October 2, 2014

Move Over Siri, Donna Is Now On iPhone

apple donna

Your potential virtual staff is growing — on the iPhone at least. First, there was Siri, a personal assistant app integrated into the iPhone to act as what has been called a knowledge navigator. Siri answers questions and makes suggestions largely drawn from data on the Web.

Now, there’s Donna. She’s created by Incredible Labs and named after a highly efficient but fictitious White House assistant in the TV series The West Wing. Donna helps keep you on schedule, designers say.

The app draws from an ever increasing list of resources. These include local traffic information, parking information, driving directions from Google and, of course, information from your own digital calendar.

Incredible Labs Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Cheng says the app prompts you with reminders of your meetings. It gives you directions. And it tells you when to leave. Cheng says the app even takes into consideration whether you are driving, biking or walking.

Donna also checks other data to determine the kinds of traffic tie-ups and weather conditions you may face. Cheng says the app can even notify contacts that you are running late.

In this video, he demonstrates more of the app’s functions:

Donna does not speak to users with a robotic voice like Siri. Instead, the app prods you with quiet onscreen reminders. It’s similar to the way an email or social media app lets you know about the arrival of a new comment or message.

Cheng says Donna essentially acts as a filter for users already saturated with information. It brings up only relevant data and only when needed.

For example, while prompting you for your meeting, Cheng says Donna will also bring up a map of your route. At the same time, the app will also display other relevant information about weather and traffic conditions.

In the future, Cheng predicts Donna will be able to learn and adapt to a user’s individual habits and capabilities. For example, the app may learn your walking or biking speeds allowing it to provide more personalized time estimates for travel.

Donna is now available for free download in Apple’s online store. If you have an iPhone, you may want to test out this new digital assistant dedicated to getting you to your meetings with time to spare.

Image: Intelligent Labs

14 Comments ▼

Joshua Sophy - Staff Writer


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering technology and business news. He is a journalist and editor with 15 years experience in media. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Joshua also serves as President of the Board of Directors of a curling club and is editor of a regional newsletter focused on the sport of curling in the Eastern U.S.

14 Reactions

  1. Sounds pretty cool, especially for people who have lots of “squirrel” moments and need the gentle reminders.

    • Robert: What is a squirrel moment? Have you heard about the wearable gadget called Mute Watch? I listened to the co-founder yesterday. It was an inspirational talk by a fascinating entrepreneur.

      I wonder if Donna is playing by the party book… ;)

  2. I know that it is useful. But I find it kind of weird that people would want a robotic assistant. I mean, a real assistant is way better, right? I just don’t get it. I know that it is useful for you to keep on track but this obsession with robotic voices kind of freaks me out.

  3. Donna marries design and data besides using artificial intelligence. It seems like a breakthrough feature for iPhone users.

  4. It is wonderful to be able to get Donna for free download in Apple store.
    Donna does not speak to users with a robotic voice like Siri but can she understand people who speaks English with a foreign accent?
    Fun fun to try and see:)

  5. Joshua,

    Donna will be a massive success, I predict… Information overload is no longer a nuisance; it’s a psychological problem. Anything which can help people filtering information and present only what matters will be a hit.

  6. They have introduced different approach to Digital Assistants without the creepy sounding robotic voice which is a welcome move. Whether they’ll be successful or not only time will tell. I just get a feeling that this one would fail to make a dent in the market.

  7. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a choice of voices? I mean I’m not too clued up on smartphones as I don’t have one myself, but are Donna and Siri the only voices Apple do? I’d personally like a male voice, preferably a hot celebrity or a fictitious character from a film, like Gandalf or Shrek!

    Anyway, welcome to the fold, Donna :).

  8. What a time to be alive.

    • Could you elaborate on that, EKP? What do you think it is about this particular time that makes it great to be alive (as opposed to other times)?

      Or, perhaps you were being sarcastic and I missed it :).

  9. I am searching for Donna and Incredible Labs on the App Store on my iPhone 5 S, but I can’t find the app…

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