Timeful (free) has launched today after a long development and beta phase. The app tries to capture everything that vies for your precious time and stores it in one place. It can import and sync your current calendars from iCloud, Google, Yahoo or Mirosoft Exchange.
The app blends to-do's, events and what it calls "habits," which the developers define as a good practice you want to develop. When you enter anything into Timeful, you are asked about its priority and when the best time to remind you about that item is. It can be a specific time, or even something more vague like a weekday morning. There is a "frequency bar" to regulate how often you are flagged on lesser events. Timeful also wants to know when you sleep, so you won't be alerted during that time.
The app comes out of a lot of research on how we use our time, so Timeful makes smart suggestions, rather than giving you alerts by rote. One of the people behind Timeful is Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, an expert in human fallibility and short-term thinking, so you get the idea that Timely isn't just another calendar app or To-Do list.
"We've successfully applied technology to improve our lives in many domains – search, finance, music, shopping, you name it. And yet we haven't yet applied it to optimize the use of our most scarce resource – time – and there's so much algorithms and behavioral science have to offer," said Timeful CEO and co-founder Jacob Bank in a conference call we had last week. "Our first application is based on the simple observation that what doesn't make it onto your schedule is less likely to get done. By making it easier to put everything that vies for your time onto your schedule, including by automatically suggesting good times to do things, we hope to make you more productive and less stressed."
Using Timeful is pretty easy, and there are some tutorial videos you can watch to fully understand how the app works. I was easily able to import my iCloud calendar, and I could decide if there were some categories I did not want to display or sync.
What can become a problem with an app like this is that it takes a lot of time to enter items properly, which will, of course, have an impact on your time. It's also easy to get over-nagged by any app, which can also be a distraction. The Timeful developers seem to have thought about these things, and a lot of the scheduling and suggestion times happen behind the scenes and are driven by algorithms that should reduce distractions. Over time, Timeful learns what you do and when you like to do it, which will generate more accurate and timely suggestions.
I think this app is worth a look for people who have busy schedules. Even retired people may like how it organizes your time.
Timeful demonstrates some fresh thinking, and the app is sure to grow and improve. Although Timeful has some location awareness, I'd like to see it get more granular in that respect, knowing more than whether I am at home or work.
Timeful requires iOS 7 or later. It is not a universal app, but will run scaled on any iDevice. The company is also working on a web-based version so you can interact with your calendar from anywhere. That version is expected to appear quickly.