easyTasker is a business and project management web application. Normally that last part would put it firmly within the baileywick of our sister site Web.Appstorm, but easyTasker has gone one better and offers an iPhone-tuned mobile version. According to easyTasker, this iPhone version was selected as a staff pick on Apple’s web app site.
For fourteen dollars a month, easyTasker provides a number of business management features that are equally accessible on an iPhone or any computer running a modern browser (easyTasker suggests Safari or Firefox). Among these features are project and time tracking, a to do list, invoice creation and expense management, and messaging. These features are aimed at small and medium businesses.
Types of Web Apps
There are two kinds of iPhone web apps. The first are apps like Glyphboard, Keymap, and Showtime, which use HTML5 to store information on your iPhone and open as separate applications when added to your home screen. These apps are as close to native iPhone apps as can be made with HTML and CSS.
easyTasker falls into the second category: web-based applications that have simply been optimised for use on the iPhone’s small screen. In itself, this isn’t a bad thing—it just means that easyTasker doesn’t look native—but the iPhone login screen suggests adding easyTasker to your homescreen, which gave me false hope that easyTasker would at least run as a self-contained web app instead of simply invoking Safari.
In addition, some controls (notably breadcrumbs and add/delete functions) are not well sized for those with large fingers.
But let’s take a step back. Once signed up for easyTasker—why exactly do they need my phone number anyway?—they send a follow-up email. It’s a pretty standard follow-up message, except that this one contains your account password in plain text. Sending passwords in clear text can aid in identity theft, and a professional-oriented web application should know better.
The Home Screen
Signing in presents you with four areas of focus: Workload, Settings, Messages, and Support Requests. That last is theoretically the best way to communicate issues you may have to easyTasker, but I can’t vouch for how quickly they respond; I didn’t use that feature while I was testing. Messages work pretty much as you would expect if you’ve used a social networking site like Facebook.
Viewing Your Workload
Choosing Workload gives you access to Projects, Timesheets, Invoices, a To Do list, Messages (again), Expenses, and Categories. Each of these is pretty much what it sounds like: Projects lets you add and work with projects that your business is working on, Timesheets let you track time spent on a project or specific goals achieved, the To Do List lets you track to dos, and Expenses lets you track your expenses.
Timesheet items are, by default, copied to the To Do List so there’s no need to add them in both places.
I’ve already mentioned Messages, so I’ll leave that one alone, but Categories let you choose what facet of your business (or, in some fields, easyTasker’s business) something is related to.
Finally, Invoices lets you create and send invoices either as emails or as PDFs; most conveniently, though, it lets you invoice for a specific project, and imports the timesheet info from that project.
To enable these features to be shared with employees and coworkers, easyTasker gives you the ability create users and user groups in the Settings section. Unfortunately, privilege control isn’t as finely grained as it should be; while it is simple to assign privileges to a new user, it is impossible to create a group with a certain set of privileges that are possessed by all the users in that group.
Combined with the inability to add multiple individual users to a particular project or to do item, this means it’s also impossible to assign a project to two individual users except by assigning it to a group containing only those two users. Especially in the iPhone interface, this can mean a long digression to create the new group and the need to re-enter data if the project in question was new.
The Settings section also includes “system” settings—options such as your timezone and account info, as well as business details and PayPal merchant account access—and the ability to set up clients.
It may be worth noting that attempting to add a client with a period in their name—say, “iPhone.Appstorm”—throws up an error message.
If you access Settings from your computer, you can choose to export data or generate reports of your business.
For the most part, easyTasker seems like a very useful communication and time tracking tool for freelancers or small businesses. It’s a more complete but less native alternative to MarketCircle’s Billings or Stunt’s On the Job; while MarketCircle will soon be releasing a native iPhone companion to their desktop app, Billings doesn’t provide the same level of project and business management as easyTasker.
With that said, easyTasker definitely has some issues to work out. In addition to the user and plain text password issues I mentioned earlier, To Do items added to user groups don’t show up in individual users’ to do lists.
It is also impossible to upload your company logo correctly if it uses transparency, since easyTasker only accepts JPEG logos. When I tried to upload a PNG logo, easyTasker repeatedly threw a SQL error and refused to upload the file.
Finally, the site seems a little slow. Given that easyTasker is explicitly trying to compete with native iPhone apps, they should probably focus a bit more on creating a speedy and at least somewhat native-feeling user experience.
The Bottom Line
If you need a business management app that syncs between your computers and your iPhone and you need it now, give easyTasker a try—it’s free for 30 days. Otherwise, I’d recommend giving easyTasker another few months to mature and work on their iPhone interface. In time, easyTasker has the opportunity to become a best-of-breed business management app.