Having initially installed Hojoki for iPhone (free) under the impression that it was an aggregation app, and therefore a time-saver and productivity-booster of sorts, I was itching to delete it only a few hours later. The app was pushing annoying alerts and notifications at me several times an hour, often to signify something that had happened several minutes earlier and for which I already had been notified by the originating app. I persevered with Hojoki, turning off notifications that I didn’t need or want and otherwise toggling the settings. Even after my tweaking of the settings, however, one evening Hojoki sent me a notification letting me know that a calendar item had changed. Of course it had. Because I changed it. Forty-five minutes earlier. If I wanted that notification (I didn’t), I’d have wanted it right away.
The Hojoki iPhone app (there’s also a website and Android app) does aggregate data from an expansive list of other apps and services, more than just about any I’ve seen. But it doesn’t have any intelligence behind it to make sense of the information it collects. The market for aggregator apps has moved from those that simply consolidate to those that deliver meaningful information that we didn’t have before.
Take, for example, the Cloze iPhone app. It pulls data from Twitter, Facebook, and email to show you what one person said across all those channels in a single day—and it also figures out if your relationship with that person is significant based on the kinds of communication you tend to have. The added value with Cloze is it provides insight into who is important and reminds you to pay attention to them.
The Modern Day Aggregators
Or consider for a moment what EasilyDo does: automates tasks that you might perform based on activity happening in your social networks, over email, and even in your daily comings and goings. You can set Easily.Do to send your significant other a text message automatically when you arrive at an airport using a geolocation setting. Or you can automatically add the contact details of a new person who has just emailed you.
A smarter breed of apps is replacing basic aggregators, but that’s not the only reason Hojoki falls short. The app lacks design polish. Three or four years ago, the design would have been… fine—not great, but fine. Today, however, it looks dated, lacking smooth transition animations and using ugly stock photos when a profile picture is not available.
Hojoki and Project Management
The Web version of Hojoki includes a whole host of other features that start to drift into project management territory, and some of this functionality bleeds over into the mobile app, but some doesn’t. For example, you can create workspaces on the iPhone, setting up groups of people with whom to collaborate. You can name the workspace and color-code it (although try changing the color, and you could find yourself repeatedly hitting the same button over and over again before it takes, as I did), but you can’t upgrade to a Premium account from the app to increase your collaborator limit past five.
What’s really confusing about the collaboration aspect is that Hojoki supports other collaboration/project management apps, including Podio, Yammer, Basecamp, Chatter, and Beanstalk. So you can aggregate notifications from project management tools into a new pseudo-project management tool, which you can also use to manage projects. That’s just way too meta (and redundant) for me.
The Hojoki’s On Me
I kept the Hojoki app on my iPhone 5 much longer than I really wanted to make sure I gave it a fair shot. But the app never won me over. It just doesn’t offer anything special. Those of us who have been using an iPhone for several years already have our notifications the way we want them. If you’re behind on that aspect, I suppose you could install Hojoki and cover all your bases quickly, but know that you could experience significant delays in getting your notifications.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc