Google Calendar has, for 10 years now, been helping users schedule meetings, plan vacations, and set reminders for mundane tasks — but is it smart enough to help you find time to meet personal goals?
The app’s new Goals feature allows users to input those specified self-improvement tasks — like working out or learning a new language — people say they want to work toward but get sidetracked by the day’s unexpected struggles.
Google says users can now set goals directly in the Calendar app, which will ask a range of questions such as what time of day is best and how much time should be dedicated to the task? Once the questionnaire is complete, Google Calendar will automatically pencil those events into a user’s daily routine.
Furthermore, if something comes up last-minute, users can defer the task to a later time that day or another day that week.
In a witty commercial for Goals, Google demonstrates how Brad’s desire to find time to practice yoga following a breakup can be accomplished through the app despite daily distractions, such as his boss asking him to stay late or his stopping to play with a sloth.
But Google’s new feature, like most predictive software, really requires you to put in a lot more information than it already has. Casual users of the service might schedule work meetings in the app or set a reminder that a friend is coming to town, but they’re less likely to schedule a specific time for each meal eaten in a day or plan out every minute of said friend’s visit. Simply put: The app won’t get a real sense of when you are or aren’t available if you don’t schedule every little thing you’re doing in the app.
Commenters on Google’s blog post about Goals voiced more concerns about the new Calendar function. For one, not everyone has the same start and end to their day: As one user pointed out, his day starts at 6 a.m., but the default start time in the app is 8 a.m. Another commenter pointed out that his goal is to do more rowing with his friend, but that goal is also dependent on the weather and his friend’s schedule. Will there be an option to sync schedules in order to meet goals and react to weather patterns?
One user also commented that there’s already a Google fitness app and wanted to know if the two will communicate in the future.
It’s hard to get answers to these questions yet, because the app is still rolling out slowly, with many commenters still taking to the forum to ask when their device in their part of the world will receive the update.
These predictive softwares, while an improvement over the static events that built the app, are fundamentally flawed. They don’t yet know our lives better than we do. Most people have become really good at micro managing their days and weeks and allowing apps like Google Calendar to remind them about the big events, but it’s still unclear whether Calendar can also manage the minute-to-minute tasks of constantly changing, daily life.