Google is killing location-based reminders

Google is killing location-based reminders

Aurich Lawson

Google is stirring the pot again and removing helpful features from users for no discernible reason. Through various channels, the company announced that reminders for Google Assistant will soon be a lot less useful.

First up, Google Assistant is losing the ability to create location-based reminders. These were incredibly useful commands you could tell Google Assistant, like, “remind me to take the trash out when I get home,” and your phone, which is always tracking your location, would ping you when you walked in the door. You could also say things like, “remind me to buy milk next time I’m at Walmart,” and it would just work.

Google is sending out notifications telling users the feature is dead. A message on a Google support page says: “The option to create reminders for a certain location is going away soon. You can still create reminders at a certain time and set routines for a location.” Suggesting routines as a replacement is a ludicrous suggestion, since routines are, well, routine, and want to repeat after a set period of time. They are also meant to trigger smart-home automation or alarm clocks; they aren’t simple notifications.

Another reminder feature getting the ax is a fairly new one, probably dying due to a lack of usage. In 2019 Google announced the ability to send reminders to other people. Actually doing this was pretty difficult, though. You would have to either be in the Google “Family” ecosystem and have them set up in the family link or have that person be someone you share an Assistant device with, like a roommate.

It’s not clear why the company is suddenly gutting a useful and easy-to-use feature. One of the reasons might be that reminders don’t have a clear home at Google. This is one of the rare features that works across Google services—reminders functionality is in the Google Assistant, reminders.google.com, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. That probably means it got caught up in internal politics a lot.

Last year, 9to5Google once caught Google working on a “Memory” feature for the Google Assistant, which would have let you save web clippings, reminders, and other things, almost like it was a replacement for the Reminders feature. That Memory revamp never came out, though, and now Google is just removing functionality from its ecosystem.

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