Omnidrive and Zoho hookup to give us a glimpse of the future

Omnidrive, one of the more compelling online file storage services, has just announced the first of several integrations with the Zoho application suite. Taking advantage of a robust API (Application Programming Interface), Omnidrive users will be able to edit Word compatible documents via the Zoho word processor without downloading to a local computer. This is a significant accomplishment on the march to total offline to Office 2.0 interoperability. Here’s why:

Omnidrive’s storage capability is fairly robust, allowing you to generate documents on a local computer and synchronize them to Omnidrive through a client side synchronization component. So, when you have access to your regular work – or home – computer, you can generate Word compatible documents with your favorite word processor. Upon saving these documents in the designated Omnidrive folder, they are synchronized up to the Omnidrive server. That part seems simple enough, right? It’s the next step where the wizardry of the Omnidrive/Zoho solution really begins to shine.

Let’s say that you want to access the document you created, and saved to Omnidrive, while you’re another computer. Now, through the magic of the API integration, you can access your document on Omnidrive and edit it inside Zoho Writer all online. There is no need to download the document to any computer to view or edit. All the work is done inside a web browser, on the cloud. When you’re done editing, just save the document inside Zoho, and the document is updated in Omnidrive. When you return to your primary computer, the edits you’ve made are waiting for you locally, via the sync capability. This is really powerful stuff.

I gave this a whirl over the weekend, and was pleased to see how seamless the process is. My ultimate Office 2.0 goal for 2007 is to generate, edit, and manage all of my documents via an Office 2.0 solution, but where connectivity is an issue (mostly an in flight issue for me) I will still rely on local Office tools. When saved to the Omnidrive folder, these documents will then be synched to Omnidrive the next time I connect, thereby enabling anywhere access and editability.

Another, really important capability makes this incredibly useful. I’ve got piles of Office documents that I have no plan on converting to Office 2.0 formats, but still want to be able to access them from time to time. By placing these on my Omnidrive, I can now access them within a browser anywhere I can get a net connection. In the past, I’ve stored these documents online, but then had to go through the added burden of downloading them to the local drive to view them. Not anymore, now this can be done effortlessly online.

My weekend testing did uncover some rough edges, including browser errors, but this integration is still in beta. Clearly this shows a practical way to bridge offline Office solutions with Office 2.0 solutions. Omnidrive and Zoho have promised similar spreadsheet (Excel) and presentation (PowerPoint) integration in a few days. Zoho has begun to prove Omnidrive’s differentiating storage strategy of real productivity via a web browser a real success. I can’t wait to see this stuff evolve in the coming months.

Jott responds to my query on how their service works

John Pollard, CEO of Jott wrote back to me yesterday regarding the processes that Jott employs behind the scenes.  He was kind enough to grant me permission to post his reply here:

Hi Nitin,
Thanks for spending some time with Jott over the holidays, and for your interest in general.

You are correct that we use a mix of human and machine technologies.   Not only would it be amazing for a machine to have such high accuracy with names, technical jargon, etc., it would be impossible to do it burdened by car noise, random accents, zero grammatical context and the typical low bandwidth cellular phone connection.   We are dead focused on making Jott immediately useful, in situations that are realistic.

The machine part gets very interesting over time, and we’re excited by the innovation that’s going to happen there.   But right now we wanted to deliver on voice-powered, hands-free, messaging and to do lists.  Lots of good stuff coming down the road too…

Best wishes and Happy New Year.


So, as we sort of suspected, there is some human interaction involved.  I guess the most important thing to note here is that the service is extremely easy, and the backend magic is nearly invisible to the user.  I certainly plan to follow these guys along in their development of this clean and elegant service.

Jott amazed everyone at the holiday family gathering

I wrote about Jott a few days back, and was slightly off the mark about it’s usefulness. As it turns out, Jott is not really meant for transcribing voicemail to text (that really would be a killer service), rather Jott is meant for you – the user – to be able to call Jott and leave a message that is then transcribed and delivered to your inbox.

The service is very easy to setup, and has an elegant interface. The real power of Jott, however, is its ability to transcribe voice messages to text. Over the holidays, while we had family visiting from Boston and New York, I mentioned Jott to the geeks amongst us. One of them, Yogendra Jain, is no ordinary geek. He’s been working in the DSP, intelligent voice arena for over two decades. So, naturally, I wanted Yo to critique the Jott service. He set up an account and off we went. He recorded messages that referenced his kids (both with fairly complex Indian names), some technical jargon, and a general grocery list. Jott nailed it all, to Yo’s amazement. What astounded us was the ability of Jott to decipher the Indian names, as well as the technical jargon. For fun, we then asked my brother the Neurologist to ramble on about a patient diagnosis. His message included complex medical terms, as well as medical acronyms, and Jott was spot on with that message too.

While the transcription was not instantaneous, as you could tell that messages were in queue, they were nearly 100% accurate. It made me wonder if there was some human intervention involved in the transcription process – you know, some processing center deep inside India that is validating what the computer spits out. I’ve emailed the developers of Jott to see if they are willing to share some of the inner workings of their service. Hopefully, I’ll get a reasonable response – and I’ll report back on what the tell me.

In the meantime, I’m adding Jott to my GTD workflow as another way to get notes into my inbox.

Jott could be the leap forward in voicemail that I’m looking for

Michael Arrington just posted about Jott, a company that is emerging from the shadows to offer voice to text delivery of voice messages:

Jott to Convert Cell Phone Calls to Text

It’s very simple – a user calls a specific phone number and leaves a voice message along with a recipient or recipients (an obvious use for Jott will be for people to leave themselves quick notes). The voice message will then be converted from voice into text and delivered via email or SMS. The recipient or recipients can choose between reading the text or listening to the original voice message.

I’ve found managing voice messages the biggest challenge to achieving a truly unified inbox. If this service is as cool as the one that Guy Kawasaki recently wrote about, then the guys at Jott have a real winner. I’d love the ability to receive an email transcript of voicemails in my inbox. It’s just easier to handle, and search, in text form. I suspect another benefit will be the ability to read voicemail while I’m stuck in a meeting. Sometimes trying to break-away from a lengthy meeting is not possible, so I’m left guessing as to what the content of a voicemail is. If a transcript were emailed to me, I could instantly act on it, or delegate it — or simply file it away. That would really rock!

Link Stream April 29, 2006

Stuff I’ve read, or added to my inbox to read:

Seth Godin on being done –

AlphaMale on KitKat’s success in Japan –

Guy Kawasaki on Engineers and their lies –

The Slacker Manager on office politics –

Pittsburgh’s Future reports on shaky air quality ratings standards –

Tello to let you see where you’re buddies are

Om Malik points us to a pretty interesting startup company based in the Bay Area, Tello.  The premise behind Tello’s technology is to provide us a sense of where a particular contact is available.  In other words “Presence”, as Om notes.  He points to several interesting articles, one from the Wall Street Journal and another from BusinessWeek, that describe the technology in greater detail.  After sifting through these articles, I think I came to the same conclusion as Om did; this is great stuff, but I’m not sure how many people will adopt it….and the key to success in this type of technology is blanket adoption.