Google releases a lot of products, but it shuts down a lot of them, too. Some didn’t deserve to be discontinued (we pine for the days of Reader and Inbox), and some probably weren’t long for this world from the start. (What was Google Wave supposed to be, anyway?) The company actually used to shut down products with quarterly “spring cleanings,” but now, it just does so whenever it’s time for another product to be put out to pasture.
Follow along here for all our coverage of everything Google sends to the graveyard.
Feb 13, 2020
The Bookbot wasn’t quite as flashy as other autonomous vehicles in the Google portfolio, but it was popular with patrons of Google’s neighborhood library, and its librarians. No one seems to know why the little cube-like, wheeled delivery robot saw its pilot end in June after just four months. So a trio of former Google engineers apparently started a new company called Cartken to revive Bookbot from the Google graveyard, TechCrunch reports.Read Article >
Part of Google’s Area 120— the company’s internal incubator for the “20 percent” projects employees work on outside of their main jobs — the Bookbot would pick up users’ library books at their homes and return them to the Mountain View Library for check-in. Tracy Gray, Mountain View’s Library Services Director, told TechCrunch the little robot was popular, and people would stop to snap photos of it while it did its deliveries.
Jan 16, 2020
Today, Google shared an updated timeline for when Chrome apps will stop working on all platforms. June 2022 is when they’ll be gone for good, but it depends on which platform you’re on (via 9to5Google). Previously, we knew that Chrome apps someday wouldn’t work on Windows, macOS, and Linux, but today, Google revealed that Chrome apps will eventually stop working on Chrome OS, too.Read Article >
A Chrome app is a web-based app that you can install in Chrome that looks and functions kind of like an app you’d launch from your desktop. Take this one for the read-it-later app Pocket, for example — when you install it, it opens in a separate window that makes it seem as if Pocket is functioning as its own app.
Dec 12, 2019
To tell the story of the last 10 years at Google, it helps to look at the products that no longer exist.Read Article >
The decade started with Wave (launched 9/09, deprecated 8/10), then Buzz (launched 2/10, deprecated 10/11). There was also a Wikipedia clone called Knol (launched 8/08, deprecated 3/12), the Groupon clone Google Offers (launched 5/11, deprecated 3/14), and of course, the beloved RSS client Google Reader (launched 10/05, deprecated 3/13), whose absence I feel to this very day.
Nov 22, 2019
Google has announced that Cloud Print, which lets you easily print things from the web using Google Chrome (even on printers that lack an internet connection), will print its final pages on December 31st, 2020. 9to5Google reported on the news. Cloud Print has been a handy service, as it works both on desktop and mobile and gives extended utility to older printers. Interestingly, despite being introduced back in 2010, Google Cloud Print still has a beta tag.Read Article >
In a support document, Google recommends using the printing experience that’s baked into Chrome OS or, if you’re on a different OS, using “the respective platform’s native printing infrastructure.”
Nov 7, 2019
In October, Google officially discontinued its Daydream View VR headset — and the company took another step away from its initial leadership position in phone-based VR today by announcing that it’s open sourcing the software of Cardboard, its “no-frills” VR headset. It had already “open-sourced” the actual Cardboard VR viewer by posting its technical specifications for anyone to download, so it is nice to see Google open up the software as well.Read Article >
Google says it’s shipped “more than 15 million [Cardboard] units worldwide,” but that it’s seen usage of Cardboard “decline over time.” That doesn’t surprise me, sadly — I just don’t think there were many compelling uses for Cardboard, beyond its initial novelty. I remember playing with a free Cardboard viewer from one of Google’s promotions with The New York Times, and while it was really cool that one time I used it, I haven’t been clamoring for another Cardboard experience since.
Oct 16, 2019
Google may have introduced a lot of new Pixel camera tech at its 2019 fall hardware event this week, but it quietly retired a camera product as well: the Google Clips camera has been removed from Google’s online store (via 9to5Google).Read Article >
Google confirmed Clips’ removal to The Verge and tells us that Clips will continue to get support until December 2021. In addition, the Clips mobile app, which is required to transfer videos off of a Clips camera, will stop working in December 2021, according to Google — so it sounds like the device will essentially become useless in a little over two years.
Oct 15, 2019
Google has essentially abandoned its Daydream virtual reality platform. The company confirmed to The Verge that the new Pixel 4 phone won’t support Daydream, and Google told Variety and The Verge that it will also no longer sell the Daydream View mobile headset. It will continue to support the app — which only works on older phones — for existing users.Read Article >
“There hasn’t been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we’ve seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset,” a spokesperson said. Although the system had potential, “we noticed some clear limitations constraining smartphone VR from being a viable long-term solution,” said the spokesperson. “Most notably, asking people to put their phone in a headset and lose access to the apps they use throughout the day causes immense friction.” That echoes similar complaints about Daydream’s biggest competition, the Samsung Gear VR.
