Smart apps think (so you don't have to)

A new generation of free intelligent assistant apps represents the future of everything. But are they too smart?

By , Computerworld |  Hardware

EasilyDo is more limited in scope than IFTTT, but nontechnical users will find it a lot easier to use and manage.

The founders of EasilyDo told me recently that they intend to add "agency" to the app; it will be able to order flowers and make restaurant reservations to save your bacon on Valentine's Day -- that kind of thing. (The app already has a credit card field so it can pay for things on your behalf.)

EasilyDo recently announced a commitment to add a new capability every week. (The most recent is that you can use search criteria to selectively add incoming emails to Evernote.)

Another app, called Grokr, uses a scrolling interface similar to EasilyDo's. The two apps are often compared to each other, but Grokr is very different from EasilyDo. Grokr focuses on traffic and weather, it shows you news and other articles based on your interests, and it lists trending stories. I have found Grokr not particularly useful. The information seems generic, and it doesn't seem to learn.

And then there's Google

Google produces the most mind-blowing intelligent agent services for consumers from a technology perspective. Unlike EasilyDo's services, Google's tend to be informational rather than action-oriented.

Of course Google Now is probably the single most impressive piece of agent technology generally available. If you have the right kind of Android device, Google Now can replace search, giving you answers rather than search results. Best of all, it understands everyday language and learns from your results. Over time, it suggests things based on your preferences.

It's reasonable to assume that Google Now will show up everywhere, including on the Google Search page, in the Google Chrome browser and even on the iOS platform as an app.

Google this week released its Field Trip app on the iOS platform. (It had previously been available only on Android since September.)

Field Trip is interesting for its location-awareness and proactivity. As you're walking around, it can buzz your phone to tell you about interesting things nearby. It learns your location from your phone and then finds information about that location from Zagat, Scoutmob, Cool Hunting, Yesterland, Curbed and Thrillist.

An app called Spindle is vaguely similar to Field Trip, but it only works in six U.S. cities: Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Another interesting app in this category, called Tempo, replaces your iOS calendar with a smarter one.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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