Don’t judge a book by its cover–a valuable piece of advice I was taught early in my life, as I’m sure a lot of you where as well. More often than not I find this old adage to be profoundly true, but, at times, I find it incredibly difficult to live by. I, like a lot of individuals, find it easier to embrace something that’s pleasing to the eye. Sometimes it turns out well, which I’m sure most Apple device owners can attest to (just holding my iPad mini is one of my favorite past times), but other times I’m reminded why the adage rings so true.
Taasky is an app that was on my radar several months before its launch. I had seen it showcased on several blogs and Dribbble because of it’s beautiful and sleek design. I was enamored, to say the least. So, when the app found its way to the App Store I was quite pleased, and downloaded it with haste. What I discovered after spending a mere few minutes with the app, however, was another lesson involving books and their covers.
Before I delve into what’s so very wrong with Taasky, let’s first look at what had me drooling for those several months–the UI. It’s actually a bit funny to think about how captivated I was with Taasky’s design way back when, considering several apps have now embraced beautifully minimal designs post iOS 7. Even still, Taasky’s design is unique while very much fitting in with my favorite OS to date.
The app sports a dark design, which is somewhat refreshing from the sea of stark white apps. Designers Scrappe apps do a good job of providing contrast with similar color palettes (midnight blues), with checkboxes being easily distinguishable from task descriptions. In addition, the app offers four categories–All Tasks, Home, Work, Friends and Shopping List–each of which are identifiable by their unique color. Utilizing colors to differentiate categories isn’t a new concept, by any means, but it’s proven to work well and fits in nicely with Taasky.
Not all aspects of Taasky’s design are eye catching, though. Scrappe app’s color choices for categories are a bit hit and miss from my perspective. However, that’s probably because I’m not particularly keen on pastels. I’d appreciate the ability to set custom colors, but I know that Taasky’s design is its major draw and I understand why Scrappe apps didn’t include them (that and the fact that the app is meant to be bare bones in its feature offerings).
I also have issue with the iconography, which comes across as inconsistent. Looking at the sidebar, the All Tasks, Work, Friends and Shopping List icons all fit into a similar theme– each feature heavy strokes with rounded corners. The Home icon, however, features a light stroke and squared edges. This isn’t the only icon with inconsistency issues. Taasky allows you to edit lists, meaning you can rename a list and change its icon. Of the paltry nine icon options available, most of them match up well, but a few others don’t feature a heavy stroke or rounded corners (home is the only icon with both issues).
Animation has become extremely important in app design since iOS 7’s release. Granted, not a lot of newly released or updated apps utilize animation well, if at all. But, apps like Tweetbot 3 and Next are great examples of how smart and clever usage of animation goes a long way. Taasky aims to be another good example, but just doesn’t live up to that goal based on my experiences.
A few weeks back, I expressed frustration on Twitter about having to wait for the unlock animation in iO7 to finish before I can actually engage with my phone. I have similar frustrations with Taasky. Transitioning between the main view and sidebar is delightful and quick enough, but when I select another view the arrow marker moves to the said view and content slides off and back on again–metaphorically replacing the content–and I’ve spent just over two second during the entire transition (from accessing the sidebar to selecting another view). I know that this may come across as nitpicky, but if you’ve ever found yourself waiting for iOS 7 to finish an animation before you can interact with your phone, you know what I am saying (random South Park reference for the kids).
Taasky features two more three dimensional animations, including swipe down to create a new task (a more common animation found in task and/or to-do apps) and tap to edit a task. The former works very well, but the latter is jarring and just seems very out of place. The animations for transitioning to the sidebar and add task menu are done so in a similar unfolding three dimensional metaphor. The edit task transition animation, in contrast, exists on its own plain that flips over top of the main view (also blurring the content still visible along the left side). Why not display edits below the task itself and eliminate an additional menu, or utilize the right side of the screen and use a consistent animation (opposite of the sidebar)?
Creating & Managing Tasks
Now that I’ve thoroughly covered the UI and animations, let’s focus on Taasky’s actual purpose–task management. As I mentioned earlier, Taasky is designed to be a simple task management tool without a lot of bells and whistles. Be that as it may, the way in which task management is accomplished in Taasky just doesn’t feel fully conceptualized.
All Tasks is the default view, and will display tasks from all four of your categories. In addition to swiping down, you can create a new task by tapping the + icon in the upper-right. When you enter a task description, the first thing you’ll notice is that it doesn’t capitalize the first word; whether that’s intentional or not is up for debate, but it’s sure to drive some people bonkers (personally, I enjoy using all lowercase text in this instance). You can also set a due date and/or reminder, mark it as priority (more on this in a bit) and change the category (triggers another animation you’ll find yourself waiting to finish).
