It was only about three weeks ago when the team behind predictive intelligence app Sherpa announced a hefty seed round and that it was rolling the app out to private beta users. Now it seems they’re all ready for prime time… with a few changes.
Since there’s already a glut of mobile apps named Sherpa floating around out there, founder and CEO Bill Ferrell thought it was high time for a bit of rebranding — to that end the team has renamed the app Osito, and it’s ready for you to download in the iOS App Store.
Here’s a bit of background in case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the app formerly known as Sherpa. Long story short, Osito is a predictive intelligence app that picks up on your location and scans your calendar and connected email accounts to display information about your day. While it’s easy enough to draw comparisons between Osito and services like Google Now (especially since there are some aesthetic similarities between the two), Osito’s biggest draw isn’t that it’s able to surface pertinent information on the fly.
Rather, it’s that the app is awfully smart at figuring out when it should display what it does thanks to its thoughtful reliance on location triggers. If it sifts through your email and happens upon a boarding pass for instance, you’ll only see it once you’re actually within range of the airport you’ll need to use it in. Osito’s work begins well before you set foot on the plane — in that particular case it will chew on your email to figure out when you should begin your trek to the airport and give you an idea of the weather you’ll encounter on your way there.
As a result of the three or so weeks that app has been open to private beta testers, Ferrell and rest of the team have added a handful of new features to the mix. This time around there’s improved support for hotels and accommodation information — users will get a notification the day before they’re slated to check in, plus another once the app detects that you’re near the hotel in question. The bigger change here though is that the app is more thoughtful about displaying what you should be doing next. Going back to the travel example, the app can now provide you with the ability to call taxis from within the app or display info on airport parking to help keep your sojourn moving smoothly.
“People like the information we’re surfacing,” Ferrell points out. “But they want it to be more actionable. Now we’re making sure to attach the right ‘next step’ buttons”
What really stuck me during my time fiddling with the app was just how rarely I actually had to fire up the app proper — Osito is plenty eager to display push notifications when it thinks you should be doing something, so you could certainly just let the app run in the background and react to whatever pops up. At this point Osito’s approach still feels like an understated one, and that’s just how the six person team likes it… for now.
“Our goal isn’t to be in your face,” Ferrell said. “That’s not the good stuff. The good stuff is sending you something when you actually need it.” That said, there have been more than a few internal conversations about what Osito will be able to do down the road — timely notifications are just the tip of the iceberg. Ferrell is awfully bullish on the concept of Osito as a platform and just not an app, and confirmed that the startup has been in talks with multiple potential partners who are interested in building experiences on top of Osito. It’s an encouraging sign for the once-stealthy startup even if Ferrell won’t say exactly who he’s been talking to — what the team has right now works well enough, but it’s hard not to use the app and think of all the other things you wish it could do.