Until recently, one of the most convenient ways to set a timer was to simply search for one on Google. Punch in a query like “10 minute timer,” and, hey presto, you’d get a ten-minute timer. But last month, reports started to emerge that this feature had disappeared from Google without warning. Search Engine Roundtable was among the first to cover the missing timer on July 20th, citing tweets from around July 18th. The feature is still missing today.
It turns out that Google hasn’t decided to remove the handy feature without warning. In a tweet, the company’s public search liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed that the feature is temporarily unavailable because of an unspecified problem. “We have an issue that we’ve been looking [into],” Sullivan tweeted in response to this story, “we expect to have it back fairly soon.”
Although there is no shortage of timers elsewhere on the web (or provided as stock apps on iOS and Android) Google’s built-in version is a simple, accessible alternative. And, as well as the timer, there was also a stopwatch feature built into the same widget for when you need to count up rather than down. The feature dates back almost a decade, having been introduced in 2013.
Google’s Danny Sullivan first said he’d look into the issue on July 21st. Almost a week later, on July 27th, the team was “still checking on it.” It seems whatever issue is causing the feature’s absence is proving tricky to squash.
Initially, concerns were raised that Google had removed the feature intentionally, although that would have been a strange move given the company has spent much of the last decade building more features natively into its search results page, rather than removing them. What started out as a simple list of hyperlinks now includes everything from rich snippets that attempt to answer your search query directly to a dedicated box for news stories and even more specific features, like a built-in price comparison tool for airplane flights. None of these appear to be going anywhere.
And, in case you’re wondering, Google Search’s built-in metronome is still alive and ticking — thank goodness.
Update August 1st, 12:15PM ET: Updated throughout to reflect response from Google’s Danny Sullivan about the feature’s return.
Correction: August 1st, 9:33AM ET: This article originally erroneously referred to the site Search Engine Roundtable as SEO Roundtable. We regret the error.