I have been on a never-ending quest for the perfect to-do list app. I experimented with Apple’s Reminders for a little while before extensively using Wunderlist and then Cultured Code’s Things for iPhone. I ended up migrating back to Reminders simply because Things and Wunderlist didn’t make me want to use their apps; I never felt charmed by Wunderlist’s visual aesthetics or by Thing’s OCD-level of task management.
To me, a great to-do app needs to encourage and foster use. It needs to make you want to go in and take the time to write down something that needs to get done. The challenge is to make sure that there is a visual system of rewards for using the app, and that visual appeal and reckless reinvention of the digital to-do list is exactly DOOO‘s success.
A Cute To-DOOO List
DOOO is visually different than any other to-do list I’ve seen, to the point where it took me a day of use to fully familiarize myself with my surroundings. Its divided into two halves: Today and Unsolved. Any to-dos recorded in the past 24 hours belong in the Today list, and anything that has been in DOOO for longer than that appears on the Unsolved side of the app.
Everything in the app is accessed with swiping. Want to see your settings? Swipe the bottom pane to the left. Want to see a history list of completed items? Swipe the top pane to the left. Swiping left or right on a task itself reveals not just options to complete or disregard a task, but the ability to set a due date (down to the minute), mark the urgency of a task (yellow or red priority), and lock the task or move it from Unsolved to Today. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry, it’s not. In practice, this might be the single easiest and simplest to-do app I’ve tried.
There is no ability to create multiple lists, so what you’re left with is a list of tasks that need to get done today. If they don’t get done by the time the day is done, they get pushed aside and sit waiting for you to attend to them. When you do complete them, you hear a lovely sound that really does feel almost like a reward for completing the task. I looked forward to hearing that every time I checked something off my list.
Just DOOO It
The app itself has a unique design. Two dots are recurrent visual images in the app. I don’t know how to describe them, except to say that they remind me of the eyes in the Tweetbot app icon.
Beyond the interesting “eyes” as I call them, the app has several other interesting visual quirks that lead to alternative to-do lists. A little symbol that looks like PacMan on the bottom left opens up to reveal a stopwatch. The stopwatch can be used to record to-dos. Three horizontal lines on the bottom right can be tapped to reveal some other ways to capture a to-do: taking or choosing a photo, using your location or simply doodling on the iPhone screen.
These alternative to-do methods are DOOO’s bread and butter. You’ll know right away if this app is for you, and simply put, if you are a visual person, you need it. The ability to capture to-dos with a doodle or photo is one of this app’s coolest features, and makes it easily recommendable to people who think visually.
DOOO It Without The Cloud
Do you like to check your to-do list on your iPad or computer? DOOO does not have an iPad app and it does not have a website where you can view your daily tasks, either. This isn’t a problem if the iPhone is the sole device you task manage on, but for some people, it will hamper their workflows.
That being said, doodling on a touch screen or taking pictures for a digital to-do list basically requires a smartphone or tablet. These are things that I wouldn’t be able to do without a touchscreen computer with a camera, and even if my computer had those features, I’m not sure I’d be able to doodle or take pictures comfortably.
A website may not be practical, but I would like to see an iPad app. Arguably, the interface would benefit from the additional screen space of an iPad Mini or iPad with Retina Display. iCloud integration would be an easy and seamless way to sync devices, and then DOOO would be a very viable contender for people with multiple Apple devices in their homes. Until then, DOOO is only recommendable for people who use their iPhone as their primary task management tool.
Like The Motto: Not Too Simple, Not Too Complex
DOOO’s user interface is so completely different from anything else I’ve seen that it bears repeating: this app looks and feels like no other task management app in the App Store. Every other option — Clear, Things and Reminders come to mind — is focused on text entries. As people, we have been hard-wired to think that every task we need to accomplish in a day can be easily summarized with words.
DOOO breaks free of that mould. The simple fact is that digital task-managing has never been that much different from paper lists of old. In the transition to mobile technologies, to-do lists have become simple visual metaphors for their older paper-based selves. In other words, they are always checkboxes for lines of text, not unlike something you’d see on your grandfather’s desk by his leather-bound calendar.
DOOO’s mission is to take full advantage of mobile technology many of us have in our pockets. This is not your grandfather’s task management app; instead, DOOO really captures what a fully-digital to-do list can look like. And because they focus on simple things we’ve been doing in iOS since day one — like swiping to the left or the right — they managed to create an app that reinforces modern task management without making it feel too digital. They do make sacrifices to achieve this simplicity; for example, you can’t create multiple lists in the app and it’s clearly focused on a daily to-do list. But instead of coming across as robotic, DOOO comes across as cute, and that’s an important difference to note when compared to almost any other similar app I can think of.
DOOO is not the app for you if you rely on a cloud-based infrastructure to get your work done, but if you rely solely on your iPhone for task management and mostly need something to help you get through the day, I don’t think you can go wrong with a to-do app like DOOO. Task management apps can be very personal choices, so I can’t recommend it for everybody’s workflow, but I can say that if it sounds remotely interesting to you, this is an app that you need to consider adding to your day-to-day life.