Cue for the day

CUE iOS app - iPhone on wood surface

If you are like me, then you have found it becoming impossible to keep up with the daily barrage of emails, contacts, calendars, tweets, posts, files and more. It's Sunday, and despite my best efforts at zero-inbox, I've got over 30 unread emails in my inbox. There are a few updates — damn those little red circles — on Twitter and Facebook for my attention, and I’ve reserved Sunday for blog maintenance and responding to a LinkedIn request. Today is also a cleanup day in the Williams household and preparing a plan for next week. There a lot going on and keeping up with the when, where and the who can be quite challenging. Two developers, Daniel Gross and Robby Walker, had similar problems and decided to do something about it. Their solution is called Cue.

Cue is a free service that leverages the information in your email, contacts, calendar, and social accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook to give you a quick snapshot of your day. I've used it for several months, and I love it. I check Cue in the morning to see what's happening for the day. Cue also displays some necessary weather information so that I can dress appropriately. I've used the sunrise and sunset information to plan out weekend photo-shoots.

CUE iOS app - iPhone in hand

Creating a Cue account is easy -- all you need is an email address. You can do this on the web or via the well designed Cue app. Once your account has been created, you can begin linking your Gmail, iCloud, Google Calendar, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the other online accounts that you depend on every day.

CUE iOS app - Linked Accounts

Once you've linked your accounts to Cue, the service starts pulling information from these accounts and uses algorithms to create a personalised overview of the events and activities of your day. Cue correlates information in your Gmail with your iPhone contacts, LinkedIn profiles and contacts, and Facebook and Twitter contacts. Cue then provides you with a dashboard view of your schedule and adds useful contextual information based on other data from your social networks and email. You can customise Cue to show as much or as little information as you want.

CUE iOS app - Customize CUE

For example, if I have a meeting Cue will connect that event with related emails, phone numbers, and addresses, even display a photo for the person with whom I'm meeting. If I've recently exchanged emails with a personal Cue will highlight that as well. Tap on a person, and you’ll always see the most up-to-date contact info along with any recent communications and the contact’s latest posts on Facebook and Twitter.

CUE iOS app - Notifications

Cue creates a comprehensive profile for each contact based on the information in your iPhones Contacts and Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Cue also automatically removes duplicates, keeps phone numbers updated and creates new entries.

Cue enhances your existing calendar by automatically connecting your events to related phone numbers, people, and addresses.

Cue can also search across linked accounts to find the information you need. Perhaps you want to find out if you have an upcoming meeting with a contact in the next few weeks. You can search across your calendar, emails, etc. Because I've linked Cue to my online storage accounts - Dropbox and Google Docs - I can quickly search for documents relevant to the meeting I'm attending.

CUE iOS app - Settings

You choose which accounts to link, so Cue works for you. Since Cue is also a web service, some information is transferred to Cue's servers1. However, since most of this information is already in several cloud services, I felt quite comfortable using the service. I can unlink accounts at any time, from any device, and all data will be promptly and permanently removed from Cue. The service has an account deletion. Activate that, and your entire Cue account and all data are deleted from Cue's servers.

Most accounts can be connected for free. However, linking some accounts -- Yammer, Evernote, Google Reader, Tumblr and a few others -- requires a Premium account or can be unlocked by inviting your friends to sign up. A premium account is $4.99 per month or $49.99 for a year — a list of what's included for free shows below.

Cue Free

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Calendar

  • Google Contacts

  • Google Apps Mail

  • Google Apps Contacts

  • Google Apps Calendar

  • Google Apps Docs

  • iOS Calendars (iPhone App only)

  • Yahoo Mail

  • AOL Mail

  • iCloud Mail

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Dropbox

  • LinkedIn

  • Google Reader - unlockable by inviting friends

  • Tumblr - unlockable by inviting friends

  • Pinboard - unlockable by inviting friends

  • Reddit - unlockable by inviting friends

The Cue web service while useable is not yet feature-complete. Some aspects of the service — e.g. events — are in beta. The web service might be useful for doing the initial links of all your services to Cue. A large responsive web page can be easier to use than the 4” screen on an iPhone when typing in email addresses and password.

CUE Web Service - MacBook


I struggled to write a summary of this app. Cue simply lets you know the what, who, where and when of your day. It’s the app that replaces the paper calendar on your fridge — the one with the PTA meeting, the band recital time, the doctor's appointment, etc. — but with more context to help you be productive. Download it now. It’s free in the App Store.

  1. Cue has access to a lot of personal information. To feel comfortable you might want to read their privacy and security statements. ?

How to setup Mail, Contacts and Calendar on OS X Lion to use an Exchange 2007 account

With each iteration of the OS since Leopard, Apple has made it easier to integrate Exchange Messaging Services with OS X native productivity applications — Mail, iCal and Address Book. Apple's latest Mac operating system, OS X 10.7 Lion, has been out for some time and Apple has made significant changes to some of the native apps including Mail and iCal that make setup and use of Google services even easier. Last year I wrote about how to do this under Snow Leopard. Let me show you how to do this under Lion.

