Google appears to be removing two features from its Assistant’s reminder setting capabilities. It is the abandonment of support for assignable reminders – “remind Anna to bring the bins out this morning” – and location-based ones – “remind me to call Becca when I get to the office.” Google hasn’t announced any changes, choosing instead to bury one in a support page and another in an Assistant app popup. Both features still work, but obviously longer.
Chalk this one up to the latest in a long, long story of Google doing a terrific job of turning reminders into something even remotely useful.
The list of chaotic Google product offers is long, but I argue that none make less sense than recalls. You can set reminders in Google Calendar, which sync with the Google Tasks app. This is good and correct behavior! But you can also set reminders with Google Assistant, which live in an entirely different ecosystem and don’t appear in tasks. Google Keep is perhaps the most chaotic: you can add a reminder to a note, and it will show up next to reminders created by your assistant, but not in Google Tasks. They will also appear in a dedicated section of the Keep app, but none of your other reminders are there.
There is precisely one place to see all reminders in your Google account and that is the Google Calendar app for iOS and Android. But even that has its quirks. You can create a reminder in the Google Calendar app, which appears next to Assistant reminders and on reminders.google.com, or create a task, which appears exactly the same but appears in Google Tasks, but not elsewhere. In the Calendar web app, you can only create and view task reminders, which don’t appear where other reminders appear.
The fact that Calendar brings it so close to the right is all the more infuriating. This means that there is nothing that separates reminders other than Google that does not bring them together. In general, all you can really hope for is that your device pings you at the right time and you never need to look at a list of everything that’s going on.
In this absurd ecosystem, Google can’t even match its reminders features. Assistant may lose location-based reminders, but your Keep reminders can still be triggered by your GPS PIN. Google Tasks and Calendar reminders could never be location-based, for some reason.
The glass half full of Google’s recent changes would be that they’re the first signal in quite some time that anyone at Google actually remembers the existence of recalls. And, as the company continues to work to bring its products together more cohesively, a project may be underway to finally make sense of the recalls: 9to5Google spotted a new feature called “Memory” last year it could be the ultimate home for all your bookmarks and reminders.
But I won’t hold your breath. Google has intermittently expressed interest in making Reminders work, most recently in 2018 when it relaunched Google Tasks alongside a big Gmail overhaul. The app seemed like a good start, but it was clear that Google still had work to do. Over the next four years, Google did virtually none of that.
It’s clear that Google sees Assistant as the true center of its ecosystem, both for reminders and for its entire ambient computing project. Which would be nice, really, if the company did the (relatively minor) work of connecting the rest of the ecosystem.
We’re hoping Google reduces its Reminders features as it plots a way to bring the whole system together and then add some of those features back. Until then, I will continue to set reminders with Siri. He can hear me badly half the time, but at least I know where to find things.
#Googles #Messy #Reminders #System #Messier