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Ask Slashdot: Which Google Project Didn't Deserve To Die? 383

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-soon dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader, its popular RSS reader, it sparked significant outrage across the Web. While one could argue that RSS readers have declined in popularity over the past few years (in fact, that was Google's stated reason for killing it), they remain a useful tool for many people who want to collect their Web content—articles, blog postings, and the like—in one convenient place. (Fortunately for them, there exist any number of alternative RSS readers, some of which offer even more features than Google Reader.) This wasn't the first time that Google announced a project's imminent demise, and it certainly won't be the last: Google Buzz, Google Health, Google Wave, Google Labs, and other software platforms all ended up in the dustbin of tech history. So here's the question: of all those projects, which didn't deserve the axe? If you had a choice, which would you bring back?"
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Ask Slashdot: Which Google Project Didn't Deserve To Die?

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  • Google Weather API (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:13AM (#43203221)

    How I miss thee...

    • Nexus Q (Score:4, Informative)

      by mystikkman (1487801) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:21AM (#43203339)

      I don't know why they killed the Nexus Q.
      http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/the-google-nexus-q-is-baffling/ [nytimes.com]

      If you’re having friends over, and they, too, have Android phones, and they, too, have bought songs from Google’s music store, then they can add their own songs to your Q’s queue.

      Sounds interesting in theory. In practice, there’s a lot of spontaneity-killing setup. You have to go into Settings to turn on the feature. Then you have to invite your friend to participate by — get this — sending an e-mail message. Then your friend has to download the Nexus Q app.

      If you or the friend then taps the name of a song in your online Google account, it starts playing immediately, rather than being added to the queue as you’d expect. A Google rep explained to me that you’re not supposed to tap a song to add it to the playlist; you have to use a tiny pop-up menu to add it. More bafflement.

      Sounds like a great party addon!

      • Re:Nexus Q (Score:5, Informative)

        by sootman (158191) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:59AM (#43203753) Homepage Journal

        > I don't know why they killed the Nexus Q.

        Because it cost 3x as much as other devices that did a WHOLE lot more? And, as described in the bit you quoted, it was badly-designed? Seriously -- it was a $250 one-trick pony. ALL it did was let friends play music, and IF and ONLY IF they were using the exact right combination of things: Android phones, music in your account, etc. The only product deserving of a swifter death was the Microsoft Kin.

  • Google Groups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:13AM (#43203223)

    Alas, poor DejaNews, we knew ye well.

    • Re:Google Groups (Score:5, Informative)

      by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:23AM (#43203355) Homepage

      Second. While you can still search usenet using Google Groups, it's a massive pain compared to how it used to be.

      • by antdude (79039)

        Yeah, I hate the new GUI on there. I stopped using it. Is there another free web-based newsgroup to use like the old DejaNews and old Google Groups?

    • by Jhon (241832) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:27AM (#43203399) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Although, I wish I could "delete" some of my (embarrassing) posts from the early to mid 90's. I was young and I needed the money!

      • by Hardness (990225)
        *sigh* Miss Delaware will never learn...
      • You are modded funny, but I seriously cringe when I think of some of my early 90's Usenet posts.

        As for "I needed the money", I seriously considered an offer from a potential employer at one point until I decided I just couldn't do it. The job? Post photos of declothed women to a Usenet group. Had I accepted the job, my career might have gone along a completely different path!

        • by Jhon (241832)

          I've seen my early 90's usenet posts. I more than cringe. I make light of it now because I'm older/wiser and less prone to actually putting my PHONE NUMBER in my sig (ug) among other things.

    • by Teckla (630646)

      I miss Google Groups Digest Emails. :-(

      They just stopped coming one day . . . with no announcement, I didn't even feel a sense of closure. ;-)

    • by ewoods (108845)

      What got me away from Yahoo was IG - Interactive Google. I have a few widgets on my google.com/ig page and I use it as my home page. They're ditching IG and I am going back to Yahoo.

  • Lots of choices (Score:5, Informative)

    by recoiledsnake (879048) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:13AM (#43203227)
    • by mystikkman (1487801) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:18AM (#43203297)

      In other news Google Drive is down. Most Chromebooks are rendered useless because of paltry local storage and reliance on the Google Cloud for storing important stuff.

      http://www.slashgear.com/google-investigating-google-drive-downtime-18274444/ [slashgear.com]

      • by fredprado (2569351) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:32AM (#43203473)
        That is one of the many problems with relying on clouds.
        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:04PM (#43203813)

          "That is one of the many problems with relying on clouds."

