Tag Archives: task manager

Switching back to 2Do from OmniFocus 2

 Returning to 2Do  

I can’t help but feel this is a bit of a “me too” move, but I’ve transferred my tasks from OmniFocus 2 back to 2Do. Federico Viticci of MacStories and Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review recently wrote about their reasons for switching over as newcomers to 2Do, but, to me, it feels like coming home. I’ve long enjoyed using 2Do for task management, but went back to OF2 for a while because of a months-long obsession with night mode.

However, with the advent of Night Shift in 9.3 (which warms the colour temperature of iOS screens in the evening), night mode is no longer paramount in the apps that I use. I’m finding that the warmer tones are making night reading more comfortable, and so I don’t really feel the harshness of the light as much.

My ideal is still to have both Night Shift and a night mode function in an app, but in the absence of the latter in 2Do, I take comfort in knowing that Night Shift will be baked into iOS from 9.3 onwards. Because it’s an OS level feature, I won’t have to worry about 2Do requiring a future update to support it.

As awesome as OmniFocus 2 is, I returned to 2Do for 2Major—er, two major reasons:

  1. The treatment of “Today”
  2. Feature parity across all apps

I’m picky about how I define “Today”. I want a Today view to show tasks that are due (or overdue), but also tasks that are starred or flagged as important. I like the flexibility of this workflow because I can plan specific tasks ahead of time by assigning due dates, but I can also add tasks to my Today view just by flagging them.

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A Few More Thoughts on Fantastical 2 for iPad

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Fantastical 2 received an update this week that fixed something I hadn’t even realized was a bug. Multiple overlapping all-day events are pretty common at my workplace for indicating travel schedules when executives are traveling, but I often had to decline them because Fantastical would display those all-day events over my actual meetings, which would obscure the meetings from view. As of two days ago, however, this is no longer an issue, as my meetings are drawn above the all-day events. This is a little change that makes a big difference, and I’m guessing it’s a reaction to user feedback.

I also thought I’d take a bit of time to add some feedback of my own. After a few weeks of heavy Fantastical usage for both the calendar and tasks, I’ve now got a little more to say about the app suite.

The Calendar Totally Handles Heavy Schedules

Managing my boss’s calendar can get pretty heavy, and I do most of my calendaring on a PC. However, for occasions when I need to find one meeting in a week with 50 meetings, or search for a meeting with a particular rare invitee, Fantastical has been more than up to the task. The search function is fast and very powerful, even with multiple calendars and hundreds of events. It’s easy to see rooms, invitees, and even what time zone a meeting is in. It’s astonishing how much better this is than Apple’s native offering.

Completing tasks feel stale

Compared to the rest of Fantastical, which features rich animations for navigation, task, and event creation, the actual act of completing a task just feels, well, underwhelming. You tap on a checkbox and the task will instantly be crossed off and display the original due date.

Completing tasks in Clear will slide a task neatly to the bottom of the list. It’s fast and easy to follow. Ticking off a task in Things, on the other hand, will cause a checkmark to jump into the checkbox. It’s not as elaborate, but it still adds an element of fun. In comparison, there definitely seems like there’s an opportunity for tasks to feel a little more fantastic in Fantastical. I’d love to see this element addressed in a future update.

An icon to indicate notes for tasks

I don’t mind that Fantastical hides notes for tasks in the main calendar view, but it would be useful to have some sort of icon to highlight tasks that do feature notes. I often add notes (via sexy Drafts URL scheme magic) to provide context for a multi-step task, so even having a little “N” symbol beside the checkbox would be enough.

As I wrote this post I kept looking for other little details I might want changed, but the fact of the matter is, this is the entirety of the wish list I have for Fantastical. The app is just superbly designed, incredibly efficient, and a lot of fun to use. I still can’t stop singing its praises.

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Clear for iPad: Now With Reminders!

clear with reminders

Clear is one of those apps that’s so much fun to use that I can’t help but play with it whenever a major update rolls around. Last week brought two new sound packs to the app, but the real meat of the update comes in the form of reminder support. That’s not support for iOS Reminders, mind you, but rather a set of custom push alerts for tasks within Clear. Lots of other apps feature alarms for tasks, but Clear has one of the better and cleaner implementations I’ve used thus far.

Whenever you’re creating or editing a task, a small text button underneath the title offers to help add a reminder. Tapping on that prompt brings up a custom pop-up that shows a great date and time picker. The date picker uses a month view, making it very easy to specify exactly when you would like a reminder. Once you’ve added a few reminders to one of your task lists, you can shake the iPad to re-organize a list by due date. I do find shaking an iPad a little awkward, but it’s handy to have the feature.

It took a while for Clear to get around to them, but the addition of reminders should put the app back on the radar of users who found Clear’s initial feature set too simple. If you rely on your task apps to prompt you to complete things, you’ll probably want to give Clear another look. If you don’t own the app already, it’s just $5 on the App Store.

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Automating Task and Meeting Creation with Drafts and Fantastical for iPad

Fantastical and Drafts

After reviewing Fantastical for iPad, I’ve decided to have a go of making it my control center for all tasks and meetings. I don’t like creating tasks by tapping on various fields and categories, so Fantastical’s natural language parsing really is the ultimate solution for me. There’s nothing wrong with Fantastical’s UI for this purpose, but I prefer to use Drafts for creating all of my tasks, simply because it loads so quickly. It took me a little while to understand URL schemes, but this iOS automation guide from @The_Axx and the Fantastical FAQ really helped me out.

Setting this sequence up requires setting up two “URL Actions” in Drafts. You can find this menu by entering Drafts -> Settings -> URL Actions and creating the following actions:

Meeting – fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]

Task – fantastical2://parse?sentence=[[title]]&notes=[[body]]&reminder=1

The process starts like this: I load up Drafts, type in one line of text that describes the meeting/task and due date, and an optional second line of text for a note. If you look at the URL schemes above, the [[title]] tags correspond to a ?sentence value in Fantastical, and the [[body]] tag corresponds to the %notes field in Fantastical.

The only difference in each of these URL schemes is that the %reminder=1 line added to the Task action. This forces Fantastical to create a task, without my having to specify with keywords like “Remind” or “task”.

These URL schemes are set up in Drafts as actions, so that I can type in names, dates, and details, and tap on one button to send the meeting or task to Fantastical. I could go even further by adding add=1 to the end of each URL scheme, which would instruct Fantastical to auto-create the meeting or task (eliminating even the need to press the ”Add” button within Fantastical).

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Clear from Realmac Software is Free Today

Clear is free for 24h
Clear is free for 24h

Clear is a task manager centered around dragging and re-arranging your to-do list. There are no due dates, no tags, and no notes section (though I do miss the latter). All you do in Clear is choose a task list, then pull down to create a new task. It’s beautifully simple.

If that has piqued your interest, you’re free to try the app out for yourself, because it’s currently free for 24 hours. The developers at Realmac Software have made the decision to pull one version of the app, Clear+, from the App Store and leave the original Clear as a universal app. If that sounds a bit confusing, this letter from the developers should explain the situation.

However, the takeaway here is that there’s a great $5 task manager has gone free for the day. If iOS Reminders are a bit too cumbersome to create, and hardcore apps like OmniFocus or Things are too complicated, then Clear may be perfect for you.

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