Culture

Google's Assistant wants to help you take self-care breaks

Losing the ability to recognize the passage of time? Forgetting to eat or shower? Google Assistant wants to help.

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Dreary as it can be, especially in bad weather, there is something about going to an office that helps create a sense of structure and regularity for people. But pandemic days are the opposite of regular, and as countless people work from home, having healthy routines and work-life separation is getting harder.

To make things a little easier, Google will now (with your permission) get its Assistant to offer you some self-care suggestions in the middle of hectic, blurry days. The change goes live for every Assistant owner this week and you can access it via the Google Home app that's available from the App Store and Play Store.

Google product manager Alice Liang writes:

While many of us are fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the pandemic, there's something to be said about the in-office environment that breaks up the day. Simple things like mid-morning coffee breaks to recharge or catching up with coworkers on the way to a meeting are definitely missed.

Liang also calls this strange feeling of losing a sense of time a "blur" and notes how Google Assistant can help you break up your day into more manageable segments with gentle reminders.

Google

Take a breather — It's easy to forget that you need to take breaks to function efficiently. In order to help you breathe a bit, Google Assistant can be set up with automatic reminders to step away from your desk once in a while.

Depending on your needs, you can set up your Google Assistant to remind you to shower at a particular time on a particular day. It can even remind you to get up and drink a glass of water. You can also have your Assistant remind you to get up for a little stroll in the neighborhood or simply do a stretch — downward dog, warrior II, seated twist, savasana — whatever your flow is.

The good kind of optimizing — There are times when tech companies take their life-optimization solutions to off-putting extremes, like Amazon's wholly unnecessary Halo fitness gadget and app. But Google is optimizing its Assistant in the right direction by adding user wellbeing into the mix as opposed to keeping an Assistant owner constantly wired to their work.

A friendly and scheduled suggestion to take a walk, drink some water, take a shower, call a friend, or lie down for a nap can help users unwind and recharge. Because downtime makes for better uptime, especially during the current, crazy times we're living in. Of course, if after a few days you're making healthy decisions on your own, you can ask the Assistant to shut up. Maybe that's the sort of peace and quiet you need, too.