Google Plans to Lower Location Reminders Assistant Characteristic

The Google logo in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco.
Photograph: Justin Sullivan (Getty Photographs)

“Okay Google… Set a reminder to remind me to remind you to cease your location reminder characteristic.”

“…Carried out.”

Thanks, Google. Properly, when you go to the Google Assistant Assist web page, it now says that the flexibility to create reminders on the app “goes away quickly.” Moreover, the flexibility to assign a reminder to another person can also be going the best way of the dodo.

9to5Google first reported that the tech large’s plans to ax location primarily based reminders on Google Assistant-enabled gadgets, akin to person telephones or Google Residence. The soon-to-be nixed characteristic was first noticed by customers on Reddit. Some commenters complained that the characteristic by no means actually fulfilled its promise. Others stated they discovered the characteristic helpful, even whereas utilizing it on iOS gadgets.

Google didn’t reply to Gizmodo’s request for remark Thursday morning asking why the characteristic is being eliminated, or when customers can anticipate the change to happen.

The characteristic reminds customers to do duties once they arrived at particular places. As an illustration, it’d chime to immediate you to select up a sure merchandise if you get to the grocery retailer. Google first provided location-based reminders again in 2018 and the flexibility to assign others a reminder in 2019.

The timing for this introduced change can also be telling. Some tech bloggers speculated the options are being eliminated to make approach for Google’s new “Reminiscence” improve to assistant, which guarantees customers they will checklist and retailer something from hyperlinks to articles, books, photographs, contacts, flights, music, recipes, and extra.

However the change can also be coming down the pike as they and different app builders have caught main flak for monitoring person’s actions even when not utilizing the app. An investigation by Canada’s privateness commissioner confirmed that individuals who downloaded the app for Tim Hortons—a well-liked espresso chain— had their actions tracked each couple of minutes, even when the app wasn’t in use. Investigators stated the app collected data to deduce the place customers lived, labored, and traveled.

The corporate claimed it was solely aggregating location knowledge to research person developments, and that it stopped monitoring person places after an area paper broke the story in 2020. However regardless of Tim Horton’s claims, corporations each massive and small are continually buying and selling person knowledge for the aim of focused advertisements.

Extra nations and municipalities are cracking down on privateness protections. A number of state lawyer generals are suing the tech large over its assortment of person location knowledge. The AGs allege the ubiquity of Google’s apps on telephones and gadgets make it practically not possible to decide out of any and all location monitoring.

Google Assistant does observe person knowledge on gadgets, in line with the corporate’s reality sheet. Particularly, the Google Residence app asks customers to supply their tackle, and when you don’t, then it makes use of the system’s IP tackle to offer person space data akin to climate or visitors. The tech large factors to its privateness coverage to assert it solely collects knowledge primarily based on customers’ settings, and that the app solely will acquire knowledge when the app is lively.

The corporate didn’t reply to Gizmodo’s question whether or not the corporate makes use of assistant location reminders for focused advertisements.

Nevertheless, third social gathering apps can even share personal data with Google when going by Google Assistant, primarily based on person settings. And because the Tim Hortons scandal exhibits, an enormous number of corporations wish to attain clients by way of any means crucial, particularly as massive tech limits apps’ skill to trace customers.

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