Revolution in the air?

I was heads down working last week, catching up with the world in the way that always follows international travel (I was in Lisbon the week before: see The Future Of Work In A Social World – Part 1). So I was somewhat distracted, and merely logged a long list of announcements from product companies in my sweet spot.

It looks like the time of year when software releases and re-releases are exploding, just like the flowers on the cherry trees.

Here’s a sampling, and my skinny on these announcements, all of which will be explored in the next week or so.

Tomfoolery.com announced their first product, the mobile-first Anchor. I got a quick peek a few weeks ago, when CEO Kakul Srivastava was in New York for the All Things D conference. It’s a social collaboration tool with some interesting properties. I am more intrigued in the long-term direction of the company, and the concept of a suite of tools focused on different things but sharing core information, like identity and relationships.

Meetin.gs announced a completely reworked user experience for their social scheduling and meeting tool. A new timeline approach, new mobile UX, and the idea of ‘meeting pages’ is the concrete result of listening closely to early users, and rethinking the tool’s value top to bottom. [disclosure: I was an advisor to the company in 2012; I have no ongoing relationship or financial interest.]

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Meetin.gs

 

Convo announced a new iOS version of the team collaboration tool, which largely sounds like a speeding up of the tool, and not a major revision. I am interested in taking another look at the app in light of my search for the perfect research tool (see Thinking about ‘Son Of’ now that Betaworks has bought Instapaper), because Convo is being strongly shaped by its use in media companies.

Tempo announced that the company has opened the beta to the smart calendar app (see Tempo is a very smart calendar appliance), after a well-publicized torrent of sign-ups led the company to institute a sign-up queue. And they announced a new release, as well. The new release includes more smarts about conference call numbers and the protocols that different services use, as part of the really helpful conference call automation they provide. Note, that has been the only glitch I have had in the user experience with Tempo: I had at least two calls where the conference call set-up failed.

Tyba went live with a new approach to connecting new entrants to the job market with companies seeking same. I will take a look in an upcoming piece on the online social jobs marketplace.

Wunderlist announced Wunderlist Pro, a team-based version of their successful soloist task management application, for Mac, iPad, iPhone, and the web. I will be reviewing this week.

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Wunderlist Pro

 

Looks like revolution’s in the air.

Tempo is a very smart calendar appliance

It’s clear that calendar software suffers from a skeuomorphic adherence to the paper agendas that people used for centuries before the computer was invented. 30 little boxes with text, times and dates. Minimal metadata, and absolutely no smarts about what a calendar entry means.

The perfect proof of that state of affairs is the meeting. When I am about to attend a meeting — either face-to-face or online — there is a predictable series of activities. I pull up emails related to the meeting, and review documents attached. I often need to send a message out to the meeting attendees saying that I will be a few minutes late.

Until recently it seemed that calendar app developers simply disregarded these use cases. Recently, however, the designers behind Apple’s Siri at SRI, finally attacked the problem head on, and the result is Tempo, a new iPhone app.

At first glance — after associating my email and calendar accounts — the app looks like other calendars. Here you see the Agenda and Month views.

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However, when you drill down into a specific event, like the meeting I am having tomorrow (on matters related to the Beacon Bike Loop project here in Beacon NY), you can see the capabilities of the tool. Along with the event’s time, place (which we haven’t settled yet), the contacts, and any recent emails from the contacts, Tempo allows me a simple way to send a message to all the attendees or to signal them that I will be late.

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Here you see the screen after clicking on ‘Message’, arranged so I can email all the contacts, or just one.

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Tempo is still processing my email, but when that is finished it will also fetch attachments in emails that might be related, as well, at least in principle. And it acts as a robotic assistant, working silently in the background, so that I don’t have to manually dig up the contacts, search for emails, etc. Tools like Meetin.gs work the opposite way, putting the burden of being organized on the user. Me, I want ‘bots to organize my mess for me, instead.

Tempo looks like a really smart tool, especially on a mobile device, but an appliance that I see myself using prior to almost any meeting. I wish there was a web version so I could use it on my Mac.

This is another great example of a small and simple social tool, one designed to attack a narrow set of related use cases without trying to boil the entire ocean of all event-related activities.

Meetin.gs Makes Organizing and Running Meetings Easier

As most web workers know, successfully coordinating meetings over email can be tricky. Meetin.gs is a collaborative tool that is hoping to make organizing meetings easier. It handles meeting invitations and also provides an online space where attendees can share notes, materials and the agenda.