An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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July 20, 2007

Google Discontinues Click-to-Call and Related Links

Two small but useful Google services are no longer available. Click-to-call, the Google Maps feature that allowed you to call a business for free in the US, was removed. "This feature was a long-running experiment, and in the end it was decided to discontinue it. There are however lots of other features we're adding to maps in the hope of making it even more useful," says a Googler who recommends trying GOOG-411, an automated voice-based mobile search engine. You can also try Microsoft's local search engine, which continues to include a click-to-call feature.

Haochi Chen was reminded of that strange day from October 2006 when Google's Official Blog was hacked and somebody posted that "Google has decided not to continue with Google Click-to-call project". Apparently, he was right.


Another discontinued service is Related Links, that showed links to news, videos and searches related to the content of a page in a small box which looked similar to an AdSense unit. Many people were disappointed that they don't earn money for adding it to their sites and the links weren't very relevant, a problem that is also noticeable in the similar feature available in Gmail and Google Groups. A Google representative told Google Blogoscoped that "through our evaluation of the Labs product, we identified the most compelling functionalities of Related Links and integrated them into new and improved products, like the AJAX Search API and AdSense Link Units". Unfortunately, the most compelling functionality was to display dynamic content from the web that complements and enhances a page, but you don't get this using AdSense Link Units (ads) or AJAX Search API (you need to manually define the queries). Some alternatives for Related Links: Sphere widget, Findory's API.


One of the nine rules for innovation shared by Google's Marissa Mayer was "don't kill projects, morph them". Hopefully, they'll morph into something better.

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