What are you using for tasks on your iPhone?
November 26, 2010 7:11 PM   Subscribe

What is your favorite iPhone app for managing your tasks and projects.

I realize that this has been asked before, but new apps are released all the time, so I'm looking for up-to-date information.

Ideally, the app would sync over-the-air with a web-based manager, but it does not have to. I'm really just curious what others are using to get through the day, and I am overwhelmed with the choices.

So, what are you using, and why do you like it?

Thanks in advance.
posted by 4ster to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I have yet to try either of them, but I've heard good things about Evernote and Dropbox.
posted by Ryogen at 7:17 PM on November 26, 2010

I've got Appigo's Todo and Trunk Notes on my iphone. I tend to use Trunk Notes more as a task manager, and Todo as a list maker (shopping list, etc.). Todo is way more capable than that, but I don't really do the task thing all that much as it is.

I like Trunk Notes because it syncs with Dropbox - and it works with text files. It's essentially a personal wiki, but if I have a text file called work.txt and another called home.txt I can start a line of in either text file with:


@todo research fencing for backyard
@todo laundry
@todo buy vacuum bags
@todo read your instapaper!

and then in


@todo research objective-c
@todo bill clients
@todo ask for a raise

Because Trunk Notes has functions I can then have a HomePage.txt file (I don't really use .txt) and get it to search all the notes I've got saved and find lines that begin with @todo and display them on the front page.

I use Launchbar on the mac to automatically append to the files, and it works reasonably well.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is not a web-based solution but I use OmniFocus and I'm a huge fan. I invested in the desktop version (available for OS X only) in addition to the iPhone app and I'm really enjoying them both. The iPhone app can stand on its own, so don't feel like you need to get both products if you aren't feeling it or if you're not a Mac user. I'm using it at home and at work, so I have one program that handles it all for me. There is a learning curve, but I'm able to quickly enter actions into the program and sort them according to project (for me, these would be things like the class I'm taking, the wedding I'm coordinating, tasks related to my full-time job, household organization, et cetera) or I can sort by context (home, work, school, whatever). I can enter date/time due and set recurring actions quite simply. I am a relatively new user and I know that I'm only using a fraction of the program's potential but I am certain this is something that I'll use and use well for a long time to come

On preview: I also use both Evernote and Dropbox, but I don't use either product for task management. I use Evernote as an information repository. I have recipes, photos, records of insurance policy numbers, financial aid info and all kinds of miscellany stored and tagged in Evernote. I use Dropbox to back up/sync my most important documents for work and school. Easy to set up, easy to use. I also use these on my iPhone and iPad.
posted by heathergirl at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2010

I like Todo by Appigo. My wife likes 2do.

I'll speak to the one that I use, Todo. I like that I can add tasks with one click, especially when I'm in a hurry. I like that I can make my bastard GTD set-up work with it. I like that tasks for a project can all be grouped together (though I don't like that the tasks for the project are hidden from view unless you select the project).

It was the first one I looked at, it works for everything that I do, and I haven't had any problems with it. I think that's the best review one can offer for this kind of app.
posted by SNWidget at 7:33 PM on November 26, 2010

Best answer: Here's another vote for Omnifocus.
posted by tamitang at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2010

posted by mhoye at 7:46 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm using EpicWin. They will be adding sync support for iCal, Evernote, RememberTheMilk, and ToodleDo in an update coming very, very soon.
posted by antgly at 7:57 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I use things, but the lack of over the air sync is starting to make me pretty crazy. I'd probably switch to omnifocus if it didn't cost so much (I wish you could try out iPhone apps). I gave Remember the Milk a try for a month. The iPhone app works pretty well, but it just didn't click for me.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 PM on November 26, 2010

Best answer: omnifocus. it's worth the $ to not wait on Cultured Code's vaporware sync solution for Things
posted by Señor Pantalones at 8:10 PM on November 26, 2010

Best answer: Omnifocus is wonderful for all the reasons mentioned above.

If you don't want to shell out any cash HiTask is comparable.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:31 PM on November 26, 2010

I'm surprised that more people aren't recommending Remember the Milk -- I've found it to be surprisingly flexible given its simplicity. The iPhone app is free, but only syncs once daily unless you pay (as I recall, at least). Worth trying for free right?
posted by rdn at 8:36 PM on November 26, 2010

Hmm - I've been trying to crack this nut as well. I like taskpaper on the desktop, but the cloud syncing is flawed. I have to say simplenote has stepped up it's game. taskpaper + simplenote + getcloudapp and I'm sold.
posted by specialk420 at 8:55 PM on November 26, 2010

Best answer: You're going to see three camps
Everything else.

Seriously. Me? I'm 100% Omnifocus. GTD all the way. It's is with me everywhere, all the time. I can't really go back to other list types software.

And there are three interfaces (OSX, iPhone, iPad) and no web interface. I think the OSX app is the worst (It feels like an outliner gone wrong) and I think the iPad is the best. There's a podcast called ScreenCastsOnline Free Version via itunes that has a free screencast (40m) of how to use the OSX app to get you an idea of how to start.

