Google Home can now set location-based reminders on your phone

Chris Davies - Mar 14, 2018
Google Home can now set location-based reminders on your phone

Reminders on the Google Assistant are getting a whole lot more useful, with the ability to ask your Google Home to nudge your memory when you get to the store. Building on the voice-managed reminders that were launched back in September 2017, the new location-based reminders factor in your physical position, taking advantage of the fact that the Assistant travels with you courtesy of your phone.

So, if you have a Google Home, Google Home Mini, or any other Assistant-powered smart speaker, you can now ask for not only a reminder but set a location for it to be issued. For example, you could ask your Google Home to “Remind me to buy paper towels when I get to the grocery store,” and it should pop up that notification on your smartphone when you get there.

Location-based reminders work with both Android and iOS devices. If you have an iPhone, the Google Assistant tells you when you first set such a reminder, you’ll need to download and install the Assistant app first. That’s available free from the App Store.

What’s new here isn’t so much location-based reminders, of course, but the ability to set them on one device and have them appear on another. The Google Assistant has supported geofencing triggers for reminders before, but you’ve needed to set them up on your smartphone itself. Now, if you have your hands full at home, you can do all that through a smart speaker entirely by voice.

There are some limits, it seems, however. For example, while you can specify a particular type of store to trigger a reminder – Walmart for groceries, for example, or Starbucks for coffee beans – there doesn’t appear to be a way to define a specific store. You can’t, in our testing today, say that you need to collect clothes from a named dry cleaners, for instance.

Similarly, depending on how you phrase the request, the Assistant doesn’t always recognize the difference between a general reminder and a location-based one. Saying “Ok Google, remind me to check tire pressure at the gas station,” by example, wasn’t understood in terms of the gas station being a location. Instead, the Google Home asked when I wanted the full instruction to be issued as a regular reminder.

That’s all likely to improve as time goes on, and as the Assistant learns to differentiate more accurately. What would really be useful is the ability to issue reminders to specific people through Google Home, with not only the instruction but a person whose phone it should pop up on being given explicitly.

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