Signals co-founder Prashant Singh informs MediaNama that the app is supported on Android devices running Jelly Bean & ICS and works best on a device with 1GB RAM. We tried the app on Micromax A90S which comes with Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
The app allows users to login only through user’s Facebook account. It appears that the app does this to aggregate birthdays from your friend circle. I personally store all birthday information on Google calendar and would like Shifu to integrate Google calendar as well in future. Besides this, to configure the app, one also needs to set active wallpaper on their smartphone (there’s no way to bypass this). I generally tend to hate active wallpapers as they tend to be more power hungry, however, it appears that the app uses a active wallpapers to provide quick access to alerts. Users can turn off active wallpapers from settings.
While there are plenty of todo, reminder, and task management apps out there, what Shifu does is, it adds context to the reminder, tasks and todos. For example, reminders will remind me that I have to make a call to someone at a certain time. Instead, Shifu allows one to set reminders with context – when they have some time, or are visiting a certain place, are connected to certain WiFi access point, among others. One of the most interesting integration I found was to set reminders when on a call. I get an reminder to remind about an interesting startup whenever I talk to my colleague next.
The app allows users to set up various types of alerts including call reminders, birthday reminder, location based alerts, call based alerts, time based alerts, network based alert, among others. I have set reminders to switch off 3G when connected to home WiFi, and a reminder to watch new episodes of TV shows when connected to home WiFi. While Shifu provides only reminders, it would have made sense if it would also handle tasks by itself. For example, when Shifu notices that I’m leaving house it should turn on/off WiFi based on my preferences. Tasker app on Android already does that.
One can access all reminders, alerts, and todos from the menu. On the app homescreen, it displays card deck with reminders such as birthdays, call alerts, or any other alerts that one has set. It displays only those cards that can be done in the time period available to the users and hides the tasks that would require longer time period to complete. It also gathers missed calls, displays them on homescreen and allows one to call back or send a message. For birthdays, the app directly takes one to their friends Facebook page, or allows one to send a message or make a call if one has their phone number.
The app is currently available only on Android OS, however, Singh informs us that they plan to extend to other platforms, however the features will depend on the platform’s capabilities.
Battery usage: I have been using the app for two days now. It did hog battery life out of my phone, however, it was not as much as I initially anticipated. Besides, Prashant Singh tells us that the company does battery optimization for as many Android devices that they get hands on. However, as the Android ecosystem is so fragmented that a baseline improvement of 105 efficiency in battery translates differently on different devices, he adds.
Singh tells us that currently they do not have any plans for monetization. However, Singh hints in an interview that since Shifu collects a lot of data it might partner with app developers to launch their apps at user behavior time to make money.
Google Now also provides reminders through Google Calendar integration. The beauty of Google Now is that it provides contextual reminders and also provides information that’s required after the reminder is sent.
Couple of years ago, Nokia had launched Nokia Situations that sensed phone’s GPS location, Bluetooth, WiFi, network to trigger a variety of situations such as change ringtones, answer calls, save power, change wallpaper, trigger certain URL at certain time, among others. However, it didn’t really solve much of a problem. Nokia eventually stopped working on the project since the app was available only on Symbian handsets. It’s still available for download from Nokia Beta Labs, however, Symbian isn’t a preferred smartphone OS any longer.
Besides the Situations, Shifu competes with todo and reminder apps that are available on any mobile devices along with third party apps such as Any.do, Evernote which recently launched reminders app, however, it’s not available on Android OS.