More than a smartphone
Predictive apps turning your mobile device into a pocket personal assistant
PREDICTIVE search systems are turning the smartphone in your pocket into a proactive digital assistant that anticipates your needs before you recognise them yourself.
Forrester Research analyst Mike Gualtieri, in a recent report, calls predictive apps “the next big thing’’, saying they create “a world of hyperindividual experience’’.
“Predictive apps leverage big data predictive analytics to provide the right functionality and the right content on the right device at just the right moment for the right person,’’ the report says.
Predictive apps work by tapping into data contained from multiple sources.
Your smartphone, for example, has a calendar that knows your appointments, an address book that knows your contacts, an inbox with correspondence and a GPS chip that can identify your location.
Combine them and a predictive digital assistant could fi nd your current location to determine you are running late for a meeting and offer to send a message on your behalf.
Fans of digital assistants say they make a smartphone smarter, but there are some concerns that apps designed to predict your moves sit somewhere between convenient and creepy.
Not surprisingly, search specialist Google is a key player in the fi eld with Google Now, available as an Android app and a system built into Google’s search app on iOS, that can suggest when it’s time to leave the offi ce and head to the airport or give you directions to get to your next appointment.
Apple has also made a push into this area with Siri that can remind you of a task when you arrive at a specifi c location, such as call your mum when you get home from work.
In the BlackBerry 10 operating system, the idea of tapping into overlapping data sets is built in.
Call up a meeting in your calendar and you can swipe through to the Facebook profi les or recent emails from those attending the meeting.
Some predictive apps have a focus, such as Weotta that recommends activities based on your history of interests and your availability, and Triposo that makes personalised recommendations of things to do while travelling.
Then there is the increasing number of calendar apps with artifi cial intelligence, such as Cue, reQall, Any. Do’s Cal, Donna and Tempo Smart Calendar which recently launched in Australia.
Tempo was created at SRI International, the research group where Apple’s Siri was developed.
Tempo chief executive offi cer Raj Singh describes the trend as “the notion of assistance’’.
“Right now, people think of assistance as an [ app] category,’’ he says.
“Assistance is defi ned in our world as something that learns about you and it completes tasks for you.
“The calendar is a statement of intent. You’re saying where you’re going, what you’re doing, who you’re meeting.
“What Tempo is doing is using semantic analysis or artifi cial intelligence to effectively classify the events in your calendar and map them to a set of known intent. And based on that understanding of intent, surface the information and actions that we think are most relevant.’’
As the number of predictive assistants grows, Mr Singh says the challenge will be how to implement them with the growth of wearable devices.
“These are just more screens,’’ he says.
“What we don’t know yet is what is the tolerance for notifi cations on these new wearable devices, such as the Google Glass or a watch. And it’s going to be something very user- personalised.’’
Predictive apps ... provide the right functionality and the right content on the right device at just the right moment for the right person