          Sadly, the main problem is the whole concept. While it might be a good idea, at some point in the future, that future is not yet here.

          What major online service, e.g. iCloud (based on MS Azure), Amazon AWS, etc. has not gone down for a significant period in each of the last few years? I am having trouble thinking of one.

          And before anybody says "Yes, but it's still more reliable than your own servers" I call bullshit. My own servers have not been down at all in the last few years.

          • By the way: apparently Github was down, at least for a while, this morning.
          • by johnnyb (4816)

            AWS has actually been pretty good if you actually do a proper deployment. I can only think of one time when they had multiple availability zones down at the same time. If you don't deploy across multiple availability zones, then it is just like any other hosted service. I often use it that way, too, it just isn't the magic fix-it-all system if you don't use it like it is intended.

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:53PM (#43204323)

            From a company point of view, cloud services are about as horrible as it can get because we're talking the loss of real money. Yet that ghost hovers over oh so many board rooms it just is not funny anymore. It usually comes with its buddy, Software-as-a-service. Normally encountered shortly after one of the tie racks comes back from lunch with one of the sales drones from such a provider.

            Sure, it looks nice at first glance. We store our stuff "somewhere" and someone else takes care of it, and the best part of it is that it's really dirt cheap. Plus we can fire all those techies, or if we already did and outsourced our storage, we can cut that noose we hang on and gain a lot of flexibility. And it's great until (not if, until) something goes wrong.

            Anyone here really had NO downtime in their company in the last, say, three years due to computer or network troubles? And if you think getting your stuff back in order is a hassle with your ISP, try the same with a cloud provider. What you saved in months of cloud services is lost in the few days your employees will sit around and do no meaningful work.

            • by plover (150551) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:08PM (#43206169) Homepage Journal

              And from a company point of view, I can also produce statistics on how many of our systems we ourselves screwed up with no help from the cloud. People screw up. Hardware fails.

              The difference with the cloud is that you've added two additional horribly complex systems (the network and the external servers) that can also be screwed up by people or fail for various reasons. You've also added the latency required to access the remote service. On top of that you've added multiple entry and exit points for data coming into and leaving your network, with extra key exchanges needed, and a different security environment to either be audited or blindly trusted.

              In exchange, you get to avoid the up front costs of installing a few servers, and the ongoing costs of managing them. Instead, you simply pay someone else on an ongoing basis to buy and maintain their own hardware with your money. And if they raise their rates, or go out of business, or buy cheap servers, or hire stupid people, or smart lawyers, guess what? You're only a lot worse off than you were before.

              It's a pretty cloud when it's way up in the blue sky. But it's nothing but fog when it's in your face.

          • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:04PM (#43204479)

            It is more reliable then your own servers generally, Not more always more reliable then your server personally.
            A lot of companies have their servers running on Desktop System under their desk plugged into the wall, with a single hard-drive. Or have their systems in a server room but there are the low priority servers that are not part of the main architecture, because what they do, do not justify the cost. So if you have a cloud system you get a cheap server, to do a low/mid priority task. Say running your website, or email. Something depending on your organization can afford to be offline for a period of time.

            So you personally may be a good administrator, or you may have been lucky that they didn't go down. It isn't that could is better any individual system for uptime, it is just better on the average.

      • by mtmra70 (964928)

        And Google isn't addressing the for ALL Blackberry users.

        https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/maps/PDx5fW-SiFI/77dIbvuMR5sJ [google.com]

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        It's also worth noting that Chromebooks aren't actually useless without Drive... It'd be more accurate to say they're suffering from reduced functionality, or if you really want to go for sensationalism, say they're "crippled". It's also worth noting that the outage is affecting only some users. My account seems to be perfectly accessible from my office and my remote server, so I'm going to assume that "most Chromebooks" are functioning just fine for most purposes.

        A chromebook is a terminal to the Web. It's

      • And the "devil's advocate" is at it again, and already moded informative! Strangely, if you read the comments, and not only the Chris Burn's story, you'd see that the only thing that isn't working is http/https access. But never let the facts get in the way of an anti-google rant, right?

        BTW, your posting story is really very interesting, only pro-ms and/or anti-google posts, mingled with some (moded insightful) rants on how the anti-ms camp is destroying slashdot.

        Going back to the issue at hand, for me goog

      • by emag (4640)

        It's not really down, it's just hungover from too much St Patrick's celebrating this weekend...

  • "Do no evil." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by concealment (2447304) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:15AM (#43203259) Homepage Journal

    My favorite Google project was the idea that a company built brand loyalty by refusing to do evil, manipulative and underhanded things.

