Home > Organization, Technology > iPhone/iPad/iTouch Productivity: Lists & Tasks App Mania

iPhone/iPad/iTouch Productivity: Lists & Tasks App Mania

I’m an organizational/planning freak. As a result, I’m CRAZY about lists.

  • If there’s something to do, it goes on a list.
  • If there’s something I want to purchase, it goes on a list.
  • If there’s a book I want to read, there’s a list for that too. (Goodreads is fantastic, btw.)

I have grocery lists, travel lists, and wish lists. I am your List Maven Du Jour.

I received an iPhone for Christmas, and as a result, have been exploring the to-do list apps in Apple’s App Store. At one point, I downloaded about six (free) apps all at one time just so I could try out their features. (Note: An app that was free has since begun charging since I downloaded it.) A few of them were free “lite” apps meaning that they had limited features for you to try out before plunking down the cash to use the full version. I really appreciated this since I’m judicious about paying even $.99 for an app unless I know it’ll be good. I don’t download apps that cost money unless I’ve tried them for free first or their ratings are so spectacular that the app is likely to be good. (App Store users: PLEASE pay attention to ratings and reviews. They are your friend. They will spare you from forking over $1.99 for a prank app that looks real.)

So, I’ve made a list of pros and cons for each of my six apps. Some things I’ve listed as cons might be pros for you. This is not a comprehensive list of To-do/Task apps but simply the ones that I tried. I purposely avoided the super-popular ones like Remember the Milk and Toodledo (because they cost money). Hopefully you’ll find one that works for you.

[Update as of 1/30/2011: the basic Remember the Milk app is free for Apple mobile devices.]


($4.99; formerly free)


  1. Checklists are easy to set up
  2. Ability to duplicate tasks is great
  3. Shopping list feature is FANTASTIC: users can add product and specific store they want to purchase product from
  4. Custom lists are a nice feature
  5. Opens up where last left off


  1. Bulky landing/home page
  2. Bulky dated design
  3. Inability to store/hide completed items
  4. Only one way to view your list (this con will make more sense when I get to Awesome Note below)
  5. Custom list feature can be a bit overwhelming and can get complicated if you only want something basic
  6. Touching an item once uselessly highlights the item in blue (there is a highlighting feature available if the user wants to highlight an item)
  7. Navigation through “portals” too linear; not easy to go from to-do list to shopping list if they’re in different portals

Google Tasks

(free; not an actual app—site must be bookmarked from Safari)


  1. All tasks appear on Google Calendar (a HUGE plus for me since I’m so reliant on Google Calendar)
  2. Basic, straightforward functions: what, when, and any other notes you want to add


  1. Tasks don’t print with Google Calendar (if you try printing your Google Calendar, every selected calendar BUT tasks will appear)
  2. No repeating tasks feature (you will need to manually enter the same task multiple times if need be)
  3. No prioritization
  4. No reminders (to get a reminder, you must list the task as an all-day event in one of your calendars)

[NOTE: Google is currently working on updating tasks to provide better functionality like the other apps featured here provide.]

43 Things—goal-oriented, not a daily to-do manager



  1. Easy-to-create checklists
  2. Goal-oriented
  3. Community support
  4. Monthly/quarterly/yearly optional reminders
  5. Can store resolutions (on the 43things.com site; not yet updated on the app)
  6. Can chart progress
  7. Tracks completed things


  1. Not a regular to-do manager
  2. Initial capitalization is random (annoying for a grammar girl like me)


(Lite: free; Full: $4.99)


  1. Clean, basic design
  2. Opens up where last left off
  3. Can create various categories/tags of lists
  4. Ability to easily add/edit/delete lists
  5. Repeating tasks feature
  6. Great for tracking projects and subtasks under projects
  7. Ability to prioritize tasks
  8. Ability to set due dates
  9. Reordering feature through dragging
  10. Stores/hides completed tasks for a customizable amount of time (one day, one week—it’s up to you)
  11. Easy to use, intuitive
  12. Ability to customize task by adding location, phone call, SMS, email, or website


  1. No note function (however, there is a Notebook app by the same developer that works with Todo in the App Store)
  2. No way to delete a repeating task for the day—user deletes the entire task as a result; the task must be marked as “done” (even if hasn’t been done) for it to go away

[Note: Overall, this app has become my favorite since I originally compiled this list on January 1, 2011.]

SeizeTheDay—ideal for date-oriented tasks and goals

(free, ad-supported; $3.99 to remove ads)


  1. Unintrusive ads keep the app free (Note: Paying $3.99 does not get user additional features; it just removes ads.)
  2. Basic, clean design
  3. Completed tasks hidden and stored
  4. Calendar view within app is nice
  5. Intuitive user interface (UI)
  6. At Some Point/Someday option for tasks that aren’t immediate/don’t have a date
  7. Tags are good


  1. Only one list view (see next app!)
  2. No folders
  3. No subtasks/projects feature
  4. Not ideal for managing projects

Awesome Note (+ Todo)—project-oriented, not really checklist-oriented

(Lite: free; Full: $3.99)


  1. Lovely UI, well designed
  2. Folders
  3. Notes or task lists option
  4. Repeating tasks
  5. Can add attachments
  6. Can move tasks between folders
  7. Variety of list views
  8. Someday feature
  9. Google Docs/Evernote syncing


  1. No tags (not too important for me here but might be to some people)
  2. No subtasks (must create a folder for each project)
  3. Must choose due time along with due date (REALLY?)
  1. Charles
    March 11, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Thanks for this great list – useful apps indeed.

    Just would like to add a cheaper but decent task management tool: Facetasks,
    that let you assign, delegate and check team tasks:


  2. December 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Ok, so something is not working with the WordPress login option here, but I will try again using the general reply option.

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciated your post. It is clear, concise, and informative. I have looked a a bunch of reviews today, trying to find out if task apps allowed for saving lists. Not an easy question to get answered. Do people not want to look back and see what they have accomplished? I want to be able to “print” and file my lists for reporting purposes. Still not sure if this is possible, but looks like ToDo might allow this. Maybe you know?



    • Kassi
      December 13, 2011 at 5:34 AM

      ToDo allows you to email the lists to yourself, and you can print them out that way. There’s no actual printing option. However, I think you can back up your lists using their online cloud service or Dropbox.

      By the way, using ToDo online ($19.95 a year) allows you to print everything in your current view. I haven’t had a need to use that function so I can’t tell you how well it works.

      Let me know if that doesn’t answer your question.

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