So far, 2016 has been a very interesting year for Google, with many changes taking place in the company’s various areas of activity, including the smartphone business. New Google applications have rolled out, new Google mobile hardware is now hitting the shelves, and of course, older products are being phased out as a result. Here is a quick look at a list of Google products that have been canned - or will be - by the end of the year.
Starting off with Google hardware, the most obvious change of 2016 comes in the form of a new Google smartphone lineup dubbed Pixel. The Pixel smartphones are Google’s first handsets to have been designed by the Mountain View giant from the ground up, but the Pixel’s arrival also marks the end of the Nexus smartphone lineup which has been around since 2010. Next in line is Project Ara which was unfortunately discontinued last month. Project Ara was supposed to bring the concept of modularity to smartphone users, and while Google has worked on this idea for a few years - with several prototypes being showcased during this time – Project Ara was officially put aside by Google last month. Still, while we might not see a true modular smartphone coming from Google anytime soon, the company could continue and expand on the idea of modular hardware components in the IoT (Internet of Things) segment.
As far as Google’s services are concerned, the year 2016 represents the demise of several Google software products including Google Hangouts on Air which has been merged with YouTube Live as of September 12th. In fact, the entirety of Hangouts has been retargeted on the enterprise audience, with applications including Google Allo and Duo meant to take its place. Additionally, Picasa – which was acquired by Google from Lifescape in 2004 - was killed earlier this year due to Google Photos becoming the company’s main priority. It wouldn’t make much sense for Google to support two separate media storage and sharing apps, and needless to say, Photos has come out on top as the main and only option. Yet another application that became obsolete was My Tracks, released in the year 2009 as a GPS tracking application. However, Google Fit stole the spotlight in recent years and My Tracks has been retired as of April 30, 2016.
Google has also shut down a few web-based services, including Google Compare as of March 23, 2016. Compare was a web service launched last year in the U.S., offering users comparison tools for mortgages, insurance, and credit card rates. The service wasn’t as successful as Google may have hoped, and was effectively shut down in the first quarter of the year. Another service which is still around, but not for long, is Panoramio: a location-based photo sharing tool which will be shut down on November 4, 2016. With Panoramio’s demise, Google will continue to support location-based photo sharing services directly through Google Maps. Lastly, the search engine giant is planning on simplifying the Chrome web browser experience in the coming years and intends to remove Chrome applications from the Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms by early 2018. This is a slow and ongoing process but should give developers some time to transition their applications away from the platform.