This Week: New Idea for a New To-do App

To-do apps are an App Store favorite. A new one comes around almost every two months or so, and offers some new flashy feature or design motif to entice users to ditch their current app and jump ship. There’s not anything wrong with that — to-do apps have been a playground for developers and enterprising designers for a long time, and experimentation is only ever a fantastic occurrence.

What most apps lack, however, is a new idea. They have the spark and design flair of a modern program ready to allow users to revolutionize their workflow with… the same method and sequence that has been around for years. This Week tries to be different by combining the typical reminders with a hybrid calendar-based workflow, and wrapping the app in an attractive, Fantastical-esque package.

Like this article? Stay up to date with the latest changes by subscribing to our RSS feed or by following us either on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or App.net.

Different Interface, New Idea

To-do apps come in various different flavors, and generally tend to cater to specific approaches. For example, there is an ocean of difference between an app like Clear, where the UI is designed to disappear and simply present a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, and OmniTask [research this], where the interface is designed to guide users along in a strict system that ultimately results in the completion of tasks.

The primary screen of This Week shows the current week (surprise!) and the relevant tasks.

The primary screen of This Week shows the current week (surprise!) and the relevant tasks.

I, personally, come from the Clear side of the to-do world. I find its simplicity to be its greatest asset. I add what I want, and I clear the items when I see fit. It feels less like a boss, and more like a friend that reminds me to do something. That perspective will almost certainly affect this review, so keep where I am coming from in mind. In a field as diverse as the task management world, it’s necessary to share your system before judging another program.

This Week is not radically different from Clear in many ways. Gestures are still a major part of the user interface and experience. Similarly, This Week shares various design elements with Fantastical, another well-regarded iOS app. Swiping left or right switches between weeks. Tapping the title bar brings you back to the current week.

Tasks can edited to add more details and information.

Tasks can edited to add more details and information.

Don’t let the simplistic interface fool you: more advanced, useful features are hidden behind gestures and long-taps. Upon first opening the app, an incredibly helpful introduction is initiated. I seriously suggest actually paying attention, and not just blowing through it — you’ll learn many of the tricks that This Week has up its sleeve. Additionally, a FAQ is located in the settings of the app for quick future reference.

This Week doesn’t have a Mac client, but it does use Apple’s built-in Reminders to sync through iCloud. This means that your tasks are available anywhere that you are logged in to iCloud. However, there is no synchronization mechanism available to non-Apple platforms.

The Idea of This Week

As its name implies, this app pushes users to look at their to-do schedule on a weekly basis. Other apps focus on specific due dates, or just the tasks themselves.

The above tasks show some of the more advanced features.

The above tasks show some of the more advanced features.

I find This Week strikes a fantastic balance between those two concepts. I rarely have a task that has no due date, but I also don’t enjoy entering due dates into individual tasks. With This Week, I just find the week that the task is due, swipe down, and type. If I know that something is time-sensitive, This Week also has a solution.

Tapping and holding a specific date will allow you to create a task that is due then. Due dates are something that the most simple task managers leave out — figuring out a clever, easy way to add a due date without a string of time-consuming dialog boxes is a trick that most developers haven’t mastered. This Week solves that problem with aplomb.

The speed of adding tasks and relevant data is a strong point of This Week. Too often, task managers get bogged down in their own processes.

The settings of This Week give users more customizability over their tasks.

The settings of This Week give users more customizability over their tasks.

Another, small tidbit: This Week includes sound effects! It’s a trend that many apps are following, but I like it. The effects are well done, and don’t feel obnoxious. They can be disabled in the settings, which are accessible through the gears icon.

Is it Worth Switching?

At this point, most serious to-do app users will have found a system that fits their needs well. If you are one of those people, it’s hard to go about moving to a different program.

If you are an avid OmniTask user, This Week isn’t for you. It simply isn’t powerful enough. That should come as no surprise: OmniTask is the de facto task manager of its kind.

Adding new tasks to This Week is very fast and fluid.

Adding new tasks to This Week is very fast and fluid.

If you are coming from any other task manager, This Week deserves a look. Clear, for instance, feels very constrained after using This Week for any period of time.

Conclusion

It must be difficult to launch another task manager on iOS. Even though iOS 7 brought about a new design language, most of the incumbent apps were agile enough to update their apps within a few weeks of the release.

With that said, This Week has made some impressive strides. It’s not just another to-do app. It does stand out among the crowd as a well-designed, well-implemented to-do app with a tweaked take on how to add tasks. For anyone who sees the idea of This Week as appealing, I suggest giving it a look.


Summary

This Week focuses on making tasks presentable and interactive on a weekly basis, and succeeds in adding a fresh idea to a mature market.

8