    Ten years later, Google is doing those things. They're getting more aggressive with ads and invading personal information; they're cutting out useful projects that don't immediately monetize; they're trying to manipulate us into being better cash cows by signing up with our cell phones and handing over more ad-friendly information through Google+.

    I don't begrudge them the right to make a profit. They were doing that, and continue to do so, without any of these manipulative activities. I just want the "do no evil" project to come back because that was a Google, Inc. I could believe in.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:33AM (#43203483)

      Correction: it was "don't *be* evil" [google.com] (emphasis added). There is a subtle semantic distinction between doing some evil and actually being evil. Such hair-splitting is probably what lets Google managers sleep at night.

      More from the link:

      Our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, build great products, and attract loyal users. Trust and mutual respect among employees and users are the foundation of our success, and they are something we need to earn every day.

      Nice words they've got there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tokencode (1952944)
      The "Do No Evil" project was scrapped as soon as they started the "Publically Traded Company" project...
    • Their old motto is better understood if you parse it as "Do? No, Evil!" with Evil taken to be a verb form meaning "to do evil". That makes more sense, doesn't it, of how they transformed from their benign P.R. (which is all it was even in the first place, Public Relations, not a real motto to be followed) into more insidious P.R. (Privacy Raping).
    • by fermion (181285)
      As I said before, doing no evil is a far cry from doing good. I think on the whole google actively minimizes the evil it does. For instance it collects data, but it does not collate the data and then uses it to extort favors from people, as far as we know.

      The Google projects are there for good, to test the limits of what can be done through a web or mobile based interfaces, but google is not a charity. It is not going to offer free products that do not support the core mission, to collect user data and

    • by Barryke (772876)

      This. And its why i am inclined to look into going to the next underdog. When i adopted Google, Gmail and Android, they where the underdogs. Right now, it seems Microsoft is my underdog ecosystem of choice. Its even actively campaigning against privacy intrusions, however they still do not practice what they preach.

  • iGoogle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swinferno (1212408) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:16AM (#43203275)

    How I'm dreading November 1st when iGoogle will be retired...
    http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2664197 [google.com]

    • by anjrober (150253)

      me too
      anyone have a good suggestion for a replacement
      i would love one that also supports iphone, ipad, etc.

      • I've been using netvibes.com since the announcement of the 'retirement' of iGoogle. It does most of what iGoogle did as well or better. It's funny ever since the Reader 'retirement' was announced netvibes has frequently put up a message apologizing for slowness because of having to adjust to a huge influx of new users. I bet they're super happy that Reader is dead.
    • by adamchou (993073)
      this is the one i'd vote for. i second that
    • Re:iGoogle (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jeffy210 (214759) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:38AM (#43203515)

      Yup, that's the one I was going to post. It's been my homepage for years. It's a nice simple web based RSS aggregator that I could get to from anywhere.

    • Re:iGoogle (Score:5, Funny)

      by sosume (680416) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:46AM (#43203599) Journal

      Yup, that is the one, iGoogle. My default page for the last 5 years or so. Why they would retire that is beyond understanding, it attracts a ton of users at a relatively low cost. I am trying to do without the page at the moment, and find that I consume *much* less of Google's services as a consequence. I even started appreciating Bing and Live Maps as viable alternatives, who knows, my next phone may even be a WP8 device! (shrudders).

      • by jitterman (987991)
        I too have used iGoogle for as long as I can really recall, and agree that its retirement puzzles me greatly. NetVibes doesn't really do it for me; I'm trying igHome for now as the purpose of the project is to closely (not exactly) replicate iGoogle.

        As for WP8, I have a Lumia 920 (got it on release day) and enjoy it thoroughly - it's not just not bad, it's actually good (my opinion of course).
    • I have been a long time my.yahoo user. When iGoogle came out, I tried it, but liked my.yahoo.com better.

      I haven't heard people mentioning them here as a replacement for iGoogle. Why is that?

  • Google Code Search (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:18AM (#43203295)

    RIP

  • by DarrenBaker (322210) <darren@@@flim...net> on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:20AM (#43203319) Homepage

    This needs to happen again, before it gets owned by some shady proprietor.

    Speaking of which, where's Google Vote?

  • Maybe it never really existed, that so-called "Do No Evil" phase of google, and it's all just a post-hoc remythologizing of what google used to be...
    ....
    but why couldn't they bring back the clean page search engine (they could keep the new search algorithms for pagerank, or revert back) that they used to be before they became the ad-sense and ad-word selling advertising behemoth? An actual search engine rather than a categorizer and tracker of all of our searches, and web-site travels, and telephone calls
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      how else would they make money but by advertising? you voluntarily use google and they make you part of advertisers market. simple as that. don't like it, don't play. but they owe you nothing, cutting off a free service doesn't constitute being evil, just sensible.

