Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Sherpa, a New “Predictive” Personal Assistant App, Stays One Step Ahead of You

Pretty soon we’re going to need a personal assistant app that can manage all of our personal assistant apps.

As I wrote earlier today in a column about the new crop of calendar apps, mobile apps are getting better at pulling in and analyzing lots of our data — provided we’re willing to share it — to serve us with faster, smarter solutions for … well, a lot of things. Keeping in touch with friends, dialing in to a work call, letting someone know you’re running late and finding the location of your next meeting are just a few actions our apps can perform for us.

The newest personal assistant app to join the mix is called Sherpa, created by former Google AdWords product manager Bill Ferrell. The app, which currently runs only on iPhone, is soft-launching today, with plans to become more widely available next month.

So, what sets Sherpa apart from the pack? First off, it’s meant to be a “predictive” personal assistant app, Ferrell said, one that anticipates your next step instead of just making tasks easier once they’ve popped up in your calendar. Location plays a big part in Sherpa’s predictive algorithm (which many other personal assistant apps factor in, as well).

An example of this would be Sherpa showing you your hotel reservation information as soon as your flight has landed, so you’re not digging for that info while you’re hailing a taxi or dealing with a car rental.

Another example is weather: Sherpa will tell you if it’s supposed to start raining (or snowing, or sleeting) in the next 15 minutes.

You don’t have to open Sherpa to get these notices — the app’s focus, Ferrell said, “is in pushing information to you.”

Sherpa, to date, consists of a team of six people, and has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, InterWest Partners and Google Ventures, among others.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”