After having used Todo on my iPhone and iPad for months, I was eager to try Appigo’s Mac client of the same name. I have been engaged in the quest for the holy grail ever since I got my first iPhone: a synchronized to-do list that stays current between my iPhone and Macs, with very little fuss on my part. There are a number of great to-do lists, but few of them synchronize well, and few have powerful feature sets that are fairly equal across platforms (OS X and iOS). Todo breaks out of the pack with a home run in their Mac and new iOS 7 versions. I will review the iOS and Mac versions separately. This post is about the Mac version.
To begin, the app itself is beautifully designed with adaptive windows that showcase your tasks in any level of detail you wish to see. This means you can, for example, make your Todo list show in a small square window all the time, or maybe a vertical rectangle window on the side of your screen. Or, my preference, is a full-screen view of my Tasks, the calendar, and all contexts and tags, occupying a virtual desktop all to itself. Being able to swipe into that desktop with trackpad gestures means my complete personal productivity organizer is always close at hand, for when I think of a task I need to do, or someone I need to phone, or a website I need to visit.
Tasks can be entered with minimal or great detail. Aside from generic tasks, one can assign a type, such as “call a contact” or “visit a website”, and then connect the task to the contact information or website, so that information is immediately available from your own task list. Creating a task is as easy as typing a title for it and hitting enter. But if you’re the type who likes a task list, you’re probably the type who likes lots of detail, and Todo shines here. You can assign a due date, a due time (from a rolling clock-like dial), make a task into a checklist, give it a priority level, and add notes (at least several lines worth of notes). The one thing I wish it permitted is either the ability to attach a document to a task, or at least reference a document on the computer with a link. Setting alerts is easy and it appears that one can add a bunch of alerts for a single task. Very handy for procrastinators, or for people who like more advance warning, say a day or more out.
All of that is wonderful, and everything Todo does on the Mac, it can do on the iPad and iPhone, as far as I can tell. Except display notes in the task list, which seems to be available only on the Mac (due, no doubt, to the much bigger screen available).
Synchronization, as previously mentioned, has always been the holy grail of to-do list-making for me. Ever since I started keeping a paper to-do list, I’ve wanted the ability to add to it from anywhere, and have its contents always perfectly updated. Obviously, with paper, that’s pretty much only possible if you carry a list around with you everywhere, all the time. With a combination of electronic devices, it should be relatively simple (to the end user at least), to implement a way to keep multiple lists in sync. Todo includes the ability to sync via Dropbox and iCloud, as well as a subscription service of their own, which offers some perks and extra features. But the app is not crippled if you don't use their pay service. If you don’t use Dropbox but want a syncing task management system, I’d get Dropbox just for this convenience. The new Todo 7 for iOS works great with the Mac app and I now have my to do list on all of my devices, synced perfectly.
Other makers of productivity apps have promised integration but failed, at least in my attempts and having spent lots of money trying to achieve the sort of integration I need for my busy life. Appigo customer service has been very good too, in my experience. Tech support is responsive and fast, and quite willing to help.
Get it here:
Todo for Mac
Review by Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
Every once in a while, a company makes a major mistake in their attempt to enter the mobile app space. Even when their desktop software is amazing, a proper effort is not always put into translation of that software into a mobile context. One such major failure is Microsoft's One Note. What is an outstanding desktop application -- I run Parallels on my Mac almost exclusively for the purpose of using One Note -- has no comparable "official" iOS companion. Sure, there is an official One Note app for iOS. It, however, is rubbish, to be kind. I've never met anyone who thinks otherwise. What I have met, however, is a multitude of iPad users who desperately want to be able to sync One Note with their iPad and use their iPad to edit their One Note notebooks. Thankfully, Outline+ has come along with an amazing app at a bargain price, which makes nearly the entire range of One Note features available on the iPad.
This is the app I've been looking for, since I bought my first iPad just before I started law school over three years ago. Outline+ syncs via iTunes, Skydrive, Dropbox, or Box.com, with any One Note notebook you give it access to. It also has the ability to open One Note notebooks that you get in your email via the "Open In..." feature of iOS. Once a notebook has been brought into Outline+, it's an amazing thing to see in action and to work with.
I first discovered this app when I was a busy law student last year, when my notes were pretty much my life. I had been been searching high and low for the very best way to take notes and keep them synchronized between my MacBook Pro and my iPad. Prior to discovering Outline+, I could not say I was really very pleased with any solution I attempted to cobble together. Now, I feel like my iPad is living up to its true potential to revolutionize the academic and professional side of my life.
Anyone who has ever used One Note will immediately recognize everything about Outline+. But it doesn't have to be used with One Note. It is a fully capable stand-alone note taking app, with the capability to manage data in multiple notebooks, each with multiple colored-tab sections, with multiple pages, which can be created and moved to organize your data how you need it.
