We all want a personal assistant à la Lloyd in Entourage — someone to walk our dogs, handle unwanted emails and ensure we’re always on time. But for those of us who aren’t Ari Gold — and therefore can’t afford a full-time, salaried employee — we have to make do with the tools we’re given.
Luckily, a smartphone can be an excellent substitute. You can now hire (a.k.a. download) a personal assistant without leaving the confines of the App Store. So whether you’re scheduling a meeting or planning the most efficient route across town, a smartphone can be your most useful asset.
Read on for our favorite apps that double as a personal assistant. Beware: Once you start using them, people’s expectations of you will skyrocket.
1. Google Now
Word on the street is that a little company called Google is pretty good with technology — so how could we expect their assistant app to be anything other than top-notch? Google Now is marketed as the “intelligent personal assistant,” available for both iOS and Android. You can also run the program on personal computers via Chrome. Use this nifty app to set geo-triggered reminders, store airline boarding passes and check the weather at an upcoming destination. Best of all, the latest version’s features include barcode scanning and song recognition.
2. Dragon Go
While it doesn’t have all of the shiny functions of Google Now, Dragon Go is the best at one thing: Dictation. Its speech recognition technology will enable you to draft emails, texts and memos on the go — without the hassle of including another human in the process. Dragon Go has an unprecedented level of accuracy when transcribing — even better than Siri. It can also sync with Netflix, iTunes and Spotify for voice control.
If Dragon Go is the best at dictating, then vokul leads the pack for voice control. The app enables you to go hands-free, and will work in noisy environments like your car or the office. Ask vokul to read your social media feeds, or fast forward to a certain point in a song. Unlike Siri, which requires you to tap your phone for activation, vokul will activate upon hearing the words “hey vokul” — so as long as the app is open, no hands are needed. In fact, it’s the only 100% hands-free voice control app available.
Named after Batman’s perennial sidekick, this Android app has everything you need in a great personal assistant. This voice-recognition app has special features, such as the ability to search for cheap parking. Robin can also check for directions, conduct hands-free messaging and deliver news from its artificially intelligent newsroom. It’s clear why this app has dubbed itself the “Siri challenger.”
This free app — which prides itself on an uncluttered, easy-to-use interface — marries your tasks with your calendar. Auto-generated reminders will ensure no event is forgotten, while enabling you to easily share notes and content with friends. And, as of recently, it is also available for Android users. Sync it with your other apps, like Facebook, to ensure every bill, event and task is included in your automated reminders.