9 Tech Projects You’ll See Google Shut Down in 2020 | by Ben Scheer | The Startup
Giving is noble. Google’s One Today app, which launched in 2013 on Android, made it easy to donate to nonprofit organizations. The app would notify you about a different nonprofit each day, and then based on how you tended to donate, it would learn to pick causes that interest you the most.
One Today had a social aspect, but also kept your information private. You could donate between $1 and $10, or rally your friends to collect more donations. Then, the app would offer achievement badges as motivation to donate more. You could also donate anonymously so your information stays secret, and then see where your donations went. One Today ensured that 100% of your contributions went towards chosen causes. Google would even match some of the donations.
One Today ensured that 100% of your contributions went towards chosen causes.
After 7 years in the app store, Google decided to shut down the app in January. Before doing so, the company made sure that organizations received any final donations.
Since giving to charity through Google is a powerful idea, hopefully this technology and lessons learned can be redirected into a similar effort.
Who doesn’t love free WiFi? Beginning in 2015, Google Station was a program that enabled free WiFi in over 400 railway stations, mostly in India but also in some other locations. This helped calm tons of people who wanted to use the internet but were concerned about spending too much money on data.
There are two main reasons why this program started winding down in February. One, after hitting a milestone of 400 railway stations, this program became increasingly difficult to scale. Google thought about ways to scale this program to places such as Mexico, Nigeria, Vietnam, and more recently, South Africa. The company also thought about monetizing by displaying ads when users signed in to connect with the WiFi. Second, mobile data prices have gotten cheaper over time. Free WiFi isn’t as necessary in many markets.
For the places that Google Station served for 5 years, the need for WiFi in stations decreased, but those ideas around accessibility will hopefully transcend over time.
Design is important. Material Design is all about combining good design principles with the latest scientific and technological innovations. The Material Theme Editor was created in 2018 as a Sketch for Mac plugin. It helped designers create material-based design systems for apps, as Sketch is a popular design tool (I use it all the time). This made it easier to collaborate with developers and create products that look great.
Fast forward to 2020, the team behind Material Theme Editor realized that users wanted “theming tools beyond just Sketch and MacOS — ones that more easily integrate with existing product designs and processes.” Google will likely be redirecting resources into some newer tools, which would help designers everywhere.
Google will likely be redirecting resources into some newer tools, which would help designers everywhere.
As of March, the plugin has been renamed the Gallery Plugin and will act as a way for folks to upload design files directly from Sketch.
Google’s mobile development tool Fabric is going away. Having been ramped up in 2014, Google acquired Fabric from Twitter in 2017. Fabric’s features are going to get merged into Firebase, including Crashlytics. Firebase is Google’s mobile and web app development platform.
This seems like good news for developers, since Firebase will likely become stronger with features coming from Fabric. For example, Digits will now be called Firebase phone authentication, and Answers will now be part of Google Analytics.
Are you part of a neighborhood “listserv” that you use to ask questions to locals? Google unveiled their experimental app Neighbourly in May 2018 to test in Mumbai before expanding to several more cities in India.
As an app in beta, the goal was to help you learn more about your neighborhood by hearing from local residents and finding out about local facilities and services. Through the app, over a million questions were asked, helping facilitate events (e.g, local festivals) and navigate local emergencies (e.g., floods) .
However, Google announced that the app was just not gaining as much traction as they hoped. In May 2020 (the month this article was published) — in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic — they are shutting down the app, pointing towards the Google Maps Local Guide.
In July 2019, Google launched an experimental app called Shoelace. Starting as an invite-only beta situation on iOS and Android, the local meetup app was meant to connect folks in New York City. Users were able to plan and attend activities around town and perhaps make some new friends too.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, meeting up in groups was no longer a thing. This encouraged Shoelace to pause operations. But, instead of just pausing the project, Google is ending it completely. They felt that it was best to not continue investing in the app given the circumstances. It’s clear that the pandemic has had an influence on several Google initiatives.
Launched 3 years ago, Google Hire is a G-Suite tool made for business of small and medium size. It brought ease around tasks like identifying strong candidates, managing relationships, and facilitating the interview process. This is in the same realm as Google for Jobs, which was released in the same year and helps people filter job listings and find what they’re looking for.
It brought ease around tasks like identifying strong candidates, managing relationships, and facilitating the interview process.
Google announced that they won’t be adding new features to Hire, but they’ll be keeping it around until September this year. They also won’t charge users anymore after their next bill, which is nice. Google will be instead focusing recourses on other products in the Google Cloud portfolio.
Another member of the G-Suite, Hangouts is going away in December. As it is Google’s most popular messaging platform, Hangouts (sometimes called Hangouts Classic) is a consumer-grade product that’s been around for almost 8 years.
It should not to be confused with Hangouts Chat, which was released relatively recently. The two products, for now, are completed separate. However, it sounds like some features that have been in Hangouts might be coming into Hangouts Chat, like Google Voice integration and stuff like that.
You can use Hangouts to message people, hold video meetings, and keep things in sync across devices. As we get closer to December, Google will start to direct all Hangouts users to Google Meet and Greet. It’s unclear about what will happen from there, but during this time of virtual work, I look forward to finding out more about Google’s strategy.
Google Cloud Print, which has been in beta since 2010, will be going away in December. The idea around this cloud-based printing solution is that you could “print from anywhere”, whether it be from your phone, on the web, or on your desktop. It was mainly designed for the G-Suite applications such as Sheets, Docs, and more.
Google gave an early warning about ending the cloud print project, recommending users to start looking for alternatives and execute a migration strategy. We’ll see what Google does next in the printing world (or perhaps, the cloud world).
As of now, we know for sure about a few projects that will end in 2021, including App Maker as well as AngularJS. It will be interesting to see what else will change in the near future!
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