It’s happened to the best of us. We hop in the car, pull on the highway and—wait—where did all this traffic come from?? If only I’d checked Google Maps traffic ahead of time, you think. But of course, if you’d anticipated the bad traffic, you’d have left early!
NeverLate, by Alminder, is an iPhone app that allows your calendar to cross reference the traffic report. So rather than merely warning you that a meeting is in 10 minutes, it can dynamically ping you, right when you should leave for that meeting, given unforeseen road construction, accidents, or just one of those backups where everyone is simply hitting their brakes too much. Meanwhile, you can focus entirely on getting ready, rather than digging through traffic reports.
"Our goal is to make the app as passive as we can," explains Alminder CEO Max Wheeler. "It would be a failure if the user had to provide us a lot of special information in order for the app to function effectively. You should get the majority of the benefits by simply hooking up your calendar and allowing NeverLate access to your location and push."
Testing NeverLate on my own, it was clear that that UI is not the company’s strong suit (luckily, a redesign is coming soon). After importing my GCal, I was met with a general lack of aesthetic cohesion—even colors don’t coordinate—plus, the app could use some prioritizing/streamlining of basic information. But none of that really matters, because the real way you’ll probably interact with NeverLate is a simple push notification that tells you that it’s time to get going—which is exactly how NeverLate worked (successfully) for me.
And NeverLate recognizes that this passive notification is their core value, that by invisibly learning more about user habits, they could offer people insights to their own habits. "After you’ve used the app for about a week, NeverLate will learn where your home and work are and when you’re normally there," Wheeler explains. "We use that information to predict the departure locations for events in the future so that we can give you estimated drive times for those events. We can also use it to figure out where you’re mostly likely to be going next from your current location if there’s nothing specific on the calendar."
If NeverLate is beginning to sound a lot like Google Now, that’s only because the two services are really quite similar. Both are hoping to prognosticate what we want before we even know we want it. But while Google Now issues a level of restraint, presenting a few cards that might be apt for our current circumstance without comment or judgment, NeverLate is more of an aggressive scheduler, a parent who pulls their child out of bed to get to school on time. And given that Google doesn’t seem to want to take on that role in our lives (for good reason), there may be a real opportunity for predictive apps that, while a magnitude less intelligent than what Google can create, are willing to offer us mini interventions that a corporate giant simply can’t risk: Don’t eat that. Don’t wear that. You’re not out of the shower yet?
Google Now is like a smart friend. Apps like NeverLate could be your no-nonsense spouse.
Note: There’s also another "NeverLate" app for Android by another company (Appello). It’s a totally different product with a vastly different UI, but their goals to push notifications passively are largely the same. It’s worth checking out, too.
[Hat tip: Co.Exist]
[ILLUSTRATION: Morning via Shutterstock]