If you own a modern Android phone, the odds are pretty good that you’ve stumbled across Google Now in the form of voice commands. But, built into Google Now is a reminder system that is far more functional and useful than you might realize.
Starting with Android 4.4 KitKat, Google Now was built into the standard home screen launcher. If it isn’t built-in on your device, you can get the latest version of Google Now by installing the Google app from Google Play.
In the past here at MakeUseOf, we’ve shown how Google Now can enhance your web searches, allow you to use your phone hands-free in the car, and do lots of other cool things. But you may be surprised just how much Google Now reminders can enhance your life.
How Google Now Reminders Work
In the upper left corner of the Google app, you’ll find the menu icon where you can manually trigger the Reminders feature.
You can kick off the reminder card using either the menu option, or you can just speak or type “remind me…” followed by the reminder.
For example, if you want to remember to hit the gym in the morning, you can say, “remind me to go to the gym in the morning tomorrow”.
In the example above, I reminded myself to order home heating oil from our local heating oil company called Downeast Energy by telling my phone, “remind me to call downeast energy on Monday at 4”.
Don’t make the same mistake I did above. Remember, Google Now works on military time, so remember to say “four PM” not “four” if you mean evening hours. “Four” will be four in the morning.
Google Now will then issue notification reminders both in the Google Now stream of cards, and in your phone’s list of notifications.
So those are the basics. Let’s get to the more interesting stuff.
1. Set Recurring Reminders
Google Now reminders are a whole lot more flexible than just creating simple (and might I say boring) reminders. Maybe you need Google Now to issue recurring reminders about something every month, week, or several times a week. That flexibility is built-in.
All you have to say is something like, “remind me I have a meeting every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30”.
With the one statement, you’ll have a virtual assistant who will remind you as frequently as you like.
2. Set Location-Based Reminders
It gets even cooler though. Google Now includes integration with either GPS or network location services, so that it can remind you about things not only based on time, but based on where you’re located.
Here’s an example: Whenever I’m at work, I always have a list of things to do on my way home, like get an oil change or fill up the tank. All too often, once I’m actually on my way home, I forget.
With Google Now, I can just say, “remind me when I get to Sanford, Maine to refuel the car”.
Google Now will know when I’ve entered the town that I pass on my way home, and my phone will issue the reminder.
This is insanely useful for the locations of Home and Work that you’ve configured into your Google Now account. You can ask Google Now to remind you to do the most important tasks the moment you arrive.
For example, if you have a really important issue to talk to the boss about first thing in the morning and you don’t want to forget, you can say, “remind me when I get to work to talk to the boss”.
Google Now knows via geo-location services when you’ve arrived at your “Work” location, and the reminder to talk to your boss will appear at the top of your Google Now notification list.
3. Find Your Parking Spot
In my opinion, the single most useful location-based reminder is Google Now’s automatic parking location reminder. Google Now magically recognizes when you were in a moving car that was recently parked. It identifies the location that you parked and posts the parking location reminder at the top of your Google Now notification list.
Honestly, the first time it did this for me, I thought it was like dark magic. It’s a little creepy, but after a few times when it actually saved me a lot of time finding my car in a huge parking lot, I realized just how valuable this Google Now reminder is.
4. Be Notified of Upcoming Reservations
What’s really amazing about Google Now are some of the reminders that you don’t even have to set up. One example is when you make reservations with any hotel.
Google Now identifies your reservation confirmation via your Gmail account, and it’ll remind you when you have an upcoming reservation with an “Upcoming trip” card.
5. Include Links in Your Reminders
Other little-known, but useful features of Google Now are really handy. One of those is the ability to include web links with your reminders. For example, if I want to schedule a date with the wife to watch Netflix on Friday night, I can include a link to the show or movie in the reminder.
It may be difficult to make this link via a voice command, so this one can be typed right into the Google Now search field and it’ll work just like you issued the “remind me” voice command.
6. Be Reminded of Meetings & Events
You can also ask Google Now to remind you what your upcoming Google Calendar agenda looks like by saying, “What is my agenda?”
If you want to focus on what’s coming up next in your calendar, just say, “What is my next meeting?”
No need to open up Google Calendar — just let Google Now keep track of everything and remind you of upcoming meetings, just like you had your own personal assistant.
7. Set Short-Term Reminders
Google Now reminders are also really useful in the short term, with a built-in timer and integration with your phone’s alarm clock. You can trigger a timer immediately by saying, “Set timer for 30 minutes”.
This kicks off a timer with the time you’ve specified, and your phone will alert you when the timer has timed out. If you use productivity tricks like the Pomodoro technique, you could trigger the timer to monitor your work sessions with just a single voice command.
Another convenient Google Now reminder is the ability to set your alarm clock with your voice. Stop stumbling around in the dark at night trying to navigate to your phone’s alarm clock so you can set the alarm for the next morning. Instead, just tell your phone, “Set alarm clock to six-thirty”.
Just say “yes” to confirm and your alarm will get set automatically, and you don’t even have to lay a finger on your phone.
8. Integrate with Other Apps
As you can see, Google Now reminders are really useful on their own, but they’re also integrated with many of the apps already on your phone. You’ll find reminders built into Google Calendar, Inbox, and Google Keep.
Google Keep in particular is really useful, because you can put together detailed information to go along with the reminder. You might have a grocery list in Google Keep, and you can add a reminder to go to the grocery store by tapping the Remind me link at the bottom of the Keep note.
Google Now is also seamlessly integrated with ToDoist. By issuing a voice command starting with “note to self”, you can quickly add an item to your to-do list.
For example, if I want to remind myself to write a MakeUseOf article at 10 PM, I can issue the voice command, “Note to self makeuseof article at ten pm”.
Google Now places the reminder right into the ToDoist Inbox of incoming to-do tasks and sets the correct reminder date and time. You can use the usual ToDoist date/time terminology like “every tuesday at noon” or “the first of the month”.
The ability to add tasks to ToDoist with just your voice via Google Now is incredibly time-saving, especially when you’re on the go and don’t have time to fiddle around opening the ToDoist app on your phone.
How Do You Use Reminders?
So, why keep messing around with opening apps like your calendar, alarm clock, or your to-do app when you can do everything with your Android phone via voice command? Google Now reminders give you the flexibility to do all that, and a whole lot more. Give it a try!
Do you use Google Now? Have you figured out any other really cool things you can do with Google Now reminders? Share your creative ideas and tips in the comments section below!
Image Credits:finger with red ribbon by g-stockstudio via Shutterstock