August 28

In Search of the Perfect App

How would you build the ultimate productivity app? The app that did everything with you and for you. This app would monitor our sleep patterns to wake us gently during a period of light REM sleep. Then it would lay out our day, organized neatly to optimize efficiency — automatically. This app would sort our inbox messages and send intuitive responses when appropriate to cut down on our clutter. It would unsubscribe from and report spam messages. Our packages would be tracked, our travel plans would be filed, our meetings would be scheduled.

We would get weather and traffic reports for every destination, as well as a summary of our favorite tv shows for the evening’s entertainment. Throughout the day, this app would monitor our food intake, find a great time to workout and give us guidance and goals for living better.

A social side of the app would keep us updated on friends’ events so we’d never miss a birthday, anniversary or party. It could even send gifts or greetings for us.

The truth is that apps exist that do most of those things separately, but the app (or device) that brings them all together isn’t here yet. But it’s coming, and we’re all waiting for it.

A survey this spring of 1000+ college students (see What Studying Students Teaches Us About Great Apps | TechCrunch) revealed that many are ready for this all-knowing life app:

“If you had a magic wand to create an app that you would use every day, what would the app do?”

In response to this question, over 20 percent requested some form of a comprehensive to-do + calendaring + life management app that helps them better organize their lives.

It seems the greatest wish was for a magical “Productivity 2.0” app that pulls in all of the information stored on a user’s mobile phone, intuitively understands their life and working style, and “just works.”

Yep. An app that “just works.” That would be perfect. I keep downloading intuitive apps, trying to find the start of that intuitive smarty pants technological helper that will know what I’m thinking and doing and just help out with everything that needed to be done.

I’m betting that we’ll see this ultimate app — perhaps in the form of an ultimate device — within the next 18 months. The brainpower exists to make it — it’s just a matter of pulling everything together. But when it arrives and we rush to adopt it, we’re going to have to accept the full integration of our lives with electronica. With this adoption goes major levels of privacy and independence that we’re trying to preserve. When an app helps us organize our lives, it will, by necessity, be cognizant of everything in our lives. And that data, by necessity, will be recorded somewhere, somehow. Even if the app makers give us the choice of keeping our data private, the information will still be vulnerable to hackers, and you can bet that they’ll be working to capture it.

But this change is coming, and chances are we’ll welcome it, quietly annoyed by the privacy we give up but enthusiastically open to the new levels of productivity we’ll achieve.

What about you? Are you ready for this type of productivity app? If it makes your life considerably easier, are you willing to forego your privacy?



on the go, organization, productivity, utility

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