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Pocket Informant: My Favourite iPhone Task Manager

(Before I started DFW, I used to write about productivity on my other blog.  I'll be cross-linking (and updating) those posts into DFW over time.  This is the first one.)

My favourite iPhone task manager is Pocket Informant (PI) by WebIS.net, currently at version 1.22.20.  I wrote about PI already, but that post is rather stale, whereas PI remains my task manager of choice.  So I thought I'd update things.

The most important reason that I have continued to use PI is that it provides both calendaring and task management in one app.  There are only a few other apps that can do that sort of thing (most notable the very interesting SmartTime), but PI gives me the best trade-off of robustness, functionality, and flexibility.  You can see screenshots of PI at the WebIS.net website.

PI syncs its calendar with Google Calendar, and its tasks with Toodledo.  Both those services are free, and extremely reliable.  This means I have a good way to back up my tasks and access all my tasks from other computers.

PI is basically a GTD-based task manager: you get all the usual features.   (You can tweak it to fit more closely with the Franklin-Covey method too.)  You have contexts, projects, priorities, stars, statuses, tags, and due dates.  But it's got some extras that I find most useful.
  • You can use start dates to keep a task from showing up till it actually matters.
  • It creates a Next Action focus list that shows you the first uncompleted, active task in each project.  This is like a cross-section of all your projects, which is great when you're deciding which task you should do next.
  • PI's Today View lists your appointments, tasks due today, and your Next Actions list all on one screen.  Very handy.
  • Push alerts work well everywhere.
  • PI can search your Contacts too, so you can look someone up without quitting the app.
  • A really cool Calendar View that lets you see a week at a time, or even a month at a time - always combining appointments and tasks in every view.
  • A healthy dose of customization in the look-and-feel.
  • There's a free Lite version that you can test drive.  The full version is $9.99 (CAD).
Also, I really need to address the specific changes since my previous post about PI.
  • They've done a lot of work on the interface, and really cleaned it up since my last post.
  • Syncing is WAY faster now.
  • There's a greater variety of ways to sort things to your liking - and they actually work!  (In recently past versions, there were some bugs - but they've all been fixed as far as I can tell.)
  • They've included ways to add tasks into the Inbox very quickly - which is great when you're really pressed for time.
  • Good support for landscape mode throughout the app.
There are things I wish were "better" in PI.  I wish they used a calendar as a date picker, instead of the iPhone default (I've gotten to really hate the standard apple date picker).  I wish PI had a way to automatically move one project's Next Action to the end of the list (this comes from my preference to use a AutoFocus-like way of dealing with some kinds of tasks).  And I'm sure they could lower the number-of-clicks even more than they have.

Still, of the roughly 50 task managers I've looked at, only a handful sit on the top shelf, and even at $9.99 (CAD), PI is at the very top of the stack.

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