App acts as a personal assistant for busy digital life

TORONTO Mon Jan 7, 2013 8:38pm IST

A woman uses her smartphone in an auditorium in Brasilia November 10, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/Files

A woman uses her smartphone in an auditorium in Brasilia November 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino/Files

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Looking for a reliable assistant for your complex digital life? A new app that can detect tasks and help users to complete them could be the answer.

Easilydo, which is available in English for iPhone and iPod Touch in 46 countries, aims to be a pervasive assistant that uncovers tasks from email, calendars, social network and address books.

Tasks it helps to tackle include sending a birthday greeting through Facebook, tracking shipments, or adding contacts to an address book. Twenty four tasks can be detected and are cued up visually within the app.

"We're focusing on the consumer with recognition that most consumers, especially those with high-end smartphones also have professional tasks that they want to get done," said Mikael Berner, the CEO of San-Francisco-based company Easilydo.

According to Berner, the app is useful for knocking off tasks in batches, and also for getting assistance with impending chores.

If there's an upcoming conference call, the app will dial into the number. If there's an in-person meeting, it will remind the user when it's time to leave, and even provide a map to get there.

"We look at your location and if there's a major change in location we calculate the drive time and notify you 15 minutes before you should leave," Berner explained.

The app is also constantly on the lookout for news from social networks using language processing technology that can detect, for example, when someone buys a new home or gets engaged, so that a greeting or gift can be sent using the app.

"Every person has to make roughly 35,000 decisions a day, and the more decisions you have to make, the more worn out you are at the end of the day," said Berner, adding that only about five percent of those decision are conscious.

Another problem the app aims to ease is context switching, being diverted from one task to another before eventually returning to complete it.

According to Berner, the average office worker switches tasks every three minutes and doesn't return to a particular task until 22 minutes later.

"We think by helping to bring the information right when you need it and when you can do something about it we're helping to reduce that problem as well," he said.

The company plans to add new tasks monthly and to create a way for users to create custom tasks. It also plans to release an Android app and hopes to work with businesses such as banks or airlines to help their customers with tasks such as paying bills, checking into airlines or booking flights.

Similar apps include Google Now for Android, and Cue for iPhone.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Paul Casciato)

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