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Google, why don’t you have a reminders app?

Google has given us a decent set of tools to create reminders, but we're still missing a true, robust Google Reminders app. Why?

Published onJuly 11, 2018


When Google unveiled its brand new Tasks app earlier this year, my heart skipped a beat. Would this be the all-encompassing tasks and reminders app I’ve been waiting for Google to release for years? Would I finally have an easy and direct way to create reminders and tasks with all sorts of handy features?

As you might remember, that was not the case at all. The anemic Tasks app feels like a half-baked idea which got tossed together and released in a few days time. As we know, that’s par for the course with Google.

While that disappointment stung a bit, I haven’t given up hope for the tasks/reminders app that I know Google can make. But what is taking so long?

The current status of Google reminders

A photo of a phone in the process of setting up Google reminders.

When you think about it, reminders are one of the things smartphones were seemingly designed to do. For years, I lived and died by the Tasks section of Outlook. I made reminder tasks for literally everything I needed to do throughout my work day, no matter how mundane. My co-workers thought I was crazy.

But the Tasks section of Outlook was connected to my computer, not my smartphone. I’m sure Outlook’s app abilities have come a long way in the past few years, but when I got my first smartphone, there was no way to create Outlook tasks and have my smartphone notify me easily. So I quickly moved away from Outlook tasks and started using apps.

I was never thrilled with any of the apps I tried. It wasn’t until 2015 when Google started allowing users to create reminders in Google Now that I truly found what I was looking for. The Google Now reminders would pop up on my phone, allowing me to be reminded of things no matter where I was. They were simple and easy to create.

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Google Keep organization

A short time later, Google brought similar reminders to Google Calendar, allowing me to both see my reminders laid out in a calendar format as well as create new ones right in the app. Eventually, I was getting reminders on my phone and desktop browser. Yes!

Then Google brought reminders to Google Assistant, allowing me to create alerts using my voice. Now notifications are going off on my phone, my desktop browser, and my Google Home hardware. I will never forget anything!

But even with all these great strides in reminder creation and delivery, Google has yet to release a standalone app that is only about reminders. It also hasn’t added new capabilities to reminder functions that would make the service even more integral to my (and I’m sure many other people’s) life. Why not?

The current limitations of reminders

Google Assistant displaying listening text on a red background

With the current state of reminders, I can create time-based and location-based alerts in one of three ways: through Google Assistant, through Google Calendar, or in the Google app. Some methods are easier than others, but they all get the job done.

But these reminders I’m creating aren’t very robust. For example, I can only input basic text with no formatting options, not even bold. I can’t make a list, I can’t create hyperlinks… I can’t even add a line break. I’m not expecting a full-on text editor, but being able to at least do some amount of formatting would indeed be nice.

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Google Calendar

Once the reminder is created, there’s not much I can do with it. I can alter the date/time of the reminder, make it a recurring reminder, or change the text, but I can’t customize it in any way. For example, I can’t color-code reminders. I also can’t easily duplicate reminders, I have to either set it up as a recurring thing or manually create multiples.

In fact, outside of Google Calendar, I can’t organize my reminders in any way at all. I either have the calendar view or a simple list of reminders in the Google app that displays them in order from coming up next to coming up furthest from now.

When it comes right down to it, Google has given me the most fundamental set of tools to create reminders, which I appreciate. But just imagine all the possibilities that a true Reminders app could have…

My vision of a true Google Reminders app

In my vision, I imagine a standalone reminder app. If Google wants to still allow the creation/completion of reminders in other apps like it does currently, that’s fine, but a standalone app is necessary.

In this app, I can create reminders with a plethora of options. I can stylize text, create links, create lists, categorize reminders, and color code them.

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I can duplicate reminders, change the alert notification sound, and set conditions. As an example of a condition, I could say I want to be reminded to buy milk next time I’m near a particular store — but only if I’m there when the store is open. That way if I’m walking by the store on my way home from a night out, I don’t get reminded to buy milk when I can’t do so.

Perhaps the most important thing of all that I can do with this fantasy Google Reminders app is to share reminders. For now, I have to set reminders to help me remember to remind other people about things. This is madness! I should be able to create a reminder and then hit “Share,” and then that reminder gets added to the recipient’s calendar (with their approval, of course). I can do this with calendar events, but not reminders. Why?

I’m sure there are more features of this hypothetical Reminders app that I haven’t even thought of yet, but that would all be a terrific start.

I don’t want any old app – I want a Google app

A Google logo.

Before you blow up the comments section of this article to tell me about X app that does some of the things I want, or explain to me what Tasker is (trust me, I already know), let me save you the time: I don’t want these features from a third-party service or to manually create a pseudo-app myself. I want this Reminders app to be part of the Google ecosystem.

The reason I want a legitimate Google Reminders app is because reminders are already integrated into my Google life. Google Assistant, Google Home, Google Calendar — reminders are all there, and all work fine. A third-party app can’t give me that kind of integration, and neither can Tasker.

Google already has everything it needs to create the reminders app I want. But for whatever reason, it hasn’t made it yet.

Help me Google; you’re my only hope (to not forget important stuff).

NEXT: Google’s endless app overlap: what is going on?