iPhone Task Management
iPhone task managers seem to fall into three categories: (1) web apps or Mac programs ported to iOS, (2) full-featured Getting Things Done (GTD) style apps, or (3) list-based apps that are similar to Reminders. The first step in picking an iPhone task manager, then, is deciding which type of app you want. The next step is to decide which features you absolutely need—i.e., do you need to sync to your Outlook calendar or iCal? Or do you need to be able to use Siri? To make this rather daunting task easier, we’ve listed some of the more common features below each of the apps: “syncs with” tells you which services an app will sync with; “additional costs” refer to costs beyond the app’s price, and “Reminders/Siri” denotes whether the app integrates with iOS’ notification center like the Reminders app and/or can be used with Siri on the iPhone 4s. This AppGuide should take “finding a task manager” off your to do list!
OmniFocus for iPhone
If you are at all intrigued by the GTD-style of organization and willing to pay extra for increased functionality, you will likely love OmniFocus for iPhone, the premiere app for GTD. The app sports a user interface that was obviously designed specifically for the iPhone, is less confusing than other versions of OmniFocus, and is easily navigable with only a thumb. OmniFocus for iPhone is organized around the standard GTD functions of projects, inbox, and contexts, but adds iPhone-specific options such as location-based reminders, Siri integration, and even flexible repeating reminders. In fact, the features and integration into iOS might make OmniFocus worth it even for those who don’t want to use its GTD features, especially if it ever adds iCloud functionality. Syncs with: free Omni Sync Server, Mac app via Wi-Fi, custom (WebDAV), or MobileMe. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/Siri: Uses Notification Center, location-based reminders, and Siri.
2Do: Tasks Done in Style
2Do: Tasks Done in Style offers a great middle ground for those looking for a lot of features but not looking to invest in OmniFocus or GTD. 2Do is extremely flexible and customizable, with a tab-based user interface that supports drag and drop rearranging of items, as well as multiple options for each item (e.g., users have the option to set a reminder as a message, sound, or email). 2Do can also fully integrate with iCloud, Reminders, and Siri: each tab in 2Do becomes a separate list in the default Reminders app and each Reminder is automatically added to 2Do’s Reminders tab. The only issue with 2Do is that it requires effort to master all of the app’s features, as it’s not very intuitive to use and does not have a straightforward help or tutorial section. This makes learning to use the app a task in and of itself! -Syncs with: Toodledo, Dropbox, Caldav, Mac/PC, iCloud, Dropbox, Outlook via a helper app, supports email backup and export to CSV -Additional Cost: None -Reminders/Siri: Fully integrates with iOS Reminders and Siri with no extra setup required-- choosing iCloud sync automatically integrates everything
Wunderlist is the app for users who want the simplest, easiest, and probably cheapest method of managing tasks on all their Mac and iOS devices. Wunderlist is an aesthetically-pleasing and easy to use list-based task manager, with a user interface that requires almost no learning curve. Although Wunderlist is simple to use, it does offer some very useful features, including the ability to share lists, add notes to tasks, use stars to designate priority, and emailing tasks. Wunderlist, however, is not the choice for those wanting full calendar integration or GTD-style organization, but it is the choice for those looking to put pen and paper to do lists on their iPhone. Syncs with: Free cloud sync service. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/Siri: Integrates with notification center (via push) not Siri, will also email reminders.
Orchestra To-do is essential for anyone jealous of Siri’s speech-to-text task management or wants a free task manager that supports but doesn’t require collaboration. Orchestra is designed to facilitate communication, and as such it integrates chat, sharing or assigning of tasks, and even supports sending tasks via email. Orchestra’s interface is intuitive and attractive, and the built-in tutorial works well to show off the extra features. Orchestra is still fairly new, and the developers have plans to expand to iPad and Mac and to add more features, so Orchestra is also one to watch! Syncs with: Web app. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/Siri: Integrates with notification center.
Clear is the new darling of task managers, and it’s easy to see why. Clear is one of the few apps that would not work in another operating system. It was clearly designed for iOS and is only usable with a touchscreen. Clear is entirely controlled by gestures, and it is undeniably fun to swipe, pinch, and pull to add, modify, and reorder tasks and lists. As a task manager, however, Clear lacks many features that have become standard even for free apps, such as due dates, notifications, alerts, or even syncing, and its beautiful user interface makes the faux pas of obscuring the status bar. Syncs with: nothing. Additional fees: none. Reminders/Siri: no.
Pocket Informant is a great option for those who don’t like or want to use the GTD method, but still need a robust task manager. The app is extremely customizable, in look as well as functionality—users can even choose which features they want to use for each task. Pocket Informant does more than just manage tasks; it also integrates a calendar and your contacts. In fact, Pocket Informant's only real flaw is that it may try to do too much and therefore becomes confusing. Syncs with: Google, iCal, Outlook, or Toodledo. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/ Siri: Integrates with Notification Center but not Siri.
