Update #1: Added GoodTask, Gneo, Zippy on 07/04/15
First published on 08/11/14
Unlike most app reviews, this one is going to encapsulate several task managers for iPhone. Instead of reviewing every single one under the sun, I will pick apps that I feel are worthy of being on anyone’s home screen, and allow the reader to decide. No point in making anyone look me review garbage, after all! Some people may be wondering why they wouldn’t just use the builtin Reminders app offered by Apple. Don’t get me wrong – for some people, Reminders works just fine. However, the options listed below tend to offer a wider variety of features that will constantly be improved that Apple just can’t provide. Additionally, quite a few of the options offer ways to check your todos on more than just Apple devices.
This will be a live post, so whenever an exciting new task manager comes out, or is updated, check back on this post! If you would like to submit apps for review, feel free to contact me! I’ve also added [IAP] to any apps that include in-app purchases. Apps that offer a wide variety of features in their IAPs will simply say “additional features.”
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
Finish [IAP – Additional Features]
Finish touts a beautiful, intuitive design. It is easy to use “right out of the box” with no learning curve. It is free, with a completely-worth-it 99¢ IAP which unlocks unlimited (as opposed to only ten) tasks, and the ability to set times for your tasks using features like reminders and “Bother Me.” It also integrates nicely with Kiip rewards, which will give you gifts and coupons every once in a while after completing your tasks. I used Finish for the longest time, but have recently stopped. Finish’s only drawback is that it isn’t powerful enough for some. While most will be fine with the single list, those wanting multiple lists or tags should look elsewhere.
Any.do [IAP – Additional Features]
Any.do’s greatest feature is something they call Moments. Every morning it presents you with a clean layout that shows a single task at a time, allowing you to decide whether you want to conquer it today, later, classify it as already completed, or delete it. Free users get five Moments per month, but can upgrade to premium for $2.99/month, or $27/year. In addition to unlimited Moments, there are a wealth of other additional features, including location-based reminders and themes. While you can assign tasks to folders, the whole UI feels a little clunky and not quite polished.
Carrot [IAP – Cat Costumes, Icons]
If you’re looking to complete your tasks in a fun way, Carrot is definitely the best option for you. Carrot is your personal assistant who rewards you for completing tasks, but punishes you for being lazy. While task managing features are limited to a single list – with reminders being unlocked for free later in the “game” – the sarcastic attitude Carrot has towards you will keep you smiling and motivate you to complete your todo list. While the concept is fun, it’s task managing rivals only Apple’s own Reminders.app.
I like Swipes because it has the look and feel of a lightweight manager, but in fact can be used more powerfully. Anyone familiar with Mailbox will know that the ability to snooze emails is a godsend. Swipes has taken this simple, yet important feature and brought it to task management. All times can be manually adjusted, with the options to snooze until tomorrow, the weekend and next week, among others. Additionally, tasks can be set as priorities, so you can see what must really be focused on at a glance. Finally, tasks can be given tags. I set up “Errands, School, and Work.” I used to feel intimidated by tags in all kinds of services, but I’ve begun to warm up to them. They’re a more effective way to organize than categories.
Clear [IAP – Sounds]
Frankly, I’ve never seen Clear as a todo list app. Their recent addition of reminders for items, while useful, doesn’t convince me. Clear is a beautiful app, its gestures and themes make using it a wonderful experience. However, when it comes down to managing my tasks, I found it didn’t do a very good job of convincing me. That said, I use Clear all the time for lists (grocery, movies to watch, etc.).
Taasky [IAP – Analytics]
Taasky is interesting. While it seems to be leaning towards the basic side, something about it compels me. It allows for multiple lists, and you can add notes and reminders. Marking important tasks is emphasized in a way I haven’t seen before: Moving the task to the top and dramatically increasing its font size. You can even view stats “about your productivity” for an additional 99¢. I don’t like how marking tasks as completed keeps them in the list until you swipe to delete them, but that is easily overlooked. Taasky looks great, and if you want a minimal app with hidden superpowers, I recommend trying it out.
