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Apps, Why?

Evernote dreams of an augmented intelligence

Evernote dreams of a world where your technology does the thinking for you. The app has evolved from the desktop and mobile device to the wrist, with the company recently releasing versions of the app for Android Wear and Pebble. As the wearables market continues to develop, Evernote expects the role of smart data to make an ever-increasing impact on our everyday lives.

Evernote co-founder and CEO Phil Libin told Techly he predicts the coming of an “augmented intelligence”, where devices like the smartwatch will act as personal assistants of humankind.

“By the time you have to think to search, something’s already failed,” he says. “If we’d been doing our job we’d have shown you the information you needed before you knew you needed to know it.”

Evernote perceives a gap between the human controlling a device, and the ability of the device to interact with the user. The company aims to fill in that gap by enhancing the way that Evernote processes and understands information to serve up useful, relevant and contextualised information from its millions of data points.

Damian Meher is a senior developer at Evernote, having worked on both Evernote for Pebble and Android Wear. As a long-term user of Evernote, and one with a vested interest in the future of the company’s offering, he adds: “It would be nice if Evernote just popped information up for me in an unobtrusive way.”

Ultimately, Evernote sees a future where your smartwatch, phone, PC or tablet will seamlessly serve up information when and where you need it. The role of wearable tech will become increasingly important, as users come to expect that information to be immediately available and convenient. A great user experience will go beyond pretty interfaces – context will be the key.

Since Evernote is already a repository for information for users, it seems a logical step to use that information in a manner that will assist with everyday tasks.

An Evernote user will store calendar appointments in the app, make notes about a certain café, or clip a web page. Since the app synchronises with other devices the user might own, information tends to travel with them as they live their lives.

Why not use that information to alert them to things that might be helpful and interesting as they move around? That web clip you took of a museum? Well hey, you’re standing outside it right now. You have a note in your files about a meeting at a café – let Evernote pull up the web page before you get there, so you know what to expect. As Mehers explains, “context is the key.”

Libin goes on to explain, “If I’m sitting in a meeting taking notes, Evernote will be searching through my past notes and those of my co-workers. It will show me anything that I know about the subject, and anything that any of my co-workers know, providing I’ve shared my notebooks with them.”

Having that level of interactive information available will certainly be enhanced by wearing it on one’s wrist, rather than having to scroll through a phone or tablet.

The trick will be to teach the app what the user does not want to know about, while learning what will be of ongoing interest. Swipe away a note on picking the kids up from school a couple of times, and the app should learn not to keep approaching the user with that suggestion.

Libin says, “We really see ourselves as an external brain. We’re here to make you smarter, to help you make better, more focused decisions.”

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