It’s no secret that I am constantly in search of the “perfect” task application. First it was finding something that would work well with Windows Phone 8, keeping a Live Tile updated with fresh information automatically. After lots of searching and testing, I found that in Clever-To-Do. Then in 2012 Windows 8 came along with its App Store. Finally a chance to sync up tasks/todos, like I did for many year via Outlook on my PCs and PocketPCs.

It took months, but I finally found Effectual, an ok app that syncs up nicely across my Windows 8 devices and Windows Phone. But the app is still missing a lot, like not automatically updating the Live Tile on the Windows 8 side. So my pursuit continues. I checked the Windows 8 Store today and there are 676 apps listed in a search for Tasks. And that’s in an App Store that is just getting started. But here is my problem. I am looking for a Task app, minimally with the following attributes;

– Offers both a Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 companion app

– Syncs seamlessly across both platforms without having to click on some silly “sync” button

– Offers a Live Tile on both platforms that at least shows you upcoming tasks, and maybe past dues, counts, etc.

But how do you find a short list of Task apps with those attributes? I can get a bit of an idea by reading the single sentence descriptions and filtering out those that definitely won’t meet the mark. But how do I keep track of which apps I have filtered in and out, based on description? Not sure about you, but I sure as hell can’t memorize 676 different app names. Most of the apps that offer syncing are paid, typically to support a server, so that’s another way of possibly filtering. But that’s no guarantee. The only real way to make sure no stone is left unturned is to open the detail for each of the 676 apps listed, read the specs and reviews, and create a short list (on paper) of the potential candidates. Figure that would take 35-40 hours, or a work week for a $5.00 app. Jeezz.

I have never visited Google Play and have spent very little time in the Apple App Store, so I can’t comment on how they work. But I am guessing the search criteria is equally limited, although the number of available options is exponentially larger. So maybe three or four work weeks to find an ideal app. Why can’t there be an intuitive tool for searching apps. Something that can read through the descriptions for each app and provide results based on keywords. I tried typing in “syncing tasks” and my list was narrowed down to 104 apps. But Effectual, the app I am currently using, didn’t make that list. So how can I be sure I didn’t miss something.

As App Stores grow larger and larger, there has to be a better way to find apps that meet certain criteria.  Otherwise, finding that special app you need can turn into a full time job. Needle in a haystack comes to mind.


  1. Actually I do use OneNote. And have been since it was first introduced in 2003 (bought my first Acer tablet that year to try it out). But, does OneNote have a Live Tile that will show me due and past due tasks. And will OneNote update in the background across both platforms so I don’t actually have to open the app to find out that I forgot to do something.

    I have a multitude of options for setting reminders and todos. On the desktop I use the Microsoft Alarm app and Remind Me, a not too bad reminder app that syncs across other Win 8 devices (but not WP). On my phone I have Clever-To-Do, mostly for recurring tasks (but no Win8), Microsoft Alarm for simple weekly reminders, TileNotes Pro to create a reminder tile via voice with two taps, and Two-Tap Reminder although I haven’t used that app in quite some time.

    It’s not that I am super forgetful. But there are certain things that need to be done at certain times and on certain days. So, if I am supposed to send out an email by 4:00pm on Thursday and at 1:30 I get inundated with a half dozen new projects, 4:00 may come and go, as I won’t be coming up for air till about 7 or 8 that night. Any gamer or programmer can relate to how time can just disappear like that. I usually remember that I forget just after powering down the Office PC for the night. Frustrating. And like my Palm Pilot days, where I stopped remembering people’s phone numbers as soon as I started recording them on the Palm (and eventually Outlook), I do the same with tasks. Once I record a to-do somewhere, my brain uses that space to store other bits of information. Mr. Brain relies on technology to make sure I remember and complete said tasks. That makes room for other more important stuff.

    Putting everything in one place, using a single app across all platforms, and having it follow me around would be one hell of a Christmas present. I don’t think it’s all that much to ask. A fairly well designed task manager (like Clever-To-Do), with date/time reminder capability, recurring task capability, automatic syncing with the cloud across all platforms, well designed Live Tiles that make full use of their respective platforms. I’ll give you $5/month for that today. Maybe more if it’s really intuitive and reliable. Maybe I’ll get lucky in 2014.

  2. I don’t think the search is any better in Google play.
    But GPlay does keep a list of every app you have ever installed, and you can remove apps from that list. Right there where you view the market. You can also make a wish list.
    I cannot find such a list in the Windows store. I have heard that it is there. But I cannot find it on my device. If I have to look it up on my PC or laptop, then it is useless.
    Can you see a list of every app you have ever tried and unistalled on a WP device?

  3. You can go to Settings>Storage Check>Details>Apps to see a list of installed apps, along with how much memory they are consuming. But that’s about the same thing. as view the apps list. You can navigate to from your phone’s browser and see your purchase history. But with more than 300 downloads, I find that to be a mangled mess.

    I would like to have more control of the apps I can see in a list, and especially the ability the hide trails (that I later purchased) and apps that I would “never ever” want to install again. For both Windows Phone and WIndows 8.x.

    Of course, none of this would help me with my “ideal task app” quest, but it would improve the overall experience.

    Question: Why can I easily create a to-do in Calendar on my phone, but yet it will appear nowhere in Windows 8, unless I open Outlook and view it as a Task. Microsoft are the experts in syncing data in the background. Why can’t they integrate to-dos into the Windows 8 Calendar app, like the did in WP. That would probably meet most of my current needs. Maybe that’s what we will see in the “yet to be released” Modern version of Outlook.

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