Home » Technology » In search of a better To-Do app (Part 1)

In search of a better To-Do app (Part 1)

Let me start this off by saying this process was to suit my own needs, not your needs, not his needs, but mine. Everyone has their own process to pick out what they are looking for but hopefully this will help guide you to finding what works best for you.

How It All Began

I have the hardest time picking the simplest things. I started my smartphone journey when I transitioned to a flip phone that probably didn’t have texting to a Cingular 8125 (HTC) with Windows CE and a slide out keyboard to the Apple iPhone 3GS. I was hooked on smartphones.

I would spend the longest time looking at apps trying to decide which deserved my $.99. The other factor was if I’m going to pick something I want to put my data in once, not keep switching between apps. Trials are for wimps. Research and planning was my way to go, and I settled on one app: To Do First by Nasda studios http://www.nasdastudios.com/todofirst.htm (iOS only). This app didn’t meet all my needs but it met a very important one, priority. Without telling it which came first, second, third, it came up with a priority level for each thing. It used urgency, importance, profit, and pleasure scales to determine priority. On top of that it allowed you to scale the importance of each to determine what you wanted to focus on at that time. It had a setup that I have yet to see repeated.

A few years later when the iPhone lost its shine I jumped ship to Android, Samsung Galaxy SIII to be exact, and that’s where I sit today, waiting for my time to run out to get a new phone, which will likely be another Android. It’s not that I don’t like iPhones. I do. They just seem to be lagging behind Android phones. My favorite app has no equal, and I expect more out of an app today. I also try not to sink too much time into getting used to something unless I’m satisfied it’s going to meet my needs. There’s no sense adding a lot of effort into something I’m going to hate and ditch tomorrow.

Apps Evaluated

The list of to do apps is endless, so I’ve looked over the top few that caught my eye and a few recommended as “Top To Do Apps”. If you know of one not on my list you think should be here, please feel free to mention it in the comments and I’ll add it to my review before I finish the final selection.

Any.Do Task List
Do It Tomorrow
GoogleKeep ?
iRT GTasks Outliner Beta
Mindjet Tasks
To Do Reminder
WAToDo Lite


I decided to break the criteria into 4 basic categories. First, “Must Haves”, this is the foundation, or set of mandatory constraints to be evaluated. It can be the highest recommended app, but if it doesn’t pass these, it will go straight to the trash heap, it will not pass go, and will not collect $200. So these will be pure pass/fail. One fail means it does not go further.

Second are the things I’m “Willing to Compromise” on. These are highly desirable traits but if they’re lacking in one area, it can be made up elsewhere. I’m going to grade these 1-5, 5 being the best. So in theory the highest score should win out in this area.

Third at the top of the pyramid are the “Nice to Haves”, these are great additions but have little weight when making the final decision. These also can help offset some of those “Willing to Compromises”. These are 1-5, 5 being the best benefit. These are like extra credit if decisions need to be made.

Lastly are the “Things I Don’t Need”. These don’t evaluate into my grading, they’re merely as a reference. It helps divide out the features that might increase the app price, but won’t increase the value for me specifically.
As with this entire evaluation, your mileage may vary. This is based off my personal needs for a To Do app. I don’t claim these are any better or worse than the others, they just meet or don’t meet my personal needs. If I were looking for a project planning app, a pure reminder app, or an information storage app I would have chosen on different criteria, so don’t be upset if your favorite doesn’t make the cut.todo

With the hundreds or thousands of apps, there’s bound to be some hidden gems, if you find one, let me know. Most of these are also being evaluated based on how they’re being presented in the Google Play store. I have many installed and will evaluate them on my phone if the store doesn’t have enough information.

Must Have Criteria

a. List of To Do items – Duh, to be a to-do list it has to do to-do
b. Ability to check off/remove to do Items – It has to be a list of active items, I’m not looking for notepad here
c. Due Dates – Not everything has due dates, it should accommodate there being a date it’s due and not
d. Priority levels – What’s important, what’s not.
e. Easy to use UI – I don’t mind complexity for functionality sake, but we’re talking a To Do list not a Space Shuttle.
f. Reoccurring items – The biggest reason for this is bills, what’s due on which day. I try to pay them all off early but sometimes I get interrupted. Would be nice to have that reminder when they’re about to be overdue. There are other tasks that are weekly, monthly, daily that would be nice to keep on track.
g. Free or Low cost – I have no problem paying for an app, but I refuse to pay for a service. I’m sure there are great services out there, but there are other apps that are close enough equivalents and cost less.

X = Pass
– = Fail
? = Maybe

List of To Dos Check Off & Remove Due Dates Priorities UI Reoccurring Free/Low Cost PASS/FAIL
Allthings X X X X X X ? MAYBE
Any.Do Task List X X X X X X X PASS
Do It (Tomorrow) X X X X X FAIL
Evernote X X ? X FAIL
GoogleKeep X X ? X X FAIL
HabitRPG X X X ? ? X FAIL
iRT GTasks Outliner X X X ? X X X MAYBE
Mindflux X X X X X X X PASS
Mindjet Tasks X X X X X FAIL
Rethink X X X ? X FAIL
Tasks+ X X X X ? X X PASS
TickTick – To do & Task List X X X X X X X PASS
ToDoist X X X X X X X PASS
Tooldedo X X X X X X X PASS
To Do Reminder X X X X X X FAIL
Trello X ? ? X FAIL
WotsNext X X X X X X X PASS
Wunderlist X X X X X X FAIL

A lot of the maybes were cases where it might be possible, or might be possible but it requires a bit more effort than some. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and put maybe which gives it ability to pass to the next round if it did not have any failing marks.

Be on the look out for part 2 of this series. There I will take the ones that passed and were maybes and evaluate them for the willing to compromise elements.

Leave a Reply