January 14, 2014

Cover Makes My Android Phone Smart and Personal

I take my Nexus 5 everywhere I go. It's with me at work, at home, in the car, and practically anywhere. Considering I'm giving this device so much of my time, it makes sense that the device learns from my behavior, as I use different apps and do different tasks in different places and at different times. Instead of being an unchanging brick that waits for my next instruction, smart services like Google Now are bringing me updates relevant to my interests at the right time, and the relatively new Cover app is showing me what applications I might want to use next.

Developed by my good friends +Todd Jackson and +Edward Ho, along with +Gordon Luk, and designed only for +Android, Cover learns when I use different apps, and where, and brings those applications to a key piece of real estate on our phones that doesn't get much love - the lock screen. While other teams have designed widgets and launchers, the lock screen is an interesting battleground and one the typical smartphone user typically sees dozens of times a day. Now, instead of just being a place to wake your phone up, it is personalized and functional. It's as if somebody brought you breakfast in bed instead of forcing you to go to the kitchen and get all the ingredients yourself out of your many cupboards and fridge. And, like the best personalization systems, it starts out with great guesses, but gets smarter the more you use it.

Cover's starting point is fairly well defined. There are three main scenarios - you at home, at work, and in the car. When you're in the car, either driving or as a passenger, you're less likely to use some apps you use at the office, but others more.

Cover Highlights Some of My Top Apps at Home and Work

For me, I've always got +Spotify or Google Music playing on the ride to and from the office. It's in the car when I usually make phone calls to my wife to tell her I'm coming home, and make one last offer to get something on the way home. When I do get home, +Cover recommends I put the music on my +Sonos, or settle down and watch a film on +Netflix. And yes, practically everywhere I go, Gmail and Hangouts (for chat and SMS) play a big role.

Add Your Address to Cover to Make It Smarter

I've been a longtime believer in the world of personalization. I think your streams should be smart. Your apps and sites should be smart, and the information that you put into the system should benefit you as much as it does the company whose service you use. I took a field trip up to the Cover offices on Friday and talked with the team about my early feedback on the app, and some ideas on where they could go next - a real Silicon Valley perk.

In addition to tackling the lock screen in a smart way, the Cover team has also made an impression on people through its Android only strategy. While many developers build in parallel for iOS and Android, or may go iOS first and Android second, the open nature of Android made developing for it the obvious choice. You simply can't do what Cover has achieved on iOS, and they've made exceptional effort to make the application beautiful and inviting.

I test a lot of services and apps, and tell you guys about a few. But Cover has made an instant impression on me, and it's one I'm keeping on my phone. If you're on Android, and you should be, add it to your phone or tablet here. I've known Todd and Ed from their time at Google, when they worked on Gmail, Google Buzz and other products. I know their attention to detail and desire to make incredible user experiences, and see their first efforts with Cover have met the high expectations I have for them. They're funded to the tune of $1.7 million from First Round Capital, and are just getting started.

Disclosures for Fun and Profit: Google is the provider of Android mobile OS and Google Now. Todd and Ed were both briefly colleagues of mine here at Google, and I worked with both during product integrations with my6sense during my time at Paladin Advisors Group.

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