Google has announced a new feature for Assistant to that enables anyone in a given Google family group — be they family, friends, or god help us, roommates — to receive an “assignable reminder,” which Google says might include anything from completing chores to notes of encouragement.
In theory, this sounds great. But reader, I have some concerns.
According to Google, the feature works by prompting Assistant, and then following with the individual’s name and command (e.g. “Hey Google, remind Sam to pick up some coffee on the way home”). Google is billing it as a feature beneficial to families and households. The reminders can be location and time-based too, so that your bot will send an alert when a receipt reaches a specific location or at a specific hour.
“Assignable reminders on the Google Assistant help families and housemates better collaborate and stay organised while at home or on the go,” a Google blog on the new feature reads. “This means you can now create reminders for your partner or roommate to do things like pick up the groceries, pay a recurring bill, walk the dog — or send them a note of encouragement when they need it the most.”
Let me just start by saying, no one — and I mean no one — likes to be nagged about some shit they’ve yet to do but likely already realise needs to get done. This is probably especially true with roommates, who I’d guess in most cases would probably prefer not to be passive-aggressively reminded via bot that they owe money or need to complete their chores.
And hell, even Google’s “note of encouragement” idea (e.g. “Hey Google, remind Mary that she will do great on tomorrow’s exam”) reads a little odd. Sure receiving some kind words on an otherwise stressful day is great, but wouldn’t any of us rather hear them directly from a human being — either in person or even by text—rather than in a push notification? I mean, who wants to feel like a message of support may have been altogether forgotten by the sender if they hadn’t had a bot to remember for them?
And listen, I’m not saying that there aren’t perfectly reasonable applications for this feature. Remembering stuff is hard! But damn, are we even going to talk to our own family members or housemates in the future? Pre-scheduled nagging seems like exactly the kind of thing we should maybe not be inviting in our homes, you know?
In any event, Google says the feature will be rolling in the coming weeks, for now in English, on Smart Displays and phones in Australia, the UK, and the United States. The company said the reminders feature will be coming to Google Nest Hub Max in spring.
Hey Google, remind me when I get this feature to immediately turn it off.