Google Keep used to be the perfect place to store your shopping list items. You could add them via Assistant by voice, and your smart home devices would just know to add them to a note labeled ‘Shopping’. Then, Google decided to mess up a good thing and shift everything over to Google Shopping – a list that was primarily web-based, had no voice functionality, and couldn’t be used offline. That’s right, if you were shopping in the store and were using your list and the cell signal went out due to the store’s roofing choice, you would be stuck standing in the middle of the aisle with no idea where to go next. This happened to me more than once and forced me to go back to making notes by hand or via Keep – foregoing the voice assistance!
Now that the company is revamping its bookmarking system with the new Reading List feature, it’s also deciding to throw in a browser-based shopping list experiment for good measure. First discovered by Dinsan at Chrome Story the project, code-named ‘Wall-E’ – yep, like the Pixar film – showed up in a Chromium Bug report as seen below. It will apparently be a Chrome developer flag before long and will allow users to access their groceries as an extension or replacement for the Reading List itself.
[Shopping] Add flag for shopping list
This patch adds a flag for the shopping list that defaults to off.Bug: 1205446
This bug tracks the work associated with building the shopping surface for wall-e. The initial implementation will be a separate UI that is shown in place of the current bookmark UI.Chromium Repository
You should know that Wall-E – the movie, that is – centers around the loss of humanity through consumerism, so it’s a bit dark that Google decided to go with this codename. In the 2008 film, the last remnants of humanity live aboard a ship on which life is controlled by a corporation and led by complacency. If they’re hoping that we all become robots and lose agency – opting instead to use Google Shopping for everything, then they have a very, very long way to go when compared to Amazon. The last time I ordered anything through Google Shopping, my order never showed up, and I was informed that I wouldn’t be receiving a refund for the error.
Either way, such a feature would probably be welcome for many who are beginning to gravitate toward the recently released New Tab Page modules for Shopping, Tasks, Drive, Photos, recipes, and more. I’ll just leave it at this – ever since Google Shopping began placing its claws into the Chrome browser, it’s become the lifeblood and driving force for many of the company’s decisions – for better or worse. The more you buy from Google, the less it has to rely on ad revenue when its big court case comes around! If done properly, I won’t mind so much – after all, if the products I’m recommended end up making my life better, then Google did its job and got paid for it. I just don’t want to see the browsing experience ruined by a bunch of promotions.
As Dinsan points out though with the many commits he singles out, this could simply be an experiment where any page related to Shopping data could generate a wishlist or store items for later – just as the New Tab Page shopping module currently does. Regardless, we likely have a while before we get any additional news on this feature, and until we learn more about what Google has planned. If it finds some way to tie Shopping list items into Google Chat ‘Rooms’, into this new browser module, or back into Keep when added via Assistant on a smart home device, I would be elated.