Google Search feature mysteriously disappears after a decade

A person holds an iPhone showing the app for Google chrome search engine. Picture date: Friday January 3, 2020 (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)
A person holds an iPhone showing the app for Google chrome search engine. Picture date: Friday January 3, 2020 (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

Google Search’s in-built clock has seemingly stopped working.

It used to be that users could search Google for ‘minute timer’ and the engine would start counting down via a built-in widget. The feature, which also includes a stopwatch, has been around for nearly a decade, after being introduced in 2013.

Now, however, that seems to have disappared - with Search Engine Roundtable noticing that the feature had been gone since around 18 July.

Users can still set timers on their phones via a voice command, but the text input appears to be disabled.

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The company has added a number of features into the search results themselves in recent years, apparently to avoid people leaving to other sites to use common tools.

Searching for “calculator” will show a scientific calculator where the results would normally be, for instance. And Google shows information such as sports results when searching, rather than pointing to other sites where those features might be found.

The similar built-in metronome feature is still available when searching for that word, as noted by The Verge.

As such, it was difficult to know whether the feature had been removed or simply disappeared by accident.

Google’s public search liaison Danny Sullivan tweeted that the company is “checking” on the feature’s absence, making it unclear whether it was a conscious decision or a bug.

“We’re still looking into it. I do expect it will be back fairly soon, though I don’t have a specific ETA I can give yet.

“Sorry about the inconvenience”, he added.