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Assistant Memory could be the future of Google Collections and let you save anything for later

Google seems to be internally testing something called Memory, which will live inside of Google Assistant and the Search app. It appears to be a ‘dogfood feature’ in early development and wants to let you capture virtually anything and ask Assistant to recall it for you later using voice commands. There’s also an interface that will allow you to organize and search for Memories at will and 9to5Google was able to get a bunch of screenshots of it. We’ll put a few below, but be sure to check out the rest of them from Abner Li later. Here is a list of all of the memories you can capture with Assistant:

  • Articles
  • Books
  • Contacts
  • Events
  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Images
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Handwritten notes
  • Photos
  • Places
  • Posters
  • Playlists
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reminders
  • Restaurants
  • Screenshots
  • Shipments
  • TV Shows
  • Thoughts
  • Videos
  • Websites

In the past, you’ve been able to ask Google Assistant to remember your favorite color, birthday, and other basic information. When you ask it to tell you what the answers to these questions were, the Assistant would then dip into its hidden memory and present you with the answer you gave it prior. ‘Assistant Memory’ as a service seems to be supercharging that cute little feature and turning it into an accessible powerhouse that you can use directly and I have to admit – that’s really cool.

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If all of this already sounds familiar to you though, it’s because we covered many of these capabilities several times when we talked about Google’s super-secret Collections feature. I guess now it’s no longer a secret. Not only that, but it looks as though it’s still very much important to Google and it’s being morphed into something a bit more automated and intelligent. Collections are fantastic, but there’s still quite a bit of manual labor involved – it feels more like a Pinterest alternative than anything. Tying the ability to collect things that are valuable to you into the Assistant and “Making Google do it”, so to speak, could be exactly what content curation needs right now!

There is a ‘Topics’ section as you can see in the screenshot above that allows you to ‘Create topic’, and this gives me serious ‘New Collection’ vibes – it even features the Google Collections bookmark icon that I keep pointing out across virtually every Google service lately. Since it’s allowing you to collect much of the same content from the web as you can with Collections, I believe that Memory will one day replace it altogether.

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If this means that Google Collections is in fact going the way of the dodo, I won’t be upset. As enthusiastic as I am about them – as I’ve stated many times, and I stick to it – it’s only natural for these things to take on new forms. It’s like I always say – Google is an ever-evolving company with ever-evolving ideas and the ones who enjoy its products most are those who can come to grips with that fact. We continually see this shift in its services more and more toward AI and machine learning, so this really isn’t a big surprise. What’s important to me is that the idea of collecting things is the future, and it’s being preserved. Not only that, but the idea of ‘bookmarks’ is still getting a facelift, so it’s a win-win for me!

The fact Memory will also let you capture many of the things in the above list from the real world makes me think that it will directly utilize Google Lens, which was recently placed on the Android Google search bar and given a new icon. Coincidence? I think not! If you capture things from a digital source, say a website or a document, Assistant will apparently preserve its context and source as a part of that memory card.

There will be special cards for things like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Sites, Jamboards, and more, and all of your memories will be presented to you in a Google Discover-style feed. On the bottom shelf of the Memory feed, there’s a Snapshot icon, so I’m led to believe that Google will want you to check your memories every day as a part of – or in addition to – your Snapshot. The latter already shows you many things about your day including upcoming Calendar events, Tasks, and more from Assistant, so I also can see the company combining these one day.

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Depending on the “memory card” type and information (I guess our brains need memory cards now? Let the Android revolution begin!) Assistant will show you contextual options pertaining to it. Let’s say, for example, that you have an incoming flight and it’s preserved on a Memory card – which I assume will ‘automagically’ be grabbed from Gmail as Assistant already does – you may then see options for checking the flight status. If it’s a package shipment, you may see an option to track it. If it’s a movie or TV show, you may see an option to watch a trailer for it, and so on. All of this automation makes me drool a bit – it’s fantastic!

You’ll also see in the provided screenshot that there is a ‘Read Later’ option. If Google intends to tie in articles from Google Discover, Google News, or Chrome’s Reading List feature (hopefully all three!) then it could mean that many of the features we’ve been tracking over the past year may be coming closer together than ever before, and it’s about time. To further evidence this, Google is working on allowing you to collapse your Chrome Tab Groups into your Reading List for later recall.

There’s also a new Chrome Memories feature on Chromebooks that we’ve been keeping our eyes on. Memories on the web previously led us to a broken page, but now, when visiting chrome://memories, we’re presented with some text in the middle of the screen that says ‘based on previous web activity’. We already have chrome://history, and Google Activity to track web activity, so why is a memories section necessary?

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This sounds crazy, but hear me out for a moment – what if Google intends to use chrome://memories to let you access your Assistant Memory (perhaps the future of Google Collections?) directly from the web browser of your desktop or Chromebook? What if your Assistant Memory also includes your Chrome Reading List items? If your Reading List is becoming the new home of collapsed Tab Groups, does that also mean that your Tab Groups will exist in your Memory and be accessible in a new tab similar to Toby the tab manager?

There does seem to be some evidence of chrome://memories intending for users to access their Tab Groups, and since it shares a very similar name to Google Assistant Memory, is that a coincidence? I personally don’t think it is, and neither does Dinsan from Chrome Story.

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The only progress I could make was finding this hashtag in Chromium code. Within a few other code change requests for the memories feature, I found mentions of browser history and tab groups.

Chrome Story

If everything you do online is tracked in your Google Activity, and many of those things are available in your Google Memory, does that mean that your Activity could also one day be bundled in with Memory? I know I’m jumping around a bit here and that last one may be a bit of a stretch, but I’m a futurist, and I’m excited! Don’t forget that Google Activity tracks your activity across all of your devices, not just a laptop.

Imagine, for a moment, using Google products and services, only they actually provide a more cohesive experience than ever before. I know, I can’t imagine it either. Google has come a long way over the years, but I would be lying if I said that many of its services were super ‘well-done’ before release. We’ve been waiting for the ability to add articles to a Reading List for years and to access them across devices, among other things, so if they’ve finally figured out a way to bring everything important to us together in one place by way of humanizing data and making it more personal, then I’m 100% on board and can’t wait to try this out. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t get canned like our beloved Kaleidoscope though – fingers crossed.

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