This weekend I toyed with a new and cleverly designed Mac app called Rest. It’s a break reminder app that helps you remember to, well, take a break during the day, even suggesting mini-exerices you can do while sitting in front of your Mac (I can see the office YouTube videos now). How Rest works is about as straightforward as you want.
Set the break time from the Menubar pop-down window. Then, every so many minutes, you get a reminder.
How easy is that?
Rest not only reminds you to take a break, it works as a Pomodoro timer with customizable time intervals, and an option longer 4th break (to adhere to the Pomodoro technique for time management). The app sits in the Menubar and the break reminders are full screen, attractive, and come with a dozen soothing, comforting sounds you can choose. There’s even built-in break detection which works when you step away from your Mac for lunch, end of day, or an actual break.
Nice, right? Even better if you love to tinker with preference settings for Notifications and Sounds.
One thing is missing from Rest and it’s something I expect to see more of next year. Siri. Apple’s mistress of the ether works two ways. Siri listens. And Siri speaks. Utilities like Rest need that built-in voice to turn your Mac into more of a personal intelligent assistant where you can tell Siri to start and stop utilities, or, instead of a pop-up reminder which you may not see while you’re working on your Mac, Siri intervening with a verbal command to get up, stretch the legs, take a potty break, or, simply, go get lunch.
That’s what Rest is missing. Siri is due on the Mac later this year with options for app developers to hook into Siri’s backend (that sounds worse than it is) with exactly such capability.
The Rest app can pause with a click while you focus on something other than the work chore or project at hand, but how much more pleasant will it be when you can tell Siri to pause, start, or stop a running application?
Yes, there’s a problem with Siri on the Mac.
Sound. Having Siri listen for verbal commands and having it shout out responses may not be conducive to schools or cubicle farm dwellers. Interaction with Siri is exactly the audio interaction that could quickly clutter an office filled with Macs. Welcome to personal computing in the 21st century where our digital overlords will listen and obey every command, and issue a few of their own.