The quest for the perfect To Do app

Reminders_OS_X_application_icon.png

I’ve been a big fan of organising myself via technology since my old Nokia N95 days, the problem is that there are so many apps out there to choose from. I wanted to write up an article on what I expect, the services I’ve tried and ultimately the one I use daily.

What do I want in a productivity app?

  • Available everywhere: No matter where I am I want to be able to check in on what I have to do and be reminded of when I need to do it. That means it must have an app (iOS and Android) and be accessible from the web
  • iPhone and iPad apps: I use both of these devices as my daily drivers so must have apps that are optimised for both screen sizes
  • Notifications: I want to be reminded (no matter where I am using it), at a time that I specify
  • Today: I want to be able to contribute to a free form Today list, I don’t want to add the exact time but add to a list as I think of them
  • Visibility: I want to be reminded via the notifications already mentioned but also want to see what I need to do quickly, the notification center in iOS is a great place to start

What are the options?

  • iOS RemindersCame into iOS a few versions ago and has been my main productivity app on and off for a while now. I liked the fact it had an OS X app and was baked into iOS. I also liked that I could access it via my work PC via iCloud.com. The three main issues that have prevented me moving to it full time were random sync issues, the iOS app is buggy and there is no ability to create a Today view without adding a time element
  • WunderlistMy current favourite app and what I use as my main To Do list. It’s got a great OS X app, web access and iOS apps that are optimised for the devices they are on. I have mainly come back to Wunderlist full time with the introduction of iOS 8. I can share to lists directly from Safari, it has a new Today widget, notifications and a freeform today list that doesn’t require a time element to each item. The only missing functionality that I would like to see is actionable notifications e.g. a notification comes in and I can swipe to Mark as complete or remind me later.
  • ClearA great looking app that is also intuitive but it only has an iPad and iPhone app, no web access.
  • TodoistIntuitive and good access across platforms but I found that the restrictions on reminders unintuitive unless you type them e.g. Remind me to get milk tomorrow at 4:15pm if you don’t do this you can’t easily set a specific time to it
  • Any.do: Another of my favourite apps, looks great and is easy to use but needs an update for iOS 8

Final thoughts

So having used a lot of different apps for tracking my to do’s I’ve settled on Wunderlist. For me the focus that the team have put on iOS 8 has pushed them ahead of the competition, in fact it also beats Apple’s own reminders hands down.

  • I can easily create a Today list by typing free form without worrying about adding a time
  • The notification center widget allows me to see everything I have to do today
  • I can add items from Safari straight into a list within Wunderlist (note to the devs; I’d like to be able to create a list at this point too rather than just add to an existing one)
  • I can update and be reminded from wherever I am, be it on the move with my iPhone or at home on my MacBook — all of their apps are intuitive and easy to use

What do you use for your To Do list?