Astrid todo is shutting down, but I left the service a year ago

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had several people ask me about what I’m moving to once Astrid todo shuts down. It was what originally brought me to Tasker, and it was a central part of my Android experience for a while. However, it’s now been almost exactly a year since I threw Astrid out on its butt, and moved to my own, custom created todo list system.

My original reasons for leaving Astrid are just as valid today. While Astrid was like magic to someone who at that time was still rather fresh out of an iPhone, the more I learned to use Tasker, the more obvious it became that Astrid’s Tasker integration was extremely limited. I constantly hit brick walls where I couldn’t do what I wanted, and it all culminated in a point where I sat down and started designing my own todo list system. I documented the first couple of iterations of the “app” quite well, with the first version being an example for the third part of the beginner’s guide, and the second version an example for part 7. They basically consisted of a scene with various Tasker tasks to populate them with items and store the items in text files, and while it wasn’t the most advanced thing out there, it was a major step up from the “made to fit everyone” experience of Astrid.

After that, however, I rewrote the app completely and moved to using methods that doesn’t fit a tutorial format very well. While it’s the most feature-rich, stable, and fastest iteration yet, it uses some fairly advanced tricks to achieve that. I’ve talked briefly about some individual features I’ve added (1, 2, 3), as well as written about some of the basic principles used in it, but it’s not the kind of creation that makes sense to share. The simple reason is that in order to be able to adapt the list to your own system, as well as be able to fix potential device/OS-related or Tasker update-related issues, you need to understand exactly how it works, and I believe that’s only feasible to do with something you’ve created yourself, from scratch. I know I for one find even relatively simple Tasker creations made by someone else hard to “read”, because it often uses logic different from mine or contains bug fixes and similar workarounds for problems that I never encountered myself.

I last wrote about the todo list in April, and even since then, it’s changed. It’s now based around my custom sidebar UI, and I only access it using that. I can add items using text input in the app, voice input, the camera, remotely from my iPad or computer, the cookbook add-on I created, or with a recent quick add feature that I access by swiping down on the list’s icon in the sidebar UI. Alerts differ based on which of the five lists it’s for, but are based on things like calendar events, WiFi connection status, and profile switches. They alert me using custom lock screen widgets, text to speech, notifications, or smartwatch notifications. The notifications are via AutoNotification, using buttons to add features like clearing the list or postponing the item.

So, that’s the long answer to what I’ll do when Astrid goes away: nothing, because I haven’t used Astrid in a year. I know it’s not overly helpful to tell people that I’m currently using an awesome system that I’m not sharing, but that decision is based on me actually originally distributing a much less complicated version of the todo list to an experienced Tasker user and finding out the hard way that it’s only really simple for the person who created it. Since then I’ve shared the related files once, and that was actually successful, so I might do a Provided As Is article with it in the future, but I haven’t decided yet.

What I am however hoping to to with this article is to both answer what I’ll be doing without Astrid, and to encourage others to attempt making their own todo list app in Tasker. You might end up rewriting it several times, like I did, but it’s all a learning process. And, when you’re all done and have a Tasker app to call your own, you’ll likely never look back.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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