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Simplify Your Daily Tasks With Begin

September 18, 2013

Begin - Your daily todo list ($0.99) by Applause Code, LLC is a brand new way to look at your tasks on iOS 7. Rather than by going with the normal method of to-do lists, Begin focuses on two things: Today and Tomorrow. Think of it as the index card GTD method, except done right on your iPhone. It’s a thoughtful collaboration between Kyle Rosenbluth, Ben Brooks (of The Brooks Review fame), and David Lanham of The Iconfactory.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember that I have been a loyal user of OmniFocus for quite some time. It’s definitely what I use on a daily basis to lay out my plans for work, personal projects, important items that I absolutely cannot forget, and other critical stuff. However, while this works for me, I realize that it can be unnecessarily convoluted for the average person. I love the Forecast view in OmniFocus, but seeing the entire week in advance can be overwhelming for some. This is when Begin comes in handy, since it only focuses on two days at a time.

When you launch Begin, you are on the main screen, which is basically your list of tasks. The app comes with a list of tasks to help you learn the ropes, but it’s quite easy and intuitive, especially if you’ve tried other to-do list apps. There are two different sections in the list view: Today and Tomorrow.

To add a new task, simply pull the screen down a bit, and you can enter in the name of your new to-do item. You can tap on the “Done” key to save it and return to the list, or you can tap on the “+” button in the new item line to save it and add more in quick succession.

Once you begin to accumulate a nice little collection of tasks, you will find them in the Today section by default. If you need to postpone it to tomorrow, just swipe left on the item — it will reveal a down arrow, and put the task in for Tomorrow instead. Repeat the process from the Tomorrow section to move an item back to Today. When you complete an item for the day, just swipe to the right to reveal the green checkmark, and it will get crossed off. If you need to undo the action, swipe right on the item again and it will be incomplete.

If you end up not completing tasks for the day, they will end up in the “Uncompleted” section, which is accessed by pulling the screen up. From here, you can take action on these uncompleted tasks, such as marking them as complete or moving them in for tomorrow. If you don’t take action on these, they will be deleted the next day. Tasks can be reordered by drag-and-drop.

For those concerned about old tasks hanging around, the magic with Begin is the fact that all of your completed tasks get cleaned out when it turns into tomorrow, so you start fresh each and every day, just as you would with the traditional index card method. If you are a complete clean freak, then you can delete completed tasks by swiping to the left. If this was a mistake, you have a few seconds to retrieve it before it’s gone forever. Your entire list of tasks for today and tomorrow can be shared with others via several methods: Messages, email, Twitter, Facebook, copy as plain text, and even through AirDrop.

I’ve been using Begin for a few weeks now, and I’m just in love with the interface. It’s minimal, clean, and elegant. The flat design fits in very nicely with iOS 7, and the Proxima Nova typeface makes it incredibly easy to read, as it goes with the typography choices in the new iOS, but it is not lightweight enough to be a pain to look at (not everyone is a fan of those insanely thin fonts). This is definitely an uncomplicated task app that is made for iOS 7, and it’s done in a very well thought out way.

The settings for Begin can be viewed by tapping on the cog icon in the top left corner. From here, you can toggle the automatic night mode, which is similar to Instapaper’s own auto dark mode, using the user’s location to determine when the sun sets and rises. Begin can also have a daily task reminder that users can set so they can remember to check the app regularly. Of course, for those who don’t like to be nagged (after all, when do index cards nag you?), this can be turned off as well.

My favorite part about Begin, though, are the themes. The initial download will come with a basic Light and Dark theme, but you can get more through in-app purchase. There are six additional themes that you can use, including Solarized Light, Solarized Dark, Dusk, Flamingo, and more. These themes look gorgeous, and I believe it goes incredibly well overall with the aesthetics of iOS 7.

My only complaint about the app is that there is currently no way to edit or delete an incomplete task. I have spoken to the developer about this, and this was due to simplicity and time constraints. He does plan to add these features (and more) in future updates, so it’s not completely hopeless if you want such functionality. I would also like to see a syncing solution added later on, perhaps through iCloud, so it’s a completely seamless experience across multiple devices.

Though I’ll be sticking with OmniFocus for heavier stuff, I have been thoroughly enjoying Begin, and even have it on my home screen for fast access. It’s fast, clean, and is one of those “get in and get back to whatever I was doing” kind of apps. And in the end, isn’t this just what a task manager should be?

You can find Begin in the App Store for your iPhone for $0.99. This is an iOS 7 only app.

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