HQ: To Do
HQ: To Do is best thought of as a more advanced, more detailed, less publicized, and less beautiful version of Clear. Like Clear, HQ has a fluidity that can only come from an app designed solely for use with the iPhone. HQ mainly uses gesture-based navigation, but unlike Clear it also has a tab-based interface that allows users to add more details to tasks (e.g., due dates and projects), all of which ultimately make it easier to use. HQ would be essential if it added several features, specifically syncing, recurring tasks, and/or calendar integration. Syncs with: Nothing. Additional Cost: None. Reminders: Integrates with Notification Center (via Push).
Astrid Tasks/To-do List
Astrid Tasks/To-Do List is a task management system that is new to iOS (it originated on the Web and on Android), but is already one of the more sophisticated list-based task managers for iPhone. The app’s main selling point is social networking integration, as it has “featured lists” that users can subscribe to. It supports adding friends and sharing lists or tasks via Facebook, Twitter, or email. Astrid also integrates speech to text for easy task adding, supports adding tasks via email, and can add tasks to your calendar. Syncs with: Web app. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/Siri: Integrates with Notification Center (Push), not Siri.
StickyDoo™ with iAssist & Sync+ : Intelligent Life Organizer
StickyDoo with iAssist is an unusual task manager, in that it wants to be a “personal assistant” and integrates Google Local searches for certain words within your tasks via a service called iAssist. For example, if a task is titled “Doctor’s Appointment,” the “doctor” is a clickable link to a Google Local search for a nearby physician or hospital. The app organizes your tasks in pinboards and stickies (which can viewed as lists) and has many features that require study, including repeating reminders, actionable tasks, and adding contacts to your tasks. Syncs with: Toodledo, iCal (via Wi-Fi), or Google Tasks. Additional Cost: Syncing with 1 service is free, syncing with up to 3 services (“hub syncing”) more than one service is a one-time in-app purchase of $1.99. Reminders/Siri: Integrates with Notification Center, supports location-based reminders and Siri dictation.
Things for iPhone is an attractive app, but when compared with the other options, it’s overpriced for what it offers. The app is easier to use than its main GTD rival OmniFocus, but it doesn’t have as many features and doesn’t seem designed for use with the iPhone. For example, it doesn’t include location-based reminders, full-featured notifications, or Siri integration. Syncs with: Beta version of Things Cloud Service, Dropbox, Mac program. Additional Cost: None. Reminders/Siri: Supports notifications at certain times each day only.
Producteev - Cross Platform and Free Task Management
Producteev tries to be a one-stop-shop of task managers, with apps on multiple platforms, the ability to use it to manage tasks for one person or teams, multiple ways of adding tasks, file storage, filters, etc. The problem with this is that Producteev fails at being a great iPhone app: it is very barebones, not intuitive, and does not have any help file or tutorial. Syncs with: Google Calendar, Google tasks, Google apps, Mac, Windows, or Web apps. Additional Cost: Free for personal use (up to 2 people, 500mb), $20/month for team workspace. Reminders/ Siri: Integrates with Notification Center.
The Hit List
The Hit List uses an interesting combination of GTD and lists to organize your tasks. The app is fairly easy to use (although it would be better if it had a help file) and is optimized for use with the iPhone. The problem is that the Hit List is expensive and lacks some important features, such as integration with other services, repeating tasks, or the ability to reorder lists. Syncs with: Own sync service, Mac app. Additional Cost: Sync costs $2/month or $20/year. Reminders/Siri: Supports notifications at certain times each day only.
TeuxDeux is essentially a very pretty calendar. The app has an attractive, simple interface, and syncs with the companion web app, but it probably has too few features for people with large to do lists. Syncs with: Own sync service, Web app. Additional Cost: Free. Reminders/Siri: None.
reQall is a very strange app that integrates with a web service that appears to perform tasks of its own behind the scenes. For example, the conversion of tasks added by voice does not occur instantly; rather, the app converts it later and then alerts you to the completed task via a notification or email. reQall also can fill in many of the task boxes/contexts for you, specify where and when to remind, and supports calling in tasks. Syncs with: Outlook, Google Calendar. Additional Cost: free version, or pro version for $3/month or $25/year. Reminders/Siri: Integrates with Notification Center.
Task PRO (To-do & Projects)
Task Pro is a fairly generic list-based task manager that’s notable for integrating support for repeating tasks and subtasks. The app has few high concept features, such as incorporating a method of accessing your data via a web browser, as well as printing or emailing tasks. Syncs with: Toodledo (limited support), upcoming: iCloud, Google Calendar. Additional Cost: None. Reminders: Integrates with Notification Center.
Pocket Lists is as simple to use as the name suggests but also offers some advanced features. Unlike some other apps, Pocket Lists designed its features to both make the app easier to use and increase its functionality, e.g., allowing users to set priorities by adding exclamation points to tasks, swiping tasks in a list to indent and thereby create a subtask, and understanding "human language" such as that 7pm means 7:00 pm. The main reason Pocket Lists isn't rated higher is that it is more geared towards all lists than to do lists, and therefore may not be the best task manager for many. Syncs with: Toodledo, Google Tasks, Calendar, Wi-Fi. Additional Cost: None. Reminders: Integrates with Notification Center, location-based reminders.