## System Preferences ##

The simplest method to setting up Exchange Messaging services on OS X 10.7 is via the _System Preferences_. OS X Lion System Preferences has a new option called _Mail, Contacts & Calendars_ under the _Internet & Wireless_ section. Select it.

Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 10 13 56 AM

## Mail, Contacts & Calendar ##

This section reminds me a bit of the Mail preferences pane in iOS. From here we can set up various email and calendaring services from Yahoo, AOL and others. To setup a particular service, click the _Add Account…_ button and select the icon for the service. In this case, we are setting up Exchange so select _Microsoft Exchange_.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 34 30 PM

You will be prompted to enter some information about your Exchange account. Click _Continue_.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 34 45 PM

After entering your account information it will take a few seconds for OS X to connect to the Exchange server and discover any exposed services. Click _Continue_.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 35 42 PM

You may get a confirmation screen where you can add more information or correct inaccuracies. Click _Continue_.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 36 58 PM

If all goes well, you will be prompted with the following screen. If everything looks good, click _Continue_ or click _Go Back_ to make changes.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 37 23 PM

You will then get one more confirmation screen where you can disable any Exchange service you do not want to sync to your Mac. Once you have enabled the services you want click _Add Account_.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 37 34 PM

Your Mac is now setup to use Exchange email via Mail, Exchange calendar via iCal, and Exchange contacts via Address Book.
Screen Shot 2011 09 03 at 1 37 58 PM

How to sync your iPad Mail, Calendar, & Contacts with Google Sync


Recently my Director lamented that he could not sync his Google account services to his iPad without using iTunes. He had configured his iPad to use his Google mail and calendar but he could not add new entries to the calendar. The sync was one way from Google to his iPad. He was frustrated that he would have to wait until he got home to sync that entry via iTunes back to his Google calendar.

During the day he might add one or more contacts to his iPad. At some point he would need to craft an email using Gmail in a browser and the contact would not be available because he had not yet synced his iPad to iTunes.

While working at his desk, he was used to using Microsoft Outlook and having one place to access his email, calendar and contacts. During meetings, he could continue his collaboration from his iPad. It was configured to so that the Mail, Calendar and Contact apps synchronized with the corporate servers. Add a meeting to his iPad calendar and it was added to his Outlook calendar. He had all his contacts and email at his fingertips and he could continue working as though he was sitting in his office. Good for him that it is easy to set up an iPad (or iPhone) to use Google's services in this way.

Google Sync

Although Apple's iOS provides a native method to connect devices -- iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch -- to Google services, that connection is limited to Gmail and Google Calendar. To sync your Google Contacts to your device you have to use iTunes. However, as Google began to push their services into the enterprise collaboration space Google realized that it would be an easier sell if users could continue using the desktop software to which they were accustomed. That meant supporting Microsoft Outlook desktop software and Microsoft Exchange services for mobile devices. A lot of corporate users were connecting their iPhone and Android devices via ActiveSync to the corporate Exchange servers.

ActiveSync is a mobile data synchronization technology and protocol developed by Microsoft, originally released in 1996 ... which provides push synchronization of contacts, calendars, tasks, and email between ActiveSync-enabled servers and devices.1

To drive the adoption of Google Apps services Google introduced Google Sync. Google Sync leverages Microsoft's ActiveSync technology to allow syncing of Calendar, Mail and Contacts. In effect Google Sync turns Google's services into the equivalent of a Microsoft Exchange enterprise messaging and collaboration system.

The advantages of using this service are as follows:

  • No need to use iTunes to keep contacts in sync
  • Always have access to Google services from anywhere -- iPad, iPhone or web
  • Update in one place and have that update be everywhere


  • iOS 4.0 or later -- Google Sync will not work on an iPad will older iOS versions
  • Enable Google Apps2 -- If you use Google Apps for Enterprise, your administrator will first need to enable Google Sync before you can take advantage of this feature.

Getting Started

Before we setup our device(s) we want to make sure to create at least one recent backup via iTunes sync. Despite Apple's and Google's best attempts devices and software services sometimes fail. If your data is at all important to you then you'll head my advice. Perform a sync with iTunes to make sure that Contacts and Calendars from your iOS device are backed up to your computer.


Once the back is complete do the following tasks. I've included screen shots to make things a little easier to follow.

From the Settings screen of your device tap the Mail, Contacts, Calendars section and then Add Account...

Tap Microsoft Exchange to add a new entry.

Enter your Google account information. The description field defaults to Exchange. If you already have a corporate Exchange account setup on your device you may want to change this to something else. Tap Next.

Enter the Server information. The Google ActiveSync service is hosted at Tap Next.

You can choose to sync all three services on disable services you don't need. Tap Save.

Once the account is setup you will want to tap the entry to change some of the default settings. By default ActiveSync will only sync the default Inbox and 3 Days of email.

If you want access to all your email choose No Limit.

You may want to sync some of the other mail folders such as the Sent* and Drafts folders.

Your Mail, Calendar and Contacts are now being synced with Google over the air. Be sure to turn off syncing in iTunes before syncing your iOS device. Having both Google Sync and iTunes syncing enabled can lead to data corruption and duplication.