It helps if you're hardcore GTD (vs. hey, I need a list!) You'd likely freak if you saw that I have nearly everything out of my head and in this software. You'd also might freak if you saw how many projects/tasks I can see at 10,000 feet...or zoom into things that are more critical on the ground.
posted by filmgeek at 8:58 PM on November 26, 2010

What I'm going to wrote about here is simple note-taking apps. These are task / todo list managers per se, rather simple text entries that you can use for ... whatever. Grocery lists, speeches, quotes files, technical references for work, etc.

For 8 years I ran my life on the Palm platform, mostly on a Samsung i500 Palmphone. In January this year I took the Android plunge. Finally in August I had a chance to research notepad apps and finish my transition.

Here's what I wrote up at the time in an Android forum, but I think the solution applies to iPhone as well. In short, you need to go to catch.com .


I was another PalmOS refugee, now squarely in the Android camp and trying to fix my last major problem: no Memo capability. That's one of the core apps in the Palm world (along with Contacts and Calendar, yeah it was THAT important to the platform) and it's the last thing I really needed to get working to finally be able to shut down my Palm Desktop for good.

So, I plowed through a long thread about note apps, and here is what was mentioned, and the problems I found with each:

- AK Notepad: dead product, developer hired by Snaptic
- Astrid: v3 just released, a bit messy, will hold off on evaluating
- ColorNote: no Google Docs sync
- EasyNote: no Google Docs sync (some import/export capability?)
- EverNote: only works if you have a network connection (no offline cache)
- GDocs Notepad: did have Google Docs sync but now it appears to be broken
- NoteEverything: no Google Docs sync (only import/export)
- 3Banana / Snaptic: no sort, bloated listing

Again, the above is what I found in August 2010. But you can see above some examples of deal-breaker problems, e.g. no offline cache. Do you want to be able to read your notes while on an airplane?

Here is what I must have in a memo app, and really I'm just replicating the 10-year-old Palm feature set:

- add and edit notes on mobile device
- add and edit notes on web
- sync between the two
- just need plain text, don't even need formatting
- offline use / cache on mobile device
- 4000 characters minimum
- display title (or first line of memo text) in a list of memos
- sorting by title (or first line of memo text)

That last one ... Oh my god why do the apps not just give me list of the memos, sorted alphabetically, that I can scroll through? I don't want to search. I don't want to use tags. Just give me a title field (or use the first line of the memo, like Palm did) and SORT IT. Really? I have to ask for this?

3Banana does not appear to support EDITING of notes on the web.

Eventually I came across this comparison of 3Banana Notes and AK Notepad, two seemingly overlapping Android products from the same company: https://catch.com/blog/2010/07/ak-notepad-vs-3banana-notes-on-android/ . Further, I found that AK Notepad development had not been abandoned, just an old website wasn't getting updated.

I eventually settled on AK Notepad, and it does sort by title! I set up a Snaptic account -- I wish it was Google Docs, but at least it supports Google OpenID. The whole thing supports all of the minimum requirements I laid out earlier, and I'm quite happy with the product and service, in particular as they have since implemented several needed improvements to the web interface.

They renamed themselves as Catch.com a couple months ago, but still offer the same products and services.
posted by intermod at 9:08 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I use OmniFocus and Things. Both are good. I prefer OmniFocus. Currently, I use Things for my day job and OmniFocus for everything else.
posted by wheat at 9:08 PM on November 26, 2010

Best answer: Oh, the "why" part:

OmniFocus was designed from the ground up for GTD. I find it, for all the supposed complexity, a very easy app to use. I have the OS X and iPhone versions, but I barely use the OS X version. The iPhone version is outstanding.
posted by wheat at 9:16 PM on November 26, 2010

No one has mentioned Awesome Note? It's exactly what it sounds like: a binder with tabs, and then you can create notes within them. It syncs to Evernote as well as, I think, Google Docs. It's extremely easy to use, and very polished, which is why I like it. I use it to keep track of not only basic things such as to-do lists or due dates, but also the specific steps of major projects, to make sure nothing gets overlooked.
posted by iarerach at 9:23 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by bleeb at 9:30 PM on November 26, 2010

I was using ToodleDo pretty heavily for a year or so but I finally hit the wall with it in the last month or two. You have lots of kinds of buckets to use and can create as many buckets as you like but it doesn't do hierarchies very well. I finally reached a point where getting stuff into the system and keeping everything organized was enough work to discourage me from putting things there in the first place, which is death for a tool like this. I'm not sure yet if I should tackle a Grand Refactoring or just look for something different altogether.

