Get things done: 10 to-do apps for Android and iOS

Losing control of your to-do list? These task managers can keep you on track.

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Checkmark

$2.99 OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: None

Checkmark is an interesting implementation of the task list, with a heavy focus on organizing your tasks based on where they need to be performed.

CheckmarkClick to view larger image.

On first launch, you're greeted by a friendly setup wizard that makes you choose between miles/kilometers, followed by a hint to change app settings within the iPhone's Settings.

The one thing I liked right away was Checkmark's simple and elegant interface. There are two main views for this app: a default icon view and a list view. Views can be toggled by tapping a button on the upper left. On the upper right, there is a button to add locations. At the bottom of the screen, there is a toggle button that lets you view different types of reminders, aptly described as Where and When.

Like other task managers, Checkmark allows for time- and location-based reminders. Checkmark's strength, though, is its ability to sort tasks by locations.

These locations can be anywhere you choose, including work, home, frequent shopping spots, banks, gyms, airports, hospitals or anywhere else you visit. Add as many locations as you like; each selection allows you to modify the radius size of the geo-fence, as well as the exact point of the location.

By default, the first thing Checkmark encourages you to do is to create favorite locations by tapping the Add Location button on the upper right -- you can add locations using Apple's Map services, add your current position or import a location from your Contacts list.

Once you set up your favorite areas, double-tap them to assign tasks or to-dos. The app's clean interface offers a title area, notes, arrival/departure and the ability to set an alert a few minutes after you arrive or depart an area. Whenever you're near any of the locations you created, you'll be reminded to complete tasks specific to that location.

If you want, you can toggle from Where to When on the main page before creating a task, and options will be based on time attributes instead of location. The app also features badge support (badges are little numerical notifications which appear with the app's home screen icon), text and audio alerts, and GPS accuracy range selection (listed as Best or Normal -- Normal is the default and doesn't use as much battery power).

I have to say: I've become a big fan of this app. It's simple, clever and concise, wrapped in a elegant interface. I'll be using this app long after this review is concluded.

Bottom line

Checkmark does not include a native iPad app, or many of the advanced features you may find on the other apps, but if you're looking for an intuitive, good-looking task manager with an emphasis on location-specific tasks, try it out.

-- Michael deAgonia

GTasks

Free; Premium version ($4.99) removes ads, offers background sync and other features OS reviewed: Android Other OSes: None

GTasks is actually an unofficial front-end for Google Tasks made by a third party. Its developer, Dato, sells a license key for $4.99 that will remove the sponsors' ads in this app and let you fine-tune the schedule that it keeps in sync with Google Tasks.

GTasksClick to view larger image.

GTasks offers yet another blue-and-white design -- this appears to be a popular default color scheme for this app category, but in GTasks you cannot change it.

Instead of creating a task by typing text into an entry box, you tap a "+" button, which leads you to a virtual notecard that you can fill with text. Then you pick a day on a calendar to be the task's deadline; you can also set an alert to sound on a certain date and time. Since there's not an emphasis on composing tasks as snappy headline-style sentences, GTasks lacks an "add notes" function -- you simply enter more text to the task's notecard screen if you want to provide more detail.

As with Google Tasks, you can work with different task lists. You can also add several tasks at a time, but if you want to add more than three, you must buy the premium version.

Pressing and holding on a task will summon double-arrow icons (pointing up and down) that appear to the left of all tasks on the task list. Pressing and holding on one of these icons allows you to drag-and-drop the task into another spot on the list. This isn't as intuitive to use as Any.DO's or Astrid's methods, but at least GTasks has a means to directly reorder your tasks.

Bottom line

GTasks is probably best for those who already use Google Tasks rather than users who are looking for a new task management app. To me, it feels more like a notecard app that is organized under a task-list structure than a full-featured application.

-- Howard Wen

Remember the Milk

Free; Pro version ($24.99/year) includes syncing and other features OS reviewed: iOS Other OSes: Android, BlackBerry

Remember the Milk (RTM) is a popular task manager. Available as a free download from the App Store, RTM features a fairly straightforward design that can be figured out easily just by poking and swiping about.

Remember the MilkClick to view larger image.

RTM includes the ability to set due dates, prioritize, sort by customizable lists and add reoccurring events. The app also lets you set time estimates, and add location and notes. Tasks can be tagged with customizable keywords and organized manually in ordinary lists or "Smart Lists" (which automatically update based on set criteria, such as due dates or tags).

The app takes advantage of many features on Apple devices, including Retina display support on the iPad, Safari/Mail/phone integration, multitasking support (which allows actions like sync to continue even when the app is exited) and VoiceOver support (for users who need assistance). It is available in 20 different languages and integrates with Dashboard in Leopard and Notification Center in Mountain Lion. There is also a Dashboard widget for Lion and Mountain Lion called Milk the Cow.

RTM has a workaround to add Siri integration, but it's not as comprehensive as the integration built into the Reminders app.

I tried RTM on both an iPad and an iPhone, and I felt that the interface worked better on the former. On the iPhone, the home screen felt cluttered; landscape mode was a bit better than the portrait view. On the iPad, the app used the larger display to show much more information to greater effect.

In my testing, the app worked as advertised, and performance was very good. However, there are a few drawbacks. The website offers more features than the mobile apps, but the biggest standout is that you can only sync your data once per day without the Pro account.

The Pro upgrade, which costs $24.99 annually, adds a variety of features, including unlimited daily auto syncing, the ability to sync across devices, push notifications, and badges.

Bottom line

Remember the Milk is a popular, capable program with a ton of support from third parties, as well as comprehensive multiplatform support. There are many more options available on the website compared to the mobile apps, and the service features many ways to integrate into your digital lifestyle. While the basic functions are given away, the Pro upgrade offers many missing mobile features, though the $24.99 a year cost may seem a bit steep for most casual task management users.

-- Michael deAgonia

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