News Column

Smartphone Apps to Get You Organized

May 5, 2011


Smartphone Apps, task managers

Modern smartphones are increasingly "do-anything" devices -- but a few key smartphone apps remind of the days back when handheld devices were "organizers." There are a ton of smartphone apps, both free and paid, that help you with your tasks and streamline your life. But, to be frank, the prices on these are so low as to be negligible -- your priority should be productivity. Below, we outline two of our favorites.


G-Tasks is a smartphone app that syncs with your Google Tasks list. Add anything to the task list while using Google Apps, and it can appear on your phone's G-Tasks list. It's all the more useful for its ability to generate a widget, allowing you to look at your task list from your smartphone's home screen.

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Todo.txt Text-based Task Manager

The keywords with the Todo.txt Task Manager app are simplicity and accessibility. As the ".txt" extension in the name implies, it's a list created in a simple text file, and thus you can manipulate it with any program that can open such (from text pad to a feature-rich productivity program such as MS Word). You must store the file using the Dropbox app, a cloud-based application that's free and can be installed on PCs and smartphones or accessed through any Web browser. Accordingly, the Todo.txt list can be accessed pretty much anywhere and through any device, allowing you to update your task list on the fly, as you complete or gather more things to do.

Using the Todo.txt Touch mobile app on your phone adds a feature-rich way to manipulate the list, and is a great way to do it -- handy, since smartphones tend to be with their users at all times.

The lists are organized by priority rankings that are assigned when entered. You can alter these rankings, cross items off the list, or delete them altogether with ease.

The application has a one-time fee of $2 for your Android phone, but is free if you want to use it just on PCs/through Web interface. The mere $2 is definitely worth it, though—and the publishers are good about finding bugs and delivering semi-frequent updates/enhancements.

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Astrid has a free version, and two paid add-ons that aim to enhance the basic app. The makers of Astrid say that it's not just a to-do list, but a "personal assistant." It sounds like an ambitious promise, but the functionality is super-solid and Astrid's user rankings in the Android store are at an insane 4.5 out of 5 stars for the free version, and about 4 for each of the paid add-ons.

Why so popular? Well, this Android-only app can sync with free service Google Tasks, meaning that your list can be updated from any Internet browser as well as the native app. It mirrors the ability of Todo.txt in that you can simply enter new tasks and prioritize them; some of the bells and whistles include hiding future tasks until a certain date and setting up reminders at specific times for to-do items. Also, tasks can be tagged and assorted by tag

The $4.99 Power-Pack add-on expands Astrid's capabilities immensely. These may be for power users only, but it's nice to have the option. The enhancements include keeping track of how long tasks take, adding tasks with your voice, and no advertisements.

The $1.99 Locale add-on works in conjunction with the $9.99 Locale app, which basically makes your phone aware of where you are and you can indicate certain behaviors—such as turning the ringer off automatically when you enter the workplace. When these apps are paired up, your Astrid app can remind you that you need eggs as you drive by the grocery store, for instance.

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Source: (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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