It's pretty handy that when Google knows you have a flight to catch, it'll pop up little updates on your phone reminding you of when to leave and what the travel situation is (assuming you're opted in). But a letter in the Guardian today serves as a useful reminder not to put all your trust in automated notifications.
Seeking help from consumer rights adviser Anna Tims, the letter writer explains that they received an email on their phone advising them of a four-hour delay to their flight, but when they turned up at the airport, the flight was long-gone and no such delay existed.
An example Google Card. Image: Google
It turns out that the notification wasn't an email but a Google Card, which can easily be mistaken for an email as it pops up in much the same way - and since it's based on information from Gmail, even says "view email" at the bottom. But despite looking and seeming official, Cards are based on third-party information and aren't coming from your flight provider, so it's unwise to put all your faith in them. As the writer found, blindly trusting Google can lead to major inconvenience and out-of-pocket expenses when the information turns out to be wrong, and your flight provider has no obligation to help you out if the information didn't come from them. It's the same as seeing news of a delay on Twitter - unless it's from the airline's verified account, it's not official and you'll have no recourse if it's wrong.
Of course, since you're a Gizmodo reader, you most likely know to use Google Cards as a heads-up guideline rather than absolute truth - but as today's letter shows, it's worth reminding people who aren't quite so savvy. Especially if you're counting on them to bring you something from duty free. [Guardian]