Using Outline+ is as easy as anything. Create a notebook, assign it a cover from one of many various colors or designs), then create sections within the notebook, and pages within the sections. In my tests, each page can store a ton of text. (It took me only 3 pages to store the entire content of a multinational treaty I am studying.)
Creating text notes is as simple as tapping on the page: a long tap creates a new note on the page, inside a dotted outline box, just like in One Note. Editing these notes just requires a tap on the note and then a tap inside the note. Moving notes into new positions on the page is accomplished by tapping the note, then long-tapping it to move it. Easy, right?
Text can be indented, bulleted, formatted, etc., just as easily as can be done on a Mac. Thanks to custom indent and outdent "keys" that are added to the iPad's virtual keyboard, text manipulation for the sake of outlining is super easy and convenient. Text menus for numbering or justifying text, as well as applying bold, underline, and italics, appear at the top of the page, along with an absolute necessity for note-taking: a styles menu, featuring various levels of headings.
Inserting photos, either from the photo roll or by taking a new one, is as easy as tapping an icon. When you're actively taking notes or reviewing a page, you can expand the page to fill the screen.
Finding notes is also dead simple: three levels of search are available. You can search the currently selected section/tab, or the current notebook, or even search across all notebooks. Page titles, text, as well as any text that is OCR'd from images is included in the search results.
A thorough, and well-illustrated, user guide is included in the sample "Getting started" notebook, so there need be no intimidation in getting acclimated to Outline+ if you've never used One Note.
In my tests, Outline+ performed as well as I could ever have wanted. One Note notebooks were opened, read, edited, and synced, with complete accuracy. Drawing, highlighting, and annotation is dead simple in Outline+, and very intuitive.
Since I've been using Outline+, I have felt so much more productive with my iPad than I have felt previously. It really does fill a huge void. There are many decent note-taking applications for iPad, some of which I have reviewed over the last three and a half years since the iPad's release. But each of them stands, for the most part, as an island unto itself. Outline+, with its One Note synchronization, allows for your data to be usable instantly on either your iPad, your computer, or any internet-linked computer in the world (thanks to One Note's online version on Office Live). That sort of versatility makes a big difference as to what sort of data I entrust to an application. Outline+ is fast, beautiful, and everything you want in an iPad app. Outline+ looks amazing on the iPad's retina screen. Their blog and support are also super helpful with questions you may have.
If my review has not been enough to convince you, their demo video on outline.ws should do the trick.
I predict huge success for Outline+ as the iPad revolution continues. It's awesome as a stand-alone note taking application, no doubt. But in addition to that, no One Note-using iPad owner should be without it, and the $15 price tag will possibly be the best app-money you spend. For those who want to try before they buy, a (barely) limited version is available for free, called Outline. It has limits on how many pages can be added to a notebook, and lacks direct Dropbox syncing capabilities, but should otherwise be enough to give you a good feel for Outline+'s abilities.
A companion Mac app has been added, which serves as a reader only at this point. It has the benefit of also being a native Mac reader for OneNote of course, so OneNote notebooks people send you from their Windows computers can be read on your Mac with ease, even if you don't personally want to take notes in OneNote or Outline+. But here's where things get really cool: if you buy the Mac Outline reader app right now, you will get the planned update to an editor for free, whilst the cost will go up after the editor is released. This is a great way to basically get everything awesome about OneNote on your Mac for a really low price.
Get the apps here:
Outline+ for iPad
free Outline (demo) for iPad
Outline for Mac
Review by Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
This review was first published for Alaskan Apple Users Group in October 2012, updated in November 2012, and provided here with additional updates.
For nearly twenty years, I've worked hard to stay up to date on technology so that those who count on me don't have to. I've taught scores of workshops and classes, provided in-home and in-office tutoring and training to many, and have written scores of reviews for Mac and iOS software, accessories, and books.
Throughout my prior career in broadcasting and administration, as a recent law school grad, and a new attorney, I've found many ways to utilize my technological background to make my work easier and more productive.
I want to share those tips, hints, and insights with others of the legal profession. My goal is to help all lawyers and other legal professionals best serve their clients and ultimately justice itself, by helping to eliminate tech-induced headaches, gain some efficiencies in our practices, and free up the legal mind to focus on what matters most. This website will be the means through which I attempt to contribute to the moving forward of our profession.
-Ronald C. Schoedel III, Esq.
Ronald C. Schoedel III is an attorney, former broadcaster, student of Welsh, and Sinophile. He has lived in Alaska, Wales, and China (Hong Kong specifically), and presently calls Utah home. He has been teaching and training Mac users for nearly a decade, and started blogging as a software reviewer in 2004.