In the latest Google Shopping app update, XDA has discovered a string of code that points to the Android app preparing to ‘sunset’ or shut down for good. Version 59 now has a built-in Googley graphic that says ‘Something went wrong’, and directs the user to continue by navigating to Shopping on the web. The string names use the word ‘sunset’. For those unfamiliar with Google’s process, they go through once a year and send products and services off into the sunset during spring cleaning so that they can re-focus on what’s important to them. Many times, this means that your favorite Google things may meet their end. When it comes to sunsetting, nothing is safe, because the company has a forward-thinking mentality that doesn’t favor even the most popular creations – just their concept or idea. Google isn’t afraid of tearing something apart if they think it can be done better.
<string name=”sunset_default_primary_button_text”>Shop on the web</string>
<string name=”sunset_default_subtitle”>The app is unavailable right now, but you can continue shopping on shopping.google.com</string>
<string name=”sunset_default_title”>Something went wrong</string>XDA Developers
While this may come as a surprise to many, those who are familiar with Google Shopping’s history will know that it’s no stranger to bouncing back and forth between the app and the web as a primary vehicle for delivering its experience. Though some would claim this is yet another Google product or service entering into the Google Graveyard, I wouldn’t be so fast to jump to that conclusion. There are a load of reasons why I don’t believe that Shopping is being ‘killed off’. Let’s discuss!
First, we see that Google and Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai is extremely fond of the idea of Shopping being a central experience for many of the company’s products and services. Recently, he stated that Youtube’s product unboxing videos could be a prime opportunity for monetization with Google Shopping, and just last week, the video platform began to show purchase links to products found in videos. Not only that, but Sundar has pushed hard for Shopping as a service during the pandemic as a means to getting users what they need during these trying times. So much so, that he brought attention many times to the service’s new price tracking and insights tools which included curbside pickup options for retailers.
Moving right along, the Chrome development team has shown a lot of movement on a few features lately that would definitely point to Google Shopping sticking around. Namely, the new tab page shopping module, and Chrome Cart – tools that allow you to pick up where you left off with items you’ve recently perused across the web. Google believes in Shopping so much that they’re building it into the very DNA of their web browser! Let’s not forget that as the company nears its 2022 DOJ hearing regarding ad revenue, they’re pushing hard for any means they have which can net them more cash without the need to scrape it from ads. All of these things combined prove that Google Shopping (outside of all of their new subscription services) may be their new cash cow, so to speak.
The last thing I want to bring up in regards to the work being done on Shopping is the recently created Holiday Gift Guide which was updated for Valentine’s Day, and the fancy microsite that Google put up in order to help you pay out your stimulus check to loved ones in the form of gifts. If the app is actually being shut down, I do have a few thoughts on what this could mean for Google and by extension, for its users.
My first thought is that I can’t wait to get my shopping list out of the app and either back in Google Keep or somewhere else more accessible (more on that in a moment). Ever since the company moved it over, it’s been a disaster – you can’t load up your grocery list without a data connection, and many stores I shop in have a weak signal due to having a metal roof. Once, I was picking some things up from the store and had my list open in the Shopping app and when my cell data got knocked out for a few minutes my list went with it. I was left standing in the aisle with no idea of where I was supposed to go next!
Next, if the Google Shopping app is, in fact, going to be shut down, I believe that Google will replace it with a PWA in the Play Store. We’ve already seen a bunch of its services get swapped out there, and I strongly believe that this is the plan moving forward. I support this approach 100%, especially since the web app is nearly identical in design and functionality. As a society, we’re entering into a journey where locally packaged apps and experiences will be yesterday’s news, and Google is at the forefront of that change.
Finally, the upcoming leaked Assistant Memory feature could serve as the new home for your Google Shopping grocery list, and other lists that are tied to Google Collections. It truly is all connected, and the company is looking to aggressively push Assistant as the primary means to managing all of the things you will need to remember for later. Since 99% of people add items to their shopping list using voice commands, this is an instant win and an obvious solution to me.
The only issue I foresee with all of this change and with the Google Shopping app potentially being sunset is that Google’s inconsistency with the user experience. This could eventually prove to be the reason its services do not succeed with the masses in a way that something like Amazon shopping does. Whatever comes of Google Shopping, I believe that it has a bright future. Though it may not take the form we would traditionally expect it to, I think that Google has a plan to make it more useful, and more intelligent than ever before.