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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

Taskos

Taskos
Price: Free
OS reviewed: Android
Other OSes: None

At first glance, Taskos' interface shares some similarities with Any.DO. For one, tapping on a task summons a toolbar below that you use to set the task's priority (choosing from three color-coded levels), the category you want to put it under (Home, Work, etc.), its deadline and a sound alert. Through this toolbar, you can also add notes to the task and forward it to a contact. And like Any.DO, Taskos has a "shake to clear finished tasks" function. You can also sync your task lists created on Taskos with Google Tasks.

However, there isn't a way to move an individual task to another spot on the list. All you can do is remove it by pressing and holding it, then selecting Delete from the pop-up menu.

Taskos' interface could use some work. Frankly, I thought this app looked unattractive; its white-text-against-black design might be hard on the eyes for many users. This isn't helped by the size of text; on my smartphone (a Motorola Triumph with a 4.1-in. display), it was noticeably smaller compared to the text displayed in Any.DO, Astrid and GTasks. There isn't a setting to resize the text.

Bottom line

Taskos is visually unappealing; its theme and default text size may be difficult to read, which has the psychological effect of turning your task list into something you don't want to check.

-- Howard Wen

Wunderlist

6Wunderkinder
Price: Free
OS reviewed: Android
Other OSes: iOS

Wunderlist goes for a slightly different approach to task lists. Most of these apps are designed to allow you to create individual tasks; if you want, you can then group them under a category. Wunderlist directs you to first create a new list category title. Then you tap the list's title to be taken to another screen where you can add tasks to it by inputting text into an entry box. (Or, you can add tasks to one of three generic list categories that already come with the app, which are listed on the toolbar along the bottom: Today, Tomorrow, or "No due date.")

Tap on a task, and you're taken to another screen where you can add notes, and set a deadline and reminder notification for it. You can also move the task to another list.

As with Taskos, you can't reorder the sequence of tasks on a list. Pressing and holding on a task only gives you the ability to delete it through a pop-up menu.

Wunderlist lets you sync your lists with other devices that also have the app installed, after you sign up for a free user account on wunderlist.com, but there's no syncing capability with Google Tasks.

One interesting feature is that you can add tasks by email: The subject line of your email becomes the title for a new Wunderlist task list, and each line of text in the body -- separated by line breaks -- becomes a task. After the new list and its tasks appear in your Wunderlist app, you can then edit it (e.g., adding alerts, deadlines, notifications, etc.). This is a nice option to have, and in fact I found using this method to create a task list easier and faster than using the app itself.

Like Taskos, Wunderlist displays text in a small size that might be difficult to read on certain phone displays. You can't change the text size, but you can change the background to one of 12 attractive color combinations and scenes.

Bottom line

Though it's not inconvenient, task building requires an extra step in Wunderlist: its emphasis on a category-first approach might slow you down if you prefer entering tasks first.

-- Howard Wen

Conclusions: Android users

Personally, I like task managers that let you reorder task sequences. With this ability, you can feel freer to quickly enter tasks when inspiration hits without having to think about their final order. That being said, what's more important is the ability to add tasks easily and quickly, to add alerts or to sync with your other devices.

Most of the apps in this roundup are pretty basic and will work to let you keep your day in order. But of the five free Android apps I tested, Any.DO and Astrid stood out. Both allow you to sync your lists with other devices on which you have the app installed, and can also sync with Google Tasks.

More specifically, Any.DO does the job of tracking your tasks in a simple manner with an attractive, easy-to-read look. It's best for managing solo chores, if you don't need to collaborate with others.

Astrid is a more sophisticated app that has additional features suited for managing tasks for groups of people. Its sharing and timer tools, including its nifty stopwatch, will help you keep track (and ideally motivate) one another to meet your shared deadlines.

-- Howard Wen

Conclusions: iOS users

If you require a basic task manager, there's good reason to stick with Reminders: This program has the best feature-to-cost ratio because it's already built into your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Macs running Mountain Lion, and its integration with Apple technologies means it is flexible enough to handle most needs.

But don't let that stop you from exploring third-party apps. Each app has a different approach to managing tasks that separates it from the competition. The plethora of options, price points and features means that one size does not have to fit everyone.

-- Michael deAgonia

Michael deAgonia, a frequent contributor to Computerworld, is a writer, computer consultant and technology geek who has been working on computers since 1993. You can find him on Twitter (@mdeagonia).

Howard Wen is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howardwen@gmail.com.

Read more about Mobile Apps in Computerworld's Mobile Apps Topic Center.



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