It was June of 2012, and Cochin based mobile app startup Dexetra were riding high on the success of Iris, a voice assistant for Android. They had just launched their latest app, a smart personal assistant for Android phones, Friday. Many wrote about the app, giving it rave reviews and predicted the app to go many places. However, 7 months later, despite intensive marketing efforts and media coverage, national and international, Friday's growth has been somewhat slow. The app has undergone a makeover (a good one at that) and has added a couple of new functions, but even this, hasn't given the app the sort of push that folks at Dexetra would have hoped for.
Does that mean Friday has gone over its peak? Not even close.From the old and dusty bookshelf of apps, we picked today's App Friday which goes by the name of the day we write this column. For the office going smartphone user, Friday is an app that helps you forget to remember. Can you really forget to remember with Friday? Read on to find out more -
What is it?
You could call it a data aggregator of sorts, where it gives you a list of most things that you did with your phone. This could include, phone calls, text messages, Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare updates, email and whatever you permit (if you're thinking privacy, hold that thought. We'll get to it in a bit).
The main part of the app, so to say, is a central news feed called the storyline, which allows you to see your phone activity for the day. There's a nifty calendar function, where you can pull up your story line for each day. You can even search for questions like, "who called me last night", and Friday will pull up relevant data
from the storyline.You can also post updates about what you're doing on Friday, which again will be recorded as a part of your storyline. Apart from this, there are a bunch of analytics options like My day and Patterns and sorting options based on people, photos, activities etc.
As you use the app longer, it also gives you activity recommendations, like "why don't you strike a conversation with Chandan" or "Why don't you listen to "Heart of Life by John Mayer".
Cool or creepy? We'll get to that in a bit.
Who is it for?
The app is made for me - the average, forgetful and disorganized smartphone user. It lists down every single thing that I've done with my smartphone (well.. at least, every single thing that I've allowed the app to see).
At the end of the day, I personally use this app to go through my day through interactions that have happened on the accounts that I've synced with Friday. And more often than not, there's always the mail from work that I've missed out, or the phone number whom I forgot to add to my contacts.As a personal assistant, its amazing. For a disorganized guy like me, this is way better than maintaining a calender, because a) There's not effort from me to get it working and b) it aggregates usage data from more than just one place.
Friday pulls off a very novel function. This app is everything that I want a personal assistant to be. But to put it in specifics, here's what makes Friday work for me -
- A great function - Who would have ever thought that simply aggregating usage information in one place would be so useful. As I'm going through my story line right now, my whole day played out again, in words.
- A good-looking UI - From font style and sizing, to icons used, designers of Friday seem to have taken great measures to make it good look.
- Usability - Friday takes a little getting used to and you might find it a little confusing to use in the first few usages. Post that, the app unravels itself to you either in the form of prompts (basically a popup telling you briefly about a feature) or by making the user curious, by the icons used.
What doesn't work
Friday should make a clear distinction between its primary and ancillary functions. Making all the functions on the app seem just as important as the other might put off a user. Here are some things that need to be looked into -
- Broken UX (In some places) - Applying filters for example; you will have to come back to an unfiltered view before applying another filter. The calendar view as well; once you've chosen one date, you cannot pull up the storyline for any other date without coming back to the unfiltered view.
- Suggestions - A lot of the suggestions that Friday makes, are derived from past activity. While it might work in some cases, I personally don't think that the past is a good predictor for the future. To illustrate - just because i did something for two days in a row, doesn't necessarily mean that I will do it tomorrow as well.
- Too much information - From the journaled data, the app provides analytics that not everyone would want to know. For example, the person I called wasn't my girlfriend! Jokes apart, bar charts and other metrics isn't something that all users would want to see, on the app at least. Keep it simple.
Friday comes from the new breed of apps that records metrics from your life, in order to become more productive. It works very well,
- but there are some philosophical question that the folks at Dexetra would want to answer to themselves, with regard to recommendations -Recommendations is a great thing, if it was general. I'd be just as happy to see a recommendation prompting me to listen to music in general, rather than listening to a particular song. Does it have to be this specific?
- Another question - is past data really the best means of providing recommendations?
- Do you really want to tell your users what to do? - Most Indians (most humans even) don't like being told what to do.
The app is great in phases and at the same time, it also lets you down every now and then. But, that one killer function, the storyline, wins above all else. This app is a keeper for me. What do you think? If you're a user as well, let us know what you think!
Try out Friday, for a more organized life.