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Comparison: To Do Lists

January 5, 2009
You may have noticed an abundance of list making (technically called task management) apps in the app store. So did I. What makes these apps different? I mean, aren't they all basically offering the exact same service? You know, making lists... I've taken seven task management apps to review and compare to find out which is the superior product. (Lists Free, To-Do Lists, Zenbe Lists, Toodledo, Todo, Things and OmniFocus). Hopefully this will help you narrow down your choice when it comes to that important decision of choosing the list-making app that's right for you. So here they are, in order of cost- from lowest to highest.  

Lists Free

    Lists Free v1.0 | Published by MobilityWare | Via App Store | Free | Released: 11-24-08  


I found Lists Free to be about as bone dry a list program as you can possibly get. It doesn't look like any time was put into the design of the app. It's very bland. But- it does work to create lists. But that's it. Just lists of things that can be checked off. You can't prioritize the items on your list or set dates for completion. There's also no way to sync your list with any program or website off your phone, (as several other apps allow you to do.)

Bottom line

If you want a task management app for only being able to make a list, like for groceries, then this app will work out just fine for you. (So long as the ad banner at the bottom of the screen doesn't drive you crazy.) But it doesn't offer much else. And let's be honest... it's not pleasant to look at.

Verdict: Waste Of Space


To-Do Lists

    To-Do Lists v1.1.1 | Published by Tapku | Via App Store | Free | Released: 12-14-08  


To-Do Lists was a huge step up from Lists Free. It's still pretty bare bones as far as task management apps go- but it has a couple features that are lacking from the other free app. You still have your main page that features all of your lists. You can rearrange the lists to your liking on this main page, which helps to prioritize them. The list page looks nicer too. A wooden background with a Post-It note design for your list. You can add a date, (though no time), and a description of the task. With the date feature, your tasks are organized on the list page as you can see in the photo. There are still no syncing features with this app though.

Bottom Line

This is a huge improvement from Lists Free, and there are no annoying ads. If you were going to choose between the two free list apps, this is the superior product, hands down. But- it still only offers the bare minimum in regards to task management.

Verdict: Should Be Free (And it is.)



    Toodledo v1.4 | Published by Toodledo | Via App Store | $1.99 | Released: 10-03-08  


Toodledo is a vast improvement from the two free apps. There are MANY more options here. You can organize your lists by priority, due dates, home, work, etc. You can even check a star on the task to put it in a separate star folder.

The fun thing with Toodledo is that you can sync it with your account, (which is free). Then you can add or edit your tasks from your computer if you iphone isn't handy. You can easily sync from your phone by pushing the Sync Now button- or you can set it to automatically sync.

Bottom Line

Given the current sale they're having for this app, it's hard to say that this isn't your best choice. It does nearly everything you'll need a task management app to do- but it is still missing a time/hourly breakdown which is an important feature if you're setting appointments up. The ability to easily sync is also a great feature.

Verdict: Must Have


Zenbe Lists

    Zenbe Lists v1.3 | Published by Zenbe Lists | Via App Store | $2.99 | Released: 10-10-08  


Zenbe Lists feels almost like a step back from Toodledo. There aren't any folders for you to arrange your lists into, (like work, home, due date, etc). However, I do appreciate the simplicity of it. On the main page you see your lists, and how many tasks are left to be completed on each list. When a due date is approaching, the task count turns red.

This app also features a sync with your account, (free), but I wasn't able to test it because they still haven't sent me a confirmation e-mail. It seems like it would work just as easily as Toodledo's syncing did.

Bottom Line

This is a very simplistic app that is a step up from the free ones. It doesn't have nearly as many options as Toodledo does- and the lack of being able to automatically prioritize by date is upsetting. However, it's still a decent task management app that is worth the three dollars.

Verdict: Download Worthy



    Todo v1.4.3 | Published by Appigo, Inc. | Via App Store | $9.99 | Released: 12-15-08  


Todo is the most expensive of the task management apps, and there's a reason for that. It's the best. You can arrange and organize your lists in several ways (though it doesn't have the due date folder that Toodledo has). There's a home, work and inbox folder, as well as a focus folder, which are tasks that are due soon or already past due.

