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Two years ago, Google release released Google Now. In its own simple way, this was revolutionary. It allowed you to interact with your phone and tablet using your voice, querying the Internet, sending messages and making appointments, whilst being tightly integrated with the Google’s popular social media and productivity services.
EasilyDo is a virtual personal assistant for and Android that can be compared to Google Now. In fact, as we’ll discover shortly, it’s much better. It allows you to keep track of your email, social obligations and schedule with a minimum of fuss, in addition to making it easy to find out information which you routinely might look for, such as travel information and weather. Like most virtual personal assistants, EasilyDo has an ethos of making it easy to perform tasks which are regularly performed, to the point where they feel utterly instinctive and (may I say) trivial.
The way EasilyDo works is by integrating with your calendar, email and social media accounts, and picking out the bits which are likely of interest. Each trending post on Facebook. Each invitation to a night out with your work colleagues. Each important meeting with your boss. Every upcoming birthday. It then organizes them into a series of cards which you can scroll through, actioning the ones which are important to you.
But why would you need a virtual personal assistant? Admittedly, searching Google for train times or the weather isn’t difficult. Likewise, with a bit of Evernote magic, it’s possible to keep abreast of the myriad of flight numbers and times that regular business travelers have to contend with. But why should you? Why can’t you have a central location where you can keep on top of your world?
I was curious to see how EasilyDo’s value proposition stacked up to Google Now – a product with the might of an Internet titan and countless billions of dollars behind it. I decided to stack these two products against each other in three areas. The first is how they handle social media websites. The second area is how each of these products integrate with other applications. Since EasilyDo is undoubtedly a product aimed at the business sphere, I’m going to focus on how it copes with airline and hotel bookings, as well as package delivery services. Finally, I’m going to examine how these apps work as productivity devices, and how they integrate with CRM and cloud storage products.
Round One: Social Media
Google Now and EasilyDo both allow you to easily post content to, and view posts on social media platforms. But how do they differ?
You might have read Justin Pot’s tongue-in-cheek op-ed about how Google is forcing its Google Plus platform down the throats of consumers, ensuring that everyone who uses Gmail and YouTube has a Google Plus account, regardless of whether they want it or not. Unsurprisingly, Google Now only supports posting to Google Plus. But what about the young upstart, EasilyDo?
Social media addicts will be pleased to know that EasilyDo supports Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as sepia-toned photo sharing titan, Instagram. Support goes beyond the predictable posting and updating, and can inform you whenever your friends have a birthday, as well as scheduling messages and gifts. One particularly handy feature is how it finds the best, most-liked content of the day, and makes a note of it for later perusing.
Result: First round goes to EasilyDo for supporting a wider range of social media platforms compared to Google Now.
Round Two: Integration
Full disclosure: Whilst I own a number of mobile devices (including a very pretty Nexus 7), I’m a pretty die-hard Blackberry user. They’re nicknamed Crackberries for a reason: You can pry my Q10 from my cold, lifeless fingers. Perhaps one reason why I’m so devotedly attached to my Blackberry Q10 is the (rather awesome) Blackberry Travel app.
How does it work? Well, whenever I make a new booking on AirBnB, or buy plane tickets, this app scrapes my email and finds information about my travel plans. It then organizes it in a way where I can find easily find out useful information about which airport I’m flying from, my flight number and the address of the place I’m staying at, all from one central application.
Google Now does something that is remarkably similar to Blackberry Travel. When you book a flight on a select group of airlines (including AirBerlin, AirCanada and EasyJet), it will organize information about your upcoming travel. Handy, right?
Much like Google Now and Blackberry Travel, EasilyDo integrates with a number of airlines to provide you up-to-date flight information. However, the breadth of airlines supported by EasilyDo is staggering. Needless to say, a significantly larger amount of airline bookings are supported with this app, than in the incumbent Google product.
The same is true for hotels. EasilyDo can find out where you’re staying, aggregate information about it, and generally make it easy for you to get to your warm bed when in a strange, unfamiliar city. However – as before – the number of hotel companies and reservation websites are significantly more numerous than those supported by its rival.
But let’s forget travel for a moment. What about day-to-day services, such as package delivery? We all know how frustrating it is to order something from the Internet, only for it to be delivered when you aren’t at home. Annoying.
Google Now supports tracking packages shipped via UPS and FedEx, who are two of the larger courier companies in the United States. EasilyDo supports these two giants of the package delivery world, in addition to DHL, Royal Mail, Yodel, TNT and over 40 other large shipping companies.
Result: EasilyDo takes round two, due to the astonishing number of services which it supports.
Round Three: Productivity
Let’s be blunt. Smartphones aren’t just for taking photos of what you had for dinner and selfies in the bathroom mirror. For many, they’re a vital tool for getting things done. In this round, we’re going to look at how EasilyDo and Google Now integrate with email, calendars, contacts, CRM products, as well as a number of popular cloud storage platforms.
First, email. I’m an email addict, and anything which makes it easy for me to stay on top of the landslide of emails which find their way to my inbox is good in my book. As you might expect, Google Now supports Gmail, in addition to email hosted with Google Apps.
But what if the company you work for insists on using Exchange, or hosted Outlook? What if you still use Yahoo! as your email provider? Thankfully, EasilyDo has you covered here. It even supports IMAP, meaning that if your email provider isn’t in the list of the above, there’s still a solid chance it could work with EasilyDo.
Now, let’s talk about calendars. You probably know that Google has their own offering called Google Calendar. Unsurprisingly, this is supported fully within Google Now. However, the myriad of other calendar providers are unsupported. Once again, EasilyDo surpasses Google Now by integrating itself into any connected calendar on your device, in addition to pulling events from Facebook.
It’s a similar story on the contacts front. Whilst Google Now supports contacts stored on Google’s own servers, EasilyDo supports those saved locally on your iOS and Android devices, as well as those stored with Google.
Business-types may often find themselves working with CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) software. Two of the largest ones presently on the market are SalesForce and Expensify, both of which are supported by EasilyDo. Unfortunately, the millions of business users who depend on these products will be disappointed to find out that they aren’t supported by Google Now.
Staggeringly, Google Now also fails to support any form of cloud storage platform. Dropbox and Box.net are used by millions as a platform for storing vital files, as well as acting as a form of version control. Like Git, but for files. Whilst Google Now fails to deliver, EasilyDo supports Evernote, Box.net and Dropbox.
Result: EasilyDo has the upper hand for its well-rounded third-party service integration.
Google Now is the incumbent, and it’s still a good product. One which I enjoy using on a regular basis, and a tool which I’ve came to depend upon.
The problem is, you have to buy heavily into the Google ecosystem for the value proposition for Google Now to be there. That simply isn’t the case with EasilyDo. It’s broad, and tries to support as many products and services as possible without compromising on usability or quality. The iOS version is available in over 40 countries through the iTunes Store and the Android version was launched in May 2013. Download it for your device and get your life organised.
But what do you think? Tried EasilyDo? Do you depend upon Google Now? Drop me a comment below and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear them.