Any.do for iPhone
Any.do is a free productivity app for iPhone that delivers in just about every way. It’s great to look at, easy to use, and effective at helping users get stuff done.
Users begin their experience by signing in—either register for an Any.do account with your email address or sign in using your Facebook account. After that, you can add tasks to your to-do list just by speaking into your phone.
This isn’t Siri, exactly, and it’s not limited to the iPhone 4S: Any phone that can run iOS 4.1 or later will do. There’s a microphone icon on the top left side of the screen. Tap it, speak your desired task—“make eggs,” for example—then tap checkmark on the right side of the screen. (You can also type in the task name, but the voice function works well even in a relatively noisy room.) About a second later, your command will appear as text, along with suggested refinements. My command to “make eggs” elicited a list that included “make deviled eggs” as an option.
From there, you have several options for the task:
- The app defaults on the main screen to listing tasks by four different time periods—today, tomorrow, this week, and later. Tap the task and hold it to drag the task to the correct day. If you want to further refine the due date, tap the task name, and a menu will appear. Select “reminders” to schedule the precise date the task is due, then set an alarm so you don’t forget. Turn your phone to landscape mode, and a more traditional calendar view of tasks is available.
- You can also classify the task by type: Any.do comes with two pre-set folders—personal and work—but new category folders can be easily added. Any.do’s main screen can be re-set to feature the categories instead of the schedule view.
- While you can tap-and-drag the tasks to sort them according to priority—in both the time and category views—you can additionally mark an item as a “priority” task. A thin red vertical band appears on the left side of the screen to highlight that task.
- Finally, you can add notes to each task. This isn’t an extensive note-taking space: Essentially, it serves as a sub-list for your task list—items to check off on your way to completing the main task. Once sorted, you can share a task with a collaborator via email, Twitter or Facebook. Once you’ve completed a task, you tap the task and swipe right to mark it done.
In either the category or schedule view, the task list is presented in a clean, spare format that—combined with its tap-and-drag option for tasks—might remind some users of the Clear productivity app. But Clear is basically a list-making app; Any.Do has many more layers of organization. And Any.DO is both easier to use and more pleasing to look at than the native Reminders app in iOS.
Where Any.do falls short, though, is in the narrowness of its ecosystem. The app is designed for the iPhone; there’s no iPad version. There is a desktop version, but currently it’s a web app that works only with the Chrome browser—which is going to be a pain for Safari users who want to add to and manage their tasks on their Macs.
It’s something of a surprise to learn that Any.do actually started life as an Android offering: The app combines usefulness with Apple’s much-noted “liberal arts” sense of aesthetics. In spite of its provenance, Any.do is nearly a perfect iOS app.
[Joel Mathis is a writer in Philadelphia.]