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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Android apps - some new kids on the block

Astrobot and Mastermind look very interesting for serious business people.

This is an email program, on a Desktop or Notebook which will show your emails on the left and your calendar on the right. Naturallyy this can’t be done on a mobile apps, so a simple click between the two. At present it is only available on the Mac Desktop or in the Android and Iphone app stores.

It has a way to go, but the team of 28 in the company developing this are successful software entrepreneurs who sold their previous software program for around $350,000,000.

At present Astrobot links in to both Amazon Alexa and Slack. By the end of the year they will probably link and work for a lot more. For the office, the Amazon Echo is cheaper and will do everything that Alexa does except Alexa has better speakers for music which you may not require.

At present it is free, but I hear it will eventually be charged out to companies, although I have been informed it may be free for the single user.

Here’s their own blurb:

The Press?
  • Mashable: The 12 best apps of 2017
  • The Wall Street Journal: “The cleverest email client”
  • Product Hunt: Mobile App of the Year
  • TechCrunch: “A high-end Gmail replacement”
  • Fast Company: “This email app uses AI to keep your inbox under control”
  • Lifehacker: “The magic really comes from the app’s built-in digital assistant”

Why Astro
• Modern, intelligent features for FREE: Snooze, Unsubscribe, Send Later, Email Tracker, Priority Inbox, Unified Inbox, Calendar, and more, for Gmail, G Suite and Office 365 email accounts
• Astrobot: AI-powered email assistant that highlights important messages and questions, unsubscribes you from emails, and responds to hundreds of commands to help you stay on top of your mailbox and calendar
• Priority Inbox: Know which emails are most important with a focused inbox, powered by AI
• Calendar: View and manage your calendar directly from the Astro app, including an Agenda view with events for Snoozed emails, scheduled emails and reminders
• Slack Integration: Easily work across Slack and email. In Slack, read and respond to emails, and create Calendar events. In Astro, search for Slack messages and share emails to Slack channels
• Astrobot Voice & Amazon Alexa Skill: Read, manage,and reply to emails hands-free by talking to Astrobot, directly from the Astro app or from your Amazon Echo

AI-Powered Email Assistant
• Ask Astrobot: Responds to hundreds of natural language commands to manage, clean up, and search your inbox, add events to your calendar, set reminders, and learn how to use Astro
• Insights: Unsubscribe and archive suggestions for messages that can skip your mailbox
• Reminders: Automated reminders to follow up on important emails, questions, tracked emails, time-specific requests, and @mentions from other Astro users
• VIPs: AI-powered contact list management, so you always know when a priority email arrives
• Voice Commands: Manage your inbox by talking to Astrobot directly from the app
• Daily & Weekly Update Emails: Insights that help you clean up your mailbox and make it easier to know what to follow up on

Smart Inbox Management
• Priority & Other Inbox: Astro sorts your emails using artificial intelligence
• Smart Notifications: Eliminate distractions by getting notified only when an email is important
• Snooze: Swipe to read or respond to an email at a specific time, or when you get back to your Mac
• Email Open & Reply Tracking: Get notified when a recipient opens an email or get a reminder if you haven’t heard back on time
• Send Later: Schedule your emails to be sent at exactly the right time

• Unified Inbox & Calendar: Streamline your workflow and save time by viewing and managing your Gmail and Office 365 email accounts and calendars all in one place
• Calendar Assistant: Add simple events using natural language
• Complete View of Today’s To-Dos: Calendar includes events not only from Gmail and/or Office 365 email accounts, but also Snoozed or scheduled emails and reminders, so you get a complete view of your day
• Customizable Calendar Views: Choose which calendars and email accounts to display

Additional Features
• Customizable swipes
• Fast search
• Folders and Favorites
• Email aliases
• Signatures
• Attachments - Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Quip, iCloud
• Rich text and emojis
• Support for Gmail, G Suite and Microsoft Office 365

I suggest you put their link in your brought forward diary for later in the year. Believe me, this software has potential. If you like experimenting, log in and use it now. I am, and thoroughly enjoying it. Just in case of problems, I use it in tandem with...

