data detectors in leopard

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I’m really happy that something called “Data Detectors” has shown up in mail.app (at least) in Leopard. This is something that ATG (Apple Technology Group — the research labs) had prototyped maybe 10 years ago when I was there. The idea is that we tend to get certain types of semi-structured data in e-mails: suggested meeting times, contact info, things like that. Here’s an example from my in box yesterday:


Now when I hover over “Monday November 5th at 2:00pm”, I get a clickable menu with 2 items: “Create New iCal Event…” and “Show Date in iCal”. Selecting the first gives me this menu, mostly filled in with all the right information (note that it even picked up San Francisco as a location later in the sentence – amazing! – even though it didn’t understand enough about the context to get it right):


For my money, this is just one of the coolest things ever. Works for contact information, too — tends to work well on the contact blocks at the bottom of peoples’ e-mails. (Although I think I’d like contacts to be somewhat more automatic — I’d like to just have a big always updating database of all the contact info in all my mail all the time, synced to my iPhone — so while I think the data detector tech is really neat here, I think the usage context is a bit different.)

4 Replies to “data detectors in leopard”

  1. Nice! I remember those ATG demos and had even started writing a Firefox extension to do something similar (but since I don’t use web-based email, I never really got into it). This is the first Leopard feature that really makes me want to go out and buy it now.

  2. Nice! I remember those ATG demos and had even started writing a Firefox extension to do something similar (but since I don’t use web-based email, I never really got into it). This is the first Leopard feature that really makes me want to go out and buy it now.

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