It’s no secret that I am a task/to-do application maven, constantly seeking the Holy Grail of task apps. Not that I suffer from acute CRS (Can’t Remember Shit). It’s just that I was brought up on Franklin Planner, which eventually evolved into Outlook Tasks. And that’s a hard thing to part with. Especially when I think back to 2004 and remember how effective I was with a laptop running Outlook and a Pocket PC that was able to sync up all of my tasks. Creating and managing tasks across my two devices was a breeze. I always knew what was “Due” and very few things slipped through the cracks.

Fast forward a decade and here I sit, sort of longing for the good old days. I current have three task apps running on my Windows Phone and two running on my machines; home PC, office PC, notebook and tablet. They each offer unique features, and certainly some improvements over my 2004 model. But they all lack some basic capability, basic requirements for an ideal task app. Without mincing words, a true clusterfuck. My frustration level has peaked to the point where my current expectation is to simply not have an expectation. What it is, is what it is. Get used to it. Oh, and buy those post-it notes when they are on sale cause there is little chance you are going to be giving them up for a long, long time.

 

When Wunderlist Beta showed up in both the Windows Phone and Windows Store a couple weeks ago, I greeted it with high expectations. Hoping to finally find the task app of my dreams. Seamless syncing was the promise, and so far that promise has proved accurate. Problem is, that’s about all this app can do well. Sync. The recurrence options are nearly non-existent.  And a Live Tile, the most essential part of any task app, has yet to materialize on either platform (although it was announced for WP in the most recent update-currently have 4 Wunderlist List tiles pinned now and nada). Not having a, constantly updatable, Live Tile with a task app is like buying a wall calendar with 12 pretty pictures and a bunch of squares, but no words or numbers. Ok, I know this is only a beta. But how can someone sell this app as being “highly anticipated”. And long available on iPhone and Android. Are my Smartphone brother’s and sister’s expectations really set that low?

I sometimes wonder if my expectations are set too high. Or, maybe it’s just because our modern generation does not have the sense of priority or timeliness that I was brought up with. Maybe that’s why I am constantly reminding and following up with superiors, subordinates and friends.  Don’t buy beer till your out of it. Send that belated birthday card a week late. Get the oil changed when the red light comes on. Back up your data when (or if) you think about it. Descale the Keurig brewer when the Descale Warning comes on. Always arrive to meetings late, and unprepared. Take three trips to Staples this week instead of one. Give the dog his tick meds when it looks like he’s scratching more. No worries. Be happy.

The perfect task app would not necessarily have a slick UI, although that’s always nice to look at. In fact, all it really needs is a Quick Tile to create a new task and a constantly updatable Live Tile showing current and past due tasks. Of course, seamless syncing across all devices is an absolute. That’s it. Except for editing and completing tasks, no reason to ever even open the pretty app. Why is it that these basic concepts seem to be distant for so many well meaning developers. Inquiring minds want to know.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, I thought that I was the only one still pining for the win mobile days with a synced outlook task list! I would be interested in knowing what you are using that you currently like the best, that really syncs…

  2. On my Windows Phone I have been using CleverToDo for a couple years. Absolutely fantastic Live Tile that updates with a background task. So you always know what’s due and past due at a glance, WITHOUT having to open the app. Their recurring task routine is stellar, with multiple different options for almost any situation. Over, a very friendly app. I have been in touch regularly with the developer, “clever-software DOT net”, and they have promised a Windows 8 version was coming. They even sent me some screenshots about six months ago. But the world is still waiting. I still use CleverToDo for all my recurring tasks, but as it’s only available on my phone, I don’t enter an new personal or business tasks.

    For syncing between phone and Windows 8 Start Screen, I use To-Do Prime. It’s a fairly good task app, with options to keep it simple, or manage multiple categories, projects, etc. The recurring task function is much better than Wunderlist, but not nearly as well implemented as CleverToDo. The Live Tile for Win 8 does not show current and past due tasks. You either get to see all loaded tasks, or you have to pin different tiles. So I have three tiles; one for the app which shows ALL tasks regardless of due/no due date, one for past dues and one for due today. A lot more work that it should be. Syncing is not bad, but you need to open the app for a sync to occur reliably on both my Windows Phone and Win 8 machines. If the 3 or 4 WP/Win8 tasks apps I have tested, it’s the most reliable yet. Not sure if the syncing is a Windows limitation, but Package Tracker, an app I use for phone and PC, updates it’s tile every time a package has a status change. So I know it’s possible.

    Wunderlist has said that they will make their Smart Lists (had to find out what a Smart List was) work as Live Tiles soon. That could work, as the Today list includes past dues. And so far Wunderlist sync has been great, but whether it can sync in the background is anyone’s guess. I just want a Live Tile to show me what is due and/or past due as of today, (not tomorrow or next week). Updated on all my devices within a hour or two, after I take action to complete or delete a task on any of one my devices. How hard can that be. Everything else IMO is bonus.

Comments are closed.