Mar 13 AT 9:01 AM Alex Byrnes 27 Comments

Note To Self: Review To-Do Apps For Android

One of the most common “classic” applications on the Android Market is the to-do list manager. Easy to code and almost universally useful, the to-do list manager is tempting for developer and consumer alike. Unfortunately, there are so many more of these applications than there are good ones, and once you install one, you might find yourself looking for another in short order.

These are the applications currently in the market with more than the bare minimum functionality and good reviews: Astrid, RTM Tasks, TooDo, and 3banana. (Absent from this list is an application called ActionComplete, which sells for $4.99. The description says that it has meticulous attention to detail, but five dollars is too much for any to-do list, meticulous or not.)


Astrid Home Screen

Astrid Home Screen

I’ll cut to the chase since you’ve got things to do. Astrid is the best to-do list manager available in the market. It’s attractive, intuitive, and it does everything you need it to do without getting in your way. You’ll be happy to hit that little squid icon a dozen times a day.

One of the best features — that I’ve never seen before — is how it checks off a task. When you hit the checkbox, it changes the task font to strikethrough and leaves it there until you exit the application. This is handy because you often hit the wrong task and you don’t want to have to re-enter it. This was a frustration with the built-in to-do lists on Windows Mobile and Palm. Four or five pixels up or down and you’ve got to remember what that task was and type it in again. It’s either gone, or it resides in your gigantic pool of completed tasks.

Astrid also does what you should be able to do with every to-do list manager: open it, type, close it, and it will add a new task. This is what a person does with the vast majority of his or her time with a to-do list and it is appropriately streamlined here.

There are also the requisite features like priority, alarms, recurring tasks, and tags, all of which Astrid does well. I also like the tabbed organization. If a task doesn’t have a due date or an alert, you can ignore those tabs and exit. Saving is always automatic.

Despite its utter dominance of the list-oriented market, I was disappointed by two aspects of the more modern versions of Astrid. Since they came out with the tabs, the application has been a bit slow. Personally, I think speed should be a higher priority than almost any fancy feature for these types of applications. Astrid also claims to synchronize with Remember The Milk, but I couldn’t get it to work, and, judging by the wiki, I wasn’t the only one.

RTM Tasks

RTM Tasks is a newer entry in the market and has very basic functionality. It is notable because it does, like the name implies, synchronize successfully with Remember The Milk. If you’re a big RTM fan, this might be the one to start with, at least until some others get their acts together. You can always switch later by synchronizing with the new one.


TooDo Home Screen

TooDo Home Screen

TooDo is notable as the Titanic of to-do list managers for Android. It has a plethora of features and very little intuitiveness. Features like the dashboard, contexts (aren’t categories enough?), smart folders, distance intervals (a Geo-notification setting), and owner (there’s also author) are poorly defined and the interface gives us few hints. There is a setting called “Insistent” with this cryptic explanation: “Should a to-do notification with importance higher than Normal loop for ever?” Difficult to tell what you’re going to be subjected to with that one.

To impress upon you, the sheer number of features it’s offering, TooDo will add a persistent entry in your window shade with the following buttons: “Change,” “On,” “Main Screen,” “Smart Folders,” “Categories,” “Contexts,” “Notes,” “Demo mode,” “Go Lite,” “Sync,” and “Purge,” and, in the bottom left-hand corner, the lowly “Add to-do.”

The dashboard, as it’s called, also includes the message, “Go to the “Settings” for disabling,” which is probably what most users will immediately do.

Where Astrid is clean and clever looking, TooDo has “Animations.” This means that the items in each tab will disappear one by one when you switch to that tab. This little cascade is annoying and does not in any way further the to-do list users primary goal of getting things done. All-in-all, it seems as if the developer believed that this was a race to the record books for number of features, useful or not.

I was also not able to get Remember the Milk synchronization to work.


3banaa Home Screen

3banaa Home Screen

3banana is not actually a to-do list manager. It is a note taking and sharing application, but I thought it showed a lot of potential. The interface is clean and simple. You can begin typing right away into a dedicated text box at the top, add tags twitter style with the pound sign, and hit save to keep it in your list. You can also use the camera button next to the text box to attach a picture to the entry. The entry and the picture can then be saved and shared on Facebook or Twitter. I wasn’t able to get the synchronization with to work, where all of this social magic is supposed to happen, but if you create an entry on the site, it works fine from there. Once the synchronization starts working, this could become a fun socially-aware way to make lists, in addition to being a usable and fast to-do list manager on its own.

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  • Taylor Wimberly

    I had seen Astrid, but never tried it out. I was using Google Tasks, but you have now converted me to Astrid. I’d like to write an in depth review of it. Looks like it has a ton of features and lots of updates.

