I have been a big fan of task lists for a long time, since Palm Pilots. I always keep track of my work and personal tasks, classifying them in categories and assigning them priorities and due dates as well as alarms. I find them really useful so I do not forget important things, but also ideas and thoughts that come to my mind during the day. Even this first Palm organizers included a Task app with support for categories.
But for some reason tasks have been forgotten in the latest mobile devices. Starting with Apple's iOS. There is a Calendar, Address book and Note apps. But what about tasks? They are nowhere to be found. Not as a stand-alone app, not as part of the built-in Calendar app. However they are supported in Mac iCal app and even in MobileMe online service. Then, why they have left this out in their mobile devices. Same problem with Android phones, also with no tasks, and even with Windows Phone 7. Can anybody give an explanation why?
I know there are thousand task apps out there, but there is always issues to integrate them between mobile devices and desktop/laptops and different operative systems. But why not to support them natively like the calendar or address book.
And now Google has come out with the Tasks API. But it has been done leaving behind priorities, alarms and other small details. They are too basic. And they did not go for a standard solution like they did with calendars (CalDAV) when it comes to synching, even though the caldav standard also support tasks.
Trying to find a solution for this problem I have a reasonable solution that works for me.
- For personal tasks the main pieces are: iCal for Mac, new Yahoo! Calendar online service and eTask iOS app. I have an account in the new Yahoo! Calendar that supports CalDAV standard for tasks and it's free of charge (MobileMe also supports it but is a paid service). In my Mac at home I use iCal where I have configured Yahoo! Calendar* as a CalDAV service. And in my iPhone I use eTask, probably one of the only (if not the only) task app that supports standard caldav task access among other services. Whenever I create a task in any of the three places, it is synched across all my devices. eTask also supports local notifications when you set up an alarm, and this alarm is also synched through the Yahoo! "cloud" to my Mac iCal, so I get notifications both in my iPhone/iPad and in my Mac at home. Really neat. The only issue pending here is a small bug in Yahoo! Calendar online service. If I mark a task as done in iCal, it will not be shown as completed in Yahoo! Calendar for some reason. In eTask it shows as completed, but not in Yahoo! Calendar. If I marked it as completed in eTask, it is marked as done everywhere. The only solution then is to delete completed tasks from iCal, so they will also be deleted in Yahoo! Calendar. Anyway, I do not us much the online access to Yahoo! Calendar, but I use it as a "bridge" between my Mac and my iPhone.
- For work tasks it is another story. I used to have ToodledoSync software synching tasks from my Oultook to Toodledo online service and from there to my iPhone using again eTask (it supports several services simultaneously). But after my work laptop was updated to Windows 7, my firewall does not allow ToodledoSync to sync with Toodledo service due to some proxy blocking the connection, so this solution was broken. If my company used Exchange 2007, it would not be a problem because eTask also supports Exchange 2007 sync through the Outlook web access. But my company is still running Exchange 2003, so nothing I can do there. My only way to manage work tasks in my iPhone is to use TaskTask app that allows you synching through Outook web access with Exchange 2003.
I am not so happy having to use two separate apps, one for personal and another for work tasks, but it is the only way right now. It was nice in the past when I could concentrate all my tasks on my iOS device with eTask. I just hope some other better solution will come later on.
If you have any other solution that works for you, do not hesitate to leave a comment!