Oct 4, 2019
Google Reader has been dead for over six years, and the internet hasn’t been the same since. I still haven’t found a replacement that I enjoy quite as much as my memories of Reader, and I mourn its death every day. But now, we may finally have a place where we can pay respects to the beloved RSS app.Read Article >
Dana Fried, a Google employee, posted this photo of a graveyard, with headstones for Reader and many other now-dead Google services, which is apparently set up in the main lobby of the company’s Seattle campus in honor of spooky season:
Aug 28, 2019
Google says it will shut down Google Hire, its G Suite tool built for recruiters at small and midsized companies, on September 1st, 2020, despite launching only two years ago. Google did not give a specific reason as to why it’s shutting down the tool beyond saying that it’s “focusing our resources on other products in the Google Cloud portfolio.”Read Article >
Hire is the latest of several Google products that have shut down recently, joining social network Google+, chat app Allo, and email app Inbox in the Google graveyard. It’s good that Google is trying to hone its product offerings, but it’s getting hard to trust that new Google services will stick around for more than a couple of years.
Aug 22, 2019
YouTube is shutting down its private messaging feature on September 18th, the company announced in a support post. It said it made the decision after choosing to focus its attention on public conversations, like the Stories feature it launched last year. YouTube launched its in-app messaging feature back in August 2017, meaning it will have been live on the service for just over two years before being discontinued.Read Article >
YouTube didn’t say exactly why it’s deprioritizing private conversations, but TechCrunch has a couple of ideas. First is the fact that Google has always had a problem with having too many messaging apps. Even after discontinuing Allo, Google still lets people communicate over Duo, Hangouts, Meet, Google Voice, and Android Messages (including the new RCS protocol). Having one extra private messaging service that (presumably) few people were using risks confusing matters further.
Jul 10, 2019
People take control of their smart thermostat from their wrist so infrequently that Google has decided to completely scrap its Nest app for both Apple Watch and the company’s own Wear OS platform. The smartwatch Nest app offered a quick way to adjust the thermostat’s target temperature or operating mode. But now it simply displays a “Nest is no longer supported on Wear OS” message when opened and instructs customers to uninstall it.Read Article >
“We took a look at Nest app users on smartwatches and found that only a small number of people were using it,” a Google spokesperson told 9to5Google. “Moving forward our team will spend more time focusing on delivering high quality experiences through mobile apps and voice interactions.”
Jun 19, 2019
Google’s travel app Trips is shutting down on August 5th, ceding its territory to apps such as TripIt and RoadTrippers. It’s unfortunate; Trips was a handy app for travelers, offering a quick and easy way to track your travel plans, find your saved places, and explore unfamiliar territory. You could also download your information to the app so that it would be accessible offline, very handy when you are overseas and using a temporary data plan.Read Article >
Google has created a page describing all the various methods you can use to replace the features of the soon-to-be-gone Trips app. What follows are some of Google’s suggestions, with a bit of extra commentary to help you get at least some of the same functionality:
May 27, 2019
The standalone YouTube Gaming app is shutting down on May 30th. YouTube announced the impending shutdown last year, saying that the spinoff had caused “confusion” among gaming fans. It integrated the service into its main app instead, launching a games-focused hub that has already mostly replaced the old YouTube Gaming.Read Article >
In a help page, YouTube directs any remaining YouTube Gaming fans to this newer hub. It’s also merged YouTube and YouTube Gaming subscriptions, although people will apparently lose the list of games they’ve saved. “We launched YouTube Gaming as a standalone app for gamers where we tested out new features based on the gaming community’s feedback,” the page explains. “We want to continue to build a stronger home for the gaming community that thrives on YouTube.”
May 16, 2019
Google has issued a response to criticisms of its recent announcement to close the Works with Nest program, a set of connections and controls that link third-party smart home devices with Nest thermostats, cameras, and other products. The company had originally announced that the Works with Nest program would be shutting down on August 31st, 2019, and all existing connections will stop working on that date. Nest customers would have to migrate their accounts to Google accounts and use Google Assistant controls to rebuild their smart home connections and setups.Read Article >
In a blog post published today, Michele Turner, director of product and smart home ecosystem for Google Nest, says that existing Works with Nest connections will continue to work beyond August 31st, and customers will be able to use those services and connections until they are replicated in the new Works with Google Assistant program. The company will not allow any new Works with Nest integrations after the August 31st shutdown. Once customers migrate their Nest accounts to Google accounts, their Works with Nest connections will cease functioning.
May 9, 2019
This week, Google announced that it would be integrating the Nest brand into its broader line of Home products, essentially making Nest the brand for every smart home gadget it sells. As part of this integration, Google’s Home speaker and smart display products will now carry Nest branding and have Nest features.Read Article >
But in addition to the rebranding, Google announced that it will be discontinuing the Works with Nest program at the end of August, dismantling a set of controls that allow other device manufacturers and service providers to integrate with the Nest ecosystem of devices. Instead, Google will offer a new Works with Google Assistant program, one that will force companies to support the Google Assistant if they want their customers to be able to integrate with Nest products at all. If you want any other product to play nice with your Nest ones, you’ll need to have a Google account.