OmniFocus looks amazing but I'm not comfortable using an iOS-only app without some kind of desktop or web client backing it up. (I'm on Windows and that isn't likely to change anytime soon.)
posted by Lazlo at 10:06 PM on November 26, 2010

If you are an emacs user, there is a free app that sync with org-mode called mobileorg

Of course org-mode is super feature rich, but since it is text based, you can start out with the bare minimum and as much as you want.
posted by mulligan at 10:13 PM on November 26, 2010

TeuxDeux has little in the way of features, but that's what I like about it.
posted by Haruspex at 6:02 AM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm really just curious what others are using to get through the day, and I am overwhelmed with the choices.

You might as well ask what everyone's favorite food is, or favorite band and why. This doesn't help with feeling overwhelmed. I keep up with todo apps pretty well and there's some here even I haven't heard of.

There's no shortcut. Each application is so different it's going to depend on workflow and personal preference.

It's an unanswerable, chatty question. That said, Omnifocus, when given a chance, for people that need what it offers, can't be beat.
posted by justgary at 10:46 AM on November 27, 2010

Seconding TeuxDeux, which I pair with Google Calendar. Though I've tried many of these other apps, TeuxDeux's flexibility and clean interface keep me coming back; it's set as my home page, and I always keep it open in a tab.

The iPhone app is both functional and attractive, though it takes a while to start up.

On a lesser scale, I also use Simplenote + Notational Velocity for text-based notes (saved to Dropbox) than can be synced between my computer and my iPhone, and store any material that needs tagging or is image-heavy (recipes, art inspiration) in Evernote.

I've found that what's most important for me is speed of use— I need to be able to get my thoughts and tasks listed and dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible, so most of these larger, more complex systems just hinder my workflow (this is also why I don't use Evernote as my main storage solution).
posted by iguessgabby at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Omnifocus - without the desktop version I wouldn't buy it especially if you haven't used omnifocus before. I switched to a mac for omnifocus and then bought it on the iphone too. There's a way to use evernote only for gtd as well, google it. Alternative may be RTM (remember the milk)
posted by iNfo.Pump at 5:35 PM on November 27, 2010

I'd just like to second Epic Win.
posted by brownpau at 9:31 PM on November 27, 2010

I use android, not an iphone, but the same apps are available for both. I tend to manage my tasks/projects on my desktop pcs, and use my phone for reference/updates when mobile.

I use Remember the Milk for day-to-day task management - I have a list for Next Actions, Projects and Someday/Maybe and use tags to manage contexts. I also have smart lists that pull the next few days scheduled tasks for a given tag (so NA/work, NA/home, NA/groceries etc) and use these as web calendars in outlook, and desktop widgets on my phone. RTM is free, but limited to one sync a day on iphone - premium gets you auto-sync.

I give large projects their own tag, break down the project into sub tasks, and the top task on the list gets moved to next action so automatically shows up on my immediate action smartlists. When it's completed, I promote the next on that project to next action. I also check my projects regularly, and any that don't have a Next Action assigned get one promoted/created and scheduled. I also have a smart list that pulls out any tasks that's not in a list, not tagged, has no due date, or is overdue, and that gets checked every morning. I deal with 'tickler' tasks by just sticking them in next action+context tag and a suitable future date - it'll come into view on the relevent smart list a few days out.

I have a larger 'overview' key issues list that's both in evernote, and an excel table that my boss prefers. I use this as reference when scheduling larger project sub tasks, and fit smaller tasks in around that in RTM, and it gets updated twice a month. I'm thinking of getting evernote premium so I can just embed the KIL directly into evernote, and email it direct.

I use evernote heavily on my desktops, primarily for the brower clipping ability for keeping reference work notes, and tag notes in evernote along similar lines as RTM for projects. I also have a 'general reference' notebook in evernote for useful methods and procedures not tied to a particular project, and just use evernote's excellent search either via desktop or phone when I need to do something I haven't done for a while - there's a good chance I've already written down my method in evernote, and if I haven't, I make a task in RTM to do so.

I also have catch.com (replacement for 3banana) for short notetaking in meetings - I then process these afterwards into next action items on RTM, and a summary copy of the meeting on evernote. As evernote has just got offline sync for entire notebooks for the android version (iphone has had it for a while) I'll probably retire this, and put the notes directly into evernote.

I also use dropbox for syncing files between desktop and phone to save my digging out a sync cable.

The big advantage of this system in the event of losing/damaging my phone, it's still all online, I can edit the stuff easily, and I don't need to manually sync my tasks/notes via desktop pc at all. And it's all free, if you don't mind the sync limitations!
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:13 AM on November 28, 2010

I've tried a ton of these apps out, and these are my current favorites:

I like Daily Deeds for following Jerry Seinfeld's "Don't Break The Chain" method when I'm trying to ingrain a new habit.

I like EpicWin because it's really fun and a cool idea. You get to pretend you're leveling up your character in a role-playing game by getting your todo items done. I don't use it primarily right now even though it was fun, but it was the most recent one before what I'm using now, which is...

ActionMethod! It's collaboration-oriented and simple, with just a few key concepts to understand. It needs to be updated for my Retina display but otherwise, top notch. It gets out of my way.
posted by evariste at 10:50 PM on November 30, 2010

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