I have fiddled with many organization systems, trying to find one that I could stick with. I’ve used Remember the Milk (a sophisticated system whose iPhone app just didn’t cut it for me), Springpad (with its refreshing features that I thought could still mature a bit more), Toodledo (which, despite being a great place for valuable notes and tasks, it proved a bit too advanced), Reqall (with its great iPhone app whose development seems to have paused), and now, I’m trying to go with the simpler Google Calendar and Google Tasks.
After trying so many different ones, I noticed that I yearned for specific features in a not-too-complicated system, like for example, integration between a calendar app and the task app in question. When it comes to calendar integration, the experience just isn’t completely optimized in Google Calendar and Google Tasks yet (e.g. you can’t view tasks in mobile calendar apps, even though Tasks shows up as a Google Calendar), which is a shame because calendar and task apps should work closely together. I consider this to be pretty much a difficulty brought by Google Calendar’s import/sync issues. GCal usually syncs once a day or less (except for native calendar clients like on the iPhone). If you’ve tried to import a calendar by URL to GCal from, say, Springpad, you will know GCal doesn’t act instantaneously when changes are made.
Thus, in my search for alternative calendar/task list applications, I’ve found two, Coolendar and 1Calendar, that seem to focus a bit more on this integration. Hit the jump to find out more about these two applications.
Besides looking very coolly designed, Coolendar accepts calendar/task entries in plain English, as long as you type the due date or time first, and then the event or task. All undated entries can be sorted in a specific order of your preference, and the ones that have due dates will be listed chronologically in the main list and in the appropriate tabs of either today, tomorrow or this week. Notice that there’s no matrix-like grid for month view. If ordering undated entries according to your own order isn’t enough, you can prioritize tasks by clicking on the red circle to the left of the entry.
That’s where Coolendar distinguishes itself from Google Tasks. The latter displays tasks in either your order or by due date. On the other hand, Coolendar lets you have both, but also lets you view tasks that are due today, tomorrow or this week, which means that if you’re on the iPhone or iPod Touch, you don’t need two separate GCal and GTasks apps. One (the official Coolendar iPhone app) will do.
Since Coolendar has a different philosophy on task or event duration and recurrence, it doesn’t have options to specify these two details. Coolendar believes that you can decide when you get reminded via SMS or Twitter about whether or not you need to reschedule the event for next time. In regards to event duration, Coolendar considers this a poison concept that simply doesn’t work. In these two aspects, Coolendar does work like Google Tasks.
If you want a simple, all-in-one solution to bring together your calendar and your task list, check out Coolendar. All you need to try the service is to sign in with your Google Account as there’s no registration procedure. If you’ve decided that Coolendar totally suits your needs, be sure to download the free iPhone/iPod Touch app. Coolendar developers promise that the Android app is nearing completion, but if you’re still impatient, check out the mobile Coolendar web interface at http://m.coolendar.com/.
1Calendar will look similar to the GCal desktop interface as the former contains a matrix-like grid for a weekly view of events in the center of the application, while to its left lies a sidebar of calendars in different colors.
On the right of the application, you’ll be able to create new tasks, as well as see previously added tasks in all their color-coded glory.
1Calendar differs from GCal in that it can sync Facebook events, as well import timetables from high schools and universities, though there are, of course, plenty of schools that need to get added.
1Calendar’s development seems to still be in its infancy, but its iPhone app (and the probably, too) at least offers an event list view, which I wish most free GTD or task list apps could have.
Though the iPhone app looks simple, this setup is much cleaner and does not involve poking around two different, separate apps, namely the native Calendar app and either Notes or third-party to-do list app.
|Google Calendar||Google Tasks||Coolendar||1Calendar|
|Month view||Yes||No||List view||Week view|
|Custom entry order||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Alerts||SMS, email, browser notification||No||GTalk, email||Limited to subscribed schools|
Overall, these two apps, though still young, are refreshing alternatives to sometimes frustrating to-do list apps that lack integration with calendars.
Do you prefer to have separate apps to view your calendar and tasks, or do you wish to see more integration between your favorite calendar/task list apps? Let us know in the comments also if you know of other similar apps.