As someone that uses Reminders.app for all my task management needs, I like the addition of a due date feature (sorely missing in Reminders). However, for the life of me I don’t understand how setting a reminder doesn’t automatically set a due date as well. This is something I came across while reviewing Calendars 5, and perhaps it’s just me, but if I set a reminder more often than not the date in which I’m being reminded will probably be the due date as well. I suppose some users may wish to set reminders the day before something needs to be completed, which is commonplace when creating a calendar event, but should be the exception–not the rule.
Though we’re past the design portion of the review, I do want to call out Taasky’s date picker. iOS 7’s new date picker is vastly different from the one used in iOS 6, and it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to by now, but isn’t something I favor. In contrast, I really like Scrapped app’s custom date picker a great deal more. To me, it’s less awkward and clumsy, and I’m able to decipher what’s being selected much easier. The only downside, however, is Taasky’s use of a 24-hour clock (the world standard) instead of a 12-hour clock (the North American standard). According to tweet from the Taasky Twitter account, however, an option to select a 12-hour clock may be considered.
When you’re done entering a task’s information, you can finish the process by tapping the checkmark icon in the upper-right or tapping the Done button in the keyboard’s lower-right (if available). Entering a task is fairly quick, but it doesn’t accommodate for quick entry of multiple tasks. For instance, if you need to create a grocery list with several items, you’ll find yourself swiping down several times to open the add a task menu. Sorting is also lacking in Taasky, since the app provides zero sorting options (e.g. by due date). You can, however, manually reorder tasks by longpressing and dragging a task up or down. So there’s that.
Earlier, I discussed the edit task menu. You’d think this feature would be sufficient, but a quick edit menu is also available by swiping left on a task. From here, you can mark the task as priority (star icon), edit the task (pencil icon) or delete it (trashcan icon). The first and third option prove to be useful, especially when you consider that opening the quick edit menu is a great deal more handy. Choosing the edit option, however, simply opens the main edit menu–offering very little worth.
Those familiar with Reminders.app will understand the concept of setting a priority level for tasks (this concept is also used in a lot of third-party task management apps). Taasky approaches the concept of priorities a bit differently. At this point, I’ve mentioned an ability to mark a task as “priority” at least twice. What this does is move a single task to the top of the list, and displays it more prominently than all other tasks by use of larger text and a star icon; only one task can be marked as priority in a task view. It’s certainly a unique idea, if not a bit limiting, but suffers from illogical implementation.
Say I create a “clean kitchen” task in the All Tasks view. I designate it under the Home category and mark it as priority. Then a create a second task–“pay bills”–also under the Home category, but don’t mark it as priority. While in the All Tasks view, everything is as it should be. But when I switch over to the Home category view, the “pay bills” task is set as priority and “clean kitchen” is displayed secondarily. If I switch back to All Tasks, it remains as I left it.
Essentially, when you create a new task, it automatically gets marked as priority in it’s category. I’m not certain why this methodology was used, but I know it makes little sense–especially when you consider due dates. If I create a task and mark it with a due date of December 1st, and then create a second task with a due date of December 5th, the first task is obviously the priority because it needs to completed four days before the second task. But, since the December 5th task was created second, it will be deemed as the priority.
Given that Taasky is a “simple” task management app, it’s not meant to be rich in features. With that being said, other task management apps that are designed to offer a streamlined experience offer more than what Taasky brings to the table.
For instance, you cannot:
- Create recurring tasks (developer stated on Twitter that it will be added “really soon”)
- Add additional categories (developer stated on Twitter that it will be added “really soon”)
- Display a badge icon
- Add notes to a task
At the time of this review, syncing via iCloud is also not available. However, a synchronization option is displayed in the app’s setting with an indication that the feature will soon be added.
The Bottom Line
Taasky features a very striking design, but that alone does not make a good app–especially in the productivity category. In striving to be a simplistic approach to managing tasks, the developers ultimately lost touch with how people interact with such tools. When I’m creating a list of tasks, I don’t need the app to draw attention to itself–pointing out how beautiful and fun it is to use. I just want something that let’s me create my list quickly, and manage said lists without having to think too much about what steps I need to take to accomplish this goal. That’s not to say task management apps can’t be fun, as Silo is an excellent example of an app that offers a enjoyable experience without getting in the way of itself (true, it’s more a list app but it can be used for task management).
I’ll grant you that Reminders.app isn’t a poster child for great list and task management, but it does a lot more things right than it does wrong. In the third-party app space, Clear does a great job of offering a dead-simple approach to task management, with very little functionality to get in your way. Any.DO and Wunderlist are also great options that offer more complexity, and are far and away better than Taasky (and still quite nice to look at).
So, if you’re in need of an easy to use task management app, I simply cannot recommend Taasky at this time. It may be great eye candy, that’s about all it has to offer right now. With a few iterations, however, there’s a chance its (metaphorical) brains will eventually match its beauty.