Sunday, July 27, 2008

Being productive with Jott

Jott – Bring simple back to your life, anywhere.

I first read about Jott on Lifehacker and thought it would be cool. I tried it out (the simple sign up was really nice) and it fit right into my lifestyle. I'm often away from my computer and network access, but I always have my cell phone. Jott is a great capture device and inbox for Getting Things Done.

Jott provides a free service that transcribes voice to email, text message and other web services. Their transcription is done through a combination of human and computer transcription and they indicate that their computer transcription is doing the majority of the work these days.

Jott is a great way to communicate with groups. You can setup groups in your contact list and then send group emails and group text messages. I've made use of this when we were working on a group project at work and I had to provide an update on work that I was doing while my team mates were commuting home, so that they could continue working on the project. I use Jott groups frequently with my MBA team, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and delayed getting to class.

Recently, a buddy of mine expressed surprise at the 47 pounds of gear I was going to take on an overnight, winter camping trip. As I unpacked my gear, I used the kitchen scale to weigh it. I used Jott to record the results with my voice and then put it into a spreadsheet later. It made data collection really simple.

I use Jott to send most text messages instead of my QWERTY keyboard on my phone. The fact that you can email from a non-internet enabled phone is really cool (and can save a buck or two on service, too). I use Jott lots to text message my wife when she is at swim meets and swim practice where the loud environment makes it challenging to hear the phone.

Jott reminders are pretty cool, though they need a little refinement in my opinion. With my voice, I can create a timed reminder and receive a text message 10 minutes before that time (thats where the improvement is needed, I want my reminders on time). This has been useful to use my phone as an alarm clock when my wife (and maybe me too) takes afternoon naps or when she asks me to remind her of something at some later point in the day. I don't have to remember, Jott will do it for me!

Jott is also integrated with other web services and even has an API to integrate beyond just sending an email to the service. With the Zillow Jott Link, my wife and I can be driving around and quickly settle the “how much does that house cost” guessing game. She's usually right because she's more in tune with the housing market. I can add to-dos to my Remember the Milk to do list, even adding tags and due dates with their natural speaking interface.

When I'm away from my computer, I can Jott directly to my blog on Blogger and they support many other blogging platforms to. Its also convenient to add events directly to my Google Calendar, so I don't have to worry about losing the little appointment business card (or worse, if I don't a reminder card).

Jott has links to lots of other services that I don't use, too and the link of services integrated with Jott grows frequently.

I use Jott just about everyday. Not only can reach out with so many other methods of communication, Jott sends me copies of what I Jott with the control to even receive it on my phone as a text message. I only do that for the important things, namely adding to my calendar, once I've built up the trust in the system.

Jott is super useful when driving. Sure, its common sense to not be distracted while you drive, but I live in one of those states that has passed no texting laws and will require a hands-free device in a few months. Not only is it easy, it is safe, too.

Most recently, Jott released an iPhone app. While I don't have an iPhone, its apps like these that make me want to get one.

On my last work trip, I Jotted my expenses to myself as I made them. I had several cash and expenses on my personal credit card (where they didn't take American Express) that I wanted to keep track of. It really made the post-trip reconciliation quick and easy. All of my expenses go straight into a Jott folder called expenses and with them all in one place, it makes it easy to fill out the expense report when I get home.

For my birthday, my family got me a Jawbone headset. I love it and the noise cancellation allows me to use Jott in even more locations (like quick notes from swim meets and basketball games). Jott was one of the reasons that the Jawbone made it on my wishlist.

Jott is also a local Seattle startup. I'm all about trying new things and Web 2.0 services and its that much more cool when you can actually meet the people behind the company. They are great at responding to feedback and incorporating that feedback into the newer versions. Because I live close by, I've been able to participate in focus studies and user group events. Not only is Jott a cool service, but they're cool people, too.

Sign up for Jott here.

Edit 26 August 2008: Jott has announced that they are no longer in beta and have paid plans. Read my thoughts here.

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