Googlers are making progress on a new Google Assistant feature called "Scheduled Actions," first revealed by the search giant at CES 2020. That's following the discovery of Scheduled Actions behind a new "Bell Schedule" option in the Google app. Specifically, the feature was discovered in the APK install file for a beta build of the app.
While not yet finalized, the feature was able to be activated in beta version 11.9. That allowed some insight into exactly how it will work. As its branding suggests, Scheduled Actions are settings that the Assistant utilizes to take action or a select run of actions on a pre-set schedule. That's as opposed to Routines that are more focused on responding to commands with a string of actions.
They're placed next to a Bell Schedule menu option highlighted by a home-shaped icon with a bell icon inside. Google describes Bell Schedule there as "Easy to set up scheduled events."
What's the purpose of the Google Assistant Scheduled Actions
Now, as noted earlier, this isn't an entirely new feature. Scheduled Actions were discussed by Google at CES 2020 in January. So what these are isn't necessarily a mystery. The primary purpose of the new events setup feature appears to be centered around simplicity. Rather than having to remember to wake up in the morning and say "okay google, good morning," a schedule can be easily set up to accomplish morning tasks.
There also seems to be a split between the two services in terms of functionality. Assistant Routines can still accomplish the same tasks, in the current iteration. But it does so, as mentioned above, on command. So items tasks that a user might not want to repeat on a regular basis would seem better suited to Routines. Those items that occur on a regular basis, meanwhile, might be best served by scheduling.
Conversely, users could set up Routines for their daily tasks and use Google Assistant Scheduled Actions for less common tasks. For example, Scheduled Actions might best serve to quickly slot in a one-time list of actions for Assistant to perform at a given date and time.
The timing of the addition also makes a good deal of sense since the same announcement revealed further details about other incoming changes. Namely, Google is finally tacking in support for a wider array of smart home products. That will include everything from AC units and air purifiers to bathtubs, coffee makers, and vacuums. In total, the company will add 20 device categories in 2020.
Google adding support for those products will make managing a smart home more complicated. Having more options that can be adapted in terms of scheduling or being on-demand should help make managing all of the IoT products less daunting.
When exactly will these changes arrive?
The appearance of these features buried in the code of a beta build of the Google app doesn't say much. In fact, it doesn't even mean these features will ever make it to the user-facing side of things. But the feature does at least seem to have progressed. That does seem to bode well for anybody who wants to get the most out of their Google smart home experience.