Cue Debuts Update to Smart Personal Assistant iPhone App

Recently we covered Saga, an intelligent companion for iPhone that the founders called a “chatty little brother to Siri,” and which helps users understand how they spend their time, and offers recommendations on what they can do next. San Francisco-based Cue, formerly known as Greplin, is aiming to be a smart personal assistant for people who want more information about their day. The company recently debuted an update to their iPhone app, including iCal integration and the ability to automatically track everything from shipping notifications to evites.

The Y Combinator-backed company launched as Greplin in February 2011, and aimed to provide a personal search engine for all of a user’s cloud accounts. It rebranded to Cue in June 2012 with a new platform for web, mobile web, and iPhone, and now focuses on helping give users an intelligent snapshop of their day. Users can connect their email, contacts, calendar and social networks, see emails, phone numbers and addresses associated with calendar events, and see the latest Facebook and Twitter updates from any contacts.

Cue’s algorithms try to predict the information a user will need next, and can provide contextual information around airline reservations, shipping notifications, calendar events, online invitations, and reservations. For example if a a user gets an email from American Airlines, Cue will figure out when that email is relevant (when someone is boarding their flight), and what’s important from the email (the confirmation number) and display it at that time.

Similar to contact book apps like Fred Wilson-backed Brewster, Cue is also attempting to build what co-founder Daniel Gross said is the “last contact book you’ll have to manage.” The app pulls in new phone numbers and other contact details from emails and email signatures, and from professional profiles on Salesforce and LinkedIn. Reminiscent of the Greplin product, Cue also features search to allow users to find emails, files, articles, or upcoming events.

Gross said in an interview that Cue is trying to add automation and context to a user’s day. “You can kind of think of it as a first step in what we really believe is this world where you don’t have to maintain a calendar, it’s just maintained for you,” he said. “Cue effectively helps people get the most out of their day by always knowing what’s next. It creates almost like an intelligent snapshot based on your email, and your contacts, and your calendars, to give you a very good sense of what you’re going to do throughout your day.”

The service is free for users who connect personal accounts including Gmail, Twitter, and Dropbox. Users can also upgrade to a premium account for $5 per month or $50 annually for the ability to link professional tools like Salesforce, Yammer and Basecamp. Gross said the business model will likely evolve down the road though, and it’s easy to see how they might incorporate branded recommendations or info, similar to what Saga is looking to do with their intelligent personal assistant app. Gross said next up for Cue is the ability to use the app offline, support for Microsoft Exchange, and more customization in terms of being able to remove specific calendars, or customize which events the app tracks.

Looking at a list of Cue’s features brings to mind Google Now and Apple’s new Passbook, which aim to give users contextual information around their day, but as integral part of the Android and iPhone’s operating system, rather than as a third-party app download. Gross said Passbook and Google Now are playing in a similar space, but have different features, which is also what he says about other apps like Saga. Though they might not have exactly the same feature set, they’re all trying to achieve the same thing: automatically contextualizing incoming information around a user’s day. “We didn’t expect this product space that we operate in to explode as quickly as it did,” he said. “Context is slowly becoming kind of what location was in 2008 and 2009. We were always excited about the space we’re working in, but I think it’s actually a really good thing when the market validates your opinion.”




Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is a Co-founder and CEO at Willful, an online estate planning platform. Also a former Managing Director at Eighty-Eight, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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