Not many companies have the luxury of developing similar products with no clear path to unification. But Google has managed to accomplish something only Microsoft could be accused of back in the day. As a long time Google user, I have come to expect that any given product can stand on its own merit (or not), but I’ve also become increasingly interested in how well they integrate within Google’s suite of services and which apps they choose to keep developing and which apps to eventually retire.
Productivity apps are one of those personal and sensitive service categories that require a commitment of time and effort in order for it to really benefit us. Any uncertainty or threat that our favorite app will go away can be disruptive and potentially invoke some level of anxiety. A perfect example of this would be how the following apps will be road mapped by Google and what it means to our continued use of certain apps.
To begin with, it’s probably fair to say that unless you actually pay for Google for Work, you can’t complain too much about free stuff. However, the trade-off is presumably your investment in time and effort on an app that’s not only constantly evolving but, may one day go away. Given Google’s history of retiring apps like Google Wave, Google Reader and Google Notebook among others, it’s advisable to watch for the signs before committing.
A standard app on Android, Google Now is present exclusively on the mobile platform. Essentially a digital assistant whose primary feature is search and voice command.
— Simon (@simgooder) December 11, 2015
— Scott Greenstone (@sgreenstonenj) February 1, 2016
When Google introduced Inbox in 2014, it came with several features that set it apart from Gmail including, Snooze, Pin, Sweep, Undo Send and, Reminders. Users who were already familiar with Tasks for Gmail were naturally curious as to whether Reminders might be the future.
Integration with other Google services
Only recently I noticed that Google Now Voice Reminders now shows up in Google Calendar as well as in Google Now results on my Android. Only about a month ago I could only see GNVRs on the phone so the updates appear to be rolling out intermittently across all apps to accommodate this type of integration.
Reminders As A Stand Alone App
So far, Google has kept Reminders as more of a ‘floating feature’ rather than an app that can stand on its own. It would be great to see a dedicated Reminders app for both the web and mobile while keeping integration across other Google services a mainstay feature.
The ‘Swiss Knife’ of Notes and Tasks
Keep has evolved into an awesome multi-use productivity powerhouse with its minimal design and functional feature set. Note quite as powerful as Evernote but, elegantly designed to include the following:
- Sort by color
- Both a stand-alone website and an official mobile companion
- Time-of-day and Location Based Reminders
- Voice recording and transcription
- Image annotation
- Note Sharing
- Optical Character Recognition
- Delete and Recover
- And of course, Reminder integration with Inbox, Calendar and Google Now
The following questions have been expressed through the Tasks user community for some time now:, ‘where is the mobile app companion for Tasks?’
- Why is there no official Google Tasks mobile companion
- Why is Material Design nowhere in sight?
- Why does it co-exist on Google’s Web Calendar with Reminders?
- Why does it not exist in Google Mobile Calendar?
- Why does it appear that development has ceased?
Third party development
If Google has any plans to retire Tasks, the time is now to make it clear. A lot of users have already made the decision to abandon Tasks in favor of Reminders but, other users have found great app developers on the Google Play store that bring life to Tasks on the Google Play Store such as the aptly named Tasks.
Needless to say that there’s some work to be done to create a more seamless and unified experience by Google in the Task/Reminder category but, given Google’s track record, it will likely come together eventually. In the meantime, there are alternatives and Google has been quite open in terms of allowing developers to create extensions on its Chrome Web Store.
Thanks for reading. Would love to get your thoughts on how you’re impacted by the Tasks versus Reminders quandary.
Also published on Medium.