I still remember my mom telling me about her first job out of college. She was an executive secretary—or what we’d now call a personal assistant—for a multi-millionaire. I fantasized about how easy life would be with someone to take care of all the “little details.” Imagine how much more productive I would be if someone else handled scheduling doctor appointments, finding time on my calendar for meetings, and buying my boss a gift for her birthday.
Fast forward to 2016 and I don’t have anyone at my beck and call. And I’m guessing you don’t either. But nowadays you can get lots of the advantages of a personal assistant right on your phone. These eight apps go way beyond Siri and will make taking care of your everyday tasks faster and easier. Oh, and they won’t cost you a penny. So go forth and download. Spending time on what matters is only a few clicks away.
You probably already have some kind of system to keep yourself organized—a calendar, reminders, notes, and so on. But how do you get all those tools to fit together to actually get something done?
24me brings everything (including your social networks, financial institutions, utilities, and more) into one place and reminds you what you need to do and when. It also provides some handy extras like its own gift shop for when you’re reminded that it’s your favorite colleague’s birthday next week and a voice-activated task list to make it effortless to keep track of your to-dos.
Available in multiple languages and on multiple platforms, Assistant is a versatile app that learns what you like and serves you accordingly.
It performs all the usual information searches, but it can also send emails and texts, translate, and navigate for you—all without you even opening the app. Oh, and it responds to commands you can customize (like “schedule” for opening your calendar or “email” for opening your Gmail account).
Windows Mobile is the least popular of the “big three” phone systems, but its virtual assistant, Cortana, definitely doesn’t come in last. And now you can also get it if you’re an Apple or an Android user.
If you also have a Windows PC, Cortana is especially useful for keeping your whole digital life organized. But, even without that, it can do some neat tricks, like letting you set a reminder to ask your boss about Friday’s report the next time she calls or collecting your interests in its Notebook section so it can give you better recommendations when you need a nearby coffee shop.
While there’s the less powerful app Dragon Go! for iOS, the fully-fledged Dragon Mobile Assistant is only available on Android. But, if that’s your operating system of choice, this is an option worth considering.
It keeps you safe by switching to hands-free (and eyes-free) mode when you’re driving. It keeps you up-to-date by reading your messages and notifications. And, it keeps you connected by finding your contacts nearby. Plus, if you’re willing to pay a bit, you can get more help on your PC or Mac with Dragon Home software.
EasilyDo offers personal assistant services focused on communications. So, if you’re overwhelmed with junk mail or famous for deleting a message you really should’ve saved, this one can come to your rescue.
With just a few clicks you can customize your email notifications, back up important messages, organize your contacts (finally!), have junk and expired emails automatically deleted, and collect attachments and receipts into one, fast-access location.
6. Google Now
Probably Siri’s closest competitor, Google Now offers outstanding services to Android users and can also be helpful for iPhone users (where it’s known as just the “Google app” ).
Like all virtual PAs, it responds to your questions, but it also predicts what you need before you know you need it. (Did someone say magic?) For example, it’ll let you know about traffic for your morning commute or record your parking location automatically. And, with its ability to communicate directly with many of your apps, it makes your phone an even more powerful and easy-to-use tool.
Want the newest and hottest app? Then Hound is for you. A bit of a surprise newcomer, it must’ve been in the works for awhile because it’s already great at recognizing natural speech like: “Show me hotels in Austin that have free Wi-Fi, a gym, and cost less than $200.”
Some reviews claim it’s the fastest and most intelligent app of its kind, and it’s gaining momentum—and usefulness—with integrations with major services like Yelp, Uber, and Expedia.
If you’re looking for assistance on all your devices, Indigo is a lesser-known choice that’ll let you break away from the standard options. But it still sports the same main features of other similar apps and has a pleasingly simple interface.
You can launch it with a simple swipe up from the home button. Oh, and when it opens, you’re immediately greeted and reminded of your upcoming appointments so you’re always on schedule. And, if you’re a heavy user, Indigo can give you lightning-fast access to your own personal FAQs and most-used tasks in a special favorites section.
Ready to make your life easier and be more organized? With one of these personal assistant apps you can be on top of everything you’ve got going on. All without spending a fortune or begging your boss for an assistant.
TopicsHack Your Career by Kelli Smith , Tools & Skills , Organization , Apps , Syndication , Productivity
Kelli runs customer support and creates content for Skillcrush, a digital skills training and education platform with friendly instructors, an active student community, and laser focus on helping you achieve your career goals with technology. She has an MBA and successfully ran an international company and her own freelancing business before pursuing her passion for tech by taking advanced web development classes. Kelli loves listening to tech podcasts at 2x speed, looking for cute Corgi photos online and teaching and performing country line dancing—as a true Texan living in Finland would do. Say hi on Twitter.More from this Author