Battle Of The iPhone Task Managers

When the iTunes App Store first opened up to eager iPhone and iPod touch upgraders (and iPhone 3G buyers), one of the first types of applications to show up was the to-do/task manager. From simple check-box lists to voice-transcribing tools, there's a bewildering number of apps, many of them free, that promise to help you keep track of your necessary actions and projects while you're away from your computer. Today we're checking out five of them, all free except for one requiring a "Pro" account, and comparing their features and functionality side-by-side, as well as asking which app you use to keep their busy lives together. Read on for the full show-down.

Remember the Milk

  • Pricing: Free to download, but access requires $US25/year Pro account (which also grants access to Windows Mobile/Blackberry app).
  • Task options: Multiple lists, priorities, due dates, tags, repeating tasks, time estimates, location, URL, and notes.
  • Organisation: Today/Tomorrow/This Week lists, a multi-list view, and sorting by tags or location.
  • Other features:Can use location awareness to find tasks closest to you; search function; home screen icon updates with tasks due today.
  • Web syncing?: Yes.

Zenbe Lists

  • Pricing: Free (for both app and web account).
  • Task options: Basic text and due date.
  • Organisation: Multiple lists, with x/x completed counts and due dates shown in list view.
  • Other features: One-click syncing to web account; easy e-mailing (of link to web list) through iPhone email.
  • Web syncing?: Yes.


  • Pricing: App and account are free.
  • Task options: Auto-context text—use the phrase "Remember" or say "Tuesday," and reQall labels it accordingly. Tasks can be sent to contacts from add page.
  • Organisation: iPhone app is laid out onto three screens: "Time," with item viewing by Today, Soon, or Overdue; "Things," broken into Notes, Shopping, and To-dos (though any and all of them are technically to-dos); and "People" for shared tasks. All three organising pages can be flipped to single-page listings.
  • Other features: Add by phone call (after registering phone number with reQall); Shake the iPhone/touch for a "memory jog" (random task pops up on screen);
  • Web syncing?: Yes.

To Do's

  • Pricing: Free.
  • Task options: Title, notes, and three-step priority (high, normal, low).
  • Organisation: Priority-coloured tasks with note previews laid out with checkboxes next to each, with options to sort by priority or date. Click blue arrows to edit or see full tasks.
  • Other features: Home screen badge can update with just high-priority or all tasks still due.
  • Web syncing?: No (but cited for future).

EasyTask Manager

  • Pricing: Free app; Online syncing (apparently) requires $US19.99 account, which also buys desktop software.
  • Task options: Very GTD-focused: Action name, project list, context, start date, due date, importance (1-5), and notes.
  • Organization: Three pages: A "Dashboard" that lists all tasks, sorted by due dates (Inbox, Tomorrow, Next 7 Days, Past Due, Completed); a "Projects" list; and "Contexts" view.
  • Other features: Online
  • Web syncing?: With paid account.

This was by no means a comprehensive list, as any look at the iTunes App Store will show, but we tried to pick out a decent sampling of the different apps out there—basic checkmarks, phone-integrated, GTD-focused, paid, and a halfway option.


    The problem with these task managers that don't have a web-sync mechanism is that iTunes will regularly wipe all your to-dos, shopping lists etc when a bad sync happens. Since I get a (damaged itl) message every other day due to iTunes crappiness there's very little incentive for me to keep any data on the iPhone.

    Another great app for Mac OSX users is Things, with WiFi sync to the desktop client. The iPhone app is free. The desktop app is currently free (in beta) but will eventually require payment when they ship v1 in a couple of months.

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