Volunteer-O-Matic by Generic Software is a new app that allows users to create lists of tasks or events and corresponding lists of names or numbers in order to randomly select a name or number to tackle the task. In a sense, Volunteer-O-Matic is a techy way of drawing names or numbers from a hat and your iPhone or iPod touch serves as the “hat.” Volunteer-O-Matic is not necessarily going to prove handy to everyone, but for those who have trouble delegating tasks, making decisions, or need to micromanage volunteers equitably and effectively, it could be a useful purchase.
The first audience I thought of as a perfect match for Volunteer-O-Matic were teachers and school workers. Teachers often have an endless array of classroom tasks, such as watering plants, feeding the gerbil, passing out papers, running errands, etc., that are delegated to kids each week. This is the perfect app to accomplish delegation such as that. However, as I toyed around with Volunteer-O-Matic, I started thinking of other audiences and instances where it could be handy and I came up with a few of my own.
Volunteer-O-Matic is simple to use. You can create and edit lists by tapping List Manager and simply add the event or task and then add the applicable names to participate. Returning to the home screen, you use the scroll wheel to select the event or task and then tap “spin”. Just like a roulette wheel, some lucky name will randomly be selected. You can also eliminate that name from the next spin and spin again if necessary. Managing lists is simple too; you just delete or edit them from within List Manager.
I’ll grant you, it takes a bit of time to set up a list – especially if there are several names and tasks involved. However, you can also just spin to select numbers 1-20 if it suits you. I would be hard pressed to say I would use Volunteer-O-Matic to decide minor things like who chooses the next family movie night or who goes first in Monopoly, but you could. It seems better suited to delegating recurring tasks or helping decide who does what for larger events.
As I said, Volunteer-O-Matic is not an app for everyone, but it does have its place in the iPhone world. It is simple to navigate, operates efficiently and if you wanted to take the time, you could get semi-creative with its uses. However, even the developer admits it's really for the "decision making imparied."