Collecting Things by Voice on Apple Watch (Reminders, Just Press Record, OneNote, ...)

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by AFG, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I bought my Apple Watch mainly to be able to look at my calendar, be notified when I need to go to a meeting, on my wrist. (Unreliable because of synch problems - but that's another post.)

    Unanticipated benefit: being able to collect quick items - To Dos, ideas, set appointments - easily, by voice, on my wrist.

    Q: what are the best watch apps people have found to do this?

    0) Surprisingly, Apple's standard Notes app is not watch enabled.

    1) Apple's Reminders app is watch enabled. It can be used voice-only - "Hey Siri, remind to to write up idea about cache coherency". Small problem in that it times out, so can only use for short notes. Bigger problem is that it can only be used when connected to cloud, which is unreliable in the canyon I live in. Biggest problem is that I have Reminders on my watch stopped synching with Reminders on my iPhone/iCloud two weeks ago. Apple Genius Bar guys unable to help. (https://forum.gettingthingsdone.com/threads/reminders-stop-synching-apple-watch-iphone.14365/)

    2) The "Just Press Record" watch app is great. Doesn't need to be connected - it will record a voice file, which you can have transcribed later. Plus, you have original voice recording to double check. Problem: not 100% voice controlled: I frequently find myself having to poke buttons on my watch with my nose. Problem: the process of requesting a transcription, and then moving the transcription to my main tracking system (in my case, OneNote) is onerous.

    3) I just realized that Microsoft OneNote has a watch app. Transcribes directly to your OneNote Quick Notes section, saves work. Problem: not 100% voice controlled, so requires poking at the watch screen, with finger, or nose if hands are full. Problem: must be online to use.

    Q: what other "quickly collect items on your watch" options are there? Bonus points for 100% voice controlled, offline, records speech as well as transcription, and easy to transfer to other apps.

    --

    Similar but different:

    I am into QS (Quantitative Self) - monitoring moods, etc., figuring out when I am working well and when I am not.

    I also likely "Hourly Chimes", at circa 5 minutes before the hour.

    I have tried various "Time Chime" apps, but the app that I have found works best for me so far does both QS and Time Chime: iMoodJournal. I have it pop up onto my wrist at 5 minutes before the hour during the work day, and prompt to record how I am feeling - Great/Good/Meh, etc. Tells me the time.

    iMoodJournal also allows you to speak a diary note.

    This isn't really what you want for a GTD-style collection app when an idea pops into your head. But it is similar.

    Problem: not 100% voice controlled. Problem: 6 taps to make a record. Problem: exporting not automated.
     
  2. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    None. Siri doesn't know Polish language. For me Apple Watch is just a fancy gadget with funny faces, a timer and two daily alarms (lunch and dinner). I don't even use it for running since cheap GPS watches have better user interfaces based on real buttons (not on touch screens). It's dangerous to run and simultaneously look at your watch trying to press the appropriate icon! :mad:
     
  3. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Agreed.

    I currently wear two watches, Apple Watch and an older FitBit Versa.

    Apple Watch for Calendar.

    FitBit for activity tracking. (No GPS, but I can mainly track steps, hills, duration, and try to get my heartrate up.)

    Apple Watch fitness stuff too slow to update.

    FitBit notifications of calendar events are transient, not the same as actually having a calendar on wrist.

    Just Press Record might be useful to you - but you would have to transcribe the audio manually. Unless you know of tools to take the audio file, and perform speech-to-text. The audio file does appear to be a somewhat standard format, accessible via iCloud, so the transcription might be doable automatically.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I use my Apple Watch every day to check my calendar, add actions to Things, get directions, for notifications,text messages and phone calls, and as a timer. I’m quite happy with it.
     
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  5. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I was similarly happy with Apple Watch Calendar and Reminders, until they stopped synching, as described in https://forum.gettingthingsdone.com/threads/reminders-stop-synching-apple-watch-iphone.14365/

    Even the guys in the Apple Store Genius Bar can't fix it for me.

    (Haven't tried a full iPhone Factorey Reset yet - because that takes weeks to recover from, manually reinstalling and reconfiguring everything. (Reinstalling from backup does NOT fiox.)

    "add actions to Things" may be a good addition to this list of "apps that work well for voice notes on an Apple Watcxh".

    Q: does Things need your cell phone to be connected to make such voice notes? I live in an area where cell coverage is spotty. The "Just Press Record" app is the only app I have found so far that can take voice input when disconnected and then transcrive when connected.

    Q: is Things 100% voice controlled? Or do you have to touch your watch with your finger (or nose)? So far, Apple Reminders is the only 100% voice controlled watch app I have found (and it stopped synching, and I can't get it to synch again).
     
  6. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Things uses Siri to transcribe speech to text, and needs a connection to Apple’s servers. You can enter items with voice alone, but need a finger to check items off, and for other things.

    If you think about the implications of the above, you should conclude that there really aren’t 100% voice-controlled apps which don’t need a connection to the internet. Just Press Record is a special case because it just stores your speech when there is no connection. Sorry. Maybe someday.
     
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  7. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I can hope.

