If your business uses Gmail, G Suite, Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, or Outlook for email, you may have already come across Boomerang, a tool that augments your email with a variety of features that can make you more productive.
What is Boomerang?
One of my favored triptych of useful productivity solutions, Boomerang already lets you automate email send times, schedule reminders, warn you if an email request hasn’t been responded to, and schedule meetings.
The developers have now extended the latter tool with a useful addition to take the pain out of setting up a meeting with multiple people.
What does the new tool help you achieve?
Everybody has a different schedule. Typically, when attempting to set up a meeting, someone will contact everyone required, usually by email, and then engage in a lengthy game of call and response as all participants try to identify the optimal time for the meeting to occur.
When organizing larger meetings, this becomes a time-consuming task, fraught with frustration, sucking time and focus from everybody’s day as they must respond to these scheduling emails.
Who can forget that frequently cited University of California study claiming it takes over 20 minutes to refocus after an interruption? Or that people spend over a third of their office (or hybrid office) hours on email? In these contexts, removing friction, automating interruption, and making email more effective make sense.
What is Bookable Schedule?
Boomerang’s new Bookable Schedule aims to make it much easier to set up a meeting, but rather than doing so in some cold, impersonal, automated way, it also aims to make the interaction more human.
It’s a good illustration of the emerging wisdom for human/AI co-working, in that rather than replacing a human, the automation aims to augment and enhance it. The idea is that Boomerang Schedule works to take all the annoying email exchanges out of meeting scheduling and replace them with something more person-focused.
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“We thought deeply about how to make a feature that lets you schedule efficiently without losing your humanity,” said company co-founder and CEO Aye Moah in a statement. “Movements like ‘The Great Resignation’ are a clear signal that we’ve exhausted ourselves and our social capital for the sake of efficiency at work.
“Navigating power dynamics and subtext is at the core of this exhaustion. Bookable Schedule makes meeting scheduling as seamless and easy for those being invited as it is for the host, levelling the power dynamic.”
How does Scheduler work?
Sounds good, so how does Scheduler work?
Effectively, the system lets users create a schedule of available meeting availability that can be shared with others. Senders can also customize this availability for each recipient, depending on their needs.
The feature works with the sender’s calendar, and the Magic Live Calendar feature Boomerang provides. That feature will update the sender’s schedule as new meeting times become available or as slots are booked by other parties – meaning your availability is always up-to-date in real time.
Bookable Schedule will also overlay the recipient’s calendar over that of the person sending one out. This makes it much easier to check for conflicts and prevent double bookings. Once a time is agreed, Schedule can also automatically import details and add meeting links from Zoom or Google Meet into the calendar invite.
The idea is that the first email reflects human contact while the tedium of arranging the best meeting time is removed.
The idea is that the first email is reflects the human contact while the tedium of engaging in an endless torrent of increasingly frustrating email chats while arranging the best meeting time is removed.
While you need to be a Boomerang Schedule user to set this up, recipients don’t need to be using the system. Boomerang does not have iCloud integration yet, but plans to add this to its iOS App “soon.”
Your robot collaborator
Scheduler seems a useful addition to Boomerang’s other email productivity power tools, including Inbox Pause, Schedule Send, and Recurring emails.
When combined with the also recently updated Otter.ai, it’s a good illustration of what happens when automation and AI are used to augment tasks humans do, rather than threaten or replace them.
As robotics pioneer Duke University Professor Mary Cummings puts it: “The sweet spot is a collaboration between humans and machines.”
After all, the big promise of these tools is that they enable users to stay focused on the interesting tasks, while removing some of the pain points of the mundane. Boomerang works hard to achieve just that.
This is just the latest in a slew of recent enterprise-related Apple-slanted introductions, including Slack’s iPad app, Cisco’s AirPlay support for Webex devices, news that Managed Apple IDs will integrate with Google Workspace, and new solutions for Apple-wielding business users from Jamf. Meanwhile the accelerating momentum of the space is evidenced in the steady emergence of new Apple admin events, including this week’s UK MacAD conference.
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