Task for iPad is Beautifully Imperfect

It’s Productivity Month on iPad.AppStorm! Throughout July, we plan to share with you all our tips, tricks, apps and resources to help you both improve your iPad experience and work better and more productively!

To-do applications are literally a dime a dozen in today’s App Store. Most adequately cover the basics: task creation, setting some sort of deadline or other way to prioritize items, and finally task completion. They all tend to work in a similar way, and most simply use Apple’s stock theme for applications. Some are advertised towards hardcore users, while some are billed as simple running lists of tasks that need to be completed.

Task is more of the latter. From the design, to the feature set, everything about Task shouts “less is more.”

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The design, which takes heavy inspiration from Clear — a popular to-do app, albeit one that is currently unavailable on the iPad — is clean and simple. The functionality, while more complete than many other apps, also offers only the basics when compared to a more comprehensive to-do suite such as OmniFocus.

Design

Let’s put the obvious upfront: Task draws heavy inspiration from Clear, another to-do app for iOS. The cynics will call it a blatant rip-off, but they would be ignoring some extra functionality — and some downright strange exclusions in Task.

Task's design is draws heavily from other flat to-do apps, like Clear.

Task‘s design is draws heavily from other flat to-do apps, like Clear.

I personally enjoy this type of aesthetic. In a task manager, it works well: it puts your content up front, and removes everything else. Want a new task? Tap Today and type. Want to delete something that was just completed? Swipe to the left. Simple and easy — just what a task manager should be. Task nails the gestures and basic interface in every way possible. The physics of the app feel natural and compelling, scrolling is easy, and the sound effects are a fun way to distinguish the app from competitors.

The app's on-screen representation of gestures is informative and fun.

The app’s on-screen representation of gestures is informative and fun.

What doesn’t Task nail? For starters, the app only works in portrait mode. It completely ignores any change in orientation of the device. Further, the UI itself almost seems incomplete. The black on each side of the task list is wasted space — it’s as if the developer and designer just gave up, prioritizing an early ship date over a complete UI. These two exclusions do not ruin the app, but they both leave me somewhat puzzled.

Using Task

Pro-tip: If you find yourself forgetting the navigation of the app, the walkthrough is always available as "Help" in the settings.

Pro-tip: If you find yourself forgetting the navigation of the app, the walkthrough is always available as “Help” in the settings.

Upon opening the app for the first time, a walkthrough is presented. As is typical for apps with this sort of flat design, taps and gestures are integral to the experience. It’s a fun way to navigate an app, though this sense of joy comes with a cost: Task can be hard to use. It isn’t immediately obvious where to tap to execute certain tasks, particularly after the initial walkthrough is just a faint memory. This is partially a design flaw, though the hierarchy of the app is also to blame.

The first screen presented after the initial walkthrough includes tasks. Entries are separated by due dates. Each task can be swiped to the right to be marked as complete, reordered via a long tap, swiped to the left to be deleted, or edited by a single tap. Again, the physics and animations are top-notch. Swiping down reveals tasks that have been completed.

There are various settings available in Task, though themes must be purchased.

There are various settings available in Task, though themes must be purchased.

Swiping up reveals settings and themes. While Task itself is available for $0.99, the themes cost money. It’s a clever way to monetize the app, but I wouldn’t bother actually doing it: the best theme is the one included and set as the default. The others feel gimmicky, and appear to be a blatant money grab. Note to developers: I will gladly pay $0.99, or more, for a quality app — you don’t have to make the app itself cheap and then try to make some money by selling themes. There are also other ways to personalize the app, including various reminder tones. I’m partial to “Ding-A-Ling,” though “Presto” is also a nice option.

The task creation functionality also allows users to set specific times that tasks are due.

The task creation functionality also allows users to set specific due dates.

Task will sync your entries via iCloud. This feature, which can be enabled in the Settings, is useful if you have an iPhone and iPad. It works well, and almost instantaneously updates tasks between devices. Unfortunately, there is no Task Mac client, so this isn’t a truly multi-platform solution.

Using Task day-to-day is easy. Once the initial learning curve passes, the app is fast and fluid to navigate. It’s obvious that the inclusion of gestures is a major boon for productivity. The flat, typographic-centric design presents the content in a manner that is both easy to manipulate and to access on the go.

Conclusion

Task is an excellent to-do app for many. It offers just the right amount of functionality for most users, and presents everything in a delightful interface. There are issues with the app, but those issues never interrupt the user experience of Task.

Try it. The app itself is at the bottom of the app pricing barrel at $0.99, and may be exactly what you need to organize a busy life. On the other hand, Clear — the popular iPhone task app — is coming to the iPad. While Clear is not free, it does have the upper hand in terms of design.

With one or two relatively small updates, Task on the iPad could be a shining example of a to-do app. At the moment, however, it isn’t quite there.


Summary

Task offers an easy way to keep track of what needs doing. The app features a very flat design and various features, but unfortunately falls flat in a few strange areas.

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