11 promise-filled Android features that quietly faded away

Every time a new Android version arrives, a new game begins: Which of the lovingly described fresh platform features will fail to live up to its hype and then end up fading out of the foreground — either to be phased out completely or just brushed aside and consigned to oblivion?

It seems like a funny thing to say, but when you look back at Android’s history, you realize how many once-transformative-sounding features ended up fizzling and being forgotten soon after their grand debuts. Some remain buried in the software while others quietly vanished after a period of inertia, but they all share the fact that they’re nowhere near the center-stage-worthy elements they once appeared to be.

(I’ve been worried for a while that Android widgets might end up on this list, incidentally, but Apple’s high-profile adoption of the concept this year makes me hopeful that Google might start caring about it again for the first time since roughly 2011. Funny how that can happen, isn’t it?!)

So grab some popcorn and get ready for a nostalgia-filled journey — one bound to be peppered with more than a few “Oh, right, what ever happened to that?!” reactions.

1. Slices

Our first faded Android feature found its way into our lives — in theory, at least — back with 2018’s Android 9.0 Pie release. It was called, rather fittingly, Slices, and it sounded downright delicious at the time.

Slices “could eventually reshape the way we find information and actions within apps,” as one extraordinarily handsome and exceptionally modest writer put it. In short, the system was supposed to integrate pieces of apps directly into Android’s search interface — so you could search for something like “Lyft” in your home screen search box or via the Google Assistant and see the current wait time for a ride, along with icons to actually order a ride, right then and there. Or you could search for a video on YouTube or another streaming service and then play it right in the results, without ever leaving that screen.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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