Category Archives: General

Alternative to Google Calendar SMS Notifications

About a year ago, Google Calendar stopped supporting one of its popular features — SMS notifications. This feature remained available to customers of Google Apps for Work, Education, or Government.

For those not in those categories, Google suggested two alternatives:

1.  Rely on smartphone notifications from the calendar app that came with your device

2.  Install the Google Calendar app onto your device and use its smartphone notifications

We’d like to suggest a third option:

3.  Use Cronote Reminders to continue scheduling SMS notifications

Our service allows you to continue sending text message (SMS) notifications if you prefer/need them over smartphone notifications. With Cronote, you’re also able to schedule SMS notifications to be sent to other people, something that smartphone notifications are unable to do.

At this time, we do not offer Google Calendar integration; that might be a feature down the road. In the meantime, we do hope to offer you this comparable alternative to Google Calendar’s long-gone SMS notifications.

 

Existing Text Message Services for Health

Earlier this year, the Annual Review of Public Health reported that the majority of text message interventions are effective in managing diabetes, weight loss, physical activity, smoking cessation, and medication adherence for antiretroviral therapy. The researchers had reviewed 89 individual studies published between 2009 and 2014.

There are many proven, federally-funded text messaging services for health. We found a nifty table by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which we’ve reproduced below:

Initiative

Focus

Description

Text4baby

Maternal & Child Health

Providing pregnant women and new mothers free health text messages in English or Spanish, including information and referral timed to the stage of pregnancy or age of the baby; involves a public-private partnership with National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and Voxiva; since February 2010, more than 650,000 people have ever enrolled in Text4baby

TXT4Tots

Child Health
(Nutrition & Physical Activity)

Providing a library of brief, evidence-based messages focused on nutrition and physical activity targeted to parents and caregivers of children ages 1 to 5, based on Bright Futures Guidelines, and available in English and Spanish; the messages can be disseminated through text messaging or incorporated in other programs

SmokeFreeTXT

Tobacco Control

Delivering 24/7 tips, motivation, encouragement, and advice about smoking cessation through text messages targeted to adults and young adults; the service is free, but message and data rates apply

QuitNowTXT

Tobacco Control

Offering a library of free and publicly available interactive text messages for adults who are ready to quit smoking; includes a delivery algorithm with day-specific quit messages that provide tips, motivation, encouragement, and fact-based information; message content can be tailored according to user-specific keywords

SmokeFree Mom

Tobacco Control

Developing a library of free and publicly available text messages for pregnant women who wish to quit smoking; the messages will be personalized, interactive, and evidence-based

Health Alerts On-the-Go

Health & Safety

Providing CDC’s health and safety information on mobile devices, including seasonal flu, H1N1 flu, public health emergencies, and other topics

Text Alerts Toolkits

Emergency Response & Prepardness

Providing a text message library for emergency preparedness and response for voluntary use by state and local agencies can use during hurricanes and floods; future topics include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosion messages

There are likely many more since this table was published in 2014. Some public health agencies, like the Seattle King County Department of Public Health, even have a webpage dedicated to local text message resources.

If your local or federal public health department does not offer the text messaging service you need, you can create your own using Cronote. Cronote reminders can be easily adapted for health. The co-founders of Cronote are trained health professionals as well, so if your organization is looking to develop such an intervention, let us know. We’d love to help!

Top 3 email and text message reminder web applications

There’s been a boom in web applications offering email and text message (SMS) reminders. When we started out two years ago the vast majority of these services could only handle email reminders (no text messages). Now there are quite a few services that offer both email and text message reminders. Much of this growth is due to low-cost APIs such as Twilio that enable easy computer-to-phone connections in software. Before Twilio it was rather difficult to interface an Internet application with the cell phone network.

This post takes a look at the current competitive landscape in the scheduled reminder arena. I like to think that it is as objective as possible, but I am obviously biased towards Cronote.

A quick (non-scientific) Google search for “schedule a text message reminder” reveals a whole slew of companies providing various degrees of functionality. Here’s a list of the top three results along with their features and pricing.

1. Ohdontforget.com – We are not the #1 result, that honor goes to Ohdontforget.com. This site was created a long time ago, back before the Twilio API existed. They are the forerunner and have more or less maintained the same look and feel. Anyone can use their form without an account to schedule a quick reminder. Their form supports natural language processing as well so you can use phrases such as “now”, “today 3pm”, “tomorrow 8am”, without having to specify an exact time. If you are completely new to text message reminders, this can be a fun site to tryout. A premium account comes with many features including the ability to store contacts and schedule recurring reminders. Premium accounts cost $4.95 per month or $47.50 per year. All text message reminders are free, but ones not associated with a premium account have embedded ads and cannot use the full 160 characters. Ohdon’tforget.com does not allow users to create groups of recipients, and does not offer email text messaging.

