Google Assistant gets Assignable tasks feature, also known as weaponized nagging

We all know Google Assistant wants to be helpful and keep families and groups on task. But the engineers behind Assignable tasks probably didn't think through what happens when the feature meets dysfunction.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google Assistant now allows you to assign tasks to family and group members. We're sure this feature won't be abused. 

(Image: Google)

Google Assistant will now be able to send reminders to groups and family members to knock out tasks and keep everyone organized. In other words, Google Assistant is getting a nag gene.

The official line is that Google Assistant is getting a feature called Assignable Reminders to "help families and housemates collaborate and stay organized while at home or on the go."

Here's the scenario:

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 ("Hey Google, remind Mary that she will do great on tomorrow's exam.") The feature will be available over the next few weeks in English on phones, speakers and Smart Displays in the US, UK, and Australia, and will work with Google Nest Hub Max when it's available later this fall.

The good news is that Google Assistant may be able to cut down on texts, phone calls, and conversations just to coordinate. The bad news is now you can automate nagging.

Google provides this example:

To assign a reminder, ask your Assistant, "Hey Google, remind Greg to take out the trash at 8pm." Greg will get a notification on both his Assistant-enabled Smart Display, speaker and phone when the reminder is created, so that it's on his radar. Greg will get notified again at the exact time you asked your Assistant to remind him. You can even quickly see which reminders you've assigned to Greg, simply by saying, "Hey Google, what are my reminders for Greg?"

Now you see where this is headed. Google Assistant will inevitably be pulled into passive-aggressive couple and housemate warfare.

  • "Hey Google, remind Greg to get off his ass and find a job."
  • "Hey Google, tell Sally she may want to pay a bill once in a while."
  • "Hey Google, remind Mark to feed the dog at noon, since the little guy almost starved the last time he forgot."
  • "Hey Google, remind Jane to find the floor of her room, which is a total s***show."
  • "Hey Google, remind Joe to pay the child support since he was late on it the last three months."

You get the idea. Google said you can send and receive reminders only from people in your Google Family group or accounts linked to the same smart display or speaker and are voice-matched. You also need to be connected in Google contacts. Kids can join the Assignable Reminders fun, too.

In theory, you'll be able to block people from sending you reminders, but we all know there will be hell to pay for that one.

Google noted:

We think this feature will be a great tool to help families (and housemates) manage tasks this new school year and beyond.

May the games begin.

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