Approximate time to read: 6 minutes
There are a number of Android apps available for the home user who wants to manage all the things in life they need to do – anything from not forgetting to renew an insurances to cleaning a vacuum cleaner filter. I’ve been through the most popular to see which is the best out there.
I’ve only looked at those with free options (premium only are, therefore, excluded) and, particularly, those that have a matching web interface as well.
With some many potential features what have I concentrated on?
- Does the app include a full screen widget for listing current and upcoming tasks?
- Does the app automatically sync in the background or is it done manually?
- Is there a website interface and/or a Chrome application?
- All allow you to specify tasks within categories. But do they allow an even higher level where you could group to an even finer level?
- Can you view lists of tasks for today (including those that are overdue) and for the next week?
- Assuming you can repeat tasks, how flexible is this? For instance, can you specify every 3 weeks or are you limited to a fixed number?
- Can you specify that a task repeats after its due date OR after it’s been completed?
- Can you attach notes to a task?
- Are sub-tasks possible?
- Can you backup your tasks?
- What options are available for importing and exporting your tasks, particularly from other apps?
Yes, that’s quite a list but, I think, a pretty bare minimum – some are more important than others and I’d certainly be happy with a product that had some of the less important features missing. However, can anything get close?
Remember The Milk
I’m starting with RTM because it’s the first app of this type that I used. The web interface is looking very tired these days but its extremely powerful – repeating events are very flexible, for instance. You can’t create sub-tasks but there are plenty of ways to add notes, assign priorities, etc. There’s only one level of category and these are shown in a tabbed interface.
To push you towards the premium version of their offering, the app only syncronises manually which is a disapointment.
Otherwise, this has a solid set of features. I can’t remember why I moved away now – I’m sure it was was because of something that RTM didn’t do at the time. However, the poor interface, for me, is now the main reason why I wouldn’t recommend it.
This is the app I moved to from Remember The Milk. Wunderlist is modern looking with a slick interface, it has everything that RTM has . Except one thing – you can’t set a task to repeat based upon its completion time. For me, this was the only big issue and, to me anyway, it still is.
Let’s say you have a reminder set up to check your car’s tyre pressures every couple of months. If you don’t get around to it for a month, you don’t want it then reminding you a month later – you want it to remind you two months later.
As annoying as this was everything else about Wunderlist was excellent and I was happy to put up with it. That was until I started having problems with the synchronising. You can access your tasks on their website or via a Chrome, OS X or Android app. All these need to synchronise with each other and Wunderlist… well, it doesn’t work very well. I was regularly losing information and it was deeply frustrating. Wunderlist promise a fix in the next major release (version 3) but have been quoting that for months and can give no time-scales for release.
Until this is resolved I really cannot recommend Wunderlist.
After Wunderlist I had a brief “fling” with Toodledo. I never transferred everything from Wunderlist too it before I realised it wasn’t for me, thankfully.
There’s no Chrome app but there is a website interface. Sub-tasks aren’t supported and repeating reminders are there but not as flexible as I’d have liked.
My problem with it is just how over-engineered it is. As well as being able to add tasks you can also create outlines, notes and lists (although these are only partially supported by the phone app). The web interface, in my opinion anyway, is poor and listing current tasks is not as easy as you’d expect, with various dropdowns and tick boxes changed to get it to list in due date order. And then you can’t just list current tasks – everything is listed on screen, just in due date order. There are specific options to, say, list those due today or in the next few days but, oddly, they don’t include anything that’s overdue. Surely if something was meant to be completed yesterday then it should be a task for today (which is the approach that everybody else seems to take)?
Asana is actually a business solution but with a free account offering all features it’s still worth looking at. As it is intended for business it allows multiple users to share tasks, so if you want to set up tasks for the family to share and contribute to this is worthy of further investigation.
This is the only solution that offers multiple levels of categorisation too, so you could have work and home sections, for instance, as well as task categories under each of those.
All other features are available with the exception of two – there is no widget for the app and no simple “due today” view. Repeating events are supported but only to a limited degree – the same with repeating completed events after completion.
So, some limiting features but, at the same time, some others that no-one else here supports.
Once more another solution that initially seems to offer all the features you might need but then you find one, relatively simply, thing that puts you off it totally.
With Todoist, repeating events are fully supported, along with Android widgets, Chrome apps, etc. The interface is clean and minimalist too. And then you find it doesn’t support any kind of note being assigned to the task (and you can’t add sub-tasks either). You have to pay for the premium version for that feature.
In fact the premium offering is a bit of a problem – Todoist show all sorts of options, such as assigning labels or viewing notes and then, once clicked, show you a big pop-up about how you need the premium. It’s annoying and rather un-necessary.
Any.do attempts to look modern and, dare I say it, trendy. There is no web interface but there is a Chrome application.
My initial frustration came when I attempted to view my list. There is no specific “today” or “next week” view but simply a timeline that lists everything in timed groups – today, tomorrow, etc.
Where I got frustrated, though, was trying to add any kind of repeating event – I couldn’t work it out and only really stumbled across it by accident. You set up a reminder but turn the alarm off. However, there’s no flexibility to the repeats and you can’t specify to repeat after completion.
The web interface for TickTick reminds me a lot of Wunderlist, with options on the left, tasks listed down the middle and task details on the right. One nice touch is that it’s responsive, meaning that you can use this on a mobile screen (without the app).
It has the ubiquitous Android and Chrome app available for it and, indeed, all the other options that I’ve been looking for. At first I didn’t think it didn’t support sub-tasks but I found that an icon click will convert a task note into a sub-task list instead. It only has only level of categorisation but that’s perfectly “liveable with”.
There is a premium version but this is for those with exceptional large list requirements – an average person isn’t likely to need this. That means that features aren’t missing – automatic syncing, etc. You can also prioritise tasks, there is flexible repeating task management and you can even subscribe to them as a calendar.
There are no importing options and, indeed, the number of options for customisation is extremely limiting. You get what you see.
A couple of others were quickly discounted.
HabitRPG takes task management and gamifies it. There are rewards for doing things and… well… it seems very busy and a lot of initial effort to work out how it all works. I was after something simple and it’s not delivered here. However, if you have the time to dedicate to it then many people really enjoy this solution. Just be wary that the Android app doesn’t appear to be rated well.
2Do only offer a premium solution, so that hasn’t been reviewed.
ToDo Cloud doesn’t offer a web interface and that includes any Chrome apps.
If you hadn’t already guessed I’m now using TickTick. It has all the features I want and is simple in use. For those home user who simply wants to note all those jobs that need doing then this is ideal.