2. TextMemos.com – The second result is TextMemos.com. Whereas ohdontforget.com has the aesthetic of a slick Web 2.0 (3.0?) site, TextMemos.com looks like a relic from the 1990’s. TextMemos.com was also a forerunner to Cronote and provides bare bones features for scheduling both email and text message reminders. The service is completely free, but comes at a large usability price. There is no address book for storing contacts and you must know the carrier of the recipient in order to send text message reminders. There is also no ability to schedule reminders for more than one recipient. TextMemos.com has a sister site, txt2day.com that enables anyone to schedule a quick text message reminder without signing up for an account.

3. Cronote.com – Cronote is the 3rd result! Our website is aesthetically in-between Ohdontforget.com and TextMemos.com. We tried to strike a balance between minimalism and being informative. We require a free registration prior to using our service, a decision that was based on our desire to control spammers. Registered users are able to schedule email reminders for free. A major difference between our service and others is that we charge 5 cents per text message, rather than a flat monthly fee. We feel this provides a better value to our customers. Consider that a flat monthly fee of $4.95 (Ohdontforget.com) equates to 99 reminders using our system. Most of our users schedule < 60 reminders per month (i.e. about 2 per day). Our service provides address book functionality that makes it very easy to schedule reminders for specific people. Another prominent feature of our service is the ability to send reminders to groups of contacts. This works incredibly well for families, coworkers, teachers and students, and any other group of people. Groups, like contacts, can be stored in our system for future use and can be modified at any time. Cronote is also the only service to offer an iPhone app that works in conjunction with our website. This makes it very easy to schedule reminders on the go. One drawback of Cronote is that our recurring reminder functionality is limited to daily repeating reminders. This is a feature we hope to expand on in the near future.

Here’s a summary table comparing the various features of these three reminder services:

Service

Address Book

Email reminders

Text message reminders

Recurring reminders

Multiple recipients

iPhone App

Price

Ohdontforget

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

$4.95 / month

TextMemos

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Free

Cronote

Yes

Yes

Yes

Limited

Yes

Yes

$0.05 per text message

Schedule Recurring Reminders

The highly anticipated “recurring reminders” feature has been added to the Cronote website. Users can now set up daily reminders with one click. The reminder will automatically be sent out at the same time, every day until the user opts to halt the reminders. Previously, daily reminders could only be achieved by individually scheduling a reminder for each given day. Recurring reminders work well for remembering medication schedules, chores, and sports practices.

Cronote reminders are scheduled through three easy steps:

  1. Select the recipient(s)
  2. Write the message
  3. Set the delivery time

Choose the repeat “Daily” box to schedule daily reminders. The same message will be sent out at the set delivery time, starting from the first date. Cronote reminders can be sent via text message or email. All reminders can be managed and tracked on the Cronote website.

The full press release can be found here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/7/prweb9748397.htm

Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or requests.

Digital LA

Last Monday (3/5/12), Cronote was proud to have a booth at the Digital LA – RealTech Startup Showcase. The theme of the event was “entertainment” and featured presentations by Start Engine’s Howard Marks (co-founder of Activision), Verifico, Skuloop, MoPix, NightAway, and Where My Dogs At. The other startups with booths were: Outlisten, Hypemarks, Skedgy and Starbates. Here are a few photos from the event.


We had a great time preparing our booth, from ordering the Cronote tote bags to designing the banner. This being our first event, we were excited for the opportunity to showcase the Remind button. We met a lot of great people from LA’s rich entertainment industry and spoke with impressive entrepreneurs. We extend a thank you to Kevin Winston (Digital LA, @DigitalLA) for hosting the event.

If you’re interested in the RealTech Startup Showcase series, their next event is April 3. The theme is green / social good for pre-Earth Day. Register at http://digitallart2.eventbrite.com/

Yale Entrepreneurial Institute

On February 3rd, 2012, we were granted an interview with the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI). YEI offers a summer fellowship that includes mentorship and startup funding. The experience of meeting with the YEI Operating Board was invaluable. I enjoyed my visit to the Yale University campus in New Haven, CT (Co-founder Aaron currently attends Yale). We extend our appreciation to YEI for the opportunity.

The trip concluded with a visit to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.