It’s a new year, and as is the custom, people make New Year Resolutions. Many people make resolution’s to loose weight, get fit and keep organised. I made one of these; to be more organised. So I started to research ToDo apps in the Google Play store. I found many, so decided to make an app showdown, pitting each against each other.
To do this (no pun intended), I chose several criteria I wanted from the app:
- An attractive and easy to use interface. This may seem silly, but a boring or dull interface isn’t going to make me want to use the app, so if it’s attractive, I will be more likely to use it. Ease of use is also a must. I don’t want to take five minutes to add a task.
- Cloud synching/online backup. The last thing I want is to loose all my tasks if I loose my phone.
- Compatible with third party apps or have a desktop program. In this day, people use more than one device to access their email, texts and twitter feeds. ToDo’s, to be useful, should be the same. We’ve all had that moment when we think of something but don’t have our todo list to hand.
- Free to use. I don’t want to be paying a monthly subscription to have to use a service. Ideally, I’d like the app to be free too, or at least a reasonable price (under £2.00/$3/€2.50)
- collaborative lists. Living with a young family with lots of appointments and tasks to complete, collaborative lists are a useful feature. My wife can make a list of chores she wants me to do and they will alert me when they need doing. If she texts me, tells me over the phone or first thing, I can guarantee I will forget before I put the phone down. With an app on my phone to remind me, this is much less likely.
The first I came upon was Astrid, by Astrid Inc. This app is a simple yet powerful app. It’s free on the Play store (with a version available on the iTunes store too), which has an accompanying web app.
1 – Interface:
Astrid has a very simple UI, which hides some very powerful and useful features. It has a plain white theme, and all the tick boxes are coloured depending on the priority of the task. Tap on a task to add details like due date, priority, list, estimated time to complete the task, reminders and who should complete the task. Another useful feature of the app allows you to even time how long you take to complete the task.
The picture above shows you what Astrid looks like on the Nexus 7 (It’s also the only app that had a specific tablet UI, all the others were just a stretched version of the phone app).
Tasks can be separated into lists (like Chores, Home, Work Etc) and each tasks can be added to many lists at once. This system allows lists to be used as tags. Tasks can also be ordered into subtasks.
The addition of the PowerPack and Locale add ons mean that you can add more details (like files and recordings) to tasks, and you will be reminded of tasks with geofencing.
2 – Cloud Sync:
I have had very little problem with their sync, and found that their customer service were quick to answer queries I had when my tasks were not syncing properly.
3 – Desktop access:
Astrid originated as a web app, and has a great user interface through a browser page. The functionality is identical to that of the apps, and with some extra features that they hope to move to the apps too. You can even print off a paper copy to keep with you if you don’t have access to the mobile app. Furthermore, the settings allow for a list of tasks to be emailed for the week ahead so you have an idea of what is coming up.
4 – Cost:
The Astrid app is a free download and free service to use online. There is a Pro service, that adds backup for your voice memos, add files, a premium dashboard with stats and details and extra themes for the web app. Pricing is from $5/month (£3.12/€3.76) or $40/year (£25/€30.11).
As previously stated, you can buy two add ons for the Android app. The Power Pack gives you the ability to add tasks via voice, voice reminders, and an array of extra widgets. This will cost you £2.55 ($4.o7/€3.07). The Locale add-on will give you the ability to geofence reminders so that you will be reminded of a task when you get to a specific location (for example, at the shops). This add-on will cost you £0.93 ($1.48/€1.12).
5 - Collaborative Lists:
Astrid has a very easy method of delegating tasks to others. When typing the task, enter the details screen and you will who. Type in a person here. If they are already in your list of collaborators, they will be sent the task, and the task will be in a list designated “I’ve Assigned”. You will receive a notification when they have accepted, commented and completed the task. The person you delegate doesn’t even have to use the app. Fill in the email address in place of the name, and they will be sent an email stating you have asked them to do a taks. They can either sign up to an account from the email, or just accept it without even signing up. You will receive a notification to say they have accepted.
6 – Useful extras:
The app comes with a widget that can sit on your homescreen. It’s a very basic widget which will show you one list. If you want to see more lists, you have to have separate widgets. If you buy the Power Pack, you will get the addition of 3 more widgets which are bigger and dynamic.
The notifications that arrive in your notification bar are not only quirky, but they will also stay there until you click into the app. The app will also remind you when a task is overdo. This can be once a day, week or month, useful if you procrastinate.
I like Astrid for it’s deceptive simplicity and useful features as standard. The free version of the app is powerful enough to use without want of more. The additional upgrades just makes the app even more powerful. I love the quirkiness of the app, which makes being reminded of chores all the more fun.
Stay tunned for more in the App Showdown of ToDo apps.
Find Astrid in the Play Store here.