Talking tech since 2003

Finding a good personal assistant could be one of the more difficult things to do for many executives, or perhaps not, with the launch of Donna a brand new personal assistant app for iOS.  While Donna can’t get you coffee, she can do several other things, including instantly hailing an Uber or sending email notifications to people you’re meeting to tell them that you’re running a little late.

donnaIt’s no secret, the best personal assistants are the ones who are proactive and can get you the information you want before you ever have to ask.  That’s what Donna aspires to be.  Donna grabs your calendar details and creates a todo list of sorts, with all sorts of information based on what’s in the calendar event.  For example, locations, times, phone numbers, and people are all collected by Donna and displayed in a way that’s easy to read and make sense of.

Donna looks at how you’re getting to an appointment, considers traffic, and directions to let you know when it’s time to leave.  Based on those calculations Donna lets you know when you should be leaving in order to make it on time.  In addition informing you when you should leave, Donna also can offer step by step directions to a meeting (you can also send the directions to Apple or Google Maps from Donna), the weather forecast, a picture of the place you’re meeting (super useful!), and easy access to tell people if you’re running late.

Another killer feature of Donna is that she can auto dial you into conference calls so you don’t have to remember access codes.  It couldn’t be simpler, Donna lets you know it’s time for the call and then can automatically dial you in.

Donna lets you choose a default method of transportion (car, bike, walk), but you can also change that on the fly for individual appointments/meetings and then Donna will update her information accordingly.  Personally, being that I live in New York, I’d love to see the Subway added to that list of transportion options, or better yet, a mix of Subway and walking.

This app has the potential to be a star, it’s really that good.  If you haven’t started downloading it yet, do it.  I can’t wait to see how Donna continues improve and what else she can bring to the table.

The one thing I would be worried about if I were Donna is getting replaced by Siri.  It’s entirely possible Apple could jump into this space with Siri and offer similar functionality. Apple is already making more use of the notification screen with iOS 7 by offering improved calendar notifications for the current day as well as the next.


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