Noteworthy Task Managers / To-do Lists for Windows Phone 8

Update (19 Sept 2014): Wunderlist is back with a vengeance!

When I first wrote about Todo list apps for Windows Phone, I had grand requirements (the “Getting Things Done” methodology was inspiration at the time) – the ability to group stuff in folders, tag categories, assign people, break in to subtasks etc. A year later, apps have improved or fallen off the update cycle, my workflow has developed, and I have simpler needs for a Todo List (I usually keep my larger projects separate from a personal Todos). This represents a collection of my recommended Task Managers / Todo List apps for Windows Phone 8, as well as others I’ve tried.

1. Wunderlist

Wunderlist for WP8

Making its second entrance to Windows Phone (and Windows 8), the to-do app from Wunderkinder is back with a splash. Feature-parity is very close to the iOS and Android versions, which is great news for Windows Phone fans. It helps that the interface is gorgeous. You can also set subtasks, share lists and assign people. Plus, it has apps on just about everything (including a proper desktop app!)

If I could have only one gripe, it’s that live tiles still need some work. They display just the names of the tasks, in a single row (see Top Task List for how I think to-do apps should make their Live Tiles). Also, it flips, which is a peeve for me – now I only see tasks half the time? I also do think there is quite a lot of navigation necessary.

2. Top Task List

top task list

This app was top of my list last year, and it still is top of my list. The dev has continued to push decent updates for this app – it’s feature-packed, but most of those get out-of-the-way if you only want the basics. My favourite bits? Awesome live tiles and reasonably sloppy input. You can pin any folder to the Start Screen – by default the widest tile can display up to 12 tasks (!) at a time, and you can show more if you reduce the font size and remove the header. Plus you can pull-down-to-create-task a la Clear on iOS – no fumbling for the “+” or tick icon.

But that’s really only the beginning – you can add notes, create subtasks, assign a priority (based on the Eisenhower method), assign it to a person (although just in name, it’s no Asana)… And even take over the entire lock screen wallpaper with your tasks! The app is free as well, you only pay if you want to sync with SkyOneDrive. Download it here.

3. TinyDO

tinydo

Those of you coming from Any.do or Clear on Android/iOS may find TinyDO familiar. The design borrows the clean aesthetics of any.do, starting from the little voice icon to the layout of the settings – I’d say it looks even better. TinyDO takes a different approach to task management from the acclaimed app though, favoring gestures and simpler organisation. Closer to Clear in fact. You can pull-down to create a to-do, or pull-down-and-hold to use voice; Swipe to either complete or delete a task, tap-and-hold to move tasks or group them. Reminders can be added and you can backup tasks on OneDrive, but don’t expect power-user features like assigning people.

I really liked the free app, but the one thing holding me back from using it as a daily driver was the live tile support. Tasks are only shown on the widest tile, and since it uses the WP8 template, a maximum of 3 tasks are displayed at any given time. A pity really, because the design is beautiful.

4. Evernote

evernote

The elephant in the room (hur hur), Evernote became more viable as a to-do app with the addition of reminders. Of course, Evernote is really more than just a to-do list, maybe too much so – it can do just about anything you want in terms of categorization, and since each reminder is a note, you can put any kind of information – like pictures (which can be annotated on the desktop) checkboxes for sub-tasks. Plus you can create notes via E-mail, something no doubt useful for an office chap.

Unfortunately handwriting and note links are not supported on WP8 yet. Also, given its roots, Evernote is not optimised for simple to-dos, and this more apparent on the WP8 app. There is no shortcut to create reminders off the bat, so you’ll have to create notes first and tag them as reminders. Reminders are displayed (along with notes) when you open All Notes or a Notebook – so one level down in the hierarchy. And since I use Evernote for bigger projects and as a dumping ground notebook, there is too much clutter, so I like to keep my personal to-do list separate.

In terms of live tiles, there are options to pin Notebooks and shortcuts to create notes. However, glanceability at your task list is limited; you can pin folders and the medium tile will flip to show snippets of picture notes, but that’s it.

One thing Evernote really has going for it is cross-platform support – it’s officially on practically everything! I really like Evernote, but it adds too much overhead to what I need in simple to-do list. But maybe it’s comprehensive enough for your needs? Download the app here.

5. Milkman

milkman

A third-party client for Remember the Milk, the app has been steadily updated to support an offline mode. Remember the MILK (RTM) has been around for a while and is pretty deep in terms of functionality, supporting both folder and tag categorization. Somewhat like Evernote, but more focused. RTM is available on multiple platforms, and you can even sync with Evernote reminders now.

One of the things I really liked about RTM is the smart syntax – if you’ve used E-mail to create notes with Evernote, this will be familiar territory. Basically, in the same text entry for the name of your to-do, you can specify a folder, tags, priorities and more e.g. “pick up the milk #shoppinglist @shoppingmall”. Milkman supports entering this syntax, although it doesn’t auto-suggest options.

The live tiles only show overdue or due tasks though, and due to the syncing it can take some time to create tasks – as such, not my favourite app. But if you’re looking for something more cross-platform and more focused than Evernote, you can download Milkman here.

OTHER APPS

These are other apps I think are worth considering:

  • Tasks by Telerik – Colourful, lots of fields, folder and project categorisation, Windows 8 App with sync (paid)
  • Trellow – a barebones but working client for the organisation app, Trello
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