Google Assistant Now Lets You Set Reminders for Others
Google Assistant is extending the reminder feature common to most voice assistants to allow users to leave reminders for other people. The new Assignable reminders connect people on the same account or system to help remind each other about tasks and events.
Reminders for Family and Roommates
Reminders are a fairly basic idea. You can ask Google Assistant to remind you of something at a designated time or location, and it will let you know via smart speaker or through an app on a mobile device at the assigned moment. Assignables does the same thing, but instead, you can ask Google to remind a roommate to do a chore at a certain time or remind a spouse to pick up a specific item the next time they are at the grocery store. In the latter case, the reminder notification will be sent when the person arrives at a designated location. They will get an alert both when you create the reminder and when the time or place dictates.
Assignables aren’t universal. They can only be set for people in a Google family group, including special accounts for children under 13. Otherwise, both people must have accounts linked to the same Nest Home smart display or smart speaker.
Google describes Assignables as a useful way to coordinate with others in your household while you are all on the go. The time-based alert doesn’t immediately seem different from just sending a delayed text message, albeit one that might be useful for setting multiple reminders all at once. The location-based reminder could be very useful though since it doesn’t rely on knowing when someone is going somewhere, just that they have arrived. Of course, it does require that the person is using Google’s location-based services.
Google Assistant appears to be ahead of Alexa and Siri when it comes to this kind of reminder system. For privacy reasons and probably to stop from annoying customers, voice assistants have not typically included the ability to send alerts to other people.
One of the few proactive voice assistants is the one created by healthcare AI developer LifePod. Lifepod’s proactive virtual caregiver is designed to improve caregiving and support for aging patients or those living in social isolation. Family and caregivers can set up reminders so that the device will remind the patient about doctor’s appointments and medicine times, and keep the caregivers updated in real time. To make the proactive assistant possible, LifePod needed to build a custom iHome device. At the time, neither Google, Amazon, nor Apple enabled this type of feature. And, even though this is now offered for Google Assistant, the feature is not currently available for use by third-party developers.
Google Assignables do not have the range of features or specialized care focus of LifePod, but it does bring the proactive element to a potentially much wider customer base and a broader set of use cases. Assignables may mark a new step toward integrating voice assistants into people’s lives, at least, if everyone remembers to use it.