Siri’s contextual sister, Tempo, blows away Apple’s iPhone calendar

This is the year of increased productivity, particularly on mobile. Just a week ago we saw the highly-hyped launch of Mailbox. That is a really nice email replacement app that’s a lot nicer than Apple’s own email app. (I can’t use it because it doesn’t support Gmail’s labels, which I use extensively, but other than that it certainly is nice and has been racking up great reviews).

But today brings a really huge shift in productivity apps: Tempo is the first app that looks for context from your email, calendars, contacts, and even social networks to build a new kind of calendar. One that brings important things you need to know into your calendar. “We wanted to bring a full replacement experience,” says Raj Singh, founder and CEO of TempoAI in the attached video.

So, why is it so good? Why do I believe that Apple should buy it, just like it bought Siri?

  1. It brings you important data that you forget to enter. Email addresses, phone numbers, attachments, pertinent emails and facts, all are gathered and brought into your calendar.
  2. It makes it easier for conference calls. You click on the number and it’ll automatically add in your PIN codes and other codes to get accepted into a conference call.
  3. The views are nicer than Apple’s calendar. Easier to use while walking, or doing other things (if you are running late for a meeting you will call them, right? Distracted driving kills and this calendar is a lot easier to find important things like phone numbers).
  4. It hooks up to some things on the Internet. Put a flight number in your calendar? It’ll find the status for you. This is the kind of anticipatory feature that contextual systems will increasingly bring us (just like Google Now). The more this knows about you the better it’ll serve you.
  5. It’ll anticipate your needs and help you live your life. It’ll tell you drive times to your next meeting, for instance.

Is it perfect? No. What I found after using it for a few weeks is that I’ve changed my calendar behavior slightly so that it properly finds the right emails. I used to enter things like “Meet Sam.” Now I’ll change that to “Meet Sam Levin at home.” Just that extra detail keeps it from getting confused and bringing in wrong emails. I found when I put things into my calendar like “BLOCK” it would try to find something in my email that matches that, so I needed to change my titles once in a while to make my calendar more useful.

It also is mostly client side at this point, which means that you can’t share this stuff with other people. Raj says they are working on an enterprise version, which will let you share your Tempo calendars with other people (I share my Google calendar with Rocky and my wife so they can add things and change things on my behalf).

In the video Singh explains how the calendar works, and where it’ll be going.

So, when I first saw Siri (I was the first to see it outside of SRI) I turned to the team and said “you’re gonna get bought very quickly.” I had no idea that Steve Jobs would end up buying it after only a couple of weeks on the market. The Siri team said Jobs was so desperate to get Siri that he called dozens of times to convince the team to join Apple.

Will Tim Cook do the same with Tempo? I think he should. Yes, there are competitors coming but they aren’t as good. I predict, though, that instead of about $220 million it cost Apple to buy Siri, that buying Tempo will cost a billion. Why? Because Apple will want to keep this out of Google’s hands (and out of Mark Zuckerberg’s hands, too — imagine if Facebook got this calendar).

By the way, if you get Tempo, you should also upgrade your Gmail, which will help Tempo find only good stuff. Here’s some other things I did to my Gmail account to clean it out of crap which might find its way onto your calendar:

  1. I turned on SmartLabels. This is a feature in labs and separates promotional and social emails out of your inbox.
  2. I turned on OtherInBox. This will further filter emails that aren’t important out of your inbox. It is filtering all my press releases into a separate folder, for instance. I also use Sanebox, but that costs money and doesn’t do much more than OtherInBox for most people. If you are a heavy email user I’d recommend buying that too.
  3. I use This unsubscribes me from mailing lists and junk email senders. You have to be careful with this, because it’ll unsubscribe you from mailing lists you actually like to get, but it does dramatically clean up your inbox, at least in my experience. Another choice is Swizzle, which some say is better than I’m trying both, will report more soon.

Anyway, this is the most productive new app I’ve gotten in more than a year. Hope you find it as useful as I do. Get it in the iOS app store here.


Age of Context book is now funded, latest news


Shel Israel just announced that we have raised $100,000 to fund the development of our book, “Age of Context.” If you haven’t heard that we’re working on a book, we are, it’s going to focus on how companies are able to build highly anticipatory services (think of Google Now) and highly personalized services (ToyTalk, for instance, is building toys that will interact differently with you depending on who you are and where you are) because of these five things:

  1. Sensors that are exponentially increasing. You are carrying seven sensors in your smartphone. But soon we’ll have a lot more. 
  2. Wearable devices. Google Glass, Oakley AirWave, Plantronics, Smith I/O Recon, FitBit, Basis, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, and more are coming nearly every week. (In the photo above that I shot on Saturday in Sun Valley, Idaho you can see famous photographer Chase Jarvis wearing the Smith I/O Recon ski goggles that have sensors and a display).
  3. Database innovation. Big data, database computation, cloud-based databases, and more are bringing new capabilities to developers.
  4. Rapidly increasing social data. Twitter is about to have a billion-tweet day. That number is continuing to double every year or so.
  5. Rapidly increasing location data. Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, Google Maps, Waze, and many others are seeing yearly doubles, if not more, in location data.

Over the past year we’ve seen this “contextual service” trend just get more and more important. To get the book done I needed help, which is why I am working with Shel Israel, Forbes author, again. But he needed to quit his consulting business to write the book quickly (we’re going to try to turn this book around very quickly, expecting to get it on the market by October, 2013). Also, we wanted to self publish the book, in order to be more agile (most book publishers just can’t turn around a book fast enough, nor do they like letting authors publish content for free ahead of the book). So, we’re using Guy Kawasaki’s methodology for publishing, which he calls APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur).

In addition to getting Shel paid, the funds will be used to edit, design, and market the book.

Here’s the sponsors, thank you to each one of them:

  • Rackspace, the open cloud company. They served as our lead sponsor and they have been the most generous contributor so far.
  • EasilyDo is the first context aware pro-active assistant mobile app. It is sort of the GoogleNow of iPhone apps, except it actually lets you do stuff in the app, like track a package or add a contact.
  • Betaworks is a data-driven media company based in New York that builds and invests in the social web.
  • Microsoft Bing is one of the world’s leading search engines, helping millions of consumers do, not just search.
  • Autodesk, the 3D design, engineering and entertainment software company.
  • MindSmack, an interactive agency that designs and develops for mobile, web and TV.

Some things:

  1. Being a sponsor doesn’t influence what we write in the book. We are going to tell it like we see it and cover competitors of these well.
  2. We still need more funds to properly promote the book. Usually book publishers give you an advance, then take you on speaking tours and arrange PR through radio, TV, and newspapers. We’re going to fund that ourselves. Write me if you would like to be involved:
  3. The $100,000 raised so far is about three times what we would have been able to raise through traditional publisher and has a bigger upside because we can be much more agile and innovative (getting the book on market quicker after being done, for instance, or publishing all of our own work on our blogs).

Here’s some of our latest interviews (these are in addition to the dozens of interviews we’ve posted previously):