    A modern smartwatch has more than enough CPU power to do speech recognition. E.g. the 1st Apple Watch had Apple S1 running max 520MHz, >512MB of DRAM, and 8GB of flash. Circa 1996 I was using Dragon speech recognition on a circa 100MHz x86. That was speaker dependent, sure, but all local.

    Just Press Record would meet my voice to text note taking needs, if it could syop recording on a voice command.
     
  8. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    I am happy to report that, now that my Watch and iPhone are synching again, but the new-ish version of Reminders on my Watch allows me to designate most of the standard GTD lists by name when speaking to Siri.

    In the past, the only lists that Siri recognized were Grocery and Shopping.

    Works
    Agendas
    Anywhere
    Calls
    Computer
    Someday/Maybe
    Projects
    Errands
    Home
    Office​
    Fails
    "Waiting For"
    At least for me, "Hey Siri, add item to my Waiting For list" is converted to text as "waiting for a list".
    But "Waiting On" is accepted.​
    Other - Offline Fails
    I use separate lists for Online and Offline. Online works, but "Hey Siri, add item to my offline list" is interpretedf as "off-linwe list", and creates a list called "line". Connected/Disconnected works​
    Other
    Qualifications like "Personal Computer list" and "GTD Nect Action list" also work.​

    No need to use the @ in front trick, at least not in Watch/iOS/iCloud Reminders, which allow user specified sort. You can say "Hey Siri, add item to my at sign agendas list" to get @agendas, but that's a hassle to speak.


    Verbosely
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Agendas list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Anywhere list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Calls list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Computer list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Someday Maybe list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Projects list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Errands list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Home list"
    • "Hey Siri, add item to my Office list"
     
  9. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    So now I am back to thinking about using Apple iCloud/iOS/Watch Reminders as my GTD next action lists, moving them out of OneNote, leaving only project support in OneNote.

    Probably won't switch, since linking between Reminders and OneNote is a pain.
     
  10. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    For decades, I have used a pocket digital dictaphone for this. While this may seem antiquated, I can't beat the simplicity - separate buttons to power on, to record and to stop. I can easily drive whilst operating it as I don;t need to look at the display. When I am dog walking and listening to a talking book on headphone from my smartphone, I can use this independent device to easily make audible notes. When I get back to my office, I put this physical dictaphone into my inbox for GTD processing.
     
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  11. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    That's the reason why I'm still using iPod Shuffle for running. No screen, no touch-screen, just one-function buttons.
     
  12. Gameboy70

    Gameboy70 Registered

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    I use Drafts, which transcribes voice notes and syncs to its iOS version (and the macOS version that's in beta) . I don't like using task management apps as capture tools for voice input, where I'm compelled to capture and organize at the same time. With a note app, I feel free to call out a one- or two-word reminder, knowing that I'll review my note later, processing it into the appropriate NA list. Even if what I dictate is transcribed incorrectly, I'll remember the gist of what I was trying to capture when I review it.
     
  13. Dominik

    Dominik Registered

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    Hi AFG,

    I’m also an Apple Watch user since day one and always wanted the watch to play an important role in my GTD workflow for capturing (and reminders…).

    Being both a GTD enthusiast and passionate Software Engineer I am actually working on my very own version of a GTD app :)

    So, if you’re interested in trying out a new GTD app for your iPhone and Apple Watch, just let me know. I could send you over a beta version of my app and we could tweak it until it suits both our GTD workflows using the Apple Watch?


    Cheers from Switzerland

    Dominik
     
  14. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    Thanks, @Gameboy70 - your post was what finally impelled me to install Drafts on my iPhone and Watch.

    The Drafts watch app, in particular, mostly wins:
    • it can be almost 100% voice controlled
      • starting
        • "Hey Siri, make note using Drafts" can be configured to go straight to dictation
        • Tapping on Drafts wtch complication (widget) can be configured to go straight to dictation\
        • "Hey Siri, start Drafts" requires taps to start recording
      • stopping
        • settable threshold to time out and end note
        • minor: stays in Drafts after the timeout
      • has a "finger typing" mode as well - e.g. for when I have an idea in the middle of the night, and don't want to wake up my wide by using a voice memo
    Compared to:
    • Apple Reminders watchapp
    • Just Press Record
      • JPR can record and transcribe later (barely). Drafts cannot.
      • But JPR's transcribing is a real pain to use.
    • MS OneNote watchapp
      • not 100% voice operated - requires taps
      • but OneNote's big advantage is that it sends things straight to OneNote, currently my main GTD tool
      • the OneNote watchapp has no complication :-(
    • MS Outlook watchapp
      • which is better than the OneNote watchapp, but not good enough
    Unfortunately, I pretty much have to use Just Press Record - I can't rely on cell phone coverage, some of my best ideas come while I am hiking out of range. I may try to use Drafts instead of Reminders, at least for notes - but I will probably have to keep using Reminders for "Hey Siri, add eggs to my Grocery list". I wish that I did not have to "gather" my voice data from 3 different places.

    Agreed. Capture should be as quick as possible, something I can do easily - dare I say while driving "Hey Siri, add eggs to my Grocery list". No finger poking to refile.

