Google polled users of its Tasks app on what else it should do, and last week we chimed in, too, asking you for the features in your Dream To-Do App. Here's a few suggestions from our task-focused readers.
One common theme that came up in many of the comments was a task list that doesn't always look the same, and supports delayed tasks. In other words, you know you'll have to pick up the dry cleaning next Friday, but why show you that one task, and offer a completion check, if it's not something you'll likely need to know until the Thursday before? Some apps do, of course, offer this feature, but many to-do/task apps treat all tasks as something you can do at any time. Adding a "context" (@email, @driving, etc.) can help, but it shouldn't be a forced option.
On to the specifics. Commenter rphoto had a few good basics:
- Available across platforms (iOS, mac, windows, android, etc...)
- Write note first, categorise later
- Color coding
- Easy email function
- Syncing with Google Docs or web interface
LordieLordie provides some context on how an app should provide you with your tasks at a later date:
As someone who used Outlook for many years until switching to Gmail, I do miss the ability to flag an email message for future followup.
You get an email which will require action for sometime in the future. Just click followup, enter a date and time, and it will pop up at that time.
Blueluck sounds like someone who's worked their way through a number of systems to find the right fit, and has the notes and nit-picks to prove it:
- Access points - I chose Toodledo, Evernote, and certain Google services because they offer a web page full interface, smartphone app, and iGoogle gadget. Any service that doesn't provide all three is 1/3 less useful to me.
- Quick & intuitive adding and editing of tasks. I used Remember the Milk for a few weeks and gave up because adding or changing a task never felt easy.
- Reasonable security - I want my account password protected, but I don't want to enact nuclear launch protocols every time I use it. So, password - yes, monthly password changes & login expirations - no.
- Notes - Give me space to write notes, and I'll manage tasks within the application. With no space for notes, I'll have to use two apps rather than one for many tasks.
Finally, NetDiva hits a home run with her suggestion that apps have the ability to give you more or less sophistication, depending on your needs:
I think this is an intractable problem, likely because people use task/todo lists differently so you need 89 different apps to satisfy millions of people.
I think the above comment about allowing the user to turn off/on particular features so it can be as complicated and streamlined as one wishes is on the money.
Currently, I use something like 5 different mechanisms for my todo lists because no one product can do what I want. I am not happy with my 5 mechanism system, but I cannot figure out what else to do.
And what would make NetDiva happy?
What I need:
- A task list that is hierarchical and allows projects within projects (Taskpaper for the Mac is excellent for this and syncs with iOS)
- A task list that syncs to the web and to my computers and to my iOS devices
- A task list where I can highlight (and easily reorder) tasks for what I need to do TODAY vs. tomorrow/later with a minimum of fiddling.
- A notification system where I can be pestered when to complete a task (email/notification) - and the subject line of the email needs to be the task!
- Said notification system needs to distinguish between repetitive tasks and one-time
Thanks to everyone who dropped off their thoughts!