Throughout the day we’re all bombarded by tons of information and things that want to call for our attention. Some you might not care much about, but there’s also those few things you run into that you might want to remember to look up later. That’s why note-taking apps (like Evernote) and to-do apps (like Wunderlist) work, because they let you quickly write down everything you’re thinking about without interrupting what you’re doing.
However, it’s hard to keep up with those reminders and notes after you’ve taken them, and few apps can help you do anything other than store them. But what if we told you about an app that does all the research for you from all those notes you gather through the day? Sounds interesting, right? That’s what Dunno claims to do.
Dunno can be thought of as a productivity experiment. Apps that can help you take notes and make to-dos or reminders for later have flooded the market already, but Dunno came from the idea that none of these apps help you really “achieve” anything unless you’re on top of everything, which let’s face it, you’re not.
To put it in a daily setting, the Dunno devs have come up with the concept of a “brain slap”, which is basically anytime that you stumble upon anything that you don’t know a lot about and would like to remember to look up later. Dunno is supposed to help with those “brain slap” moments, by providing you with a very quick way of jotting down whatever you’re thinking about and doing the research on the subject.
It sounds like a wonderful concept, doesn’t it? But does it actually work?
How Dunno Works
Dunno works as a sort of informal note-taking or to-do app, in which you can save quick short reminders with things you’d like to remember for later. What makes the app interesting is the simplicity with which it allows you to input information, which is pretty hassle-free considering that its interface is very simple to understand and work with.
The app has its own window for viewing old reminders and jotting down new ones, but it is also complemented by a menu-bar component, always present and running, that can give you quick access to basically the same set of features except reviewing what the app has found on each subject that you’ve told it to research.
Perhaps the most important part of the app is how smart it is at recognizing exactly what to look for and where to look for it. Well, it’s not exactly a Siri (you can’t exactly ask it anything and expect a concise answer back, instead you’ll get a few links where the answer may be found), but it does a good job at saving you time by making you skip the “Googling” process.
Once you’ve created some notes of things you’d like to know more about, they’ll be researched and available for you to read after a few seconds. Depending on what your note is, you might be shown the same results that you would get from a search engine, including the usual Wikipedia entries, a few images, and other relevant links for the subject like Amazon links, YouTube clips, etc. These will be shown in a list organized by type with the most relevant result on top.
I’ve tried looking up songs, websites, artists, books, definitions and related things and they always seem to turn out more or less the same results that Google would. However, when you get a little more specific and start adding questions or specific tasks is when the app really shines, as it actually turns out more specific results related to what you are looking for.
Using the Information
Dunno for Mac has its own browsing feature where you can get to read all about the research that the app has done for you. If you click any of the links that the app has brought up, the sidebar of the app will collapse making space just for a list with the subject’s links and the browser window where the content will be displayed.
The app gets really flexible when it comes to how you’d like to use it. Dunno is available for the iPad and iPhone, and with your account all of your notes will get synchronized to all of your devices. This way, you can create notes on the go while you’re going through your day, and get to read more about them when you’re at home at your computer.
Depending on how you use Dunno, you could say that you’d get the same results by simply Googling the term, but what makes the app so special is that it provides you with a clean environment for saving those things that you’d like to research, so that they won’t end up lost in your note taking or to-do apps. The strong part of this app is not exactly the algorithm for showing you relevant results, but the commodity and the convenience of having a simple place to put those little pieces of information that you stumble upon throughout the day.
The idea, although simple, is quite great and I’d never seen it applied as it is to any Mac apps. However, as the developer puts it, the app is in continous development and is very much a work in progress. By the time this review is released it might even have a different algorithm for deciding on what results are relevant enough, or perhaps a couple minor bug fixes. Dunno has a lot of potential at becoming something great, it just needs to grow more. What do you think?