While Siri pushed the idea of a personal assistant app to the fore, apps like Google Now and Grockr are showing us that the future is in anticipating a user’s needs and proactively delivering information and completing tasks. Now, a new app called EasilyDo is showing how a personal assistant app can become even more sentient and proactive.
EasilyDo, which is debuting Thursday on the iPhone and iPod Touch, combines more than 20 productivity apps, but it’s more than just a roll-up of existing services. Like Google Now, it anticipates when a user needs to rely on one of these services and offers to complete a task proactively at the right time. I have yet to try out the app, so I have to see if it can deliver as promised. But if it does, it could change the way we use our smartphones and it could also undercut a lot of standalone apps that take on discrete services.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company announced Thursday it has raised $4.3 million in funding to build out its app. U.S. Venture Partners, where CEO and co-founder Mikael Berner was entrepreneur in residence, and Mayfield Fund are participating in the round, which started as a seed round but became a Series A.
Here’s what EasilyDo does:
It pulls in data from Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and LinkedIn and looks at a user’s calendar and contacts. It then starts creating cards that represent tasks that a user would like to act on. For very timely tasks, it delivers a push notification to alert a user.
So if a friend’s birthday comes up, EasilyDo will send a note a few days early and offer to send their friend a gift card from Amazon, Target or Starbucks. It will also use sentiment analysis and natural language processing to scan a user’s Facebook newsfeed to pull out big news that they might miss. The app will even pre-format a comment based on whether congratulations or condolences are in order.
EasilyDo will review a user’s address book and merge duplicate contacts. And if a user emails someone frequently who’s not in their address book, EasilyDo offers to create a new contact for them.
For people on the move, EasilyDo will alert them when to leave to make their next appointment and will offer to deliver “I’m late” messages to attendees if they’re falling behind. It can also offer to text message a contact when they leave the office and head home. If a user has a conference call, the app will automatically dial in so they don’t have to mess with conference call numbers and passwords. The app can also track packages and receipts and alert users when a package has shipped.
EasilyDo was created by Berner, who sold his previous company BeVocal to Nuance and became SVP of Nuance’s enterprise devision, and Hetal Pandya, a former director at Nuance. Berner said the goal was to eat into some of the 35,000 decisions that a user faces each day and help them tackle some of them proactively. That’s what separates it from Siri, which still requires a user to begin an action, Berner said.
“If the information is there, we just put a task forward and see if a user wants to do it. Why tell Siri what your father’s birthday is? We get it and can offer it to you a couple of days before,” Berner told me in an interview. “We want to be the one that executes the task.”
EasilyDo competes with a lot of different services right now like Facebook Gifts, Slice for package and receipt tracking, MobileDay for conference calling, Twist for making it to an appointment on time. Berner said he’s not looking to replace any of those apps but if his app delivers as advertised, it could do just that.
I’m intrigued by EasilyDo because it looks pretty useful and shows how a smart personal assistant should work. We still need services like Siri to create new actions but by making a lot of our existing data available, we can let actions and information come to us. This might unnerve some privacy-obsessed users, but EasilyDo says it encrypts all of its data and keeps as little of it as possible on its servers.
And it’s not looking to sell any of it. Right now, it’s making money through affiliate fees for gift cards and Berner thinks there’s an opportunity to expand that for flights or hotel bookings. An Android version is also on the way next, though when it will be ready is not clear.