Would you pay $10 a month for the ability to speak into an Apple Watch and have a personal "concierge" shop for you or book travel tickets?
That's the concept behind Fetch, a free app for Android and iOS from a mobile commerce company with the same name. Fetch combines speech recognition tech, artificial intelligence, and help from actual human beings to find the merchandise, airline tickets or other items you seek, and you can place an order with a tap of your Watch. The apps are free, but the Fetch service is a pricey $10 per month.
Fetch uses Expect Labs' MindMeld, which bills itself as "the first platform for building advanced voice-driven applications." Expect Labs also recently won the spring 2015 DEMO Traction conference champion award in the IT category. (Check out this profile of the innovative company on The DEMO Blog for more details.)
I asked Fetch to search for four things: a Fitbit Charge HR, large and in the color plum; a Microsoft Surface 3 tablet with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage; a pair of 32-inch-waist cargo shorts from either Old Navy or Bonobos; and a round-trip airline ticket from San Francisco to New York.
I spoke each request into the Fetch app on my Apple Watch, but you can also send photos or text messages of what you want. Most of the time, Fetch on the Apple Watch understood my requests, and it quickly followed with text messages to confirm the requests had been received and that it was on the case.
Fetch found the Fitbit within 10 minutes and notified me via text message. This particular Fitbit would cost $162.70, which includes $12.75 for tax, on Amazon. (During initial setup, I gave Fetch access to my Amazon login information, as well as my preferred credit card, to pay for anything I order through the service.)
I responded to Fetch's text message and asked it to find a lower price. About 10 minutes later, Fetch replied: "We were unable to find the Fitbit Charge HR in large and in plum at a lower price from a reputable seller." I did a quick Google search and determined that Fetch's assessment was accurate.
Fetch also did a good job finding a Surface 3 with no tax or shipping fees, and it sent me a number of options for shorts from Old Navy and Bonobos, with pictures. The Bonobos shorts weren't cargo-style, as I had requested, but that's because the company doesn't currently offer any cargo shorts on its website. Fetch's concierge also let me know that Bonobos shorts come in 5-inch, 7-inch, and 9-inch lengths.
I asked Fetch to book me a round-trip flight from San Francisco to New York, departing June 3 and returning June 6. Fetch responded by asking for my name "as it appears on your license" and my birthdate, because I hadn't filled out my Fetch traveler profile. The service found a $616.20 round-trip on Virgin America from SFO to JFK, and it also let me know that Virgin had other available times. And for $450, I could fly into Newark, Fetch told me, though I found an even cheaper flight to Newark on Kayak for $438.
I'm impressed with Fetch's clever combination of artificial and human intelligence. The service is fun to use on an Apple Watch and delivers trustworthy information, at least in my experience. It should come in handy for executives or other big shots who are starved for time but not necessarily money.
For most people, though, the $10 monthly fee is probably too steep. After all, it's not exactly a huge burden to buy stuff on mobile devices these days, especially if you use an ecommerce app like Amazon's.