In the first half of 2023, Google began phasing out the Reminders feature of Google Calendar and Google Assistant. Google has also included some Reminders functionality in Google Tasks.
Users can now use Google Calendar and Google Assistant to create tasks instead of reminders. Tasks can be set to include notifications (similar to reminders) alerting them to a specific event, deadline, etc.
The consolidation may address some of the persistent complaints about app interoperability issues and inefficiencies with Google Memories. The change should hopefully provide a more streamlined and intuitive user experience for users of the Google App suite.
What are Google Reminders?
Reminders were alarms that notified users of upcoming events, appointments, or to do list articles. They contained pop-ups and sounds and were set to go off at a user-specified time.
Reminders can also be set to trigger when the user arrives at a specific location. For example, a user can set a reminder such as “Call Mom when I get home.” They then received a notification as soon as they were within a certain radius of their home.
In the past, users could create and view reminders in Google Assistant, Google Calendar, Google Inbox, and Google Keep. In Google Calendar, users had the option to see all their reminders on the correct dates and times.
Where have memories gone?
If you didn’t convert your Memories yourself, they should already have been automatically converted by Google to Tasks. The only exception is reminders on Keep, which remain on Keep but no longer appear in your Google Calendar.
In June 2023 Google started delete data from the Reminders platform – but again, all your data should have been safely migrated to Tasks. The only exception to this is if your organization doesn’t have Tasks enabled. This could mean that some data was left behind during the migration. If you believe this has happened to you, your organization needs to activate Google Takeout. Hopefully you can export at least some of your old memories before they get deleted.
Now you can access your Reminders – now simply called Tasks – from the Tasks panel. You can access the panel from your Gmail inbox, Calendar, Google Drive, Chat, or any other file in Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
To open Tasks from these locations, simply click on the Tasks icon – a blue circle with a checkmark in it. You’ll find it on the right side of the screen in each of these workspaces.
You can also add new tasks and subtasks to the panel and set a date and time for each task. Setting a time triggers a notification that should appear on your Android phone or phone with Google apps. You can also create and update tasks with your voice through the Google Assistant.
The Task app itself, when used from a browser, shows no notifications or differences when a Task starts. For example, if you set To Do to remind you of an appointment at 11am, you’ll get a popup on your phone at 11am. the task panel.
Benefits of converting Google Reminders to Google Tasks
Accessible throughout the Google system: As mentioned earlier, the transition partially resolves a long-standing issue of reminders not syncing across the Google ecosystem. Tasks can be accessed from almost any Google app and workspace. And like Reminders, they alert you when it’s time to be somewhere or get something done.
Drag and drop emails in Google tasks: Without opening it, you can click on an email in your Gmail inbox and drag it to the Tasks pane. Jobs use the information to automatically generate a new job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily fill the task with relevant information from the email.
Useful for managing small projects and tasks: Tasks are also useful as a very simple project management system. The Lists feature allows you to create multiple lists of tasks so you can group your tasks the way you want. You can also keep work and personal projects separate by using different lists. Subtasks help you organize larger work, household or personal projects in several steps that you can tick off along the way.
Simple, clean and easy to use: The Tasks interface is extremely minimal and intuitive so it can be a lot less clunky than other project management systems. It’s also nice to be able to open the list in multiple different tabs of a browser. You don’t have to switch tabs to see Tasks if you’re using a document, your calendar, and Gmail at the same time. Google Tasks also integrates with many other third-party apps.
Disadvantages of converting Google Reminders to Google Tasks
Limited task management functionality: While beautiful in its simplicity, Tasks isn’t a great alternative to other organizational or project management platforms. This is because the functionality is extremely limited. For example, tasks don’t give you the ability to generate deeper levels of subtasks. In other words, you can break a task into several pieces, but you can’t break those pieces into smaller pieces. There’s also no way to collapse subtasks to create a less cluttered view. And with Tasks, there’s no way to set location-based reminders anymore.
No real collaboration functionality: Unlike Reminders, you cannot assign a task to someone else. And Tasks isn’t very useful for managing teams or shared projects. It doesn’t let you share lists, notes, or images with other people, unlike Google Keep.
Confusing or missing notifications: It’s also frustrating that Tasks doesn’t generate a notification in your browser when a task starts with a certain start time. If you’re working on your laptop and your other devices aren’t in the room in front of you, you’re out of luck. Lack of notifications can lead to missed meetings or important appointments. Adding a task to To Do with a date and time will not automatically add it to Google Calendar. This is true even when you open the Tasks pane by an open Google Calendar tab.
Possible data loss: Users who get their Google access through work may find that their company was not prepared for the transition. If your employer has not enabled Tasks, your Reminders may have already been deleted during the migration. This can cause a lot of frustration and in some cases a lot of lost work.
Potential Learning Curve: Finally, a final drawback is that some users have difficulty adapting to the new system. Making the transition and understanding the differences between the two systems isn’t as intuitive as it could be.
So is the transition good or bad?
There are few real differences between Reminders and Tasks. It makes sense that Google would eventually consolidate the two. Tasks has a little more functionality than Reminders because you can record more information for each item. But the two programs did almost exactly the same thing all along.
For users, the advantage of the transition is that they know exactly where everything is. And with Tasks’ improved functionality — at least over Reminders — users can include more detail in their notifications.
But the system is still not perfect. In an ideal world, you can choose exactly how you receive notifications. Or they appear consistently on all your devices, so you never miss a thing. Neither Tasks nor Reminders was ever good enough to consistently deliver on its promise.
As for Taken itself, its greatest strength is at the same time its greatest weakness. It’s impossibly simple, making it incredibly easy to use and manage. But it just doesn’t have enough features to replace a complex task management system like Trello, ClickUp, or Asana.
It is possible to integrate Tasks with this and other project management apps. But it’s unclear what the benefit would be or why a user would want to spend the time.
Where Tasks do shine is like a simple virtual replacement for a notepad or stack of post-its. It’s small and unobtrusive, on the side of your screen, and it’s extremely quick and easy to access and update. It’s also available just about anywhere with all of your devices.
You can’t be sure that it will beep and buzz to keep you on time for appointments. But you never have to worry about forgetting your shopping list or crawling around looking for that piece of stationery.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by RDNE Stock project; Pexels; Thank you!
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