Add support for collection with Android Voice Actions

A real boon to capturing for me has been the ability to capture using my voice (particularly while driving seems to be when ideas come to me).

You really need to support voice actions on Android. It really is not that hard (App Actions  |  Google Developers, in particular Create thing  |  App Actions  |  Google Developers).

For my current pre-Everdo setup I have an IFTTT action set up to understand “Create task for _____”, but for more generalized support it would be fine to support “Add _____ to Everdo”, which is pretty simple to setup.


I think It’s an interesting idea to consider. Thank you for providing the details.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Use a physical phone button then speaking the task.
    This option I’ve found to be the most friction free and universally useful.

Use case:
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.

Currently I:

  1. double press the Side Key to open Everdo (wait up to 1s for open)
  2. look at the screen to press the + for a new task (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
  3. press the microphone key on the popup screen keyboard (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
  4. speak the task
  5. the local google feature allows transcription without requiring internet access
  6. press the “end talking button” on the screen (forces me to redirect attention, use a 2nd hand and ruins night vision)
  7. 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.

I currently have an excellent way to enter tasks to my inbox (I’m now using Facile Things not Everdo) using IFTTT and Google assistant integration that lets me just say, “Ok google, create task to _______.” I can do it without touching my phone and can do it with google home devices.

BUT Google had decided that this is just too useful and will no longer support it at the end of the month (Google Assistant changes - IFTTT).

I am interested in Brain toss but it is vital that any solution not require touching the phone because this must be usable when driving and it appears this is not the case with Brain toss

I’m thinking how about creating a new variant the existing “Add to Inbox” shortcut that would start voice recognition automatically?

Currently you can open the inbox capture UI in one tap, then activate the voice input mode with another tap and submit your input. Maybe there is even a way to submit with voice, I’ll have to check.

Also a bug prevents the “Enter” on the screen keyboard from submitting the task, and the Send button does not appear during voice input. This needs to be fixes as well.

This would be a fantastic first step and get perhaps 80% of the value of this feature.

For Android 10 and 11 I’ve been using this.

Starting voice recognition automatically is a really big one. Some data points:

  1. A competing product has a long press of the “+” (add task) icon start voice input where a short tap starts text input. They use a proprietary voice input that requires cloud connection though. Using the built in Google Voice Typing is really helpful for those who want to voice input in iffy network situations, airplane mode (airplanes, those who limit EMF exposure by turning on airplane mode at night), those worried about data privacy. And it’s already built in to Android.

As voice really is the preferred mode, perhaps a short press is voice and a long press is text

  1. On Android 10 and 11, I press the “check” icon to save the task after voice dictation. Always available and works perfectly. Having it be a gesture would be a nice but small improvement (something that could be done while not have to look at the screen). Obviously a voice cue to submit task would be better, but that’s likely a Google thing, not an Everdo thing.

finding the screen keyboard “Enter” is irrelevant in this use case. After voice dictation I’d have to find the key to switch from voice to regular keyboard, then find the “Enter” icon to submit. Using the “Check” works perfectly and the “Enter” issue seems to be a bug that shouldn’t ever be activated.

  1. On Android 11 (At least the Samsung skin thereof), you can set a long press of the onscreen keyboard space bar to activate voice record. The “long press” is so short, it’s really just a normal press, so there’s no waiting. The space bar icon is big and always anchored at the bottom of the screen. This is cognitively more efficient/less friction than hunting for the tiny microphone icon at the top of the keyboard/about 1/4 the way up the screen.

It’s so efficient that I’ve started using Everdo and Google Typing to take notes/actions/someday/ticklers from books.

Existing use case: Reading with audio note taking

  1. Goto Everdo Inbox or a specifically created Project or Notebook
  2. Open a new Task (Plus" icon) (having the task open is one less step to distract when switching focus from reading to getting in your idea)
  3. Press space bar
  4. Dictate task
  5. Press “Check” icon
  6. Press “Plus” icon for new Task

Ideal workflow would be:

  1. Hold down sidekey
  2. Dictate task
  3. Let go of sidekey (task is saved)

For me this would be better than:

  1. Say some keyword like “Start task”
  2. Dictate task
  3. Say some keyword like “Save task”
    Aside from cloud connectivity requirements and data privacy issues, holding a button (like Push to Talk walkie-talkies) is faster (elapsed time), more responsive (voice triggered actions can have 1/4 to 1 full second pauses before activating and that can mess up your timing, confidence in the system and at times cut off the start of your dictation) and less cognitively demanding than saying keywords. Of course there is a place for both approaches.

I am not actually using Everdo any more (actually switched to paper bullet journal) but here is what I am now using for quick capture by voice using Google assistant:

First I created a list in Google Keep and named it Task and made it a checkbox list. Then if I want to add something to the inbox (e.g. buy cat food) I just say “OK Google, add buy cat food to my task list”. I then have a new item in the Google Keep list called “buy cat food”. It is still a manual step to move it from the keep list to your trusted system, but the most important point is the effortless, hands-free capture. If you using a system that allows a way to capture from email, e.g. I could even automate that with Node-red or IFTTT

Thanks for the update.

I imagine that using cloud computing opens a number of options. However, for those without reliable cloud access all the time or who have privacy concerns, a local solution would be nice.

I played a bit and used the app MacroDroid to force Everdo to always open at the start screen (to restart). So, I’m always at the inbox rather than where I left off. That’s one less tap to get to voice entry.

There are youtube videos showing a Tasker app setup that automates steps within pretty much any app including screengrabbing and automatically pressing buttons (based on xy coordinates). This could be done with Everdo, but would take time and the app purchase to setup up the incantation. I suspect it might be subtly different for each Android phone given reliance on xy coordinates and different screen sizes and manufacturer skins.

A native Everdo feature would be so much more widely usable and definitely marketable.