Google Now users getting ‘Failed to load cards’ error; here’s how to fix it

I don’t know about you but on match days, like this Sunday, the first thing I usually do when I wake up is roll over, pick up my phone, fire up the Google app (because I can no longer use that shortcut, because Google Assistant happened) and see what time my beloved Manchester United is playing. Then I go ahead and see what’s the latest in the news. Then switch to the appointments tab and see what appointment or event, if any, I have to attend later in the day.

That did not happen this morning. I thought something was wrong. A quick Google search (using the browser this time) revealed what was amiss: the ever-reliable Google Now, which makes it possible for me to follow by-the-minutes updates any time a football team I follow is playing, was down. Like me, other users were also getting the “Failed to load cards” error.

According to multiple sources (see 9to5Google and Android Police), a server-side update test went awry and as a result broke not just Google Now but also Google Play for some users. I happen to be one of those users on both my Huawei Mate 9 and the Infinix S2 Pro.

Google regularly tweaks its products by releasing server-side updates (i.e. automatic updates that don’t require one to update the app on the Play Store in order to get them). Like this one I noticed recently.

So now that I know that Google Now is broken and it’s not my fault, what to do? I mean, the Red Devils are taking on hapless Arsenal some time today and I really don’t know the exact time. The first instinct was to fire up Google Assistant and simply ask. Or just do a search on the browser since that was still working well. Those are nice options to have but I love my Google Now.

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Here’s how to get Google Now working if you’re getting the “Failed to load cards” error as we wait for a permanent fix from Google:

  1. Clear the Google app’s data. This is easy to do. Open the settings app, go to apps, scroll down to the Google app, click on it, click on ‘Storage’, then ‘Manage Storage/Space’ and do the needful i.e. ‘Clear All Data’. That’s it. Or…
  2. Uninstall and then re-install the Google app. If you are able to do this then go ahead and do it. It won’t be possible for most users, though, more so non-root users, since the Google app comes pre-installed as part of Google services on most devices and that means that it is a system app. And for system apps, you just can’t wake up one fine Sunday morning and decide “enough is enough”.
  3. Disable and then re-enable the Google app. This is the option most will have. Just click the ‘Disable’ tab (in Settings > Apps > Google), wait till it is greyed out and ‘Enable’ is now written in its place and click it. Magic will happen.
  4. Uninstall updates. For yet some other users, they will be presented with an option to strip any system apps to their factory state i.e. when the device was brand new and the app pre-installed with no user data and any update. That will still work. Just uninstall the updates, the app will take care of itself once it is active again.

I went with clearing the Google app’s data and Now (see what I did there?) I know that Marcus Rashford will be leading the onslaught against Arsenal as from 6PM.

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Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com