Yahoo has launched another bot, called Captain, with the specific mission of reminding you about things you need to do. This SMS-based tool will manage lists and reminders, and all you have to do is text “Hi” to 773-786 to begin the process. This Siri-meets-Evernote bot lets you input any reminders you want to receive, and when the deadline approaches texts you with a follow-up message. You can also easily create lists within the bot.
While many developers produce bots for messaging apps, Yahoo has instead elected to center Captain around text messaging. Shani Clark, Yahoo’s senior director for product management, told VentureBeat: “We wanted to make this product accessible for broad use. Texting was the natural path to take because it’s ingrained into how consumers coordinate with each other.” This is one of the company’s first bots to be specifically aimed at SMS, though Yahoo has already made several for Facebook Messenger, Kik, and others.
Captain’s data comes from what you input manually, so right now there’s no need to sync your calendars, reminders, or shopping list information from third-party services. You just text the bot details of the reminder, along with who you want to share it with. You can inform loved ones, coworkers, friends, or total strangers about things you need to do, anything from a business meeting to a dinner reservation to purchasing tickets. Just text “add member [name]” to 773-786 to receive instructions on how to invite others into a group setting.
Commands you can input into Captain include the following:
- Remind [person] of [task] on [date] at [time]
- Remind me to [task] on [date] at [time]
- Show reminders
- Show reminders for [person/time]
- Show list
- Add item [name]
- Remove item [exact name]
- Remove item [number]
- Add member [name]
Yahoo believes the real value of Captain lies with families. “Captain is our take on helping users manage family activities,” Clark said. “Captain is a family assistant bot that helps families streamline communications around shared activities and reminders.”
Now kids can send reminders to parents about when to show up for their concerts or games, while parents can send each other things to add to grocery lists or send reminders to their kids about taking out the garbage. And while there are plenty of to-do apps and reminder opportunities out there, Yahoo believes an SMS option is going to be better received by families. “It blends text and group calendaring to make it easier for families to set, assign, and receive reminders for each other, as well as to update a shopping list in real time,” Clark explained.
Yahoo says that while Captain collects the data users provide to set up their profiles, anonymized user dialogs will also be kept in order to improve the machine learning algorithm of the bot and make product updates.
Captain is free to use, but standard messaging rates do apply, so be sure to check with your mobile plan. Additionally, Yahoo warns that if you’re on Sprint, you’ll have to unblock “shortened links” before using this bot.