This is indeed a killer function for GTD. David Allen never promotes any specific modern technology products except for one…BrainToss. BrainToss just records a voice note and emails it wherever. David Allen then processes the email in his collection workflow. Braintoss charges $3.49USD for the app. I use the VoNo app. Neither really do an ideal job for GTD.
Collecting voice tasks directly and well is 1 of the 3 big GTD productivity features missing from Everdo, Nirvana, and almost all the cross platform GTD apps.
Per David Allen, the ideal is that you can get think off your mind the most easily/with the least friction. Being able to speak your idea is less friction than typing. The fewest and easiest actions to setup that speaking would be ideal.
I have been working with implementing voice task capture in both Android and iOS for several years. Voice capture on a desktop isn’t as important as the phone is always with you and you have the dedicated focus on a desktop to easily enter new tasks. There seem to be 2 ergonomic paths for phone voice capture:
- Use Siri/Alexa/Google Assistant by speaking code words, then speaking the task. This seems to have many external options already to come close to an ideal workflow. It suffers from the need for internet connectivity, problems in loud areas, problems with ending and saving the task in a timely manner.
- Use a physical phone button then speaking the task.
This option I’ve found to be the most friction free and universally useful.
User is going about life, not necessarily using their phone nor using Everdo.
User is in the dark/noisy area/driving/away from internet connectivity.
User feels for button on phone.
User double presses button.
User speaks task with the lowest lag time after pressing button.
User presses button again to finish voice task.
Task is saved to Everdo Inbox.
At least the Samsung line of phones have an Side Key button that will launch an app with a double press, open or close the phone with a single press.
I use a Side Key double press to Launch Everdo. At that point, it would be ideal to have immediate voice recording start on app open. Then single pressing Side Key closes the phone (as I don’t want it open after this point) and the press should also trigger the end of the voice recording and the storage of the voice task.
This work flow allows a voice task to be recorded in any situation solely by feel without having to use any attention to look at the phone to start or end the voice task.
- double press the Side Key to open Everdo (wait up to 1s for open)
- look at the screen to press the + for a new task (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
- press the microphone key on the popup screen keyboard (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
- speak the task
- the local google feature allows transcription without requiring internet access
- press the “end talking button” on the screen (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
- press the check button on Everdo to save task (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
n.b. while the transcription service is ok, it often enters bizarre words, so having the original sound file for reference would be helpful
a) Create an “EverdoVoiceTask” app. It would run almost like VoNo/Braintoss, but:
i) be optimized to open as fast as possible with recording starting the instant the app opens
ii) save the task ideally with either a physical press or by cloning phone
iii) the voice file would be saved locally even if there has been transcription (as AI transcription can be garbled and generally can’t recognize technical terms nor multiple languages)
iv) integration with the main Everdo app would have the task appear in the Inbox.
v) transcribing the task to text occurs somewhere in this chain
b) do this all within the Everdo app
A marketing proposal:
Create “EverdoVoiceTask” as a standalone app. Sell it for $0.99US. to match BrainToss an get some of the David Allen recommendation pull. VoNo app is free, but they charge per note.
Have the voice notes stored locally but with an optional integration to the Everdo main app. There is space in the app store for another standalone voice note app, especially one done with low friction in mind. It’s a revenue source on its own, and will pull users to buy the main Everdo app. Also, the low price of the EverdoVoiceTask (under $1 is an easier decision for most users) is an easy entry point to the Everdo system. Getting users liking the free Everdo is a gateway to the license sale.
Everdo license is currently $82USD lifetime for all features except ESS. Nirvana is a very similar competitor on the UI side and offers $50USD lifetime for all features including ESS. I bought Nirvana initially because of the free ESS and later learned that Everdo would have been a better purchase. With EverdoVoiceTask app I would have happily bought the app then really understood the benefits of Everdo over Nirvana to then buy Everdo license for a total of $83USD.
A competitive comparison with BrainToss:
With BrainToss you record then email. For GTD you’d then process the email into the best cross platform GTD app, Everdo. Multiple steps, more money, internet connectivity required, less privacy, less control of your data.
With EverdoVoiceTask you record, and it’s already in Everdo. Less steps, less money, no internet connectivity required, better privacy, you control your data.
The key here is least friction from idea in head to out of head. Workflow and ergonomics are important as above as is some configurability for the various options on various phones and the way people find their most natural and friction free workflow. There are a lot more nuances here based on testing, but they would be a bit much for this already long post.