ListBook: A Second Look

One of my favorite hobbies (if you can call it that) is to frequently check the App Store on my iPhone for app updates. I must admit, I do this a minimum of twice of day — it’s really a serious problem. The reason I do so is because I’m obsessed with the evolution of apps. Whenever a major update is released to a favorite of mine, I anxiously wait while it downloads, clamoring to see what changes and additions have been made.

In August of last year I reviewed ListBook, which I referred to as “a simple and elegant app that delivers most of the features you need for managing multiple lists, without being too complex.” Recently, noidentity made some major changes to ListBook. But do these changes help or hinder an already great app? Find out after the jump.

What’s New in ListBook?

If you’re a frequent user of ListBook but haven’t gotten around to downloading the update, have no worries, the core design of the app is still very much present. Noidentity didn’t make many updates to the design of the app, and why should they? ListBook is incredibly easy on the eyes and I’m very happy to see the developers didn’t feel the need to change that. In essence, there are three major updates to Listbook — an overhaul on list management functionality, the ability to set reminders and the addition of iCloud syncing.

List Management Functionality

In the previous design of ListBook, you would toggle between different lists in the same manner you toggle between web pages in the iOS Safari app. At the time, this concept made a lot of sense, as it was a functionality that many iPhone users were used to. But times have changed and so the new big thing in app functionality is gestures (as seen in Clear, Sparrow, etc.).

Personally, I love when developers implement gestures into app functionality. Why bother tapping a small button on the corner of the screen to move between pages when you can simply swipe across the screen? In the updated version of ListBook, you can now swipe to the right to see the redesigned Lists management menu (if you don’t like gestures, you can still tap the Lists menu button on the top left of the screen).

If you're not into using gestures, you can still navigate ListBook via buttons.

If you're not into using gestures, you can still navigate ListBook via buttons.

The Lists menu provides a fast method of switching between different lists, which can be identified easily with the use of icons. Whether you like like new method or not comes down to personal taste. In the previous version you could easily see all the tasks on each list while toggling between them. That ability is lost in the new version, but I ultimately find the new Lists menu to be faster and more enjoyable to use.

A side-by-side comparison of the old list management menu (left) and the new list management menu (right).

A side-by-side comparison of the old list management menu (left) and the new list management menu (right).

Creating a new list is just as simple as before, which is done by typing the plus icon at the top of the screen. From here, name your list, choose an icon and decide whether you’d like to see a badge count on your home screen. In addition, you can delete or organize your lists by tapping the Edit button at the top of the screen.

Adding and managing lists is still very easy in ListBook.

Adding and managing lists is still very easy in ListBook.

Setting Reminders

In my previous review, I mentioned that ListBook was missing the ability to set reminders for tasks. Luckily, noidentity saw fit to include this functionality in the new version. When you’re adding a new task, which is done by tapping the plus icon on the top right, an alarm clock icon is present on the screen. Tapping the icon will animate to a new page that allows you to select a date and time. Once you’re finished, tap the Save button in the bottom right corner.

Tapping the alarm clock icon (circled above) will allow you to set a reminder to pick up eggs, or anything else for that matter.

Tapping the alarm clock icon (circled above) will allow you to set a reminder to pick up eggs, or anything else for that matter.

Another minor, but extremely handy change is the location of the plus icon that allows you to enter multiple tasks at once. So, when you’ve typed out one task and want to add another, you can simply tap the plus icon and restart the process again. In the previous version of ListBook, the plus icon was located in the top right corner of the screen and was smaller in size. Now the button is located just above the keyboard and is much bigger, which makes it much easier to tap once you’re finished typing.

The relocation and increased size of the plus icon in the new version (right) makes it easier to add multiple tasks than in the previous version (left).

The relocation and increased size of the plus icon in the new version (right) makes it easier to add multiple tasks than in the previous version (left).

iCloud Syncronization

If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple iOS devices, or if you and partner both have iPhones, it’s incredibly handy to have access to the same set of tasks. For example, say you’re out shopping and your partner needs you to pick up some additional items. Sure, they could text you the list, but then you’d need to switch back and forth between apps to make sure you’ve grabbed everything you need. A minor hassle, but the point of using a device like the iPhone is that it makes your life more convenient, and what could more convenient than having your partner adding the items to your already created list?

Now, ListBook offers said convenience with the inclusion of iCloud support. If you’ve ever used the Reminders app between two devices, you’ll know that wonderful feeling when you enter a reminder on your iPhone and see it immediately on your other iOS device. For iCloud syncing to work, and this is pretty obvious, both devices need to be connected to the same iCloud account (just like the Reminders app).

Two devices, same list. Magical?

Two devices, same list. Magical?

While the addition of this feature is great, unfortunately it doesn’t always work as described. I own an iPhone 4 and iPad 2, and in my findings I found that syncing wasn’t always a two-way street. Specifically, when I added a task or list on my iPad, that addition would appear on my iPhone in a matter of seconds. However, when I flipped the direction and added a list or task on my iPhone it wouldn’t appear on my iPad unless I killed the app in the multi-tasking drawer.

Having to kill ListBook on my iPad in order to sync is rather annoying.

Having to kill ListBook on my iPad in order to sync is rather annoying.

Needless to say, this issue is a rather big annoyance and one I hope is addressed in a future update. Noidentity has stated on their blog that if a user is having an issue with data syncing between apps, they should delete the app from both devices, as well as the saved iCloud data. Full disclosure: I had to do this for the syncing to work on my devices, as it do not work at first. But the issue of lists/tasks syncing in one direction but no the other was not fixed by following their advice.

Final Thoughts

While iCloud syncing isn’t exactly perfect just yet, ListBook is still a great list and task management app. The new UI functionality and design makes it even easier than before to jump between and manage lists and tasks, and with the addition of setting reminders, ListBook has become a one stop shop for all my to-do needs.

Granted, there are other great to-do/getting things done apps available for iOS, but I find ListBook to be in that perfect sweet spot between minimal apps like Clear and the “everything but the kitchen sink” apps like OminiFocus. While Clear’s simplicity and gesture based UI is great, I’m looking for a little more in my to-do app experience, just not everything under the sun.


Summary

While already a great list-management app, ListBook is now even better with the inclusion of a new gesture based UI, ability to set reminders and syncing between devices with iCloud support.

9
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