I am ready for a smartphone that "gets" me

I am ready for a smartphone that "gets" me

Summary: As important as my smartphone has become to me, it's not enough. I want it to take a more active role in my life.


My smartphone has become an indispensable part of my daily life, keeping me in touch with those that matter and informed about things that impact my life. It lets me communicate with the people that matter most to me, and also with some I have never met. I get breaking news and important views of the world as soon as they become available. As important as my smartphone has become to me, it's not enough. I want it to take a more active role in my life.

That may sound funny but I constantly see areas in which my smartphone could aid me by serving as an active personal assistant. I want my phone to learn how I regularly do things, when I do them and where I do them, all by watching what I do. The smartphone should learn my regular behavior by observation, and then use that information to make my life easier.

If I go to a certain place every month, my smartphone should notice that and take appropriate action in the future. It should remind me when the date is approaching, just in case I want to go again. It should offer to enter the event into my calendar, in case I forgot. It should volunteer to add it as a favorite to my navigation app. Just a simple dialog box warning that I can dismiss if I'm not going this month.

Like most folks, my life unfolds around a routine that is more consistent than random. This is perfect for my thinking smartphone to help me out with no effort on my part. Once it learns that I check my email every morning around a certain time, if one day I fail to do so it should ask if I want to. It should recognize (even if I don't) that I call my kids up north regularly, and ask if I want to call them if the normal interval passes and I haven't done so.

If I receive a communication of any kind (email, TXT, Facebook message, Twitter DM, etc.) from my buddy Matt Miller stating he's "coming to Houston next Thursday. We should have dinner", my phone should interpret this and offer to set up an event in my calendar for this. Better, it should also remind me that Matt likes a certain restaurant in Houston (from past visits), and offer to make a reservation. It could even fire up a reply in the proper app notifying Matt that we're on. This sort of stuff can help me out a great deal, and without any effort on my part.

My phone always knows where I am due to geolocation, and that can be leveraged to help me. If I get a phone call asking for a meeting across town at a certain time, when I enter it into my schedule on the phone it should warn me if the distance between the existing meeting before or after this one makes it unlikely I can make it. This could save me embarrassment by suggesting I offer a slightly adjusted meeting time for the new event.

Today's smartphones are capable enough to do all of this and more, if developers would take on the task of creating the app(s) to do so. I want my smartphone to learn by watching what I do regularly, and then figuring out the best way to help me do that. All without intervention on my part. I want a smartphone that "gets" me.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones

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  • Sounds a little creepy

    But it also sounds like you want a "personal assistant". I guess that may make sense but I figure the biggest challenge will be developing filters so it's not reminding you when you are out to dinner with your wife that you are late for your weekly trip to Jake's Jiggly Bar ;)

    The second biggest challenge would be how to keep the data it's "collecting" on you YOURS.
    • Exactly

      @oncall Privacy should be mine. I decide how I control my smartphone - I don't want my smartphone controlling my life.

      This kind of insane intricacy you envision James would leave your life a mess if you lost your smartphone. Do you really need geotagging and alarms encroaching on you?
    • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me


      Absolutely. What James Kendrick describes is exactly what Google is trying to do with Android. If just your phone knew, there would be no problem. But, Google collects the data to make money. And someday, all that data will appear on Wikileaks.
      • Wikileaks is not an issue to most decent people


        What it is an issue is all that collected data being sold to the highest bidders at any time.
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

  • Sounds like ...

    WP8 ...Microsoft will bring that kind of thing to you, long before you want it.
    • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

      @jaypeg ha. ha. ha.

      I've been hearing that same old song since 1995
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    God help me if I ever become that addicted to technology!
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    God help me if I ever become that addicted to technology and so dissociated from other human beings in my life.
  • Do you wake up before the alarm goes off?

    Is it routine you need to be reminded of, or DEPARTURES from routine?
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    This has nothing to do with technology addiction, simply wanting my phone to provide an extended role that it is capable of doing. There are no privacy concerns, as everything is done locally on the phone and not shared.

    This could be configurable over time, to personalize the benefits for the individual. It's not to make me dependent on the technology, rather to let me take advantage of it when desired. Nothing sinister here.
    • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

      There is actually a Nokia BetaLabs project called 'Nokia Bots' which more or less aims to achieve this but it is not completely there yet. First release was in March 2010 and was recently updated in December.<br><br><a href="http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/12/15/nokia-bots-smarter-smartphones/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://conversations.nokia.com/2010/12/15/nokia-bots-smarter-smartphones/</a><br><br><a href="http://betalabs.nokia.com/apps/nokia-bots" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://betalabs.nokia.com/apps/nokia-bots</a>
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Well, I do not need an intelligent phone that I have to show consideration for. However since I use B-Folders I can aid my intelligence wherever I go, cause I have my whole knowledgebase with me http://www.jointlogic.com/b-folders/2/
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Interesting ideas James.. and something which could be of growing use in the coming years ;) There's an awful lot of computing power going to waste in these smartphones.
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Nokia has some applications that allow the phone to better integrate with people's lifestyles. Talk with Matthew Miller from ZDNet to understand what they are and then review them if you have the time. You might be surprised.
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Good idea as long as it's not like the creepy Microsoft assistant, popping up to help you do things when you don't want it. I learned to turn it off as soon as I had a new machine or version of Office, but some of my less technically skilled colleagues were driven to hysteria by that creep. Having said this, a form of intelligent assistant (intelligent enough to shut up occasionally) would be a good idea.
  • Then develop an app that gets you.

    Why aren't developers starting their own business. Plenty of money waiting on this next big idea. Heck, I have the idea and the money...dont have the team chasmfinancial@gmail.com
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Turn the smartphone into an intelligent phone.
    Drug Doc
  • Or...

    You could do all of that yourself. It's called being a good person--or at least human. "Remember where my friend likes to eat" is what most people call being cognisant of what people around you are doing.

    I love iPhones. I bought a 4S on the first day. But articles like this tell me what is wrong with the world.
  • RE: I am ready for a smartphone that 'gets' me

    Sounds like you need Siri