Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2-11-09: Bye Bye, Jott

For several months, I used a web service called Jott to keep track of little notes to self and some Twitter and Google Calendar. It's a pretty neat service that allowed you to do speech-to-text notes, and the fact that it let you post to Twitter, Google Calendar, and several other services was really neat.

Within the last week or so, Jott became a paid subscription service, so if I want to continue using it, I have to fork over a few bucks every month.

My inner economist immediately kicked in, and I simply won't be using Jott for the foreseeable future. I knew it was a good decision when I recalled receiving an automated e-mail on two separate occasions saying "You haven't used Jott in a while. We want you back!" I maybe used it every other week, if I felt like it.

The problem with Jott isn't the fact that I didn't use it a lot. I can reasonably see people using this service far more frequently than me. The problem is that their speech-to-text software isn't quite up to snuff. The strange part is that they would sometimes guess what you wanted to say and put "(?)" next to their guess (this happened all the time with proper nouns). That gets a little annoying when you're posting to Google Calendar or Twitter, but they also (for Twitter) include a link in your post to the audio recording. Still, it's a bit inconvenient to clean up Google Calendar entries, but it was a good way to make a placeholder.

Speech to text is incredibly difficult. I did my senior project in college on "voice command recognition algorithms," which was a poor man's way of doing voice command applications using semi-advanced signal processing and analysis techniques. Speech to text is far beyond that, and includes various statistics and linguistic techniques. It's come a long way in recent years, and I hope now that Jott is a paid service, they put some of that capital into advancing their algorithm.

I do recommend Jott for people who post to Twitter all the time or think using their phone to leave notes to self is neat. It's only $3.95 a month, and is well worth it if you use it every day. I just think I fall into the category (similar to Alex Albrecht) in that I don't want to pay for a service that I used to get for free. That's not to say I won't ever use it again, but I can always just find a piece of paper or e-mail myself something if I want to leave a note.

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