Is Google Now in trouble? The clever personal assistant keeps getting smarter, but the service is apparently bleeding employees behind the scenes. One report claims that most of the original Google Now team has abandoned the company in the past few months just as Microsoft and Apple ramp up competing apps.
Two of the original Google Now engineers allegedly left in March, with a few more following soon afterwards. Re/code notes that only one of the original team members is still working at the company. The main issue seems to be that Google’s new CEO Sundar Pichai doesn’t give the service much priority compared to more popular products like Android and Chrome.
Google Now actually started as an experiment inside the Maps team just a few months before it was announced in 2012 as part of the Android Jelly Bean update. Larry Page was apparently a big supporter of the project but, as he stepped back from managing the core Google products, Now ended up on the back burner. It was eventually absorbed into the Search division, despite objections from some of the original team.
Despite these issues, Google is confident that Now will continue to improve. “We’re seeing strong usage and very positive feedback,” a company representative told Re/code. “And we’re continuing to make Google Now work even better — continuing to add dozens of new cards, getting Now on Tap ready for release, improving our predictive technology, and iterating on the design and user experience.”
Google Now will face tough competition moving forward as its rivals continue to improve. Hopefully the search giant can keep updating its own digital assistant at the same rapid pace, even without most of the original team.