Google Assistant Adds Proactive Reminders to Routines
Google Assistant is adding a new routine to its mobile apps that will automatically remind users about activities during their day. The new workday routine feature proactively reminds users of things they might forget if they get too absorbed in work or another activity. The user can connect the custom alerts to other actions, just like any routine. The system performs like an extended version of the Family Bell reminder ability Google added to its features earlier this summer.
The alerts can be for whatever the user wants, whether a morning stretch break, a reminder to drink water, or just letting them know that its time to be done. They can be set up in the iOS and Android Google Assistant apps and tied to specific times and days like other routines. After they are set up, the alerts operate through either a mobile app or a connected Google Nest smart speaker or smart display. When the alerts go off, Google Assistant will say what the alarm is for and start any other action tied to the alert, such as reminding someone of their afternoon calendar when they start their lunch break or letting them know about birthdays when they begin their day. Google explicitly tied the concept for these reminders to how working from home can blur the lines between work time and home time and the importance of demarcating those limits.
“While many of us are fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the pandemic, there’s something to be said about the in-office environment that breaks up the day,” Google product manager Alice Liang wrote in a blog post announcing the new feature. “Simple things like mid-morning coffee breaks to recharge or catching up with coworkers on the way to a meeting are definitely missed. We wanted to find a way for Google Assistant to help you stay productive and fight the “blur” that can happen when you work from home.”
The workday reminders show how Google is reconfiguring around the realities of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. That’s essentially what the Family Bell feature does for parents and families juggling education at home as well. The alerts offer many preset suggestions for announcing classes, breaks, and study sessions, all with sound effects. The alarms can say anything the user wants, however. Notably, both the workday and Family Bell alerts can be set to play only where the user wants. The school starting announcement might be set for just the room where the students sleep, while the workday alarm may only go off in the home office an on the user’s phone. The feature also goes well with the updated Google Assistant Snapshot after Google added voice commands and personalized suggestions a month ago, including potentially useful Google Assistant routines.