Keep is Google's primary note-taking app, making it a natural home for the shopping list with lots of useful tools and management options. Now the shopping list lives in Google Express. Express is an online shopping site, and it has no business becoming a dedicated place to store a shopping list that probably has nothing to do with Google's online marketplace. Since Google Express is an online shopping site (and, again, has no business having a note-taking app grafted onto it), the move from Keep to Google Express means the Assistant's shopping list functionality loses the following features: Being able to reorder items with drag and drop; Reminders; Adding images to the shopping list; Adding voice recordings to the shopping list; Real time collaboration with other users (Express has sharing, but you can't see other people as they type -- you have to refresh.); Android Wear integration; Desktop keyboard shortcuts; Checkbox management: deleting all checked items, unchecking all items, hiding checkboxes. Alternatively, the move from Keep to Google Express means the Assistant shopping list gains the following features: Google Express advertising next to every list item; Google Express advertising at the bottom of the page.
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Google Ruins the Assistant's Shopping List, Turns It Into a Big Google Express Ad

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:23PM (#54217565)

    News at 11

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What amazes me is people who are surprised when they ask Amazon's Alexa to "order more toilet roll" and then get some over-priced 2-ply rubbish. Alexia isn't there to help you buy toilet roll, it's there to force toilet roll vendors to pay Amazon whatever they demand to be the default option.

      It's bad for everyone. In the past if you searched for "toilet roll" you would get a list, and all the slots on the first page of results were valuable. Now it's literally just one, the top spot, the default option when

  • Terrible (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:27PM (#54217599) Homepage Journal
    This is terrible news for the two people that use this service.
    • Wait. So it's up to 2 people now who use Google Assistant?
      • Well, the shopping list was an advantage over Amazon's Alexa.

        Now, that the advantage is gone. You might as well just unplug your Google Home and use it as a door stop.

    • A friend of mine has Google Home, uses the shopping list (as it was BEFORE the downgrade) and he is visually impaired. He often complains that technology companies CHANGE THINGS AROUND. This is not a nice thing to do to the visually impaired. People RELY on consistency with the programs (and operating systems) that they use on a daily basis.
    • The only reason that I've heard of these Google apps is because my phone keeps installing updates for them.

    • by vanyel ( 28049 )

      As one of those two people, it's pretty annoying, as it's the most useful feature of these devices. I switched to google's device for the shopping list specifically because it used Keep, which is much faster to startup than the Amazon Alexa app, which is where they put their shopping list. Now google is basically doing the same thing, eliminating the one advantage it had.

  • PLEASE Understand (Score:5, Informative)

    by sit1963nz ( 934837 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:29PM (#54217615)
    YOU are the product being sold. YOU are NOT a customer, you are a data source that Google on sells. EVERYTHING Google does is on the basis that they need more advert impressions and click throughs. The only thing that surprises me is that this was not done sooner.
    • by epine ( 68316 )

      The only thing that surprises me is that this was not done sooner.

      Oh Lord it's hard to surprise a cynic,
      when you're a cynic in every way ...

      All together now. With feeling.

    • YOU are the product being sold. YOU are NOT a customer, you are a data source that Google on sells. EVERYTHING Google does is on the basis that they need more advert impressions and click throughs

      They need to do a better job. All I see is ads for products I've already bought, over and over again. They need to show me ads for products I don't have yet, but that I would be interested in.

    • Everytime I see this meme it becomes apparent that the poster saying "please understand" themselves don't understand business.

  • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:33PM (#54217639) Journal
    Google Now/ Google Assistant or whatever they are calling it has been getting worse for a while now. It used to tell me about my commute. Not anymore. It used to tell me the weather on the home screen. Now I have to search for "weather". I should seriously just delete the thing.
    • The items in "Stories to Read" used to load in whatever web browser you had selected as the default. Now they load in some ad-hoc browser window that's "powered by Chrome." Not only does opening in a real browser require two extra taps (one for the menu, and one for the "open in [browser name]" menu item), it means that -- unlike my default Firefox browser -- it doesn't block ads.

      It's infuriating enough to almost singlehandedly drive me to an AOSP build or Lineage OS.

  • by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:37PM (#54217673)

    Stop getting upset when they remind you.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:40PM (#54217695)

    What about Google's changes over the last five-ten years gave you any reason to think anything you liked from Google would stay as you liked it?

    I think it is absolute madness to rely, or even get used to the continence of, any Google services.

    I myself am guilty of breaking this rule in one huge way - I still use Waze. I know my own day of sorrow is coming. I just don't see how I can act surprised or upset when it arrives.

  • They never learn (Score:5, Informative)

    by qvatch ( 576224 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:44PM (#54217725)
    Sorry, were you relying on a google product again?
    • This is news, and the "this is not news this is expected" crowd is brain dead. Yes it's news when a software company replaces a useful product (that they may have built marketing on) with a less useful product as a tie in for another service. It's worth criticizing google for this as much as it is pointing it out.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:45PM (#54217731) Homepage

    Google and Microsoft both have the problem that they have multiple nearly identical services within one company. They periodically retire one service and add another, inevitably losing or breaking some feature. Just recently, my phone lost what I think was "Google Assistant" and now it uses "Google Home" - which is the same thing with fewer features. For example, it used to work from any screen so I could tell it "OK Google, dial {phone number I see on the screen}" or "OK Google, search for {thing I see on screen}" It also can't identify songs. It even has a special message where it tells me that feature isn't supported yet. That was a strange response since that was the first indication I had that the program I was using had been replaced.

