Moleskine Actions (Free) by Moleskine is the complement app to Moleskine Timepage, a pretty decent digital planner app that we're fans of here at AppAdvice. If you're looking for a to-do app that's similar to something like Things 3, but like the aesthetic of Moleskine apps, then Actions could be for you. But it's not without some flaws of its own.
I used to consider myself a productivity nut, always trying out the latest to-do list app on the App Store, or finding other methods to become more productive. But that's kind of stopped, at least in the to-do list department. I've settled with Things 3 since it came out, because I love the simple design and feature set. And while my go-to calendar app is still Fantastical, Timepage was a close second for me since I'm a big Moleskine fan — I used to write in their paper journals. So naturally, when I saw Moleskine Actions on the App Store this week, I was intrigued and had to give it a shot. Sadly, I'm disappointed.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
As a fan of Timepage, I like Actions' aesthetic, because it falls under the same design. It's a simple, clean design that focuses on a clutter-free lifestyle. You simply have your Schedule and Logbook of completed actions. Your lists are all organized how you want them, and they can be color-coded for easy reference. The Action Cards are solid colored rectangles with rounded corners that look great, and Actions showcases a basic sans serif typeface that wraps up the modern look. There's the default Light theme, as well as Dark, and you can have it switch automatically depending on time. There are smooth animations as you transition from one view to another, and even creating action cards and moving them around is fluid. Again, Moleskine knows how to make a product look classy and contemporary.
If you use Timepage, then you'll be glad to know that Actions integrates pretty seamlessly with Timepage. You can quickly throw an Action from Actions into Timepage, and vice versa. Both Timepage and Actions also use Moleskine's subscription-based model though, which starts at $1.99 a month or $11.99 yearly ($1 a month). When you sign up for an account, it automatically starts a 7-day trial. If you choose to not continue, both Timepage and Actions will be read-only mode. This is rather unfortunate, but at least the trial gives you a taste of what everything's like so you can make your decision.
When you first launch Actions, there's a brief tutorial that shows you the basics. It's pretty heavily gesture-based, though you get used to things after a few moments because it's fairly intuitive.
After the tutorial, you'll see your Schedule. This pulls data from your iOS calendar to display current and upcoming appointments and events on your timeline in a list style. If you tap on the checkmark at the bottom, or swipe from the screen edge, you'll see the Logbook, which shows completed tasks.
But how do you add tasks? First, you'll want to create some Lists, which you can access by tapping on the card icon in the bottom right corner. Then click the plus button to make a new list, which requires a name and then you get a lively transition to color bubbles, where you pick the list color (can be changed at any time). Once you make your choices, the list is saved and you can start adding actions directly to it.
You can add actions directly in a list or from the Schedule view. If you choose the latter, you'll need to pick the list to add it to when you create it. All Action cards can also have notes added to them, if needed.
Actions understands natural language input, though it's not as advanced as Fantastical's engine. This means you're able to type in something like "Post status report every second Friday" and Actions automatically takes care of the scheduling, reminders, and notifications. Or you can do something simple, like "Deposit paycheck every other week" or "Buy chicken by Friday" and Actions handles it.
However, I'm annoyed at the fact that Actions' natural language input does not understand everything, unlike Fantastical and other apps. It doesn't understand when I put things like "on 2/28" or "at the end of every month," and then just defaults to today for these actions. For something that claims to understand natural language, I'm seeing more fails than successes.
Another thing I've noticed is a weird text glitch. If I type something and make a typo, I want to just tap on the delete key and go back to fix my error. A few times I've done this, the last letter of the word I'm editing remains at the end, even though I'm fairly certain I placed the cursor after it. It's a small glitch, but it's driving me bonkers.
To complete an action, just swipe right-to-left. A swipe in the opposite direction lets you schedule it. If an item is in the logbook, you can swipe right-to-left to mark it as incomplete, or left-to-right to delete it for good.
Action cards can also be moved around the schedule just through drag-and-drop. There's also nice haptic feedback as you shuffle things around, which I like.
For those who like to use Siri for voice activated commands, Actions has support for that. However, I tried it out and it doesn't seem to work too well. One of the things you can say is "Create a list called whatever in Actions." When I tried this, first Siri created it in Reminders because I didn't accentuate the 's' in Actions hard enough. Then it made the list but kept the "in" at the end of the list name. I've never gotten along with Siri for voice commands, as it never seems to understand the words I'm saying, so I don't see the Siri integration in Actions very useful for me anyway.
Moleskine Actions is a new to-do app that complements Timepage.
Actions has a gorgeous design that is classy and modern. Like Timepage, it looks great, and the selection of colors means you can customize it to your liking and make it pop. The navigation is pretty decent and intuitive enough for most people. You can create as many lists as needed, and the integration with Timepage is nice. And while it's not perfect, the natural language input is useful for certain things.
Unfortunately, there's more I dislike about Actions than like. First, I'm not a big fan of the subscription model for both Moleskine apps. Honestly, I'm tired of everything turning into another monthly or annual subscription payment, because there are plenty of other options that are viable without having to pay to use it every month (like Things 3 and Fantastical for me).
I found the navigation system to be a bit clunky at times. I think being able to swipe anywhere, not just from the edges of the screen, to navigate between Logbook and Schedule should be an option. I mean, as long as you're not swiping an Action card, there shouldn't be an issue.
The natural language input needs a lot of work to be up to par with other apps like Fantastical. It should recognize things like "on 3/30" or "at the end of every month," as I feel this is naturally how people speak. It doesn't translate into Actions, and I found it surprising.
Other small things, like the text glitch and Siri commands, also need work. With all of the current problems the app has, I can't justify paying a subscription fee to use it every month. At least I was able to use the trial to discover that it isn't for me.
As a fan of Timepage before, I was hoping to like Actions. But a lot has changed since I last used Timepage, apparently, and I can safely say that I'm not a fan. While Actions looks great and has good integration with Timepage, I agree with others in the fact that this should have been added into Timepage itself, and not be a standalone app. After all, Fantastical is able to handle both scheduling and reminders, why not Timepage?
For now, I will stick with my current system. But hey, if you want to give Actions and Timepage a shot, at least the 7-day trial lets you get a taste before committing.
Moleskine Actions is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for free. There is an in-app purchase for a Moleskine account that starts at $1.99 a month.