      • dude, this is not sensibility we're talking about here. It's not even that google has asked people what they should bring back. This is a fucking slashdot article about what people would like to see back at google. It's just a wishlist!!! So there's no need to bring sensibility or rationality or complaining about what a free service really needs to provide us!!! No need to be on a high horse; my post is completely on topic as to "what google project didn't deserve to die?". It's your comment that is "o
    • I reached a point where they didn't support one of the features I came to love in search syntax, and I switched to duckduckgo. I give it a B- on searching, but an A+ on features and privacy.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      I'd really like to get back to a time where if you searched for a keyword in quotes, it was guaranteed to exist in the text of that page. I often find myself on pages that not only lack the exact query, but Google's cache lacks the query too, so you can't blame it on pages changing during inbetween updates.

      No Google, I don't care if you think I misspelled it, that's what the quotes are for. No, I don't care if it's in the meta tags either. Give me my exact query in the text of the page, or nothing.

  • as my homepage. It's still around but it will be gone in a few months. Better start looking for alternatives.
  • I'm still in doubt between "Google Flying car" and "Google Holodeck".

    Oh wait... it seems we can only choose from a list of boring office applications.

  • Hey We Get It But... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garcia (6573) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:31AM (#43203449) Homepage

    Listen, I understand that Google's services are free and they are a business and need to do what they feel is necessary to make money; however, I am not sure why some of these went away.

    Let's take for instance the fact that Google has killed off their RSS discovery plugin. I was a die hard Google Reader person and made the move to Feedly when Google Reader was killed. Killing Google Reader may have made sense to them; after all, they were supporting traffic and crawling feeds, and doing all those things that take money, time, engineering resources, and bandwidth. No worries there. But killing off the RSS plugin? I just can't fathom how that matters.

    Leave the damn tool out there for people to use. It really doesn't harm anyone if it's something that works and can continue to work client side.

    But I digress. Yes, Feedly (or any of the tools that will ultimately replace Reader) could make their own but killing it off in some misguided attempt at pushing users to use G+ (what I assume is their reasoning for it all) is just going to drive people farther away from Google's tools.

    No, G+ (or any social network for that matter) does not operate in the same way Reader (or any RSS reader) did. I don't give a fuck what other people find interesting for the most part; I want to be able to pick and choose and provide that content back out to people on those networks, not the other way around.

    Make your money in the way you see fit but I hope they're not surprised when there is a backlash against those changes. Oh and open source the damn RSS app and even Reader so people can continue on w/o Google's backing. That would fit the "do no evil" mantra.

  • by leptechie (1937384) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:32AM (#43203471) Homepage
    Surprisingly, Google Apps.

    It's not dead, but it's no longer free. I work with three volunteer organisations - they're not charities but social groups geared towards helping expats get settled in my city. Membership management, event planning and budgeting, publications and flyers. All were easy to collaborate on with Google Apps, but even the (seemingly) small subscription fees are a burden when we're explicitly non-profit and loosely organised. We could have two active users one month, ten the next, so no single pricing plan option is appropriate without serious overhead and/or possible overspend.
    Very unfortunate.

    • by heypete (60671)

      This.

      I registered for Google Apps shortly after it came out. I have my own domain, so having Google handle mail for my domain was fantastic. My needs are pretty basic (one user, a few aliases, really good spam filtering, IMAP, good webmail) and I've been with them for years.

      I recommended Apps to anyone who had their domain and wanted to use Gmail with it.

      Charge for business users? Sure. The price is quite reasonable. Offer a discount for non-profits or universities? Great. Still, it'd be great if they still

  • Search worked so much better when they had Google Pigeons doing the search instead of all these servers.
  • Google Public Data (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    IMO, google public data is a prime candidate to get the axe. we rely on it for our visualizations here at work. i vehemently argued against using this service because google can axe it at any time. it provides no discernable income for google (no ads appear anywhere), it has virtually no support whatsoever so it seems to function basically as a loss leader for google.

    i argued for using a product such as tableau which may cost some upfront cash but is also less likely to dissapear than a free google product,

  • Seeing how Google is taking their sweet time to fix Latitude for Blackberry users, is it the next product to be axed?

    https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/maps/PDx5fW-SiFI/77dIbvuMR5sJ [google.com]

