Jott for BlackBerry: Quick Review

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Recently Jott, best known for their general voice-to-text translation services expanded further into the mobile market with Jott for BlackBerry.

The premise is pretty simple, after signing up and installing the application to your BlackBerry you can dictate email replies straight from your mailbox. Unfortunately those of you who haven't upgraded or purchased a new BlackBerry in a while will not be able to mess around with this feature. It's only available on the Curve (8300), Perl (8100) and 8800.

Simple

Jott is very simple to use. To reply to an email you just have to choose one out of your inbox and select either "Reply with Jott" or "Reply all with Jott" after hitting the BlackBerry key. From there a voice prompts you with the commands to start dictating and when to send your message. Voice prompts and speaker phone are enabled by default, which is really nice. If you happen to be Borg you'll be glad to know that it is also compatible with your Bluetooth headset.

Those are the only real settings within Jott: Bluetooth on/off, voice prompts on/off, and speaker phone on/off. No complicated settings to mess around with? Awesome.

Unfortunately this service does not work with text messages or sending initial emails. In time, perhaps.

How well does it work?

I sent a few emails to my friends to test the accuracy of this system. According to Wikipedia, Jott converts the text "using a combination of software and ... human transcribers." This whole process on average takes roughly 20 minutes from the message being sent to receiving a transcribed version (you receive a confirmation email as it is sent onto the initial target). The transcribed message also contains a link to Jott's website where you can listen to an audio clip of the original recording. (I haven't been able to listen to the audio version from my BlackBerry.)

These 20 minutes can make a big difference on time sensitive emails. Jott claims that "it is 3-5 times faster than ‘thumbing’ text." While sure, dictating 30 seconds of speech might be quicker than 'thumbing' it out, but one could practically write a novel in the 20 minute response time.

As far as accuracy goes, I was both surprised and dismayed. If you're not to sure what to say, the ever present "umm" and "uhh" don't make it through dictation, unless you obviously say them on purpose. Benefits of human intervention I suppose.

Another positive is that they were able to get my name correct two out of three times. With a name like Judson I can't complain when it came came back "Justin" ... just like most people do upon first introductions. My last name however, they didn't even give it a shot, simply putting down "____."

Beyond that, it's a pot luck. It's probably best to give an example...

What was said:

"Hey Chad, this is a test of acronyms and other weird things. Umm, I need you to run an HPSF Dev uhhh and check the symcli command and check for HBA0, see if it's PowerPath duel attached. Otherwise I need you to run... open up CMD and ftp to ftp.emc.com and go to incoming/" (aaaaaand cut off by thirty second limit)

What they sent:

"Hey Jud, this is a test of acronyms and other word things. I need you to run an HPSF Dev(?) and check the sims(?) they recommend for HPA0. See if it's power pack door is hatched or otherwise, I need you to run--open up CND and FTP to ftp.emc.com and go to incoming/..."

I'll let you form your own opinion on that. It's obvious that you don't want to use it for specific instructions. (And yes, I was just rambling gibberish. HPSF Dev does not exist, nor can you use the symcli command to check paths.)

One other odd thing I noticed was that messages do not necessarily return in the same order they are sent out. Despite time gaps upwards of 5 minutes in my simple testing.

I have not tested this with harsh accents, other languages, or culturally specific words at this time.

Is it worth it?

To put it bluntly, no. In the twenty and a half minutes it takes to send a response you could give your thumbs some exercise and send a much more concise & accurate email in at least half the time.

Jott claims that their method is safe for the road but only alleviates part of the problem. If you're put in this position to respond while driving then chances are you're already scrolling through and reading emails which is hazardous enough. Just wait till you're safely stopped before responding. If it's really urgent and can't wait, why are you sending an email? Bloody hell, just call them.

My last concern is really about the human intervention and what records are retained. While it's only natural for companies to maintain a history of email conversations, there now exists a record of you speaking those words. A record retained not by your company, but by Jott. Human intervention makes one worry about who is hearing these conversations, not that one should be using Jott for sensitive data.

With the current political climate within the United States the premise of government officials getting their hands on these records is frightning. Especially if your conversations regard anything the least bit illegal.

There is one silver lining yet to be explored, Drunk Jotting. I believe it's time to get to work on that review...

But don't take my word for it.

As of right now Jott is free. Simple visit http://jott.com/jotters/index.php/blackberry to find out more and sign up with Jott if you haven't already.

Installation is as simple as pointing your BlackBerry's browser to www.jott.com/bb. Login & download. They note that the BlackBerry will reboot after installation, but I experienced no such thing.

You can sign up through the BlackBerry's web browser as well... although it didn't work for me. It kept taking me back to the information input screen over and over. Upon signing up online I noticed that the only difference is the addition of a zip code field. It may be this missing field that was giving me the error.

Questions? Comments? Please post down below. Thanks for reading!