I’ve refreshed the list in a new post for Apr 2014 – added some new apps and removed some of the older ones. Check out the new post here!
I’ve not had an easy time finding is the a “perfect” task/to-do list for Windows Phone. But then again, I’ve never quite found one, even on other platforms. The one that got closest to it for me was Astrid – and it doesn’t have a WP8 counterpart yet. There are a few pretty good managers on the store, and I’m trying a few now, but the key thing missing for me is cross-platform, native, offline support. For someone using a Mac, PC, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, this is important. My “perfect” task-manager wishlist, which I’ll use to rate the three apps reviewed:
- Cross-platform, native apps with offline support
- Fast input, preferably gesture-driven
- “Smart-add” syntax e.g. “Do stuff tomorrow 7.30pm #personal”
- Alternative adding methods – particularly browser widgets and add via e-mail
- Live Tile – I don’t want to have to open the app just to view my task-list
- Basics – lists/folders, reminders etc.
Without further ado, my shortlist:
1. Top Task List
Usually I’m a stickler for the design and feel of an app, and Top Task List never struck me as an app that was particularly attractive (despite the extra effort to add animations). But as I used the app, I was blown away by the functionality. In my opinion, no other WP8 task manager comes close, and for free as well. Looking at my list:
Cross-platform, native apps with offline support: Not cross-platform, but native and offline, with a Windows 8 app in the works (Update: you can now pay US$1.99 to use manual two-way Skydrive sync; the list of tasks is saved in excel files in the cloud, and you can directly edit the files and sync the changes to the app. It works well!)
Fast input: I discovered this by accident, but you can swipe down in any list and a quick input box for new tasks appears.
“Smart-add” syntax: Nope.
Alternative adding methods: Nope.
Live Tiles: Very, very good. You can pin individual lists to the start screen and resize them in all 3 sizes, adjust the font size so more items are displayed, see the due dates of items if any and so on. I only wish there were an option to pin “All Tasks” or “Today” to the screen instead of individual lists.
Basics: Good. Reminders etc. are all there and work well, and you can even add people (though it doesn’t contact them for you, like Astrid or Any.DO) and even time spent on a task. Out of all the apps, Top Task List has the most native features and the dev is working pretty hard on it. He responds quickly to email – which is a good sign that there will be more to come! It’s free with an in-app purchase option for Skydrive sync/donation.
A clone of the Clear to-do app from iOS, which the developer rightly says is so metro, it should have been on Windows Phone first. It has more functionality than the iOS app, though it does seem a little less attractive.
Cross-platform, native apps with offline support: Not cross-platform, but has manual 2-way sync with Google Tasks lists (except the default list). Manual because you have to click the sync button, but that’s not too much of a biggy. G-tasks kinda sucks after coming from the likes of Astrid, though I’m porting most of my tasks over.
Fast input: The hallmark of the app, so needless to say, input is fast. As the original Clear put it, “click, scroll, pinch, swipe or type” (from the Mac version, which explains the click and type).
“Smart-add” syntax: Nope.
Alternative adding methods: Not natively. I guess with G-tasks sync this is something that isn’t too difficult to implement though.
Live Tiles: Decent, but I’m spoilt after using Top Task List. You can pin individual lists to the start screen (but no wide tile) but each only lists 4 items at a time, though they flip.
Basics: Has reminders, which already puts it ahead of the original Clear. However, only manual sorting, no way to move tasks between lists. You can change the colours and add a background image as well.
One thing I did lament about Clearer is it seems that the developer has put the app on the backburner. No updates in the last few months! There is not large WP8 live tile and the like. There clearly (hur hur) is much potential for it. For those looking for a barebones task list, check out Clearer – it costs US$0.99.
3. Milkman (Remember The Milk Client)
I was initially quite hopeful for this, as Remember The Milk (RTM) is a very comprehensive to-do manager. Their basic service is free, but the pro version costs $25/year (which is cheaper but less powerful than Astrid’s pro charges). Milkman is an unofficial RTM client.
Cross-platform, native apps with offline support: Cross-platform, but without pro accounts their iOS and Android apps have limited sync. Milkman doesn’t have good offline support as well.
Fast input: Not gesture-driven, and not quite that fast as the client syncs each time.
“Smart-add” syntax: Yes, though it doesn’t prompt you on the tags you have already used (not unexpected though, as it is an unofficial client). Alternative adding methods: Not natively, but through RTM – email, widgets etc.
Live Tiles: Resizable in all three sizes, but displays the least information out of all the three apps, only the number of tasks.
Basics: Since it’s built on RTM, the suite of features is comprehensive. But I find the design could be more streamlined.
I chose Top Task List, and have been pretty pleased with the results. The glance-ability of the live tile, plus the quick input, won it out for me. So show the dev some love and check it out!