  • by weave (48069) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:45AM (#43203597) Journal
    They forgot all of the companies they've bought and closed down, like Gizmo5 [wikipedia.org]
  • I was under the impression that much of this "closed down" functionality was going to migrate to the walled garden of Google Plus. The would mirror facebook's methodology and compete with them.
  • Google Answers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:47AM (#43203617) Journal
    Spawned a million clones, all of which suck.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Mod Parent UP. Google answers provided as simple forum for leveraging experts to research information on complex topics. Users would pay from $2 to $200 based on the complexity of the research. The researchers were independent contractors that would provide a thorugh analysis of the given topic. I was impressed with the quality of work and I'd often look at the threads and topics that were generated to learn about a particular topic that I was interested in. There is a site available that the google an

      • Re:Google Answers (Score:4, Interesting)

        by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:26PM (#43204031) Journal
        The lack of Google branding hurt UClue for sure, but it was also held back by their self-interest: only former Google Answers researchers were allowed to become paid UClue researchers. The rest of the answers sites are generally crappy free wiki-type things, with little oversight and relatively small communities of contributors. The demand for a high quality research-oriented community with bounties is there, still unsatisfied, when Google had the product in the palm of their hand over ten years ago. Apparently, it was discontinued for no reason other than it was niche. Well, why the hell didn't you expand it?! For starters, you could have embraced the wiki revolution and recruited lots more paid researchers, offered resources for amateurs wanting to go pro. And it's not like it was an expensive thing to maintain. The people running it were commission-based contractors, not employees... and google got some of that commission too, on top of whatever they were making with ads.
  • by queequeg1 (180099) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:51AM (#43203661)

    I'm still pissed that they bought up SageTV and appear to have done absolutely nothing with the technology. One of the better comprehensive PC-based DVR/media streaming systems destroyed. Even with zero updates and little support for 2 years, I still use it. The HD300 is still an excellent media streaming box.

  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday March 18, 2013 @11:56AM (#43203705)
    Withing the old Google labs was a search called Google Sets. It was rarely used, but when you needed that capability it was the only place on the net you could do it. Why it or "labs" had to go away I don't understand.

    For the uninitiated, Sets allowed to you enter 2 or 3 things of some type and it would return a list (15) of other things of that type. The example they used was to enter the titles of a few Tom Cruise movies and it would return a bunch more. In real world usage you could use it to identify alternative makers of various products, or alternatives to any number of things (programming languages for example) or even things where you don't know how the terminology that describes how they are related.
  • After all, search is *so* nineties. Social is where it's at now, init?

  • It was a beginner friendly way to code android apps. I used it with my kids, who loved it.
  • by Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:22PM (#43203987) Homepage
    Knol was a Google project that aimed to include user-written articles on a range of topics [wikipedia.org]. The project was led by Udi Manber of Google, announced December 13, 2007, and was opened in beta to the public on July 23, 2008 with a few hundred articles mostly in the health and medical field. Some Knol pages were opinion papers of one or more authors, and others described products for sale. Some articles were how-to articles or explained product use. Other people could post comments below an article, such as to refute opinions or reject product claims.

    In November 2011 Google announced that Knol would be phased out. Content could be exported by owners to the WordPress-based Annotum. Knol was closed on April 30, 2012, and all content was deleted by October 1, 2012. Between these dates the content was not viewable, but was downloadable and exportable
  • by Njovich (553857) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:39PM (#43204169)

    And suddenly Google Calendar turned useless to me...

  • by snadrus (930168) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:53PM (#43204317) Homepage Journal

    RSS, Federated XMPP, and Google Wave are all federated protocols that Google's not working with anymore. We need better federated protocols to catch-on (by being well supported) now that email is looking ancient.

    Everyone has an email address because anyone can run an email server, not because a handful of mega-tech companies elected to work together. Email has no central point of censorship or ad-scanning. The same isn't true for any discussion page, twitter, social media, etc.

    HTTP is mostly decentralized (except DNS & SSL) and is the basis of today's Internet. Decentralized protocols make the world grow. Axing them kills progress.

  • by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:53PM (#43204321)

    It might not be officially dead, but it may as well be. I would have paid money for it, but it's been unreliable, flaky with getting texts to other carriers, and hasn't been updated in years now. I can't even make IP voice calls from voice.google.com, I have to go to gmail.com to make a call from my Google voice number. There is no way that I would use my google voice number as my main number with it's issues, and it doesn't look like that is ever going to change now. It's a shame, it was the product for me, and I would be recommending it to all my friends and coworkers who travel internationally.

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