ExecuTech: Keeping Execs Plugged in With Sherpa, Osito, Logitech Keyboard for iPad Mini, More

Intel to lower price on Notebooks, Ultrabooks

Sherpa Osito

Step aside, Siri, you’ve got competition. Osito (pictured above, right), a new voice-controlled personal assistant app for mobile devices, relies on predictive technology to alert you how long it will take to travel somewhere, pull up updated weather reports or retrieve your hotel reservation at the airport so you don’t have to spend time searching for it — data it thinks you’ll need, based on your behavior, bookings and calendar appointments. Android phones offer something similar through Google Now, which, like Siri, is pre-set, and doesn’t require an app to open.

Created by former Google Ad-Words product manager Bill Ferrell, and recently backed by $1.1 million in new funding from investors including Google Ventures, Osito is ironically only available for the iPhone, although there are plans to expand its availability.

The app has some interesting competition outside of Siri and Google, however.

Sherpa (pictured above, left), another virtual assistant, is headed Stateside after building a following in Spain and Latin America.

Available for Android devices, the app aims to limit the dependency on search engines, and pulls up information rather than links. It also includes features like the ability to play music requested via streaming services, dictation of posts for Facebook, shows mentions on Twitter, and makes PayPal payments through voice commands (concert and airline tickets can be purchased through the app).

Until it officially launched April 18, Osito was also developed under the brand name Sherpa, but founders changed the name when “we learned that there are a lot of Sherpas out there,” the company said in a blog post on its site. New name “evokes all sorts of futuristic and magical possibilities.”

But with both apps offering similar services, the keys to their success will prove to be design and ease of use. Each is faster than Siri, an automatic plus, but while the first is clearly designed for the business pro, the other is far less buttoned up, and relies on cute animated characters to stand out.

Words With Friends
Logitech.com $80

Designed to work like the Smart Cover for Apple’s tablets, Logitech’s latest Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a perfect companion for the iPad Mini. Although its qwerty keys are a little cramped for some fingers, the lightweight wireless device, with its slim aluminum cover, pairs up instantly with the Mini without any glitches, and protects the screen when not in use.

Powered Up, Ready to Go
Mophie.com $100

Let’s be honest: The battery on your iPhone could be better, to put it mildly. But Mophie has consistently provided the best solution available with its Juice Pack Air. Lighter and thinner than previous models, the well-designed battery case covers the back of an iPhone 5, providing up to 100% extra power with the flip of a switch.

Waiting Game Worth It

After launching the Ultrabook laptop at the Consumer Electronics Show two confabs ago, Intel is still looking to build up the brand, and believes lowering the price will help. The company says notebooks with Windows 8-powered touchscreens will drop from at least $400 to a total of around $200, while Ultrabooks will fall to as low as $500 when Intel’s new Bay Trail processor becomes available later this fall. The chip will enable devices to be designed as thin as 0.3 inches, and boast all-day battery life and weeks on standby.

Facebook Unfollow?

When distilled into an hour, online time spent on social-media sites like Facebook in the U.S. — the most dominant market for social media consumption in the past three years — dropped from 30% to 27% in 2012. On mobile devices, it’s even less. Here’s how people spent their time on their smartphones and tablets during the first quarter of 2013.