There are hundreds, if not thousands of task management apps out there, waiting to help you manage your routines. Usually those apps specialize in one particular aspect of task management, may that be a strict interpretation of the GTD methodology or a great integration with social sharing services.
The new kid on the block tries to excel at everything. TaskFlow brings task management together with reminders, timers and notes. So, instead of using multiple apps to manage your busy life, you only need one. We’ll take a look on how well TaskFlow manages to accomplish that goal after the break.
Getting To Know TaskFlow
After the expectations the promotional website set, I was very curious to see how well the promise of an integrated task management app translated into the real application. To be able to combine notes, reminders, timers and tasks into one single interface, the same needed to be extremely well designed and clearly labeled.
The Icetap team didn’t disappoint; the app looks absolutely awesome when it greets you with the welcome screen where you can reach all the important parts of the app instantly.
The developers try to ease every user into working with TaskFlow by providing some sample content. Allowing for every app to have their own way of structuring content it takes a moment to understand the principle that guides TaskFlow. What you see in the above screen are really all categories, even the “custom checklists” at the bottom, even though they are called checklists. These lists hold the various tasks you set yourself, color coded by priority.
The Quick Menu
Most prominent on the home screen are the three categories Inbox Tasks, Reminders and Timers. They are pretty much straightforward. The Inbox is where you can put all tasks without having to worry about sorting them. It’s like your in tray at work where stuff accumulates that you know you have to do, but haven’t really started to look at yet.
By tapping the icon you open up your inbox and can see the tasks it already holds or add new ones by tapping the plus sign in the upper right corner.
A really neat touch is the ability to add a custom icon to your task — no matter where you create it — and you can choose between as many as 500 icons. This may not be a deal breaker, but it sure helps to understand at first glance what the task is about.
The sorting of tasks is only possible after they’ve been created, not during the process where you write them down. You have to go into the task again and they have an extra field that allows you to chose one of your lists.
It’s actually a little tedious to have to go through three screens and tap the check-arrow on the upper right in the detailed task view to accept the change, but being a version 1 release, those are things that can be forgiven. I also don’t quite understand why all tasks entered into the Inbox have a due date of noon the next day (which can’t be changed from within the inbox). In my opinion, the Inbox should simply hold tasks that I mustn’t forget, without attaching a random due date that is not even being enforced with an alarm or pop-up.
The second part of the Quick Menu are Reminders. They work also as expected — you need to remember something at a certain point in time, you put it down here. You can even specify a time, not just a day, when you need to be reminded.
TaskFlow will remind you with a pop-up window that something is due, no matter if you are within TaskFlow itself, in another app or have your iPhone locked. The only glitch I found was that reminders shouldn’t be too soon in the future (like a couple of minutes only) because then no pop-up would appear. But if you need to remind yourself of something hours or days away, TaskFlow works without fault.
Timers, the third part of the Quick Menu, behave as timers do. They count down a specified time and then alarm you that whatever you need to do is due. What’s the difference regarding reminders? Well, you would set a reminder for something that is due a week or a month from today and not count down the hours until then. Similarly, if you need to remind yourself that your tea is done in 5 minutes, you would use the timer and not set yourself a reminder.
Good thing about both reminders and timers — you can reuse them. They don’t disappear once they are done and you can quickly reschedule them. The developers are also working on recurring dates for tasks and reminders and on the option to snooze alarms. So, definitely something to look forward to in future releases.
Working With Tasks & Creating Custom Checklists
The checklists you see on the home screen hold your individual tasks. They can either be entered into a list directly or moved there from the Inbox. The principle is similar, only that you have additional options available.
Title and task icon you know already from the inbox, but now you can also set a due date of your choosing, add a note and define a priority.
As with all apps, where you need to type more than a single word, I hope that TaskFlow will support landscape note entry in one of the upcoming versions, since portrait typing is quite tedious.
You need to be aware, though, that the due date will not trigger a notification by TaskFlow. You can use the due date and priority to sort your tasks in the checklist view; since TaskFlow does support push notifications for reminders and timers, maybe that is something that will happen in the future.
When it comes to organizing your tasks, TaskFlow shines: you can create as many custom lists as you want, but even better, you can style them nicely with a custom icon to differentiate them instantly on the app’s home screen.
You can create new lists directly from the home screen by tapping the plus sign on the upper right. The option that stands out now is “Is notelist,” with the slider by default in the off position.
If you check it to “on,” your new list becomes a list for notes, not for tasks. It’s kind of difficult to change it back, so you better decide upfront what your list should be. To rearrange or edit your list, tap the crossed arrows on the bottom right of the home screen. In the next screen, either tap a list for more editing options (like name or icon changes), or tap the crossed arrows on top to re-arrange or delete them.
Last But Not Least: Notes
Ever had a thought that wasn’t a task, but could become one or was related to one? Now you don’t need to fire up your Notes app anymore, you can enter notes right into TaskFlow as well. The benefit: your important things are not strewn across different apps anymore, but all in one place.
By default, there already is a notes section on the home screen, complete with a default entry.
I especially like the way the date is displayed and that you can read the beginning of your entry, which makes looking through them easier if you have a lot of them. While you can use this functionality to keep a personal diary of sorts, you should be aware that there is no passcode protection in TaskFlow, so you might have to keep the more juicy details of lasts nights party to yourself.
An Amazing Beginning — With Some Glitches
TaskFlow is setting it’s aim quite high. To be the one app for so many purposes — task management, note taking, reminders and timers — requires a lot of process knowledge and thought-through programming.
I have to admit, though I was intrigued by the promo of the app, I couldn’t imagine how to pull something like that off. Having tested TaskFlow for almost a week, I have to admit that the translation from concept to real-world-app was quite successful.
The interface is beautifully designed and supports the functionality; it’s not just for eye candy. The ability to consolidate three apps into one has freed up my home screen. And really, why shouldn’t these functions not be married together?
As with every version 1 release of an app there are glitches and little issues and TaskFlow is not without them. The complexity of the app will require some thought from the user until all the details are understood. I myself struggled with the concept of creating lists from the home screen instead of creating tasks (which you do within the inbox or separate lists). I didn’t know that concept, so I had learn it.
Also, there are some naming inconsistencies — when creating a new category/list, the screen says “new tab” and “task details,” furthering the users confusion about what he or she is about to do. Additionally, some steps require going through multiple screens, which can become annoying.
But looking at the overall picture, TaskFlow has many more advantages than disadvantages (and even those are minor bugs in my opinion and do not diminish the functionality of the app, once you understand it).
If TaskFlow is the app for you or not will, in the end, depend on your personal taste on how to accomplish your tasks. But it is, even in this early stage, a serious contender on the market for GTD apps, especially for those who like visually appealing apps and don’t want to be constricted by strict workflow.