Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, Google announced a groundbreaking service called "Google Now." For the few lucky people who got to experience it, Now was everything you wanted at the swipe of your finger. Future appointments, trips, scheduled deliveries, upcoming reservations, all useful information without any fluff. Then random articles and news started flooding it. At first, they were dismissable with a swipe, until they were not. Slowly, Now became Discover, and your cards went away, leaving in their wake any information Google wanted to shove in your face.
In the meantime, Google started developing Assistant's upcoming (aka updates, aka inbox) screen as a replacement where all your personal cards would live, and eventually launched it under the name "Snapshot." Do you see where this is going? News in Snapshot. Yes, of course news in Snapshot. Because Google can't help itself.
As promised by the company in August, a new Google News card is showing up inside your daily Assistant Snapshot. The card appears as expanded by default, taking nearly all of the vertical space on the screen, but you can minimize it if you want. In it are a few large article thumbnails from Google News, which should be tailored to your preferences, plus shortcuts to open the app or check the headlines.
In case you're thinking "no fuss, I'll just dismiss it," the answer is no. Cards in Snapshot can't be swiped away. "Oh then, I'll tap the three-dot overflow button on the bottom right and choose to remove it." Nope, try again. "Well then, I'll go to Snapshot's settings — didn't they just add those? — and disable this card type as a whole." Well, maybe. For some users, there's a toggle for disabling News articles under the Recommendations section, but for others the option isn't there. Maybe it's still slowly rolling out or maybe Google is trying to see if it wants to offer that option or not. And who's to say it won't be removed later, forcing that news card on everyone?
So yes, depending on how lucky you are, you might be stuck with a large News card that you can't dismiss, right in the middle of your Snapshot, which was supposed to be the one sacred place where you don't get random things from the internet. Here's your weather, your doctor's appointment, and how about some politics to go with that? It'll sure help your blood pressure before you go to the doc.
Besides, this isn't the only type of unremovable card in Snapshot. Another one I've noticed is an "Order in from local restaurants" suggestion that pops up around dinner time. It can't be dismissed either, and we haven't seen any settings toggle to disable it.
If I sound salty here, it's because I am. I have plenty of news articles populating my Google Discover feed, which still occupies the prime real estate on the left of my homescreen. I also see recommended articles each time I open a new Chrome tab. I can get to them if I open the News app, or if I add its widget on my homescreen. There's no shortage of ways to be flooded by news. But Assistant? Just no. Snapshot was supposed to be the place where I get my personal information from multiple Google services. My reservations, my sports scores, my deliveries, my calendar events. I don't need assistance in discovering more news. I have enough as it is.
- Eduardo Ribeiro,
- Harmeet Sidhu