5 Google launches from 2017 that still haven't landed

Hey, Google: What ever happened to all this stuff you announced last year?

Google Launches 2017
Jan Persiel (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I don't know if you've noticed, but Google announces an awful lot of stuff.

Between its annual I/O convention, its fall hardware event, and the beefy stew of blogs posted in between, the big G always seems to have some big new feature, product, or service up its sleeve — so many, in fact, that it's easy to lose track and forget about a few things along the way.

That's precisely what I discovered when I slogged back through the past year's worth of Google revelations. Amidst all the now-familiar fare was a small handful of leftover items — little this-and-thats mentioned as part of broader announcements and then never brought up again. They're things we heard about, talked about, then largely forgot about.

And as of this day, in mid-January 2018, they've all yet to come to fruition.

1. Hangouts Chat

Google's mess of messaging apps is a saga in and of itself, but one specific element announced in early 2017 and still M.I.A. is Hangouts Chat — an "intelligent communication app for teams that takes direct messaging in Hangouts and evolves it to reflect the way modern teams talk business," as Google put it in its March 9, 2017 announcement.

Or, in simpler terms: Google's version of Slack.

Google Launches 2017 - Hangouts Chat Google

Hangouts Chat is meant to be the counterpart to Hangouts Meet, which launched for G Suite enterprise customers at the time of that March announcement. Back then, Google said G Suite customers could "apply to try" the Chat half of the equation through an "early adopter program."

We're now coming up on a year later, and it appears little meaningful progress has been made. Hangouts Chat hasn't launched, and G Suite users are filling up forums with their frustrations about being left in the dark (in some cases, even after applying for the aforementioned early access).

Beyond just the enterprise, it's still unclear what exactly all of this will mean for Hangouts itself — you know, the service that was Android's default messaging app for some time and is still a core part of Gmail's web interface. Google made it sound like the new Hangouts Chat was destined to take over that old Hangouts service — perhaps with some sort of "freemium" setup in place — but the specifics remain vexingly vague.

For a high-profile rollout aimed at winning over enterprises and a high-stakes revamp of a deeply integrated Google service, that sure is a strange way to start.

2. 'Proactive assistance' on Google Home

One of the more intriguing I/O announcements was Google's proclamation that Google Home would soon support proactive assistance — the ability to notify you about things like traffic delays related to upcoming appointments or updates on the statuses of flights for which you'd searched.

In an I/O-accompanying blog post — on May 17, 2017 — Google said the feature would be arriving to Home devices "over the next few months." But here we are, eight months later, and the system has yet to surface.

3. Visual responses for Google Home via Chromecast

Another promising-sounding I/O pledge was the pending ability for Google Home to provide visual responses via Chromecast — something Google said would be coming "later this year" (in 2017).

"You’ll be able to see Assistant answers on the biggest screen in your house, whether you're asking 'What's on YouTube TV right now?' or 'What's on my calendar today?'" the company explained in its May 17 announcement.

In its I/O demo, Google showed Home sending visual info related to Google Calendar, the weather, and YouTube video discovery to a Chromecast-connected TV:

As I remarked at the time, it seemed like a clever and very Googley way to offer visual responses — by using existing devices as "screens" for Google Home instead of requiring a screen within the smart speaker itself.

It's now been eight months since that announcement, though. One has to wonder: Did the decision to push fully integrated smart displays in 2018 push this feature off the roadmap entirely, or is it just still in the slow-cooker and not yet ready to serve?

4. Google Clips

Tucked into October's grand Google hardware unveiling was the reveal of Google Clips — a funky new camera meant to capture "genuine and spontaneous moments" with the aid of artificial intelligence.

The idea is that you set the little camera (which, naturally, comes with a clip) on a table or chair, turn it on, and then let it identify and capture all the best moments — "stable, clear shots of people you know," as Google explained it. The camera then syncs everything wirelessly to an accompanying app on your phone, where you can save clips and/or still images to Google Photos (or wherever).

Google Launches 2017 - Clips Google

Technically, Google isn't late with this one, as it never provided a real window for the product's arrival (other than the decidedly vague "coming soon"). But still, it's a little odd to announce a new product in early October, give media outlets detailed demos, then go three-and-a-half months and counting — well after the holiday shopping season and into the following year — without bringing it up again.

But wait! Closure for this one may actually be in sight: As noticed by Variety, Clips just showed up in a filing at the FCC this week — suggesting its release could at last be, well, "coming soon" for true.

5. Google Assistant all over Android TV

Well over a year ago — on January 5, 2017 — Google said its Assistant service would be showing up on most existing Android TV devices "in the coming months." It specifically mentioned the Nvidia Shield "along with all Android TVs in the U.S. running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or Android 7.0 Nougat, such as the AirTV Player, Sharp Aquos, Sony Bravia, Xiaomi Mi Box, and more."

The Nvidia Shield saw Assistant arrive nearly nine months after the announcement, in late September of last year. Sony's Android-TV-packing sets followed suit about a month later.

But despite Google's ever-increasing focus on getting Assistant everywhere, the broader rollout to "all Android TVs" with 6.0 or higher — including the specific devices called out in the announcements — appears to be still pending, some 379 days later.

Hey, Google: What gives?

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