It’s Android’s 14th birthday today, but if Android was a friend you added to your Google Contacts, you might have completely forgotten about it. As you can see, Google Contacts allows me to fill in all kinds of details about my friends, colleagues, and family. In addition to addresses, phone numbers, and email details, I can also fill out a contact card for relationships, anniversaries and – you guessed it – birthdays. These appear appropriately in Google Calendar Within a special birthday calendar, which neatly links to all my blocked appointments, reminders, and time periods.
All of this can make Google Calendar my only solution for planning my life, but the service falls short in one major way. I can’t set up custom birthday reminders directly in Google Calendar.
You might think that this is not a big problem. After all, birthdays are always on the same date every year, so at some point, I have to remember all the important birthdays in my life. While this is true of my family, I sadly admit that this is not the case for my friends, let alone my colleagues. (Editor’s note: I’m so sorry!) I can’t remember how many times I’ve looked at my weekly schedule on Google Calendar, only to see that I missed a friend’s congratulations a couple of days ago. ouch.
This wasn’t a problem before the pandemic when I was still studying at university. I usually have more attentive friends in my circle who plan birthday surprises and sometimes parties for other friends, motivating others to get involved. But with me and many of my friends moving to other cities across Germany and Europe since we finished school, our network is not as local and woven as it was before. Combine that with the fact that I stopped using Facebook at the end of 2019, which was usually the last resort for birthday reminders, and I became that guy who doesn’t remember other people’s birthdays.
Notification options for my standard calendar.
It really bothers me that Google can provide the most seamless solution to this. For every other calendar you create in Google Calendar, you can head into its individual settings and select the standard notifications you’d like to receive for each event created on it. If you don’t want to be reminded of each event individually, set up individual reminders for individual events.
Not so for the Christmas calendar. The birthday calendar settings do not give you the option to set reminders. You cannot set individual reminders for individual birthdays.
There are no notification options for the standard Christmas calendar.
What makes this situation even more laughable is that Google Assistant reminds you of your close friends and family that you’ve added to the People section of your Google Assistant settings on your phone. The list of people you can add to your group of people is generated from your Google contacts, and if you add a birthday to one of those contacts, their birthday will also be imported into the Google Assistant. However, this may mean that you’ll have to remember to add everyone whose birthday you care about to this list, rather than giving you the option to give you birthday reminders for everyone you’ve added to their contact card.
This complex system is a symptom of Google’s chaotic approach to products, as some of the company’s apps don’t seem to communicate properly with each other. At least things seem to be getting better. Google recently announced that it will make Google Tasks The A central place for all your reminders Via Assistant, Calendar, Gmail and Keep. And speaking of Gmail. The email service is now tightly integrated with Google Meet, Chat, Docs and more under the Workspace brand.
Google is clearly working on making their services work better together, so we can only hope that the company will do the same for birthday dates and Google Calendar, and finally give us the option to set custom reminders for birthdays.
In the meantime, there is a workaround that I found while researching this editorial. Someone in a similar situation Suggest in the Google Support Forum You are creating a custom birthday calendar in Google Calendar and ignoring birthday fields in Google Contacts. You can also export birthdays you’ve added to Contacts up to this point by exporting your Google-created birthday calendar into Google Calendar and then importing it as a new calendar again. While it is unfortunate that this means that I cannot use the appropriate field provided by Google Contacts for this, this is the solution I will choose in the future.
Excuse me now while I’m exporting and re-importing my birthday calendar to finally get proper birthday reminders.
Dear Android, you may be looking forward to a suitable birthday post for your 15th birthday next year!