Apr 1, 2019
Google has stopped selling its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. As noticed by Android Police, URLs for the Pixel 2 at the company’s store now simply take users to the newer Pixel 3 instead. Some stock remains available from other retailers: Best Buy is currently selling its remaining stock of the Pixel 2 XL (64GB in black) for $399.99. Sadly, the black-and-white “panda” model is a goner. Verizon, the Pixel 2’s exclusive US carrier, ended sales of the smaller device back in October upon the announcement of its successor. However, Verizon continues to offer the Pixel 2 XL as of now at full retail pricing, which is not at all a good deal.Read Article >
The Pixel 2 and 2 XL were announced in October 2017 and went on sale later that month. Google ran into controversy with the larger phone’s display, which some found to have dull colors when the device first shipped. Google said it was going for color accuracy over vibrancy, but the company later fine-tuned the screen with software updates that let users choose more saturation.
Jan 30, 2019
Last October, Google announced plans to shut down Google+ for consumers after a security flaw exposed users’ profile data. Shortly after, Google+ had another data leak, prompting Google to fast-track the shutdown for its social network, moving the deadline up four months to April 2019. Now, Google has formally released the timeline for how and when Google+ will go away.Read Article >
As early as February 4th, you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities, or events. Comments generated by Google+ on external websites will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and from other sites by March 7th. All your website comments made using Google+ will be deleted starting on April 2nd.
Jan 22, 2019
In case you hadn’t heard, Google Hangouts is going away — and if you’ve been dreading the day you’ll have to replace it with the perhaps much nicer-looking Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, we’ve got some brand-new guidance from Google on when the switch will be happening.Read Article >
Namely, October to start. That’s when Google will start retiring the classic Hangouts app for its G Suite customers — aka companies that pay to use Google Apps — according to an official blog post. So that’s when you should expect to hear the first wave of people complaining about being forced to switch, even though it’ll only be those G Suite customers at first.
Jan 11, 2019
There’s nothing quite like Google’s Chromecast Audio — a tiny disc that lets you wirelessly sling music to practically any dumb speaker, even create multi-room audio configurations like a poor man’s Sonos setup, just by plugging into its 3.5mm line-out and adding some power over Micro USB.Read Article >
And that’s why it’s such a shame Google is discontinuing the dongle today. The company provided The Verge (and Android Police, earlier) with this statement:
Dec 17, 2018
Google has halted a data collection project in China and struck a major blow to the controversial Dragonfly project, according to a new report from The Intercept. According to the report, Google is still researching Chinese web searches in an effort to launch a search engine that complies with the country’s censorship regime, although an official launch seems to have been indefinitely postponed. But in the face of widespread opposition within the company, Google executives shuttered one of the project’s most central data sources, making the ongoing work far more difficult.Read Article >
In August, The Intercept reported that Google had set up a dummy search engine at 265.com as a way of researching the Chinese market. Any queries made through 265 would be redirected to the Chinese Baidu search engine, so it wasn’t very useful as a product — but it gave Google a valuable window into what Chinese users would be likely to search for. It also generated significant internal concerns, with many employees seeing the site as a signal for Google’s advanced Chinese ambitions.
Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.Read Article >
According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.
Dec 7, 2018
Pour one out for Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich: Google announced today that it’s dropping support for Ice Cream Sandwich for future Play Service API releases, meaning updates for apps on the older version of Android will likely be few and far between, via 9to5Google.Read Article >
Google is instead having developers target API level 16 (for Android 4.1 Jelly Bean) as the minimum level of support. And while, in theory, developers can continue to maintain and update a version of their apps specifically for Ice Cream Sandwich users that support API level 14 or 15, it’s unlikely that many will do so.
Dec 6, 2018
Google has officially announced that it’s shutting down Allo, ending the run of yet another failed Google chat app experiment. The news isn’t entirely unsurprising, given that Google had already paused investment in Allo back in April. Back then, the head of the communications group at Google, Anil Sabharwal, noted that “[Allo] as a whole has not achieved the level of traction we’d hoped for.”Read Article >
Allo will “continue to work through March 2019,” Google says, and users will be able to export their conversation history until then.
Oct 8, 2018
Google is going to shut down the consumer version of Google+ over the next 10 months, the company writes in a blog post today. The decision follows the revelation of a previously undisclosed security flaw that exposed users’ profile data that was remedied in March 2018.Read Article >
Google says Google+ currently has “low usage and engagement” and that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. Still, the company plans to keep the service alive for enterprise customers who use it to facilitate conversation among co-workers. New features will be rolled out for that use case, the company says. Google is focusing on a “secure corporate social network,” which is odd considering this announcement comes alongside news that the company left profile details unprotected.
Sep 12, 2018
Google is bowing to the inevitable and shutting down the Inbox email app, though users will have until March to switch over to Gmail. It’s a little sad for fans of the app, but it’s also not a very big surprise.Read Article >
Almost exactly four years ago, Google launched Inbox as an innovative new email app that lived alongside Gmail. It brought a ton of new ideas to how email could work, including old standbys like snoozing and newer ideas like bundling. Over those four years, Inbox gained a small number of adherents who suffered through too-rare updates so they could have a better (or at least different) email experience.