Mobile Apps working together to better support the user

I just started using Astrid on my HTC Desire (Running android 2.2) and I’m very impressed. The thing which amazes me is the integration with Locale.

Yes it a task app but the difference is with Locale, you can set conditions. Conditions like show me this task when I’m in certain location. Show me this task when you walk into a wifi signal with a certain SSID. Show me a task when blah blah blah…

Unfortunately it seems I’m behind the curve on this one. The locale team blogged about this last year.

I put on my todo list all sorts of tasks. Sometimes they are work tasks like “fill out my expense report.” Occasionally, I add random ideas like “ask the dentist about electric toothbrushes.” More frequently I add personal tasks like “get bananas.” With Locale + Astrid, I get reminders for these tasks when I can do something about them. By tagging tasks as “groceries” and connecting the tag to a situation in Locale (for example when I am near my local Trader Joe’s), Astrid will remind me to get bananas the next time I’m near the store. In the same way I can limit Astrid’s pestering me about my expense report to times I am in the office. And the next time I am sitting in the dentist chair, Astrid can alert me to get his take on the latest teeth-cleaning gadget.

While there are many tools that provide a place to save information you want to remember, most of them lack reminders when you need them. Locale gives Astrid the power to do this in an amazingly simple way, making Astrid less annoying and much more useful.


So theres a interesting trend of apps building on other apps. I noticed this with Dropbox. I got a feeling that because Dropbox has been out for the iPhone for longer, there might be more tightly integration that on android at the moment. But I noticed quite a few apps are using dropbox as there syncing method instead of creating there own. Its not just syncing there’s a lot more that comes with using dropbox as the storage method.

Whats also weird is I’m now expecting dropbox syncing as standard in a lot of the apps I download. After that I’m also expecting some kind of locale ability.

In actual fact, if I was to improve Astrid, I would indeed the ability to use dropbox and create tasks using a very simple XML format. It currently syncs with Google Tasks but I’ve not really got that syncing with Evolution or anything else yet, so something else would be great.

I’ll be watching this trend of apps working off the back of other apps more closely.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.