Project 2: Personal Assistant/Mobile Homepage Research

So for Project 2 I’ve been dabbling with the idea of doing a “homepage”/Personal Assistant like app. It’s a bit crazier than just an app, but I was thinking it would be interesting to compete with iOS’s Notification Center and Android’s “Google Now” applications. I’d love for there to be an app that users use as their mobile homepage. It gives them information on what’s important to them and most notably would have an RSS reader, something both apps lack. Maybe to simplify things, it could be a more personalized RSS reader, but I like the idea of using it for more than just RSS functions. Anyways, here are some of the apps I researched.

 iOS 7 Notification Center

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iOS 7 saw a drastic redesign of the notification center. The Notification Center made typography the main forefront for the interface removing weather icons and many other non-typographic visual stylings. While this works, it doesn’t make for a very easy quick read. The application can push information from your apps to the Notification Center, but ultimately doesn’t do much more than that. Missed texts, Calendar info, and Weather are the only real features holding the Notification Center up. Along with Siri, Apple seems to want the Notification Center to be your main “homepage” to accessing a ton of app info at once, but ultimately doesn’t go far enough.

Google Search/Google Now

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In contrast to iOS’s Notificaton Center, Google Now boasts much more customizability allowing the users to pick what’s most important to them in a very visual manner. Maps, weather, yelp like reviews, and calendars are all available for Android users from the get go and is downloadable as the “Google Search” app in iOS’s app store. Google Now has a much more playful, fun aesthetic than the coldness of iOS’s Notification Center. The thing that really makes Google Now outshine the Notification center are the robust voice features and the integrated Google Search. The only thing thing that could make Google Now better could be possible RSS features or news like notifications from other apps.

Osito

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To compete with Google Now on iOS, Osito attempts to be the personal assitant iOS needs, but fails to go above and beyond Google Now, and remains buggy software. According to reviews I’ve read, Osito tries to be a predictive assistant that takes a week to predict information you’ll need but sometimes only shows weather. Overall it’s much more visual than iOS’s Notification center and is very similar to Google Now stylistically.

Cue

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Before Google Now and the Notification Center there was Cue. Cue, acquired by Apple earlier this month, began as a simple social media reader that expanded into a much more involved Personal Assistant App. It featured many of the things Google Now features today, but used a much more photographic styling compared to its competition. Cue organized many basic types of info such as weather, events, and messages along with social media integration, flight information, and packaging tracking.

reQall

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If there’s an app that does information more frustratingly and less beautifully than iOS’s Notification Center, it’s definitely reQall. reQall touts that it does features similar to many other competitors, but simply does them very blandly. reQall tracks information on your phone and predicts what things you’ll be looking for. Overall there’s little information on the app and the screenshots of the app barely paint a good picture of reQall’s organization and user flow.

Conclusion

Google Now does a lot of things successfully and there isn’t a whole lot of necessary features that need to be added to the already robust app. Meanwhile iOS 7’s Notification Center does app notifications well, but fails to go much further than static text boxes. Other apps seem to be playing catch up with Google Now, but are all missing a bit of social media integration. While doing something as silly as a Facebook friends newsfeed seems unnecessary, RSS readers and News notifications could make apps like Google Now the go to app on anyone’s phone. Figuring out a way to simply and effectively integrate this large amount of features into a small iPhone sized screen is a challenge that I’m looking forward to taking up. I want an app that will not only shows me simple data such as weather traffic, but also allow me to delve deeper into my interests and receive notifications for those interests.

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