Google Tests Individualized 'Family Bell' Reminders For Smart Homes

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Google Assistant is getting a new feature called "Family Bell" that could soon deliver better, individualized reminders. The feature was spotted in the Google Assistant under the file-box-shaped icon on the lower-left-hand side of the UI. For clarity, that's where the AI-driven tool provides an overview of users' days.

The purpose of the app is obvious, tucked right into its branding. On appearance, Google bills it as a way to help families maintain their schedules with helpful reminders. Suggested pre-built 'bells' include everything from reminders that it's time to study for the big quiz to bedtime reminders. Of course, there are also pre-built reminders to grab a snack, do some yoga, get some outside time, and more.

The intention here is to help families remember to do a much wider variety of things. And custom notifications are part of that. So users can set their own reminders, complete with a reminder message, date and time, and more. There's even a toggle to turn bells on or off so they aren't lost if they need to be disabled for a while.

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Family Bell is much more customizable than standard reminders

But this goes much deeper than simply pushing notifications to every device within a system. In the settings for Family Bell, Google allows reminders to be sent for individual devices. So, if the reminder is intended for a specific member of the family, it can be sent directly to their Google- or Nest-branded smart speaker or hub.

For example, a reminder might be intended to let a younger family member know that it's time to get off of video games and go outside. If they have a smart speaker in their room, Family Bell allows that to be sent straight there instead of playing everywhere.

When will this arrive?

Family Bell has only just made its way to some users and appears to be in testing. That means that, for now, the home automation-related feature not going to be widely available.

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Google itself hasn't announced the new feature either. That may actually be because it was forced to cancel its Google I/O developers conference earlier this year. Typically, these types of features would be announced at the event. But it seems more likely that it simply isn't ready yet since other features were announced via less traditional means.

Family Bell will deliver custom reminders on a more individual basis