Wunderlist [IAP – Additional Features]
Wunderlist really seems to have it all. Apps on all platforms, the ability to add notes and tags to tasks, multiple lists, collaboration, themes. Wunderlist is a really great task manager, and I honestly cannot find anything about it to criticize. Everything you would need is only a tap or two away. The best part is that it is offered for free.
Things is the task manager app that I use. I had used it prior to iOS 7, but when they didn’t update their UI I switched to Finish. Over a month ago they finally updated their iPhone UI (iPad is coming soon). While it is not the brand new Things 3 they’ve been promising for a couple years, a 2.5 redesign is welcomed. I have set up tags, projects, and areas of responsibility (i.e. Work, School, Family). I personally don’t like their Mac app at all, but I put up with it for the iPhone counterpart. While Things is incredibly powerful, adding tasks with tags, areas, and due dates does take more time than on the other options. I’m also feeling that when they release Things 3, it will be a paid upgrade. The only other problem with Things is the high $10 price for iPhone, and $50 for Mac if you want syncing, which can turn people away.
Omnifocus is a stunning task app. It really has everything, and a gorgeous app design to showcase itself off. However –more so than with Things– there is a steep learning curve. It is impressively powerful, but that can be intimidating to some people. Additionally, it is very expensive. $20 on iPhone, and if you want to sync to Mac, it will cost you an additional $40 (Or $80 for the Pro version). That said, if you’re wanting something powerful and aren’t afraid to spend a bit of coin to get it, Omnifocus is definitely your best choice.
I’ve heard of many people using Trello for their todo list service. It syncs across a range of devices, and helps to visualize what you need to do. Trello allows you to create numerous categories (called Boards), along with tags and attachments. However, I personally was never able to use Trello for task management. Instead, I find it better suited for collaborative project management. Trello is kind of like a digital wall of sticky notes, which is why I prefer it for larger projects with several sections and multiple people working on them. It helps everyone always stay organized and know what’s going on. That said, there is nothing wrong with using it individually for your everyday duties.
GoodTask is another interesting one. I still cannot decide whether or not I love it. I certainly like its clean look, and the fact that it uses Apple Reminders in addition to having iPad and Mac apps. It has a night mode and built-in calendar too. But, for me, I like to keep my calendar events and tasks separate (one reason why I don’t use the incredibly popular Fantastical). GoodTask allows you to hide calendar events, but then that wrecks the whole purpose of the app. On the bright side, GoodTask offers a free, scaled-down version of their iOS app – letting you try before committing to the $5 price. You’ll need to make up your own mind on this one.
I like Gneo. It’s got a clean, white UI, with three ways to view your tasks – A timeline, a regular list, or a grid (as seen above). Besides being able to categorize tasks into notebooks, with tags, locations, reminders, and notes, Gneo has an interesting feature: Important and/or Urgent. These are two options to toggle for each new reminder, and are a fresh way to prioritize what needs to be done. Gneo also has an amazing support website, with articles, how-to videos, FAQs, et cetera on just about everything. It even syncs your tasks to Evernote. My two gripes are that in Evernote, each task is a note, which makes stuff messy, and the price: $11.99 is steep for a lot of people. But trust me, It’s worth it.
Quite a few people mentioned that they wanted me to include Zippy in this review. In all honesty, I don’t care for it too much. There is only an iPhone app, so it won’t sync your tasks to iPad, Mac, or Android, and its UI is quite juvenile – almost every element is oversized. The main thing Zippy has going for it are analytics, which allow you to see information about when you complete tasks, the amount of completed tasks, et cetera. As the developers put it, “Insights” are meant to “help you get better and managing and completing tasks,” but I find it unnecessary. You can organize your tasks as well, but at $4, I’d like it to do more.