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It’s doubtlessly commonplace by now for companies to adopt Apple’s “Smart” feature—using presets to create a playlist in iTunes or a folder of searches in Spotlight or mailboxes in Mail and have them update dynamically whenever anything meeting the conditions of those presets appears on your Mac. But it’s still fascinating to see the wide variety of developers that have worked this feature into their own applications, especially as you walk the Expo show floor.

Case in point: on Wednesday, I was watching a demo of Marketcircle’s Daylite 3, a beta version of the business and customer management tool which the company unveiled at the show. (You’ll find Marketcircle in booth #642 on the floor.) There are a lot of changes in Daylite 3— including an interface that’s been dramatically simplified from previous versions—but the one that’s relevant here is the new Smartlists feature. Just as you’d have iTunes gather up songs from a particular artist or genre, you can use Smartlists to have Daylite collect material like “Contacts I’ve Added in the Past Week” or “Tasks I’ve Delegated to Particular Employees”; the application stores the data that meets your criteria and automatically updates any time relevant data is added.

Just a few hours before my Daylite demo, I was at the Mariner Software booth (#2410), watching a demo of the company’s new Montage screenwriting application. Among Montage’s many features is a tool called Smart Views. You use it to find and retrieve specific sections of your screenplay—finding every scene that features a certain character, for example. But Montage also performs Smart View searches within Smart View searches—once you’ve found every scene with that character, you can then use Smart View to find every scene with that character in a particular setting.

Those are just two instances of “smart” features being integrated into third-party applications—there are probably a lot more that I just didn’t happen to see in a two-hour span Wednesday. And I find it fascination that the same feature is essentially used across different programs to gather up all your vacation photos in one place, help you manage your business contacts, and keep tabs on that screenplay you’ve been working on in your spare time.

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