William Cass has long ago forgotten the idea that led him to invent Aangel. Whatever it was, he was driving through the Desert Road and frustrated that there was no quick and easy way to make a note of it. His frustration resulted in a brand new idea: a mobile service that transcribes notes and contact details and automatically copies them into calendars and address books.
Aangel users place a phone call to a recording service and leave a voice message with details about a person, a meeting or a note they want to recall later. The message is transcribed and checked for accuracy by Aangel employees and then returned to the customer in a format that allows information to be automatically added to address books, contact lists and to-do files on phones and desktops.
Cass says many ideas and opportunities are not pursued because it’s too awkward to make a note with today’s PDAs and phones. Placing a call to Aangel is easier and quicker, particularly when distracted by driving or in a social situation.
“I just thought it would be quite a handy thing to have,” Cass says.
Cass and partner Shane Cole, who founded the Wellington ISP Paradise that’s now owned by TelstraClear, have been testing the service with about 1000 users, and officially launch it this month. Subscribers pay $10 monthly for the service and standard call rates when placing a call to Aangel.
“People buy in when it saves their ass once,” Cass says. “The barriers are removed and you can really start using the features of your phone.”
Because there is no universal format used by phones for accepting calendar and contact data, Aangel has developed specific support for 67 phones and PDAs. Customers select their phone model and messages are sent in a format the device can understand. After agreeing to a confirmation dialogue the contact, appointment or note is placed automatically in the phone’s memory.
The service also supports 14 different email and collaboration programs for desktop computers, including Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop and various versions of Outlook and Outlook Express. The customer’s notes are also stored on the Aangel website and can be reimported when a customer loses or updates a phone.
Aangel worked with Vodafone’s partner programme when developing the service, and Cass and Cole hope to license their service to mobile telecommunications companies abroad. The company is applying for patents in New Zealand and internationally.
“New Zealand is basically the testbed”, says Cole.