Saturday, June 23, 2012

Errands To-Do List app

9/13/12: I now recommend the GoTasks app over the Errands To-Do List app.

Recently, when looking at two pieces of paper on which I had written separate lists of things to do in the near future, I thought it was insane (the opposite of "insanely great") that after crossing out various items on both lists, I couldn't simply merge the remaining items into a single nice clean list (a sentiment I've experienced many times over the years).

Although I've used PDAs for ages, I've primarily recorded near-term to-do items on the device's native calendar application, often as repeating events to serve as functional reminders until such items get done. It was time to look for a dedicated to-do list app, one with greater capabilities than those of iOS 5's built-in Reminders app (which I had actually totally forgotten about, and wouldn't have satisfied my needs anyway).

My to-do list needs are relatively basic, and I limited my search to free apps. I wanted to keep things simple, and rejected apps that required making an additional login account. The first app I tried (for about a day) had ads, which I considered take too much of the iPod's small screen. Eventually I found the Errands To-Do List app (version 3.1.3), which looks quite good so far, and I deleted all the other apps.

Some observations:

  • Creation and deletion of items is similar to that for events in the built-in Calendar app (familiar, thus easy to use).
  • Option to have a badge show total number of "Focused" items ("Focused" item are similar to Starred items in the great Notespark notes app)
  • Allows manual sorting of to-do items, which is the most useful sorting for me
  • Can make an item's notes into a subtask list (e.g., grocery items)
  • Can backup via ad hoc e-mail to yourself; iCloud backup seems flaky for now per the included iCloud FAQ and some App Store reviews
  • Can double tap to open a to-do item
  • Option to Long Press (tap-hold) to directly open notes (which could be a subtask list as noted above) associated with a to-do item
  • Variety of fonts; I chose the one which allows the most text to fit within the width of the main screen display. If your text is cut off at the right, there is no indicator that some is not being shown; that actually makes sense because even showing "..." would take up room that would be better used by even a portion of your to-do item's text.
  • Setting View Mode to Condensed allows about 8 tasks per screen (vs 4 in Regular)
  • Startup is sometimes surprisingly slow. A tolerable inconvenience...up to a point.

This app has many features of which I have no need, so it could be suitable even for "power users" of to-do lists. For instance, it can issue reminders, but I prefer to use it like a high-tech version of a paper list -- I'll check it when I want to.

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