Any.DO you say? Thanks, but I’ll stick to Astrid
Any.DO is a to-do manager that has gotten some extra press over the last couple of days because the once Android-only app is going iOS. I use to-do lists a lot, and while I’ve seen Any.DO in Google Play before, I’ve never haven’t tried it. Well, with all the buzz about it I thought I would, and it didn’t end well for Any.DO.
Any.DO is a great looking app. Seriously great looking. If anyone is writing a textbook on minimal but stylish app design, it should be in it. As a result, my hopes were high when I started it up, skipped the “connect with Facebook” spam, and added a few test tasks. I noticed the tasks all got due dates of today, and figured that I had to go hunting in the settings and configure defaults like when I started using Astrid, the to-do manager I’m using now. Only problem is, there is no such setting. In fact, there basically aren’t any settings in this app at all. There are a handful of settings including theme and backups, but there’s absolutely nothing like the kind of settings I have access to in Astrid. I mean, seriously, even the settings menu in Astrid has more items than Any.DO has actual settings, and most of those in Astrid hide settings menus behind those again.
There’s of course something to be said for simplicity, but not at this level. Not for me, anyways; other people are of course free to do whatever they want. Just to mention some of the settings I was baffled not to find in Any.DO: the ability to set up default task preferences is at the top of that list. I rarely use due dates, I don’t use the priority system, and I don’t use half the fields that are available in the task edit screen. On Any.DO, I’ve yet to find out how you create tasks without due dates (other than moving them to the Later folder); on Astrid, I have that as the default, with no priority. I’ve also customized the task edit screen so that due date, alarm, lists (folders/categories) and notes are visible on the task edit screen, whereas who, importance, timer controls, and sharing is hidden. Aside from the fact that Any.DO doesn’t even have all of those fields, it most certainly has no way of letting you decide which ones to use. Apparently the developer knows better.
Settings is not the only place Any.DO fails. Apparently it also lacks any tie-in with Android’s Share feature, a menu accessible from a lot of apps. This feature is what allows me to read RSS feeds in Google Reader, see something that I need to write about, and immediately add the entire entry as a todo task. It’s also what lets you add emails as tasks from K-9 mail. Apparently not a feature worthy of the great Any.DO.
Speaking of emails as tasks, there doesn’t seem to be a way to add tasks via email either. I didn’t sign up for Any.DO so I can’t be sure, but I haven’t found any mention of it anywhere. I use that feature in Astrid all the time as it allows me to read stories in Zite or Reeder on my iPad and then send them to my Android phone’s todo list. I guess you could hook up some sort of system that goes via Google Task sync, but don’t quote me on that.
The absolute biggest missing element for me, though, is the lack of Tasker integration, but that’s something that’s missing from so many apps that I can’t hold it against Any.DO. I’ve previously written about how Tasker and Astrid can be used together, and I still use the two every day. My initial setup with grocery list reminders when I leave the house (home WiFi connection) is still in place, and has been joined by others. An example is my Morning list, an Astrid list/category where all the entries trigger when I deactivate sleep mode on my phone. In other words, it triggers when I actually wake up, not using a wild guess of when that is. I could also put a delay on it to trigger X minutes after waking up, and so on. I can have reminders based on location, open apps, incoming calls, calendar events, anything! Point being, the reason why due dates are rarely used for me is that I have reminders based on completely different, more dynamic, triggers.
Again I can see why people like Any.DO’s simplicity and good looks. But for me personally, it’s simply not doing the job. People have different requirements for such an app, and I’m simply not throwing away functionality for an app that looks better.