Astrid: Be Productive with Friends

To-do apps are a dime a dozen on the iPhone, and it’s hard for any one of them to stand out. To make a real impression, there has to be something new and useful brought to the table. What I always need and am always looking for is an app that lets me share my to-do list. I don’t live in a bubble, and sometimes I want to collaborate with my family and friends to get the job done.

After hiding its to-do light under Android’s bushel, Astrid recently brought social to-dos and task management to iOS. With a snappy interface and to-do sharing amongst my contacts, Astrid may be the task management app I’ve been looking for.

Where to Start

Opening Astrid for the first time, you’ll be asked to create an account. You can still use the app without signing in, but your tasks won’t be synced or available from the webapp. However, I was 100% unable to create an account, because my Gmail account wasn’t recognized as a valid email address. Yeah, Astrid? Well so’s your face! I ended up having to login via Facebook, which is maybe my least favorite thing that doesn’t involve spiders, but it was the only way to get it done.

The task list view and creating a task

The task list view and creating a task

Once logged in, you’ll be directed to your list of tasks, which is going to look pretty empty if you’ve never used Astrid. To start filling it up, tap the Add Task field at the bottom of the screen. To just create a quick task, type out what you need to do and click Go. Your new task will appear in the task list, ready to be checked off.

Beyond a Task List

If you’d like to set a due date or even delegate the task though, hold off on saving and tap More to get all the additional options. You can choose to let someone else shoulder the responsibility for the task by clicking Who. Astrid will bring up a list of all the contacts you have on your iPhone with email addresses attached. If you’d like the task to go to a friend or enemy who isn’t listed, tap inside the Add/Search field. Adding an email address you haven’t already saved will only work if you have email set up on your iPhone, though, which I didn’t since I use a third-party email client, so keep that in mind.

Selecting a due date and sharing a task

Selecting a due date and sharing a task

To set a due date, tap When, and bring up Astrid’s in-app calendar. You can also set a specific time if, for instance, you’re using Astrid to manage appointments or reminding you make calls on time. You can also set the task to repeat periodically and add it to Calendar.

Priorities are pretty straightforward and will color code your tasks in the My Tasks list. While I can never tell how one thing is super important and another thing is only sort of important when it all has to get done eventually, the color coding is nice and some people will find utility in prioritizing.

Bonus Features

You can add each task to a category list, which comes in handy for organizing tasks of a specific type, planning an event or working on a project. You can also use lists to create reusable tasks. Once you’ve saved all of your tasks to a list, back out of the tasks view and tap Reusable Lists. Select a list in the Reusable Lists screen to add any of those tasks to your active My Tasks list. No matter how many times you complete a task from a reusable list, it will always be waiting for you to complete it again.

My profile and the people I'm sharing tasks with

My profile and the people I’m sharing tasks with

Tap People in the menu screen to see a list of everyone you’ve shared tasks with. Here you can manage the tasks everyone is working on and see if anything’s been completed. Whenever someone accepts a task, you’ll get a notification and it’ll be logged in your Activity. Likewise, you’ll be notified if someone bails on you and denies your request.

Things That Didn’t Work Right

I really wish I could delegate tasks to more than one person. Once you select a contact to carry out a task, anyone else is automatically deselected. I went round and round trying to get chores assigned to both me and my husband, but it didn’t work, and in the end I was forced to give all the housework to him. This is especially frustrating because delegating to multiple people is so easy in the webapp.

I tried assigning a few tasks to my husband, who often serves as my app guinea pig whenever there’s a social component. He doesn’t have an Astrid account, but he received a great email that let him accept or deny my task requests via a link to the Astrid website. However, he couldn’t mark tasks as completed. There was a checkbox, and he checked that box for all he was worth, but the task was never marked as completed. He was also given options to makes changes to the tasks, but those never stuck either.

Check This One Out

I really liked Astrid, and maybe it’s because I’m inherently bossy, but I was gaga for the ability to assign tasks to other people. What was especially cool is that I could give tasks to people who don’t have an Astrid account. The thought occurs that it would be polite to give them a heads up before they get a literal laundry list of things to do in their inboxes, but assigning housekeeping to roommates or party planning to friends would be a snap.

The reusable lists were a bonus I wasn’t expecting, because I do have so many things I do on a schedule, but it can be a real pain recreating those tasks every week or every month in a to do app. With Astrid, a few clicks, and all of those tasks are back on the radar.

The bugs were a bummer, but not so much that it’ll keep me from using Astrid regularly. Hopefully with some updates, the login issues and the delegation problems will be fixed. With those problems out of the way, Astrid will be a really top-notch to-do app.


Summary

A great social to-do app for sharing tasks with friends, with only a few hiccups.

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