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Get things done: 10 to-do apps for Android and iOS

By Michael deAgonia and Howard Wen
August 30, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk
Price: Free; Pro version ($24.99/year) includes syncing and other features
OS reviewed: iOS
Other OSes: Android, BlackBerry

Remember the Milk (RTM) is a popular task manager. Available as a free download from the App Store, RTM features a fairly straightforward design that can be figured out easily just by poking and swiping about.

Remember the Milk
Remember the Milk
Click to view larger image.

RTM includes the ability to set due dates, prioritize, sort by customizable lists and add reoccurring events. The app also lets you set time estimates, and add location and notes. Tasks can be tagged with customizable keywords and organized manually in ordinary lists or "Smart Lists" (which automatically update based on set criteria, such as due dates or tags).

The app takes advantage of many features on Apple devices, including Retina display support on the iPad, Safari/Mail/phone integration, multitasking support (which allows actions like sync to continue even when the app is exited) and VoiceOver support (for users who need assistance). It is available in 20 different languages and integrates with Dashboard in Leopard and Notification Center in Mountain Lion. There is also a Dashboard widget for Lion and Mountain Lion called Milk the Cow.

RTM has a workaround to add Siri integration, but it's not as comprehensive as the integration built into the Reminders app.

I tried RTM on both an iPad and an iPhone, and I felt that the interface worked better on the former. On the iPhone, the home screen felt cluttered; landscape mode was a bit better than the portrait view. On the iPad, the app used the larger display to show much more information to greater effect.

In my testing, the app worked as advertised, and performance was very good. However, there are a few drawbacks. The website offers more features than the mobile apps, but the biggest standout is that you can only sync your data once per day without the Pro account.

The Pro upgrade, which costs $24.99 annually, adds a variety of features, including unlimited daily auto syncing, the ability to sync across devices, push notifications, and badges.

Bottom line

Remember the Milk is a popular, capable program with a ton of support from third parties, as well as comprehensive multiplatform support. There are many more options available on the website compared to the mobile apps, and the service features many ways to integrate into your digital lifestyle. While the basic functions are given away, the Pro upgrade offers many missing mobile features, though the $24.99 a year cost may seem a bit steep for most casual task management users.

-- Michael deAgonia


Price: Free
OS reviewed: iOS
Other OSes: None

Introduced in iOS 5, Apple's Reminders is the built-in task manager for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. Reminders features a clutter-free and intuitive interface, iCloud integration for syncing across every iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Mac that you own, badge and push notification support, Retina display support, location-based reminders, Siri integration and its own Mac app.

Reminders is simple to navigate and figure out. Like other apps, Reminders supports the creation of multiple lists -- such as Stuff to Buy, Stuff to Do and Stuff to Fix -- and the separate lists can be flipped through by swiping their titles. Tasks are organized in a list underneath the title, with a checkbox to the left of each entry. Tapping an entry brings up more details, including the ability to add alarms based on time or day, as well as setting up repeating alarms.

The app also supports location-based alarms, which will notify you of to-do items when you arrive or depart a particular place. Location-based reminders can be entered manually, or chosen from your Contacts. Priority and notes can be added to each entry, as well.

Tasks are automatically synced across your Apple devices using iCloud services when changes are made, which helps keep your data up-to-date no matter which device you use.

However, Reminders stands out from the other task managers in its integration with Siri on the iPhone 4S. Say something as simple as, "Add toothpaste to my Stuff to Buy list" or "Remind me to take out the trash every Thursday morning at 7:07," and Siri will add those tasks into Reminders.

In addition, if you have places you visit in your Contacts, Siri can use them for your reminders. For instance, if you say, "Siri, remind me to email my editor about the article tomorrow morning when I get to work," Siri will respond, "Here's your Reminder for tomorrow. I'll remind you when you get there, or by 7 a.m. Shall I create it?"

Bottom line

Reminders has a home-court advantage compared to the other apps in this list because it ships with every iPhone and iPad, but that doesn't mean Reminders' streamlined (read: basic) feature set makes it the best program for all users. It is, however, fully integrated with Apple technologies -- so if all you need is a basic task manager, Reminders is a great tool that's already on your device.

-- Michael deAgonia

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