    Later steps: Collecting or gathering the stuff that has been captured. Unfortunately, this takes several steps, in several places.

    E.g. first I have to go to the Drafts app on my iPhone. Hit "Share ... OneNote". Then I have to wait for a while before the text from Drafts appears on my PC OneNote. (So far I have been waiting more than half an hour.)

    E.g. first I have to go to the Just Press Record app on my iPhone. Hit "Transcribe". Wait for the transcription to be finished. (There is an option to automatically transcribe. But transcribe requires that the JPR app be active - it cannot be done in the background. So I try ti transcribe just before I go to bed.) Then I have to wait for a while before the text from Drafts appears on my PC OneNote. THEN I have to send to OneNote. (I usually send both transcription and original audio, in case the transcription failed. But the audio is a MAC format that I don't have a sound player for on my PC. :-( Yet... )

    E.g. to transfer notes from Reminders, my current BKM is to go to icloud.com/#notes (now #notes2, I think). I do a screen snip of the list of my reminders, paste that into OneNote, and then use OCR (copy text from image). I have an OneNote macro to split the text up. This works if the reminders are short. If long, I must open the reminder, copy the text, and then place into OneNote.


    Still later step: Organizing the captured/collected/gathered stuff into the appropriate GTD Projects, Next Action lists, Reference lists, etc.




    Unfortunately, there are too many steps involved
    • capture
    • collect/gather
      • itself multiple sequences of multiple steps
    • GTD intake - distributing to the GTD lists
      • which I think is officially called processing, although
    I am currently forcing myself to do these things. But I sure wish that I did not have to.

    Currently, I capture to wherever the various capture apps capture, then collect or gather that data into my Log, then do GTD intake/distruibition from there to the proper GTD places.

    When possible, I capture straight to my Log. E.g. OneNote Quick Notes - I used to have a separate Inbox for them, but now I capture straight into my Log. Saves a step, if I am ready to do the GTD intake thing right away, which often I am.

    But I find this only works well for really fast, synchronous, capture. I found that sending voice notes straight to my Log got messy - since their transfer is asynchronous with long delays, they got lost interleaved with other stuff. So now I tend to transfer those things to their own Inboxes - Inbox/JustPressRecord, Inbox/Drafts - and clean those out later. Straight to GTD if possible. Sometimes to my Log and then to GTD.

    Since some (but not all) caoptures fgo straight to my Log, and collect/gather also goes into my Log, I may end up with stuff that I am not quite ready to do GTD intake on. (E.g. a day hike can yield 100 items; even with the 2 minute rule, I may not be ready to do GTD intake. Leaving them in my Log may let them get hidden behind new stuff./ So, if I can't GTD intake quickly, I may take the bunch and defer them to plain old Inbox, and later do the GTD intake on that.

    I.e. since even GTD intake can take a long time, even that can be deferred.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  15. AFG

    AFG Registered

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    You and me both.

    Well, actually I am just writing OneTastic macros for OneNote. (I am coming to regret that - I need to switch to C#. NOT the web API - unless that can be made to work while disconnected.)


    While I love supporting SW developers (especially OpenSource but not limited to that)...

    I very much doubt that I will switch to any new, full-blown, end-to-end GTD app. I doubt very much that it will do everything I need/want. E.g. I require macros or add-ons, disconnected operation, Cloud, OCR on images, better hierarchy and linking, cross-domain...

    But... I think that it should be possible to provide one (or maybe two) watch apps that do subsets of the problem.

    See my earlier post about Drafts, pros/cons, etc.

    Most important right now is making capture, and gathering, more efficient.
    • Hi: 100% voice operation
    • Med: plus finger text input
    • Hi: capture voice when not connected to phone network, and offline transcription to text
    • Hi: automatic transfer to as close as possible to final destination
      • For me, ideally automatic transfer to OneNote (using web api)
      • Failing that, automatic transfer to some cloud drive: MS OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox ...
      • Save the steps necessary to transfer from phone to cloud, and cloud to my main GTD app
      • PLEASE: indicate when the asynch transfer is done
        • I currently cannot tell if the delay is between iPhone and Cloud, or Cloud and PC
    • Nice, if possible:
      • I wish the transfer could be peer-to-peer, not just thrtouigh Cloud servers.
      • E.g. on a plane, I may not have Cloud access - but I would like to transfer watch->iPhone->PC OneNote
    If steps can be taken to eliminate the GTD Intake step - e.g. mark a note as "@Home" or "@OnlinePC", great. But that probably needs a filter for each target PC GTD app. I want OneNote today, but I am sorely tempted by DevonThink, etc. IMHO, probably best to just use text conventions, possibly pseudo XML tags.


    I am less enthusiastic about using a new app that does the list management - that helps me find the next thing to do. OneNote's iPhone and watchapps do that well enough for now. Not as well as I would like - please, nested Sections and Subpages of arbitrary depth. But good enough.

    I am certainly not going to switch for anything that is not available watch/iPhone/web/PC, and all of the other good stuff. That's a lot to ask.

    But a small and specialized capture/collection app would be a nice start.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019

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