I really like the Any.do task management tool, despite the fact that it’s not very social. However, it does support a minimal “tooing” style sharing of tasks: I can invite one or more other people to see and edit a task, add notes, and complete the task. Since that minimal sharing, along with its other features, meets my minimum threshold for use (see Setting the bar for team task management apps), I have been giving it a try. Why switch from Asana? Because Any.do is a wonderfully designed iOS experience: the first mobile-first app that I have used regularly, aside from Flipboard.
Tasks are organized both in time and by category. Here’s a category, Research:
The task ‘Interview’ is open, and the icons below represent various metadata. From left to right, urgency (toggles from black to red), folder (can move task to other folders), reminders, notes (this one has two), and sharing (this has been shared with one other person).
The notes can be used to communicate with the people you share task with, after a fashion, although the tool doesn’t track who wrote the notes. In this example I added identities when editing the notes:
Sharing is intuitive, and if the other person is an Any.do user they get an invitation in the app, otherwise it goes through email.
Reminders are very clever on Any.do. There are three flavors: time for being alerted, location to be alerted, and recurrence. Here you see I have set reminders on a particular day and also when I arrive in Montreal (I am planning a trip).
Tasks can recur, so, for example, I can create a ‘Weekly Update’ task that recurs every Monday.
Any.do uses very artful gestural design, so a left-to-right swipe of a task completes it on touch devices. And turning the iPhone sideways leads to a landscape display that is quite different and useful. For example, in this display clicking on a day in the calendar shows the tasks with reminders on that day.
Note that the ‘Interview’ item on that calendar view is a task, but the ‘?Montreal’ and ‘Train to Montreal’ items are not. They are calendar events, imported from the companion Cal app. (Strangely enough, clicking the Cal events don’t lead to opening the Cal events for editing or viewing more information (like the time of events), or even opening the app).
Any.do has some other great features, like its Gmail integration in Chrome on the desktop:
In this case, I am setting a reminder to myself to follow up with my old pal John-Henry Gross in a few days. I can then archive the email, and on Tuesday I will see the task in Any.do with a link to the email, at which point I will figure out a time we can catch up.
I can also create, manage, and checkoff tasks in Chrome in a pulldown/tearoff window. Here it is torn off.
Any.do also runs on Android, which I haven’t fooled with.
The companion app, Cal, has an equally attractive look and feel, syncing with my calendar of choice — Google calendar — as well as integration with Any.do. For example, the landing screen shows tasks for today, and an integration with the charming Any.do Moments:
Any.do Moments is a clever applet that walks you though the tasks scheduled for today, allowing you to quickly triage tasks: reassigning to different days, or checking them off as complete. After you’ve gone through that for the first time each day, it shows the tasks you haven’t deferred, which is the normal view for other days.
Clicking on the And.do task opens Any.do.
The calendar functionality of Cal is very slick. Events have metadata like title, time, place, and notes. There’s an integration with TomTom for navigation, which is interesting, but not what I’d like, which is Google.
I anticipate that the soon to follow Any.do Memo and Mail apps will integrate in similar fashion. For example, Memo might collate all the memos from Any.do and Cal, time stamped, with links back to their sources, or the option to create new memos and optionally attach to tasks and/or events.
The Bottom Line
I have a short list of minor annoyances, but at the same time these apps are so niftily designed — and the idea of a loose coupling of calendar and task tools is so compelling — I am going all in, and will be shifting over to try the pair for at least the near term, to see if they can keep innovating madly. I am taking the plunge based on the cleverness of the thinking here, future possibilities of Note and Mail apps, and the incredibly well-done UI on the iPhone.
Here’s the annoyances:
- Why aren’t Cal events clickable in Any.do? They show up, and Any.do tasks are clickable in Cal, so why not?
- Any.do doesn’t support archiving of completed tasks, which I really don’t like. (As a result, I will continue managing my financial tasks on Asana, until I feel more certain about things.)
- Cal events should use Google maps or Apple maps instead of Tomtom.
- I’d like real subtasks, with their own todo dates.
- What about sharing of Cal events with others?
- If I can add recurring tasks on iOS I should be able to on Chrome.
- Should be a way to make a new task from the page I am looking at in Chrome. Currently I use another bookmarklet to do so, one that creates an email with the page title as the email title and the page URL as the email message, which I send to Any.do’s email gateway (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I will probably have other hiccups as I try to use this pair of tools. More to follow.