On the surface, replying to a text message, putting together a grocery list, and remembering to reschedule a doctor’s appointment all seem like quick, no-brainer tasks. But, even the simplest of items on our to-do lists can hog up precious real estate in our mental bandwidth. Decision fatigue and burnout, anyone?
Imagine the time and mental capacity we could free up if we had Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. or F.R.I.D.A.Y. Though your heart might not be set on becoming the next Iron Man (if it were, we wouldn’t judge), we could all use a little help.
The first place to start? Your calendar. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about using Google Assistant to automate and up-level the way you schedule.
Google Assistant: In a nutshell
Google Assistant is a digital voice-activated assistant powered by artificial intelligence. With Google Assistant, Google became one of the first, along with Apple (Siri) and Amazon (Alexa), to make voice assistant technology accessible to more people. To use the Assistant, all you need are the following:
- A smart device with Google Assistant built in
- An Android (5.0 or higher for phones; 6.0 or higher for tablets) or iOS device for you to download the Google Home app
- A Google account
When it comes to the first requirement, the most popular pick is Google Home — Google’s proprietary cylinder-shaped smart speaker or one of their colorful puck-shaped speakers. But you can also access Google Assistant via select phones, smart displays, cars, TVs, laptops, tablets, smart watches, and more. At the 2020 CES, Google announced that the Assistant had 500 million users per month.
Google Assistant can perform more than one million actions, all without you ever having to lift a finger. For this blog post, we’ll focus exclusively on the Assistant’s calendar capabilities. Because let’s face it: when you better manage your time, everything else becomes much easier.
Calendar commands for Google Assistant
For an idea of how Google Assistant can help you better manage your schedule, here’s a snapshot of what you can ask or tell your device. Start by saying “Hey Google…”
To add calendar events or ask about ones that are already scheduled in your Google Calendar (on your TV, speaker, Smart Display, or Smart Clock) then say something like:
- What’s on my agenda today?
- Where is Nathan’s birthday dinner this Saturday?
- What’s the start time for my first meeting?
- Schedule an appointment to see the chiropractor Monday at 2 pm.
- Add an event called Moving Day.
To cancel or reschedule an event (on your phone or tablet):
- Cancel my 11 am meeting.
- Reschedule my meeting with Estelle at 3 pm.
To send emails to your meetings using Gmail (on Android):
- Send an email to my next meeting and tell them I’ll be there in 10 minutes.
Ask Google Assistant to read your calendar
Staying on top of your schedule is easy, especially when it requires zero scrolling, tapping, or typing. You don’t even have to look. Google Assistant cuts through those tiny — yet surprisingly inconvenient — steps by reading calendar information aloud to you via your TV, speaker, display, or smart clock.
The Assistant supports these calendars in Google Calendar:
- Your main Google Calendar
- Shared calendars
- Calendars imported through links or iCalendar file (.ics)
You can’t, however, ask the Assistant to tell you about events that are automatically added to your calendar, including holidays and birthdays automatically derived from your contacts.
To enable your Google Assistant speaker to read your calendar aloud, or your smart display to show it, make sure you turn on “Personal results” in your settings in the Google Home app on your phone.
Is your speaker or display assisting more than one person in your household? To steer clear of any calendar confusion (and keep from spoiling surprise dinner reservations), every user should set up Voice Match on the shared device. That way, Google Assistant can tailor its results based on whoever is asking for help.
Setting up reminders with Google Assistant
Google Assistant lets you set, manage, and even assign reminders to other people in your household. If you’ve set a reminder for an event in Google Calendar, you can access that reminder via Google Assistant on your phone, speakers, and/or displays.
- Calendar reminders on your speaker or display
When it’s time for your calendar reminder, the lights on your speaker/display will flash before remaining lit for ten minutes. The Assistant won’t verbally announce the reminder until you prompt it. Just say, “Hey Google, what’s up?”
- Calendar reminders on your phone
On your phone, you’ll receive a standard notification, which you can swipe away once you’ve read your reminder.
Keep in mind that you can set reminders that are independent from events in Google Calendar. A reminder doesn’t have to be tied to an actual event. You can also ask Google Assistant to remind you about tasks, such as taking your vitamins everyday at 8 pm (a time-based reminder) or calling your grandmother once you get home (a location-based reminder).
Ready to get started? Here’s how to add calendar functions to Google Home
Let’s recap what “Google Home” actually is. Is it an app? Is it a specific speaker model? Does it refer to Google’s entire line of models that come with Google Assistant? It’s confusing, but not to worry. We’re about to break down everything you need to know.
Plain and simple, Google Home is three things:
- An app for Android and iOS devices
- The original Google Home speaker (that’s the grey/white cylinder-like one)
- It also refers to Google’s line of smart speakers, just one part of the wider Google “Nest” umbrella of smart devices
To have your calendar sync with Google Assistant on your Google Home/Nest speaker or smart display, download the Google Home app on your mobile device. Make sure your mobile device and your speaker/display are connected to the same wi-fi network. In your app, log into your Google account. Under “More Settings,” simply select which calendars you want to sync with your speaker or display.
Note: Google Home doesn’t allow you to add accounts from Google Workspace or accounts owned by children under 13 years.
Google Assistant settings for calendar functionality
Here’s a quick overview of settings you’ll want to know about as you get started:
- Personal results
As a recap, enabling Personal results allows Google Assistant to actually access the data on your calendar and share that info back to you.
- Voice Match
Voice Match is necessary if there are multiple folks on the same device, because it allows the Assistant to learn each user’s voice and offer results tailored for the individual. It’s one way to keep personal data to yourself.
- Default calendar
Right out of the box, your Google Assistant will automatically use your main calendar (on Google Calendar) to create new events. If you’d rather use a different calendar, you can easily change your settings in your Google Home app.
Syncing a calendar from a calendar app that isn’t Google
Though Google Assistant can’t access non-Google calendars straight from the source, what you can do is import those calendars into your Google Calendar, from which Google Assistant can then access them.
Google Assistant supports calendars that are added to your Google Calendar via a link or imported as an iCalendar file (.ics).
It’s amazing how many tools many of us have the luxury of using. Taking advantage of AI-powered tech, like Google Assistant and Clockwise, is the epitome of working smarter and not harder. (You can even sync Google with Clockwise for totally optimized scheduling.) And that is how you master your time and energy, channeling them — not into tedious schedule micromanagement — but into things you actually enjoy doing!