Best iOS App for To Do List?

Meri Williams
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After carrying a trusty Black ‘n Red notebook for years (not quite hipster enough for a moleskin, you see…), I finally decided I should give complete digitisation a proper go. Trying various apps, I found some too complex, some too simple … and then one that felt just right.

Remember the Milk

Remember The Milk (RTM) began as a website-based service, but the companion iPhone app (and the newly released iPad app) takes it to the next level of usefulness. In order to trust anything as the “one and only” place to keep all of your tasks and reminders, you need to believe that you will always have it with you and that adding something will be quick and easy. RTM on iPhone fits the bill nicely.

Getting Set Up

Set up is simple & streamlined: download the free app from the App Store and then set up an account (or just log in if you already have one).

Log In or Sign Up

Helpfully they automatically add your first task for you, so you can tick something off and get that small jolt of satisfaction from completing a task almost immediately!

Interface

The interface is clean without being at all stark. You can choose from various views – the defaults are Today, Tomorrow and This Week but there are other options available under Lists. Personally I find Lists –> All Tasks the most useful, but that’s primarily because I don’t necessarily assign due dates to my tasks, since I’m a Getting Things Done enthusiast.

The Home Screen and Add Task Form

Adding Tasks

There are two ways to add tasks: a form screen and an in-line option. For the former, tap the + symbol in the bottom right corner then fill in the fields you want (Name, List, Priority, Due Date as standard, additional options under Add Field).

In my opinion though, the in-line task addition is much faster & so more convenient on the go: select the bar across the top and just start typing. You can either use the buttons or the defined characters to add Priority (!), Due (^), List/Tag (#), Location (@), Time (=), Repeat (*).

Adding Tasks In-Line

Adding Tasks In-Line

Notable Features

Defining Locations is a particularly nice feature. You can do this under More –> Locations, then search. It seems to be well-connected for street addresses.

ALL THE OPTIONS

Why do this? Because you can assign tasks to a location and the app reminds you of those tasks when you’re in the vicinity! Really useful for when you don’t want your to do list littered with tasks that are only relevant at the supermarket (“remember the milk”), the office (“hand in expenses”) or at home (“put out the bins”).

Lists let you categorise your tasks (defaults include Work, Study, Personal, Inbox), helpful if you divide your week in a similar way. Also useful as a tool to focus – perhaps on this particular Saturday you really want to focus on Writing, or Home Improvement or similar.

All Tasks View

In addition to Lists there are Tags, in case you have another dimension. For GTD enthusiasts, this might be where to use action, maybe-someday, waiting-for, etc.

To Pay or Not To Pay?

The base free account and the free iPhone app are encouragingly fully featured, unlike many free versions which are seriously hamstrung and only a taster/preview for the paid app. Upgrading to a Pro account ($25 per year) primarily grants unlimited syncing (the free version limits to once every 24 hours) and push notifications.

The free app is certainly good enough to get you started, but if you find yourself depending fully on Remember the Milk, you may want to invest in a Pro account. This enables you have your iPhone, iPad or other device (there are also Blackberry & Android apps and Outlook integration available) along with the website in sync at all times. A couple of dollars a month doesn’t feel a high price for the increased productivity if you do work across multiple devices!

Verdict

The Remember the Milk iPhone app is a nicely designed, intuitive companion to the already excellent online task management system. It is versatile and customisable, without being at all complex to set up. The free app is functional and fully featured, with the step up to a reasonably priced Pro account primarily givng you better syncing and notifications. Whether you’re already well-organised and wanting a great tool to have everything digitally, or your new year’s resolution is to have a proper to do list rather than the flurry of post it notes currently decorating your desk, Remember The Milk may well be the answer.

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  • http://justinavery.me Justin Avery Design

    I tried out remember the milk but ended up going with Omni Focus by the Omni Group.

    Although you have to purchase it for the ipad, iphone and mac separately I found that their interface and free WEBDAV hosting facility was what I needed to keep in sync with what I needed to do where ever I went.

    Expensive but worth it.

  • Dushan Hanuska

    I used RTM mostly on my iPad so sync with my iPhone and web was not that important, but it bugged me that I could sync up only once a day. I recently purchase the Pro access and I love it. The tasks are in sync almost immediately, which means that I can take notes on my iPad and then just walk away with my iPhone and have all my tasks up-to-date. Priceless! One place for my todos, with numerous entry points and view windows. Brilliant!

  • http://profile.markpopkes.com Mark Popkes

    I’ve never been much of a fan of “Remember the Milk”, but to each their own. I’ve was always been impressed by CultureCode’s “Things” app, but the price alone can make you buy something else. I caved in, however, and bought the app and LOVE it. So simple and intuitive. It’s worth it.

  • Donna McMaster

    Thanks for your review. If I hadn’t already been using OmniFocus for years, RTM would definitely have made the final cut. These days I use OF on my iOS devices for task management. But I also wanted a simple checklist app for items (like grocery lists). I found Paperless to be just perfect for that. It syncs via Dropbox, so I can update it at leisure on the iPad and then use it on the iPod Touch when I’m in the store.

  • Fernando Parra

    On your trials, did you try Orchestra? It’s a newcomer but I think it’s worth a look! http://www.orchestra.com

  • Free

    I just installed Wunderlist on my Mac & iPhone yesterday (free on both), so far I’m really liking it. It’s very basic, but synchs well and is better than a few paid apps I’ve tried! Being able to share different lists with other users is handy and unexpected in a free app.

  • Brandon

    I use “Todo” by appigo (www.appigo.com) and love it. Been using it for several years now. It is about as full featured as the RTM app described above, but with a slightly different interface which works better for me, personally.

  • Rob Enslin

    I’ve been using RTM Pro on iPhone, Web and iPad since it first launched and despite so many other TODOs out there which I’ve tried (there are beautifully designed apps too), I still keep coming back to it; RTM is so easy to use and just works, every time without fail.

  • http://www.c2gps.com Erica Conway

    I’ve been using Producteev (www.producteev.com). I love it. It’s like a simplified Basecamp,

    Once I create a task I can tag it, prioritize it, assign it (you pay per person in a work space), schedule deadlines, create alarms AND can do this from my desktop, iPhone app or web interface.

    I love it. I get email reminders when things are due and when I’m assigned tasks, I can respond via email to add content to the task, or to do any other function. They’ve created a quirky sense of humor for all the contacts via email too. It’s pleasant.

    I wish I could print my list, that’s my only criticism thus far. I’m smart tho, I can print a screen shot and go about my non-digital business until I’m ready to jump back on my phone or laptop.

    I haven’t tried much else, didn’t have to, I fell in love with Producteev almost immediately.

  • http://www.mogul.co.nz Bren Murrell

    iOS 5+ Reminders. Cannot believe how awesome it is. I can run the whole thing from icloud.com when I’m on my pc, and it’s just… WOW! I’ve tried all sorts of reminder/task software, but this (considering it’s core) is just fantastic.

  • http://mathfest.blogspot.com rossisen

    I have really been enjoying using Trello (trello.com). It is a collaborative, access from anywhere service that is really flexible.

  • Jimmy Wzpv

    I’m using Pocket Lists app (www.pocketlistsapp.com/iphone/). It’s a newcomer, but works perfect for me!

  • http://www.goinspired.com Go Inspired

    Really good review! Thanks for the post.

  • http://donaven.com Donaven

    GeoTasksPro handles the Google Tasks wonderfully. Google and syncing as you know is as easy as logging in to your Google account.