I’m on the hunt to automate meeting scheduling.
It strikes me as a waste of time for tons of emails to go back and forth regarding dates/times for meetings (of which I do a ton). So, I’ve been looking for an app that will:
- Integrate flawlessly with Outlook: the apps I’ve tried so far use Google calendar/sync, and not all events are synchronizing. Also, I’d like to have one calendar on my mobile devices vs. looking at both my Outlook and Google calendars to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks
- Be useful both on the laptop and my mobile devices: many apps seem geared to the desktop, and have clunky UI/UX for mobile.
It’s cool to see a Web site reach a tipping point.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon MyFitnessPal.com. I try to track my calories and nutrition overall and I was looking for something to help me do that. The web site was “OK and not great”. I stopped using it after a few days. It was a pain to search for food items and a bit tedious to remember what I ate that day when I got to my computer.
Years later, I downloaded the free iPhone app this past summer. I now use it every day. It’s a gorgeous app and simple to use. Most important, I can scan the bar codes on food packages to quickly track what I’ve eaten, on the spot.
The experience made me realize that some web properties have reached a tipping point. The mobile app is no longer an extension of the web site. The opposite is true. The mobile app is the core value proposition, and the Web site has now become a second-class citizen.
Personally, I think we’re just at the beginning of another wave in mobile, one that is focused on “mass customization,” a key investment theme of ours. We’re now in a networked world where the mobile user can customize an app according to his/her particular use cases and needs. This has all sorts of implications for targeting, advertising and development.
My car has a fancy navigation system, complete with traffic updates. The free iPhone app, Waze, trounces it.
Waze is always ahead of my car’s nav system, with better data. The app tracks everyone in real-time, and so, you can’t really beat that. My car’s nav system has about a 30 minute lag in data updates.
I pipe in Waze’s commands through Bluetooth to my car’s speakers, and it’s just like my nav system. But, Waze re-routes are much more accurate, as it knows when traffic patterns change.
Waze also tells me when there’s a policeman’s speed trap up ahead, as users on the road ahead of me have punched that in. My nav system cannot do that.
I write about this because some Internet-based technologies really cannot be beat. The Waze app is free. Hard for Garmin to compete with that.
My bank just started offering a cool new feature on its mobile app. I can now deposit checks via my iPhone or iPad. I take a picture of the front of the check and the back and upload the images through the app. That’s it.
I think this simple feature changes a lot of things. For example, I now no longer have to visit my bank. To get cash I use my debit card at the grocery store and get cash back. Now I can deposit checks remotely.
So, traffic at banking centers will go down. The ability for the bank to sell me insurance, mutual finds and other higher-margin products will go down drastically.
A lot of banks were acquired for their retail centers. I think that investment hypothesis is now starting to be negated.
One simple feature in an app. So many downstream consequences ripple out.
I’ve been playing with the beta product for Cloze, one of our new investments. I know I’m biased, but this really changes how I use email and manage my contacts. Very slick product. Wow. I”ve been interacting with it most of the morning.
Founders Dan Foody and Alex Coté are onto something.
Here’s the value prop:
- All your email/contacts history for all accounts, online, in one place
- Context for every contact
- Syncing across all your devices
For me, I find that updating my contacts is a real pain, given the devices I own. Cloze adds contacts automatically and syncs them to all of my devices and across all of my email accounts and contacts databases.
Adding our hosted Exchange 2003 server required some Q&A with Cloze support, but was so simple to do once I figured it out. Linking to my Gmail and Yahoo accounts and social networks was a snap. I’m now uploading all of my old Outlook PST files.
I really like how it automatically pulls info and pictures from Linked In and Facebook so I get a full view of people I’ve emailed. Given that I meet a lot of people, remember faces very well but not names, this is great for me. So if someone I met at a conference years ago emails me, I quickly can remember who that person is. I see his/her picture and can scan old emails that Cloze automatically serves up.
Searching for old emails on my iPhone or iPad is frustrating and slow, but now I’ve been “going to the Cloze cloud” and it’s very fast.
It’s early, but I suspect start-up founders, recruiters, sales reps, VCs, brokers, lawyers and anyone else who does a lot of networking will like this product.
Click here to learn more, if you can. It’s free.
I am flying home right now from a business conference. The flight has wifi. On a lark, I decided to FaceTime the family on my iPad.
I couldn’t believe it. It worked!
It is pretty to cool to have a video chat with the wife and kids while I’m flying at 38,000 feet and going 600 mph. It is amazing how far technology has come. A definite “Star Trek moment.”
I wrote a few weeks ago about the new Nest “smart” thermostats that have come out (more here). Some of the original iPod designers left Apple to start Nest. Mine were installed today: they’re awesome. Here’s why.
- The thermostats have motion, humidity and temperature sensors. So, they’ll power down if someone hasn’t been in a room for 2 hours
- They are WiFi connected. So, I can set the temperature from my computer, iPhone and iPad. This will be great when we ski and can fire up the heat during the car drive home
- The WiFi connection also lets the units track the local weather, and so, if you want the heat at 72 degrees by 6 am, they’ll calculate when they need to fire up given that weather in order to hit the right temp by that time. The thermostats also learn over time how long it takes to cool or heat your particular home
- Nest.com customer service has been great. I had some wiring problems, and so, they sent out an HVAC person to troubleshoot (for a fee)
- I can create a temperature schedule or let the unit “learn” our schedule in about a week’s time. I’m going to try the latter and see how it goes
The thermostats supposedly save a lot of energy. The break-even period is about two years. More at Nest.com.
I’ve been on the waiting list for the new Nest thermostat. I just got an email saying that they have some new product. My techie Inner Self is pretty excited about it.
The Nest is the “smart” thermostat developed by the folks who designed the first iPods.
I completely fell for the marketing pitch. It saves energy, by learning your schedule. It senses if a room is empty and will then lower the temperature. We ski, and so, we now can fire up the heat from a smartphone while we drive home (the device can connect to WiFi). The Nest also will supposedly check the weather report and know how to adjust for conditions. More at nest.com.
Interactions with their site have been great so far, including a video that helped me figure out if the Nest is compatible with my current thermostats.
I’ll post again once the devices are installed and running.