Free OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
Introduced in iOS 5, Apple's Reminders is the built-in task manager for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. Reminders features a clutter-free and intuitive interface, iCloud integration for syncing across every iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Mac that you own, badge and push notification support, Retina display support, location-based reminders, Siri integration and its own Mac app.
RemindersClick to view larger image.
Reminders is simple to navigate and figure out. Like other apps, Reminders supports the creation of multiple lists -- such as Stuff to Buy, Stuff to Do and Stuff to Fix -- and the separate lists can be flipped through by swiping their titles. Tasks are organized in a list underneath the title, with a checkbox to the left of each entry. Tapping an entry brings up more details, including the ability to add alarms based on time or day, as well as setting up repeating alarms.
The app also supports location-based alarms, which will notify you of to-do items when you arrive or depart a particular place. Location-based reminders can be entered manually, or chosen from your Contacts. Priority and notes can be added to each entry, as well.
Tasks are automatically synced across your Apple devices using iCloud services when changes are made, which helps keep your data up-to-date no matter which device you use.
However, Reminders stands out from the other task managers in its integration with Siri on the iPhone 4S. Say something as simple as, "Add toothpaste to my Stuff to Buy list" or "Remind me to take out the trash every Thursday morning at 7:07," and Siri will add those tasks into Reminders.
In addition, if you have places you visit in your Contacts, Siri can use them for your reminders. For instance, if you say, "Siri, remind me to email my editor about the article tomorrow morning when I get to work," Siri will respond, "Here's your Reminder for tomorrow. I'll remind you when you get there, or by 7 a.m. Shall I create it?"
Reminders has a home-court advantage compared to the other apps in this list because it ships with every iPhone and iPad, but that doesn't mean Reminders' streamlined (read: basic) feature set makes it the best program for all users. It is, however, fully integrated with Apple technologies -- so if all you need is a basic task manager, Reminders is a great tool that's already on your device.
-- Michael deAgonia
$5.99 OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
Schedule Planner Pro is an ambitious task manager, aimed at those who like their time tracking data color-coded and charted out.
Schedule Planner ProClick to view larger image.
The app interface is easy enough to figure out and navigate, featuring five buttons located at the bottom of the screen labeled: Tasks, Charts, Calendar, Statistics and Settings. The main areas of interaction are all modeled after a paper-based ledger/calendar, and tappable areas are clearly defined.
Creating tasks and tracking them via the app's built-in calendar is as simple as tapping the Add button in the home screen. You can then plug in values such as category, title, from and to time estimates, repeat information and miscellaneous notes. Once the task is completely filled in, pressing the Add in the upper right adds your task to the main list, and sorts the task within other categories.
Schedule Planner Pro syncs with Google Calendar, as well as Apple's built-in Calendar; there's also Dropbox support for database backups. You can export statistics as a CSV or plain text file via Mail or Dropbox.
I found using the app to be straightforward and the design pleasant enough. But entering tasks, while simple, could be tedious. There are no shortcuts, no location support for tasks, and no Siri or iCloud integration.
There is a free, lite version of the software that lacks cut/copy/paste, alerts and notifications, and iOS and Google Calendar support among other things, but gives you a feel for what to expect from the full version. The full version for the iPhone costs $5.99 at the App Store (there is also an HD version for the iPad that costs $9.99). However, considering the functionality/cost ratio, I couldn't really recommend this app above the others listed unless you're a hardcore stats fiend and love to see time spent on tasks charted out in front of you.
-- Michael deAgonia
$9.99 OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None
Smart Time takes a different approach to task management. It attempts to arrange tasks around your appointments by using time estimates, schedules imported from calendars already on your iPhone, and some manual adjustments of your working hours -- all accomplished by turning on iPhone's Calendar synchronization and configuring work/home schedules under the app settings.
Smart TimeClick to view larger image.
Visually speaking, this application is pretty ugly; the layout is fine and fairly straightforward, but the colors and themes feel more DOS than iPhone. There are three main views - which can be toggled using buttons on the bottom of the main screen -- labeled Smart View, Calendar and Focus. Focus displays only items due that day and Calendar displays a more traditional daily view; but it's clear that the makers of this product think you'll be spending most of your time in Smart View.
Smart View categorizes tasks (to-dos) and events (appointments) into two differently sized bars: Events are displayed as long bars while tasks are half the size. The bars are contained between two lines representing a single day. Each bar includes some info: title, start and end times, lines representing the length of the task, and whether the task has an alarm associated. It resembles nothing so much as a project manager.
Smart View automatically organizes your to-dos around scheduled events according to what can be reasonably accomplished within that day. Tasks can also be dragged around in the Smart View via drag and drop, in case manual adjustments are in order.
There's also a weekly calendar view that can be triggered by turning the phone to landscape. Within landscape mode, this view can be toggled from a weekly view to a monthly view by tapping the month title in weekly view, and back again by tapping the week title in month view.
Smart Time also gives you the option to add directly to the iPhone's Calendar. It doesn't just sync events with and to-dos to the Calendar, but also grabs information from the Calendar and places it within the app, consolidating your appointments but still keeping the standard Calendar in the loop, in case you use that more often.
There are also some clever shortcuts, such as the use of buttons to create actions. For example, you can create a task with a location to go to, or a task to call or write a contact, without having actually typed anything.
What Smart Time lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in options and power. Note: It is only designed to work natively on the iPhone (though it will work on the iPad as a scaled iPhone app).
-- Michael deAgonia