I consider this the best email app I’ve seen but it is only available on mobiles which destroys a lot of its potential.

This is an interesting program which will read your emails (as Astrobot does) but will read your SMS messages and allow you to send via voice. It communicates with both Alexa/Echo and Google Home (once again, their mini is best for office use). Like Astrobot it is in a stage of development but promises much.

Here, using their own words, is what they have done so far:

Mastermind lets you send and read SMS text messages, make and answer phone calls, get caller ID, find your phone, get notifications and launch apps on your mobile device and television via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices.

Mastermind connects your smartphone, personal computer, and television to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

* Send and receive SMS text messages
* Make Phone calls
* Find your phone
* Get Caller ID
* Read and manage all app notifications whether they come from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Email, Netflix, Youtube or any other app!
* Cast to Chromecast TV
* Get phone battery charge, data usage stats and app usage stats
* Turn on Wifi, Bluetooth and Do-Not-Disturb
* Launch Mobile Apps
* Start Google Maps navigation
* Send articles from your phone and personal computer to Alexa
and Google Assistant to read aloud
* See your phone's notifications, text messages, and phone calls on your personal computer
* More...

Mastermind Commands:

Subscribe to the Mastermind Youtube channel:

Download all the Mastermind Bots:

5 reasons to try out Mastermind:

1) To send a text message, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Send Message" and Mastermind will send the SMS message using your carrier phone number.

2) To find your phone, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Call My Phone" and Mastermind will ring your phone full volume even if it's in silent or do-not-disturb mode.

3) When your phone rings, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind Who's Calling?" to found out who's calling. Send unwanted calls to voicemail, say "Alexa, Ask Mastermind to Reject Call".

4) When your phone dings, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind What Was That?". Mastermind will read out the email, Facebook update, WhatsApp message, Tweet, Instagram post or any notification instantaneously without you reaching for your phone.

5) To make a hands-free phone call, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Make Phone Call" and Mastermind will initiate the call from your phone or connected bluetooth speaker.

Mastermind takes your security and privacy very seriously. Mastermind uses end-to-end encryption to make sure that all of your information is secure.

All permissions on Mastermind are optional. If you do not grant the permission, you will not be able to use commands that require the corresponding phone permission.

This app uses the Device Administrator permission: Casting to Chromecast from Alexa requires Mastermind to be able to Unlock your phone. This requires Mastermind to have Device Admin Permission. If you don't want to cast to Chromecast from Alexa, you do not need to grant Mastermind this Device Admin permission.

For more details on permissions and which commands require which permission, please see Mastermind's privacy policy:

Mastermind is powered by the Convessa Connected Conversational Platform, the most powerful enterprise-grade connected conversational platform available. Learn more at

Two important points, the program relies on you having Alexa or the Echo Dot, as without one of these the program is pretty pointless. Remember, the program is still in Beta and is still growing. Once it is off Beta and works smoothly, with new items added, I will enjoy it. Let’s face it, most of us can dictate faster than we can type. I envisage executives with an armchair in their office, just issuing strings of commands!

Bonus to this article.

Evinote app for Android. (not Evernote!)
This is a handy dictating app. It has some good points and some bad points. But before I mention them, let me tell you where I find it really useful. I have it on my home screen and when I am out and about and an idea occurs to me, I dictate the idea. The app then types it out. Then I can either copy it to a clipboard, or share it. I share it to SimplyNotes for action when I get to the office.

Now if Mastermind can access that note and send it to an SMS message or email, it would be fantastic.

The pros
The idea that you can dictate is terrific as it isn’t always easy to get out a pen and piece of paper to scribble a note when on the move. Another point is, it won’t stop until you push a button, unlike Google Voice. I tested it by dictating a sentence and waited for five minutes and dictated something else and it just carried on as if there wasn’t a gap.

The Cons
You have to dictate slowly but then this is a free app with adverts, or for a low cost to remove the adverts.

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