Some of the biggest iOS 5 complaints center around the Reminders app. The native to-do list application leaves a lot to the imagination and has a myriad of obvious features that were seemingly left-out or overlooked. 1312 founder Vladimir Tuporshin has challenged Apple’s Reminder app to a dual with his own Pocket Lists. In comparison, it is easy to see Apple brought only a squirt gun to this water fight.
Pocket Lists is a no-frills app when it comes to design, but is instead meant to be a productivity app. There is nothing to distract your senses; instead, Pocket Lists gets straight down to business with a simple UI that is easily navigable. The tabbed sections along the bottom match Apple’s own navigation style, making Pocket Lists easily to learn quickly. In addition, an extensive settings section allows the user to manipulate the intricacies to desired actions. Several of the controllable items include the notification badge number, default reminder times, chronological ordered lists, and syncing services.
Pausing to further explain the syncing services, it is important to note that Pocket Lists only syncs with the native Calendar app, Google Tasks, and Toodledo. Similarly peculiar, the “connect” feature encourages the user to collaborate on tasks and to-do lists with other iDevice owners; However, a major setback is the need for the two iDevices to be on the same WiFi network or connect via Bluetooth to share lists. There are many other to-do applications that sync across devices without the need for the two devices to be within close proximity to work. To keep the lists in accord, other applications use iCloud or their own servers to transmit data between devices.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I’m a big fan of productivity applications and Pocket Lists functions excellently as a to-do-list-compiler and task scheduler. The “Lists” tab creates titled lists with additional sub-categories-tasks. The list section allows for truncated task prioritization and provides color coordination, due dates/times, location reminders, icon selection, and repeat settings for ultimate control and organization. In addition, the task creation options include a notes section for each task and can transcribe a photograph of script. An example will best describe all of the larger options:
Loretta must remember to go to the grocery store tomorrow after teaching preschool but before guests arrival from out of town. After a long day of wiping snotty noses, picking up blocks, and hearing the “Clean Up” song, she has a hard time remembering all the additional errands.
Consequently, the night before, Loretta picks up her iPhone and opens Pocket Lists. Using the “Lists” tab she starts a new list called groceries, sets a location reminder to go off when she leaves the address of the preschool. In addition, she sets the due date for the next day, which will add a badge on the app icon. Under the master heading “Groceries” she adds each item, color coordinating them by location within the store, green for veggies, red for meats, …you get the picture.
Finally, to make sure she gets everything for those Chocolate Crinkle Cookies she loves to make, Loretta takes a picture of her recipe and uses Pocket Lists to transcribe the ingredient list into additional items under the “Grocery” heading. Now she is all set! Oh… one more thing, gotta run by the cleaners and pick up some dry cleaning. Since there are not really other associate tasks, she places just a to-do in the “Stream” tab, which keeps a running list of the active “Lists” with due dates and to-dos that are not in “lists.” So, both the “Grocery” list and the dry cleaning to-do are listed in the “Stream.”
Loretta did a pretty good job of using all the tools Pocket Lists offers, all the way down to the image transcription. She will get a pop-up tomorrow when she leaves her work address and will be constantly reminded of her errands by the app badge.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Pocket Lists offers a great amount of list and to-do control not found in other applications. It is simple and straight forward, which I appreciate in a productivity application; however, there are several things power-users may regret. I have already mentioned the lack of server-side syncing and will not expand. In addition, the word transcription does not work easily either. When I tried to convert text from a photo, it took several tries to get things to work properly. The app allows for contrast manipulation to adjust how the text is converted, but it is not a very intuitive feature.
Also, the inability to search for specific places in the location reminder setting is particularly frustrating. Loretta could not type in her preschool’s name and have the built-in Google maps find the address. Loretta actually had to enter her work address for the location setting to work properly. Finally, the GPS feature will constantly run in the background, even after the location-dependant task is completed, which I found to be severely frustrating as it is a constant battery drain.
Pocket Lists ( $1.99, App Store link) allows for easy list and to-do management. With color coordination, location reminders, truncated lists, passcode protection, and many other options enumerated previously, Pocket Lists is an excellent productivity app. However, the real bells and whistles need some fine tuning. Moreover, there is only an iPhone version.
In the future, 1312 hopes to release iPad, Android, and Web versions which will be synced via a server-side service, but for now, iPhone is the only option. Given the hit-or-miss advanced features and lack of universal platform options, Pocket Lists seems like a premature release. 1312 would have benefitted greatly by working out the minor kinks and releasing a universal version complete with server integration.
Verdict [rating: 3/5]
I would go ahead and pick this one up if you trust the company to continue to make improvements. Although some of the more advanced features need some work, the ability to control a to-do list with complete customization makes this app a must-have for the productively minded.
- Complete control of to-do list
- Truncated lists
- Multiple colors and user defined icons
- Control badge icon meaning
- Location based reminders
- Shake device to move completed items to bottom of list
- Location services do not allow entity searches, addresses only
- Transcription needs to be refined
- No server-side syncing