The 5 AI tools I actually use every day
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” - Hunter S. Thompson
The best of the best - my top 5 AI tools
I’ve always tried to be as unbiased as I can be with the AI tools that I recommend - foregoing brand loyalty in favor of exploring as many options as possible. But as an AI user and evangelist, I’d obviously be lying if I claimed I don’t have my favorites. In this one-off, we'll delve into each tool that I use on a daily basis, exploring their features, strengths, and real-world applications.
This isn't about advocating a single brand, but about offering you a glimpse into how these tools have enhanced my own productivity and efficiency. I hope this serves as a useful guide in your own AI journey!
Functional category - spreadsheet helper
The product - here’s how my experience with GPT for Sheets started... I was sitting next to a friend of mine who’s a programmer as I started exploring what I could do with the integration. I did a couple “simple” things first - merges which would otherwise be impossible without using some type of sorcery requiring either extreme mastery or extreme patience (note to the reader, that I possess neither of these qualities). Next, I used it to write some copy from data I had housed across several cells - it needed to contextualize the copy based on its category and desired channel... easy peasy. Next, I asked it what the meaning of life is, still no answer there, but it did quickly provide a formula I could use to figure it out myself. I leaned over to my friend and said... “I’m so glad I never actually got good at Excel.”
The use case - after using GPT for Sheets for the last month or so on a near daily basis, I can say with 100% confidence, I will NEVER go back to using Google Sheets or any other spreadsheet without it. There are a ton of use cases for the GPT/Sheets integration. So much so, that what you can accomplish with it is really only limited by your pre-existing spreadsheet knowledge and your creativity. For me, the main use cases are in data cleanup (for instance, “capitalize every noun contained within the cell”, or “merge the two cells, remove any extraneous punctuation, and make the combined output title case”). But again, the possibilities here are endless. The fact that you’ll never have to remember another formula alone makes it worth a try.
Functional category - search engine
The product - give the people what they want - more prompts, less aimless typing! As much as I like ChatGPT, it’s at its most useful in a more structured environment (see my glowing review of the GPT/Sheets integration above to re-enforce that point). Perplexity’s approach to the LLM-powered chatbot makes Chat GPT look like a V1. From smart suggestions popping up as you type, to the accurately-cited sources, image results, and related prompts - this is a lot closer to what the search experience of the future should look like than either OpenAI or Google has envisioned and I’m honestly amazed that more people aren’t talking about it yet.
The use case - in the digital era where information overload is the norm, Perplexity AI is a much more intuitive interface than search for users looking for precise and reliable information quickly. Its primary use case can be seen in research, where users could be students, scientists, journalists, or anyone else seeking accurate and thorough responses to their queries. With Perplexity's capacity to deliver smart suggestions, accurately-cited sources, image results, and related prompts, the research process is a lot smoother than it ever has been with search or could be with ChatGPT-like bots.
Functional category - project management & writing
The product - firstly, team Coda all day - I know there are bound to be some Notion heads amidst the audience but let’s be honest, I’m right on this one. I’ve always loved Coda for its depth, it allows you to do surprisingly complex things while maintaining the general simplicity inherent to project management workspaces like it. To be honest, I was a bit worried about their announcement several months ago that they’d be integrating AI into the product, it was hard to see how it could do anything but distract from an already great product... but boy was I wrong.
The use case - amongst the AI features that Coda has rolled out recently, “AI column” has to be my favorite. AI column essentially predicts and suggests data based on the context of your current table. So, instead of manually entering data or spending countless hours on research, Coda's AI automatically populates relevant data in your document. This feature really shines in project management, where it takes over mundane tasks like scheduling, resource allocation, and deadline tracking Much like the GPT for Sheets integration, the best thing that AI can do inside a pre-existing tool for me is to make it faster, more intuitive and less burdensome - and that’s exactly what
Functional category - meeting recording, transcription and analysis
The product - Fathom actually has changed the way that my team and I approach meetings, both in-person and virtual. It doesn't just stop at recording and transcribing meetings accurately, it goes a step further by providing comprehensive and intelligent analysis of your discussions. With Fathom, you get a tool that not only captures every word said in a meeting but also understands, interprets, and provides valuable insights - even letting you know in-meeting when that tangent accidentally starts to turn into a rant.
The use case - Fathom is extra useful for my team when we’re conducting customer interviews, stakeholder meetings or deliverable reviews. It truly shines the most when several meetings are a part of your daily operations. The automated transcription service comes in handy when you need to go back to an important discussion or a point that was made in the meeting. With accurate transcriptions, you never miss out on important details - and it even has speaker changes outlined for you to help you find what you’re looking for extra fast.
Functional category - video transcription
The product - Otter is an advanced video transcription tool that transcribes spoken language into written text. However, it doesn’t stop at mere transcription. Otter differentiates itself from the rest by providing features like automatic speaker identification, real-time transcription, text exports, and searchable transcriptions. Furthermore, it can handle different languages and accents with a high degree of accuracy, making it a highly versatile and useful tool in numerous contexts.
The use case - as you may know if you’re an OG subscriber, Otter is the platform I use to transcribe the Future of Product podcast (linked here)! I’ve wrestled with a TON of different transcription services in the past, and so far Otter has been by far the best at taking a raw MP3 and turning it into a usable transcript with assigned speakers. One of the features that’s stood out the most in my time using Otter is its automatic thematic sections - it helps a ton with identifying where the best bits of the podcast are and what I should highlight as chapters.
Chronicles of the circuit circus
As Actors Strike for AI Protections, Netflix Lists $900,000 AI Job - by Ken Klippenstein for The Intercept. The big pull quote:
““So $900k/yr per soldier in their godless AI army when that amount of earnings could qualify thirty-five actors and their families for SAG-AFTRA health insurance is just ghoulish,” actor Rob Delaney, who had a lead role in the “Black Mirror” episode, told The Intercept. “Having been poor and rich in this business, I can assure you there’s enough money to go around; it’s just about priorities.””
Which U.S. Workers Are More Exposed to AI on Their Jobs? - by Rakesh Kochhar for Pew Research Center. The big pull quote:
“A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that many U.S. workers in more exposed industries do not feel their jobs are at risk – they are more likely to say AI will help more than hurt them personally. For instance, 32% of workers in information and technology say AI will help more than hurt them personally, compared with 11% who say it will hurt more than it helps.”
More Battlefield AI Will Make the Fog of War More Deadly - by Will Knight for Wired. The big pull quote:
“When I spoke to John Richardson, a retired four-star admiral who served as the US Navy’s chief of naval operations between 2015 and 2018, he was convinced that AI will have an effect on military power similar to the industrial revolution and the atomic age. And he pointed out that the side that harnessed those previous revolutions best won the past two world wars.
But Richardson also talked about the role of human connections in managing military interactions driven by powerful technology. While serving as Navy chief he went out of his way to get to know his counterparts in the fleets of other nations. “Every time we met or talked, we got a better sense of one another,” he says. “What I really wanted to do was make sure that should something happen—some kind of miscalculation or something—I could call them up on relatively short notice. You just don’t want that to be your first call.””
Thanks so much for joining me on another Future of Product! If you have anything you want to share with me, ask me, or yell at me, please feel free to do so down in the comments!
Until next week, stay frickin cool.