    3banana notes is also really cool. I had no problems syncing online, but there are some other bugs. They have a new beta out that fixes some of these problems and it should be in the market soon. They also are adding voice notes soon.

  • Josh Willis

    I’m a big fan of 3banana and actually have been using it since before the Android app came out. No sync issues here either. Maybe reinstall the app to see if that fixes it?

  • http://Website(optional) KNT

    What about syncing to gmail’s task list?

  • Borys Burnayev

    ActionComplete is FREE now. You are welcome to have a look!

    ActionComplete is a GTD-inspired task manager/todo list organizer for Android-based mobile phones

  • grant

    TAke a look at shuffle thats just come out. By far the best gtd based task list imo. I tink a merger with astrid would produce the best task maager ever!

  • ffolliet

    i’m a big fan of ActionComplete as I find it is closest to the gtd that i am trying to achieve and had previously managed using Monkeytiddlywiki. the developer is very open to suggestions and support is great, the progress of the app is steady too.

    i have used Astrid, TooDo, Shuffle, the inbuilt gTasks and even the Wikinotes. It is great to see the competition in this field and i suspect price may be an important factor too but low price and high turnover may win out!

    for me Getting Things Done is essential so a great tool is worth looking for.

    • http://Website marc

      Any clue why I cannot find TooDo in the Marketplace? I am on Verizon.

      • http://Website Red Max

        Most likely that you phone won’t run it. Screen size is an issue here. If your phone will not run an app it will not show in the market.

  • superdroid

    Welcome to the Super List. Super List is an android based mobile/web to do list application used to record your tasks anywhere and anytime.

    You can choose to sync your tasks to our server and then you can work with them on our website by your laptop. Which means you can also write the list at home on our site by your computer if you do not like to type too much on a mobile device. And then get the entire list from server to your phone after leaving home.

    for more:

  • Arnav

    Try DOOGLE and you will forget Astrid. The BIGGEST handicap of Astrid is that it does not let you add SUB-TASKS to a main task.

    Go to Supermarket
    ——— Buy groceries
    ——— Buy top up for phone
    ——— Choose T-shirts

    Apply for Visa
    ——— Take picture
    ——— Take documents

    and DOOGLE allows you to srikethrough individual tasks and subtasks as well ! :)

  • Flape

    There is finally a first application capable to sync with google tasks: gTasks

  • Quarterstaf

    I may be late on commenting on this, but how can I not join the fray of self promotion?

    Check out cloudList! It’s a todo app focused on collaboration. Syncs with our website: ! Aside from the usual list making, you can share your list, vote on items and make comments!

  • http://Website The Dog

    I NEED a Todo list with multiple lists, one for groceries, office work, house work, family stuff, movies to add to Netflix. And I’d prefer an option to have some lists repeat, like a grocery list. I don’t want to keep making a new list every week when 70% of the list is the same each time.



    • http://Website marc

      It strikes me that you need a grocery list app and a regular notepad app like AK Notes for the netflix task. To-Do lists tend to be more incremental task activity action oriented, not step/list oriented like what you are trying to do.

      You might want to separate the tasks you are trying to accomplish into different apps.

    • http://Website Mike

      Check out OurGroceries. It’s pretty great!

  • http://Website Farhii

    What’s the difference between a to do list and a agenda anyway?

  • http://Website Ben

    What’s missing from these apps is the ability to sync to a database on a server you control (like via WebDAV). My employer would rather I didn’t have my entire roadmap sitting on a third party website.

  • http://Website Vinny

    You saved me so much time just cutting to the fucking point, I wish more articles were like that. I had to take a second to thank you.

  • http://Website android

    Try “theTask” in android market, simple but quiet efficient and got a widget too.

  • I-A

    Organisa Lite is our task organisation tool that provides a slightly different style of to do list based task management.

  • Jonas

    Checkout BHive Google Tasks. I’ve now released the lite version for free (which is way more feature packed than most paid todo apps).

  • Amiee

    I use GTasks, can sync with google tasks.Absolutely the best to-do app for android.
    The guys know best about todo. simple, easy, effective and powerful!

  • Brandon

    +1 on BHive Google Tasks – Especially with the recent 2.1 update

  • sandeep

    I use “Tasks: To do List”, Ice cream sandwich UI and automatic sync to Google. very reliable notifications :-)

  • Azzoth

    Here is a ranking of Android Top To Do List | Task List apps, you can rank your favorite ones:

  • Jane

    I think that Domino Case is batter than these apps.

    Domino Case is very beautiful and easy.

  • Chryl

    I’m using Todo Next for some times now. Working good so for. Easy to customize and simple to use. Best of all other i have tried.