Since last year, artificial Intelligence has developed from a futuristic concept to a realistic tool capable of creating AI-generated art, producing human-like conversations via chatbots, and even identifying backyard birds solely based on their chirps.
That said, AI’s recent boom has brought apps and tools to the surface with the potential to make our workflow — and even our lives — easier. And according to Gartner Analyst and AI expert Whit Andrews, AI has a leveling effect that is only intensifying, he told ZDNET.
“Think of all the people who find it daunting to express themselves in unfamiliar idioms: that could be drawing a picture, or drawing a map, or explaining a concept,” Andrews said. “Generative AI and other AI applications now make that easy, and it has really advanced equality.”
That intensification already has a solid foundation as more than 150 AI chatbot apps have been launched in 2023 so far. While most are familiar big-name apps and software like ChatGPT, I found the following six apps to be the most useful for time and budget management, a fitness routine tailored to your skillset, and even mindfulness. After integrating some of these apps into my own life, I think they’re worth talking about.
A Google Chrome extension for time management
It never seems that there are enough hours in the day, but Reclaim.ai can find those time slots in your ever-changing schedule. The app uses AI to find time between your workday and your regular life to weave in your to-dos and healthy habits you’re trying to commit to.
It can automatically schedule your meetings and block off time to focus on a specific project too, but I like this AI tool for its habit scheduling. Its AI builds flexibility into your schedule so that instead of saying you will go for a walk every day at 2 p.m., it will automatically schedule it to fit around the other events in your calendar or even reschedule it if a last-minute meeting pops up.
By using AI to automatically build the perfect schedule for your priorities each week, it helps you to stay on track with both your work tasks and the habits you wish to incorporate more into your life that you didn’t think you had time for.
Currently, the app only works in conjunction with Google Calendar, but there may be Microsoft Office 365 integration in the future.
An iOS and Android app for budget managing
This AI app was made for Millennials looking for an easy way to budget. Cleo communicates with users via chatting and uses emojis, memes, and GIFs to get the point across when you spend too much on ordering takeout.
Its AI integrates tough love humor, which it calls “Roast Mode” that playfully shames you on how much you’ve spent or how little you’ve saved due to certain repetitive habits even a robot knows you should break. Conversely, Cleo can also hype you up and praise you for your good habits.
Cleo also has a “Haggle It” feature that helps customers draft letters to help negotiate rent, credit card fees or interest rates, or car insurance rates. A survey conducted by Cleo even found that out of the customers who negotiated their credit card fees and interest, about 20% received reduced rates and fees, so it’s definitely worth a try.
But overall, the app builds a budget around your real-life needs and spending habits to set you up for financial success.
An app and a Google Chrome extension for practicing screen-time mindfulness
This Chrome extension has become one of my favorite AI tools because it forces me to slow down and take a break during my workday. Breathhh gets to know your browsing history over time and keeps track of how long you’ve been in a Google spreadsheet (or how long you’ve been scrolling through social media).
The tool then suggests a practice or exercises like breathing or documenting your mood by offering it at the right time based on how long you’ve been on a website, what kind of website it is (i.e., for work or for entertainment), and by learning your browsing habits so it can intervene.
I’ve found this AI extension to remind me when to take a break and reset my mind so I can avoid work burnout.
ActiveFence Video Content Moderation
An AI tool that works behind the scenes of live streaming apps for managing cyber-bullying
95% of teens today have been exposed to violent subject matter online. This new AI tool from a partnership with Agora and ActiveFence isn’t downloadable, but acts as an extension for social media sites or live streaming apps.
The content moderation technology works so that when an app developer activates the extension, it takes screenshot snippets in second-long intervals, passing the images to the ActiveFence content moderation system. Then, the AI flags illicit content in real-time and can even kick a user out.
“What we’ve done with this integration is provide a low code offering that you click a button, you integrate one or two lines of code, and you are good to go. And you have protected content being streamed through your platform,” said Sid Sharma, vice president at Agora. “We really wanted to make the internet and, in specific live interactions on the internet, a very safe place of inclusivity where anybody can go and feel protected and not have to worry about the keyboard warriors.”
The AI can identify specific abuse areas like terrorism, hate speech, child safety, self-harm, etc., and flag it to the server in a matter of milliseconds.
“The internet should be a place that people get excited about and feel safe about. So ideally, I would look at this [AI tool] as a necessity for most of the platforms out there,” Sharma added. “I would be very hopeful to see a world where live streaming or live video calls are protected, and ensuring utmost safety for the mental health and not providing any distress to every single consumer out there.”
An iOS and Android app for creating and maintaining workout routines
When it comes to a fitness routine, starting is often the hardest part. It’s hard to know what cardio-weights mix is right for you, what exact plan to follow to achieve any specific goals, or what’s even safe given your current skill set without enlisting the help of an expensive trainer or going down the TikTok/Pinterest rabbit hole. Gymbuddy uses AI to analyze your current self-assessed fitness level while taking into account body composition factors like height and weight to curate a specific workout plan and schedule in just 24 seconds.
You can also tell the app which body parts you want to focus on strengthening, and it’ll keep track of your advancements and increase your difficulty level as you improve.
The app’s handy workout scheduler also builds time into your schedule so you can actually complete the personalized workouts it creates for you during lunch breaks, after work, right when you wake up, etc.
An app and Google Chrome extension for content summarization
Sometimes, we just don’t have five minutes to spare to watch an entire article on how to fix a pressing issue, or read an article (unless it’s a ZDNET article, of course) on the latest tech or social media trend before jumping on your morning meeting. Wordtune, however, is a handy Chrome extension that uses AI to give you the critical points (or Sparknotes, if you will) of that article or video.
For example, a 3,500-word article turns into 24 simple focus points, so you can save about 10 minutes of reading but still come away with the article’s most important information.
Wordtune also has an app version for iOS and Android, and this mobile version can generate content like text messages and emails, photo captions, LinkedIn or Twitter posts, cover letters, blog posts, and more by a simple ask. You can ask Wordtune to write a cover letter applying for your dream job, and it’ll generate multiple responses to choose from. Or, more simply, you can ask the AI to write a response to a text message when you just can’t figure out how to reply.
Aside from these six tools, there’s still a slew of AI applications available to help with productivity and workflow, learn how to develop a new skill, or even create a professional headshot free of charge. And given Andrews’ insight, we’re only on the cusp of seeing AI’s full capabilities.
“A generation from now, people will not remember life before this moment when AI made so many things more equitable,” he said. “There are all kinds of things that we’ll be able to do, and I love that about AI,” said Andrews.