Personal assistant's are great; they keep track of everything from your contact list to favorite meals. And these days, your personal assistant fits in the palm of your hand.
Here are four voice-activated smart-phone assistants from the next generation of app creators.
Think of Donna like the Mad Men-era secretary of your dreams; link her to your calendar, contact list and email accound and she can send you pusn notifications about your schedule, the weather, directions--even images of that coffee shop at the corner of 7th and Folsom. She also knows when to discreetly insert herself into your day with updates. It's going to be rainy by the time you leave the office? Donna sends you an alert to bring an umbrella. Looks like you're running late for a meeting? She's ready to notify your contacts. The app can also schedule a car to pick you up, too. Cost: Free. Operating system: iOS.
Sherpa is the personal assistant for Android users. Sherpa bears a striking resemblence to Apple's AI assistant--but with a few added capabilities. Sherpa's dedicated to keeping you informed, for example; ask "Who is Obama?" and the app will pull up a wiki on the 44th President of the United States. It also aims to make business expenses simpler by orchestrating hands-free Paypal payments. Also like Siri, Sherpa operates on a consultant basis--offering help only when you ask for it. Cost: Free. Operating system: Android.
From the creators of Sherpa, Osito is an automated intelligence app with foresight. Like Donna, Osito references everything from your location to the local traffic and sends you push notifications about what to expect on the way. Osito compares your calendar appointments with commuter traffic and let's you know what time to leave for important meeting. The app also keeps you informed about everything from traffic jams to natural disasters that may throw a wrench in your expertly-scheduled plans. Cost: Free. Operating system: iOS.
It's hard to beat the classic: Siri. In her latest incarnation, iOS 7, Apple's leading lady has developed the skills to pronounce your impronouncable name--may the Kawamura's of the world rejoice--and those of your impronouncable contacts. Cost: Free. Operating system: iOS.