When you make a list, you can assign a time when the task is due, which is great for appointments. (You can add times in the notes of the other apps, but this actually has the feature built in.) You can also search for keywords if you're trying to find a particular list you've made. The program can sync with (both apps actually work together on that site. You make a change on one app, and it will appear on the other, kind of cool) or you can get an account with Remember the Milk and sync with their website. Todo also offers you the ability to share your task by emailing it to others.

Bottom Line

Todo is the James Brown of task management apps. It gives you the most control and detail that you could possibly be looking for, plus it syncs just as easily as the others. I know the ten dollar price is steep, but you get what you pay for. If the price is too intimidating, you can wait for a sale. But if you need a high quality list app, this is it.

Verdict: Must Have



    Things v1.2 | Published by Cultured Code | Via App Store | $9.99 | Released: 07-07-08  


I wish that I had tried this app before I used Todo, because I just can't get into it. It feels like a step backwards. I know there are people who'd swear by this app, because they've used the desktop version of Things before (and it's supposed to sync to that), but I've never used it before, and I just don't dig it. Don't get me wrong, it's easy to use- it reminds me a lot of Zenbe Lists in it's options (or lack of options). It has the same the same kind of folders that the others has- except the tasks I set don't appear in every folder that they should. Like, I schedule a task for a day, and it only goes in the folder I set it in. Other apps will place that task in "today's" folder and the "scheduled" folders, etc. Sadly, there also isn't a setting for priority level of the tasks.

Okay, then there's the syncing. The iTunes store page says that you can sync to your desktop's Things- but I don't see any option to do so in the app. I found a way to email the task, but that's not the same thing. I'm sure that if I went to their website, I might find all the answers to my questions, but guess what? I'm not going to do that- not when syncing is so easy on Toodledo and Todo. I'm a lazy man, my friends. I also have little patience and I get frustrated easily. What can I say? I like apps that do the work for me.

Bottom Line

Things fans are going to hate me, but so what? This app is far inferior to Todo. Matter of fact, Toodledo is a step up from this, and it's a fraction of the price. The app seems limited in what a task management program is capable of. It's not terrible. It could work well for you. But, why bother when there are better apps? And, rumor has it they're actually going to raise the price to 15-25 dollars. They gotta be nuts.

Verdict: Should Be Free



    OmniFocus v1.1.4 | Published by The Omni Group | Via App Store | $19.99 | Released: 11-04-08  


From what I hear, there's a lot of OmniFocus lovers out there. They swear up and down by their software, claiming it's like, "the best thing ever." Well, maybe it is. For them. But for regular people- people like myself, it's not. It's... complicated. It has a lot of special features- like it can use your location to make lists of nearby tasks. It can find banks and grocery stores and post offices and all that excitement. That's neat.

I also like the fact that when I'm making a task, I can add a picture (though I can't imagine ever needing to) or I can add my voice recording to save me the time of having to write notes. Very nifty. But with so many features, it takes some time to figure out. For those of us who've never used OmniFocus before, it's suggested that we head on over to their website for all the tutorials to learn how to do all these fun and exciting things. Sigh. I prefer the simplicity of Todo.

Bottom Line

If you're a fan of OmniFocus, then you'll probably love and worship this app like the rest of the fans. If you're not, like me, then you will probably feel a little overwhelmed with this and end up cowering in the corner of your room, afraid of the unknown. For the people who are so busy and important and running their own companies- or people who have a lot of shit going on- then yeah, you'd probably appreciate all this can do. But for the rest of us- 20 dollars? It's just not worth it. Fans of this app, feel free to defend it and point out all of the glaring omissions from my short review. I'll be glad to tell you why I disagree.

Verdict: Download Worthy (If You're Into This Sort Of Thing)


The Final Word

  I don't use task management programs very often. When I need to remember something, I usually write it down on my hand. I'm trying to get with the times and be more organized, but honestly, there's not that much that I have to keep track of. I'm just not that important. Having said that, if I were going to choose only one of these apps, and money was no issue, there really is no question.  

The Winner

 Todo | $9.99  Must Have

If You're On A Budget

  Toodledo | $1.99 | Must Have

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