Roundup: Better task managers for your iPhone
(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY I am a diehard to-do list advocate. A fan of David Allen's Getting It Done strategy, I try to keep track of every action item on my plate and check each one off as it gets accomplished. That's why I'm so disappointed by the Reminder app on the iPhone; it's too anemic to serve as a useful to-do list. No worries, though: Here's a roundup of the newest, most awesome task managers you can use instead.
Any.DO. When it comes to task managers, I actually have just a few basic requirements. The app should let me easily add tasks, re-order them for on-the-fly prioritization, and support some sort of categorization so I can group to-dos by project, or separate personal from work items. Any.DO supports all these things, and looks great in the process. Moreover, it's ridiculously simple to learn to use, since it comes stocked with "tasks" which are actually instructions for using the app: "Pull down to create new task." "Tap and hold to drag me around." Once you get the hang of the program, just "complete" the tasks.
That's not all: Any.DO includes voice recognition. You can add new tasks by typing the ordinary way, or you can speak the task and it'll automatically be transcribed to text.
You can easily arrange to-dos by dragging them around, and you can switch views from chronological groupings (today, tomorrow, this week, later) to category-based organization with just a tap.
And I can't emphasize enough how pretty Any.DO is -- the app is a pleasure. Available for free, this app is essential for anyone who does stuff.
Clear. I like Clear for its bold, innovative UI. This app uses the basic building blocks of most iPhone apps -- dragging and pulling stuff -- but the end result is somehow fresh and different.
To add a new task to your list, for example, you pull down to create an empty tile into which you type your activity. To switch categories, you pull the whole to-do list down until it "spins" around and drops you into the category view. It's clever and fun, which is great. But in practice, I find Clear sometimes annoying to use. When I try to pull the list down, I often get the iPhone's Notification screen instead, for example, and I frequently find that I accidentally get a new task when I didn't intend to. Is Clear perhaps a little too clever for its own good?
In a world without Any.DO, I would recommend Clear without reservation -- but priced at $2.99, Clear is a harder sell if you are simply looking for an industrial to-do list. If you want to shake things up, though, consider Clear.
Wunderlist. While both Any.DO and Clear take a minimalist approach to to-do list presentation, Wunderlist is more traditional -- it displays tasks against a faux-wood panel background, puts a "add a new task" button at the top of the screen, and pastes an array of buttons across the bottom to change views. It's a lot like what you'd expect a to-do list manager to look like on the desktop, or before natural touch interactions had fully matured.
All that's not to say that Wunderlist is a bad task manager -- not at all. In fact, it's excellent. It's easy to add new to-dos and it's a snap to categorize them into "lists" that can correspond to projects or work and personal. You can rearrange and reprioritize to-dos, and pivot your view by date, by "starred" items, and by tasks which are due today, tomorrow, overdue, and so on. And it's free.
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