Get More Done with Jott

June 29, 2008 at 7:45 am (shareware) (, , , , , , , , , )

jott_logo.jpgIf you are not using Jott, you are missing out on some serious chances to be more productive when those little random thoughts, that I call ‘popcorn thoughts’, jump in and out of your head before you can make notes. ¬†Enter Jott. The premise is deceptively simple. It is a program that uses voice recognition software, and a few humans, to transcribe what you say to text. The uses have grown almost exponentially as the application has matured. It is still in beta, but it is quite stable and has a very long list of features. This review will just scratch the surface, but I hope it will interest you enough to head over to Jott.com and check it out for yourself.

We’ll start off with the most basic function: sending yourself an email message. This is affectionately known as “Jott to Self”. First, you pop over to Jott.com, cell phone in hand, and set up an account, which takes about 30 seconds. Now you’re ready to start Jotting. Enter Jott’s phone number, 866-JOTT-123, in your cell phone directory (mine is in my iPhone favorites, so it’s right there on the front screen so I don’t have to search for it). Call Jott. You will be asked, “Who do you want to Jott?”. You can say “me” or “myself”, or press 1. When you hear the beep, leave your message; for example, “Add more contacts to Jott”. Jott will confirm by saying, “Got it”. You may then hang up, or stay on the line to Jott again. You will then receive an email message (and also a text message if you set it up to receive confirmation texts) of your Jotted message.

That’s how you get started. You can leave a Jott to remind you about meetings, birthdays, special events, or anything else for which you need a reminder. You will get an email and a text message approximately fifteen minutes prior to the date and time you specified. You can set up lists for things to do, movies to see, places to go, etc. Those lists can be printed as well. When you set up your friends as contacts, you can choose to send their Jott as an email, text message, or both. The accuracy is quite good, but if for some reason the message they get is unclear or doesn’t sound right, there is a link that will also let them listen to your spoken Jott.

In addition to setting up friends as contacts, you can also set up groups. Let’s say you need to let the members of your softball team know that the time of your game was moved up an hour. Rather than call a dozen people, you only need to make one call to Jott. You’ll Jott the message to your team (group contact), then the whole team will get the text and/or email, and everyone will be on time for the game. How’s that for efficiency?

Jott has links that you can add for integration with other sites such as Remember the Milk, 30 Boxes, and many others. They even give instructions for developing your own link! If you use Google Calendar, by all means, link to it. You can set up events and reminders thru Jott that will sync to your Google Calendar. If you use iCal, you can still use it by using a third party shareware application such as BusySync or SpanningSync. For example, if I Jott a reminder for “Karen’s Birthday Party” Saturday at 3pm, it will post to Google Calendar, then BusySync will sync with iCal. When I connect my iPhone, I will have the notation for the party in iCal and on my iPhone. How cool is that?!

If you like to Tweet, add Twitter as a link, and you can Jott your tweets (you just have to keep up with those 140 characters in your head!). You can also blog to WordPress and other popular blogs using Jott. I even Jotted part of this review (see the brief post below this one)! You have to keep in mind that Jotts are limited to thirty seconds. If you want to add a lot of content, just edit several Jotts together.

Jott Feeds was recently added to the growing list of features. You call Jott, and say “Jott Feeds”. Then you tell Jott which feed you want to hear (they have a few there by default, but you can add more to your account). If I say, “Lifehacker”, it will read the latest Lifehacker updates to me. Score another point for safety. It’s kind of funny to hear the relatively pleasant, but still quite mechanical voice reading this to me. There are a lot of run-on sentences and a lot of it is really hard to understand. I’m sure this will likely be refined over time.

Jott is now integrated with the incredibly popular Evernote application. Evernote is cross-platform, and also has a desktop client. It recently went public (it had been in private beta). Evernote generates a special email address for members. I made a contact named Ever Note and listed the Evernote email address. Then I called Jott, and Jotted to Evernote. It sent the text of my Jott to Evernote via the Evernote-specific email address. Nice.

There are a few important guidelines to remember when Jotting. Speaking clearly is paramount. Pronounce the words clearly, and you can even spell out proper names or difficult words if you want. The voice recognition software can be a little tricky sometimes, but for the most part, it just works, and works very well. The accuracy is amazing. I have a little bit of a southern accent, but I haven’t run into any major problems so far. I looked over the longest paragraph that I Jotted to my blog, and it was spot-on, 100% accurate.

I have to give a shout out to the very responsive staff at Jott. There was one feature that I wanted desperately, and that was the ability to send myself text messages separately, not associated with emailing a Jott. Kevin over at Lifehacker had come up with a way to do this several months ago, but the application had undergone a few revisions since then and it was no longer possible to do it. I tried to implement a few workaround hacks, but I just could not get it to work. I emailed support a few times and talked to Brooke about it. That’s when I got the bad news that I couldn’t send myself just a text message.

I pleaded for her to work on it. A couple of weeks went by, and just the other day I got a message from Brooke saying that, because of my emails, they changed some things and re-introduced that bit of functionality. Yay! For anyone else wanting to do this, here is what you do. First, I only have my email address listed for my contact information (to Jott myself). I did not list my cell phone number with my main contact info. I added a contact called “Text Me” and added my phone number to it, but not my email address. Inidentally, I tried saying both ‘my phone’ and ‘phone’, but it had voice recognition conflicts with those, so I had to get a little more creative. However, Brooke told me she used “phone” and it worked fine for her…probably my southern accent! Now, when I call Jott, and I am asked, “Who do you want to Jott?”, I say “Text Me”. I leave my message, and a few minutes later, it sends it to my iPhone as a text message. Perfect!

So, if there is a feature you would like to see, just let them know. They have implemented so many new features in the past several weeks and there are even more to come. This is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what you can do with Jott. There are many more suggestions and examples at their website.

Another very important point to bring up is the safety aspect. By using Jott, you can use a bluetooth headset with your cell phone, BlackBerry, or iPhone. This makes it much safer for you to be productive while on the road. You don’t have to try to scroll through a list of contacts or rummage around to find pen and paper.

Jott is free while in beta. No word yet on pricing when it comes out of beta, although the free application will remain. According to posts at their forums, they will be implementing a premium service that will allow longer Jotts, possibly including transcription services, and more features. It’s practically impossible not to get hooked on it. Give Jott a try.

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It’s Easy to Jott to a Blog…

June 29, 2008 at 3:53 am (Applications, How-to, Productivity) (, , , , , , )

It’s easy to use Jott to post to your WordPress or other popular blog. You just have to keep your post to under 30 seconds each. So if you think it will run longer, just string several of them together. Remember to speak slow and clearly. I’m using Jott now to post this message to my blog. The accuracy is really amazing. However, if something comes out really wrong, you can always go into your Jott webpage and correct it manually. I just Jotted this post!

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