If you have any doubt that scheduling meetings is a seriously onerous task, look no further than the countless online services designed to simplify this task for you. Sites with names like Tungle, Doodle, MeetingMade, and TimeBridge, just to name a few among literally dozens of choices, help bridge the gap between incompatible scheduling services and calendar programs.
But wouldn't it be easier if you had a dedicated assistant who could simply arrange meetings for you?
That's the idea behind Genee, a scheduling service that uses artificial intelligence to coordinate meetings among two or more people. To use Genee, you first give it access to your calendar (it's compatible with Outlook, Mac Calendar, and Gmail) and then ask it to arrange meetings using conversational English.
If that sounds vaguely familiar, you might be thinking of x.ai's Amy scheduling chatbot. I ran Amy through "her" paces a few months ago, and found her competent and unobtrusive; x.ai relies on everyone talking in plain English via email, and Amy has a superb ability to parse language related to meetings. Some of my meeting participants never realized they were corresponding with a chatbot (even though every email has a small footer explaining that Amy is a virtual assistant).
If Amy had a weakness, it was that scheduling was slightly roundabout, since everything was conveyed in text within the email message. Sometimes it took a couple of rounds of email tag to pick a time.
Genee avoids that potential confusion by relying on a simple web interface. Suppose I send you an email requesting a meeting sometime early next week, and CC: Genee. A few minutes later, you'll get a follow-up email from Genee with a link to check out available times within your browser. And here's where Genee is a bit more elegant than Amy -- you'll see a straightforward list of potential meeting times. Choose one that works with your schedule, and Genee wraps things up by sending meeting invites to everyone involved.
It's the web interface, which displays all the available time slots, which makes Genee incredibly easy to use. Genee also rolls with people who reply to the email rather than using the web interface; the bot is very good at parsing out the meaning of emails on both sides of the conversation and replying with relevant information.
If the folks whom you frequently need to schedule meetings with can be persuaded to connect their calendars to Genee, it gets even simpler, since Genee doesn't have to guess and can zero in immediately on times that are clear on everyone's calendar.
You don't have to rely on email to schedule your meetings, either. An elegant Genee iOS app lets you schedule meetings without writing much of anything. You can request a generic meeting for the next business day with just three clicks, for instance. It's also possible to create meetings with any number of recipients from your address book, specify the type of meeting or time of day, add a location, and write a custom message. The Genee app also tracks your schedule and your outstanding meeting requests.
Like Amy, Genee is still in beta. But unlike the former there's no waiting list for Genee -- you can start using it right away by signing up on the Genee website or by installing the iPhone app. Either way, it's currently free and the app has no advertising. If you struggle finding meeting times with people outside your organization, be sure to give Genee a spin.