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Hands on: Osito is your personal concierge for iPhone

Joel Mathis | April 22, 2013
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how Google Now is Android’s secret weapon in the mobile platform wars with iOS. If Siri is a digital “assistant”—taking your instructions, sending messages, and updating your calendar—Google Now is more of a concierge, reminding you of that next appointment, checking the weather for you, and generally anticipating your needs. No good idea remains unexploited for long, though, and this week brought forth Osito, a free “predictive intelligence” iPhone app that offers many of the most prominent features of Google Now.

Theres been a lot of talk lately about how Google Now is Androids secret weapon in the mobile platform wars with iOS. If Siri is a digital assistanttaking your instructions, sending messages, and updating your calendarGoogle Now is more of a concierge, reminding you of that next appointment, checking the weather for you, and generally anticipating your needs.

No good idea remains unexploited for long, though, and this week brought forth Osito, a free predictive intelligence iPhone app that offers many of the most prominent features of Google Now.

Osito wants to tie deeply into your phones services.

To do that job, though, Osito ties into a range of information already offered on your phone. Youll have to give it access to location services and to your calendar; youll also want to enable push notifications. Its not required that you give the app access to your Google account, though you may want to if you do any of your scheduling through Google Calendar. (The company promises to keep all of this data private.)

After youre tied into the app, Osito offers a number of services: It looks at your schedule, where your next meeting is at, and where youre located, then gives you a nudge when its time to get on the road to arrive on time at that event. If the weather is going to be wet, windy, or in any way unusual during that trip, the app alerts you to that, too. Similarly, if theres a traffic jam on your route, the app will let you knowoffering you new directions and the opportunity to alert any contacts at your destination that you might be late.

The app includes features for frequent travelers, as well, with the ability to check your flight status and book taxis to the airport, directly from Osito. If youve made a hotel reservation, the app will alert you twiceonce the day before check-in, and a second time as the user nears the hotel location. When youre done with a notification, just swipe to the right and it will be archived.

And, if thats not enough, the developers say they plan to add even more features to Osito in the near future.

Dont expect quick results: A users profile takes about a day to build.

All of this means, of course, that there are a lot of moving parts to the app: You cant just fire it up and expect it to start guiding you through your life. Ositos developers say that it takes the app about a day to build your profile before it can be expected to function properly.

Even then, the developers admit that the initial notifications can often come too early or too late to be truly helpful to a user, but they also add that such problems fix themselves over time. Thats because the app tracks your actual movements and refines your profile to figure out how long it typically takes you to arrive at certain locations.

 

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