Today, 40Tech is pleased to present a guest post by Tim Graves .
With all the various productivity apps floating around on the internet, it can become hard to filter through them all and pick one which suits your needs. In addition, with the rise of numerous paid apps, it can be difficult to determine whether one is right for your uses. Astrid, however, has made a name for itself among the prominent Android blogs. It is well-respected as one of the best task list apps available for Android users, and to boot, it’s free! So what makes Astrid so popular? Aside from the price point, the simple answer is: it works, and works well.
What does Astrid do?
Astrid is a Task/To-do List manager. As simple as that may sound, when combined with GTD, Astrid becomes a mobile powerhouse, capable of helping you keep your entire life organized and in the palm of your hand.
How does Astrid work?
The beauty of Astrid is in its tags and filters. Using Astrid as a stand-alone system on your Android handset, you can use tags to organize all of your tasks. You can use the tags to build out your GTD lists, and then use filters to show just the specific tasks you want shown in any given context. In addition, if you’re not a user of GTD, or even if you are, you can set up additional filters which will only show you specific tasks based upon a set of criteria you select.
In addition, you can set deadline dates and times, assign tasks a specific level of importance symbolized by a color-code, and add notes to track additional details related to a task. You can also set up reminders to go off at specific points for each task, or even hide a task so that it doesn’t show up in your task list until a certain time relative to the due date or a specific date/time you set. Recurring tasks are also available, and Astrid also allows you to track time spent on a particular task through the use of an in-app timer attached to each task.
As you continue adding more and new tasks to Astrid, you’ll no longer be able to see all your tasks on a single screen, or even in a short scroll. This is where filters and the search function truly begin to shine. As you gain a larger number of tasks, tags and filters become absolutely necessary. Tags allow you to categorize each individual task, and filters allow you to see only those specific tasks you want to see at any given time. Using the search function allows you to leverage the tag information you’ve built into each task to find a particular task when you need it.
And when you need to see a particular set of tasks at a glance, Astrid has provided a very basic widget for free. The widget is 2×2, and will show up to five tasks a time, from any filter you’ve set up. Also, if you’ve set up sync with Google Tasks or Producteev, you can show tasks from any list or workspace on the widget.
What else can I do with Astrid?
For even greater flexibility with your tasks, you can also sync Astrid with Google Tasks and Producteev. This will enable you to handle your task lists at your laptop or desktop as well as on your phone. It also opens up even more options for organization, especially through the use of Producteev’s workspaces.
If the free app doesn’t completely meet your needs, however, the Astrid Power Pack is here to save the day. Included in this $3.99 purchase on the Market are 3 larger and fuller-featured widgets, the ability to add tasks via voice input, and voice reminders (on Android 2.1+), as well as priority support via email in the event that something goes wrong. I found this app very much worth the price, if only for the widgets. Included are 4×2, 4×3, and 4×4 widgets. Each of these enables the user to scroll through the selected task list within the widget, add new tasks quickly by loading right into the task-creation part of the Astrid app (and bring you right back to your homescreen and widget after saving the task), and check off completed tasks. And if you’re not as adroit with the tiny keyboard on your phone, the ability to add tasks by talking to your phone can be golden.
There is also another paid-for add-on available in the Android Market, the Astrid Locale Add-on, which apparently makes Astrid location- and situation-aware. If that doesn’t set off the paranoia and make you reach for the tinfoil hat, then read on: with the Locale add-on, Astrid is now capable of notifying you of work tasks when you’re at the office, or your grocery list when you’re near the store. Astrid will notify you of specific tasks based upon your particular location. This is an excellent means of tracking GTD contexts to help manage your time and task-completion.
While Astrid has its quirks in syncing with Producteev(my desktop task-management app of choice), it is a powerful task management app in its own right. In addition, despite the quirks and occasional hiccups in its sync with Producteev, Astrid does an excellent job of tracking my tasks and to-do lists and presenting them right where I need them: in the palm of my hand. If you need a mobile task-manager, and/or need a mobile tool to connect with your Producteev or Google Tasks account, Astrid is the go-to app of choice. Find it on the Android Market: Astrid Task/Todo List
Tim Graves blogs about writing and writes about blogging. Sometimes he even mixes it up and blogs about blogging. You can read more from him on his blog at TimGraves.info or find him on Twitter, @TimGraves.