    • Google should follow Trump's lead. For every service Google repeals, it should add two new services that replace it. With overlapping functionality, but with neither one having quite everything that you want.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Google should follow Trump's lead. For every service Google repeals, it should add two new services that replace it.

        And make Apple pay for it!

    • Perhaps because Google isn't really interested in provided you with the best service possible: you aren't their customer. They're interested in offering you free services of all sorts in order to collect data about you. That's their real product that their interested in selling.
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @04:58PM (#54217803) Homepage

    Piece of paper held onto the fridge with a magnet.

    Works for me.

    • by Yath ( 6378 )

      Just don't advocate that solution on Ars Technica - they'll tar and feather you.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @05:57PM (#54218175)

      Piece of paper held onto the fridge with a magnet.

      Works for me.

      I used to use that piece of paper once.... problem is that it never left the 'fridge, so when I went to the store, I'd have to try to guess what I wrote on the list.

      Now I use Google Keep and share the shopping list with my spouse, so either one of us can edit the list, and when either of us goes to the store we have access to it.

      • We used Wunderlist for a while in the same way. The problem is that the dry-erase board on the fridge is always the closest thing when we discover we're out of something, so it gets jotted down there. Phones are often in another room. Then we were trying to remember to update Wunderlist from the board on the fridge, but that was 2x the data entry. So now we just snap a picture of the dry-erase board when we're headed out. And text the picture to each other if needed. It...actually is easier than any of the

        • by BrianB ( 7440 )

          That is the biggest reason I like Google Home. Standing in the kitchen "Hey google, add milk to the shopping list", don't even have to pick up a pen. Super convenient and easy. This is the reason I've never before used an app for a grocery list.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's great!

      Unfortunately I can't add items to that while I'm at work.

      Also can't read it from the shop if it's stuck to the fridge.

      Also my other half can't add items to it, or see it at the same time and buy stuff off it and mark them as bought.

      Also.... etc.

      (And basically you just mean "Carry a notebook and pen everywhere", which seems a little silly in the age of the smartphone).

    • by Striek ( 1811980 )

      Mt stainless steel fridge is not magnetic, you insensitive clod!

  • "Okay Google... What song is this?" - used to be a voice command to have Google turn on the phone's mic, record a snippet of audio, then report back what song it is. This was prior to Google Assistant, back in them good ol Google Now days. I never asked for GA, it was forced on my phone. This was a feature I used quite frequently to discover new music playing in various places while I traveled. Luckily, manually pressed the mic icon on the home screen reverts back to GN instead of GA. Its just stupid though

    • "Okay Google... What song is this?" - used to be a voice command to have Google turn on the phone's mic, record a snippet of audio, then report back what song it is. This was prior to Google Assistant, back in them good ol Google Now days. I never asked for GA, it was forced on my phone. This was a feature I used quite frequently to discover new music playing in various places while I traveled. Luckily, manually pressed the mic icon on the home screen reverts back to GN instead of GA. Its just stupid though having to press a button to activate GN now though, because GA took over the voice activation feature on the phone.

      Funny; it was never forced onto my iPhone.

  • by CptLoRes ( 4510239 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @06:57PM (#54218491)
    Everything else that is Google I don't touch. Exactly because of stuff like this. So as long as they don't mess with gmail, frankly I don't care.
    • by Alsee ( 515537 )

      >as long as they don't mess with gmail, frankly I don't care.

      5... 4... 3... 2... 1... FUUUUUUUCK!

  • by blackpaw ( 240313 ) on Tuesday April 11, 2017 @10:47PM (#54219467)

    And for once, not a fault of the editors - that is a truly ridiculous collection of buzzwords and "services", but they seem necessary.

  • Google long ago gave up on it's core premise to "do no evil" and yet people still haven't caught on and bailed out. It is blatantly obvious how evil Google is, just google it. Anyone who disagrees should email me at my gmail account. For more information on how evil Google and Alphabet (a shell company Google created to hide more misdeeds) visit my YouTube channel and check out my videos. Now give me a minute, I need to check another tab in my Chrome browser.
    .
    . /sarcasam off

    In all seriousness though, th

  • Some people already talk informally about Googlezon, this is just more of the same. I understand that not many people actually use this, but the gesture is very worrying. Please go to your local baker (no, not the one inside the supermarket, inside the mall) before the only bread available is via an Amazon drone.
  • The first thing I do when I got a new phone is to turned off the "assistant" (Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri, Alexa ...). It's useless and it take bandwidth/battery/...

  • The whole summary reads like a millenial's "I'm entitled to free stuff the way I want it" rant. Get a clue, Google doesn't care what you want -- you are the product, not the customer.
  • So if you create a shopping list using google voice commands on my phone, it no longer goes to keep, it goes to google express. Any pontificating genius bother to test this story out. It comes from Ars Technica. all the comment section are like this one, idiot one liners.

    Ive seen this used by older folks who cant remember something later, and just say into there phones what they want to note down. THey have a shortcut on thier computer bring up the notes.

    So i tried it just now. I created a shopping list

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