3do: Delightfully Unique Notifications for Your iPhone

Some of us are responsible enough to look at our calendars and to-do lists without prompting, some of us need a bit of gentle prodding to get things done, and some of us need to literally be yelled at. If you live alone, however, or your housemates are unwilling to remind you of every appointment or due date, perhaps it would be best to have your iPhone yell at you. Phones also tend to be more reliable than roommates, spouses, parents or children.

There are a number of iPhone apps on the market to help you remember appointments, due dates, tasks and the like, Cleversome perceived a gap to be filled in ease of use and pure convenience, and recently released their own notification app, 3do. But does 3do really offer anything new? Is it worth the $4.99 price tag? Let’s take a look after the jump!

Unique Interface

The most noticeable difference between 3do and its competitors is not functionality, but interface. Instead of setting parameters for your notifications by pressing buttons and typing in details, 3do attempts to give you more natural way of interacting with the app, and features some uncommon but appealing visual effects.

3do's main interface, and a shot of a 3D animation

3do's main interface, and a shot of a 3D animation

Interacting with 3do

When you first open 3do, there will be a couple of sample tasks that give instructions on how to use 3do’s unique interface that make it quite simple to pick up, but without these instructions (which I deleted without reading) 3do could actually be a little difficult to figure out.

There is very little “tapping” done in 3do, most actions are achieved either through swiping, scrolling or tap-and-hold.

Adding Tasks

Adding a task to 3do is pretty simple, if a little unusual. You start out predictably enough: hit the + button, describe your task. When you’re done entering text, you swipe your finger across the task, right to left to set the date, left to right to delete, mark important, mark complete, or share. When you swipe across the task, a 3D animation makes it look like each task is a 4-sided block rotating around. Pretty slick!

Adding and editing a task

Adding and editing a task

Setting the Date, Time and Alarms

3do has a unique date-setting interface, where you first select the type of due date (no due date, once, daily, weekly, monthly), and then the due date interface minimizes and you’re invited to pick a date and time. This confused me a teeny bit at first, but I quickly grew accustomed to it.

Setting the task type and due date

Setting the task type and due date

After setting the date, you can set up to 2 alarms for the reminder or task, for example, you could set alarm 1 to remind you 20 minutes before an event, and alarm 2 to remind you on time. If you prefer just to set one alarm, you can set one (or both) fields to “no alarm”.

Setting one or two alarms

Setting one or two alarms

Other Unique Interactions

Like I said before, interacting with 3do is a bit different form your average app. For example, to delete a task, swipe from left to right, and then tap-and-hold the trash icon, and the task will slide away. To edit a task, tap-and-hold on the task description and the keyboard will slide up.

3do Reminders

When it’s time for an alarm to go off, you get a standard push notification and pre-set alarm sound on your iPhone, when you “slide to view” the task, you’re given the option to re-set the alarm at various increments, mark the task completed, or ignore the alarm. I love this “snooze” feature because I often need to be reminded repeatedly about appointments and phone calls I need to make, but I might not initially think so. 3do also allows you to set multiple alarms at the same time, and displays due dates in natural language (e.g. “tomorrow” instead of “05/31/11”.

Push notification and reminder options

Push notification and reminder options

Settings

3do settings, which are accessed by dragging the screen up, give you a lot of customization options for default tasks and behaviours. You can set default alarms for all new tasks, for example, on alarm 30 minutes before, and one on time. You can also set the default due date for tasks according to availability or relative time: you can set certain times at which you are most likely able to get things done, for example, 5PM, or you can set the default due time to a specified interval after the current time. Using settings you can also control sounds, time intervals, and which tasks show in the icon badge.

3do settings pannel

3do settings pannel

Conclusion

I’ve always been the type to keep a to-do list on my mac (Wunderlist at the moment) and keep due dates in iCal, however, I must admit that I still miss appointments regularly, and often need a bit of prodding to get things done. While I don’t like using my iPhone for general task management (I work on my computer so prefer a desktop app), I found 3do a great solution for reminders about dates, appointments, and mundane things like picking up a prescription.

3do’s interface is unusual, and it’s often considered best practice in user interface design to give people what they expect and not introduce foreign interactions (especially in a daily-use productivity app). That being said, 3do doesn’t have much of a learning curve, and the interface they employ quickly feels intuitive and satisfying.

3do is extremely streamlined, such that you can enter as much or as little information about a task as you need, and don’t need to waste your time filling out each field if you don’t want to. Now that I’m used to the interface, I can’t think of a faster, more straight-forward way to add reminders. Though the customization options aren’t that extensive, the “availability” and default options are powerful and very helpful, and don’t overwhelm.

If you’re willing to spend a minute or two getting used to the 3do interface, you might find that it saves you a lot of time adding tasks, which is helpful when you need to get everything written down before you forget it. Is the price too steep? Maybe. There are certainly other, cheaper (or free) apps that perform the same end function: reminding you of events through push notifications and sound alarms. Personally, I think the streamlined interface is probably worth a couple extra dollars, but I’m a sucker for well-thought-out user interface design.

Though I know similar apps are available, I had a hard time tracking them down in the app store, anyone else find a notification app they really love? What do you think of 3do’s bold, original interface?


Summary

3do is a powerful notification app boasting a unique but friendly interface, efficiency, and multi-lingual support.

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