Design Spotlight – Tasks

I’ve become a real stickler for good software design. I stickle on a regular basis, even in public. In fact, that’s become one of my main considerations when deciding on whether to use or keep an Android app. Yes, I said Android. Apps that adhere to Google’s recent design guidelines for Android 4.0 can be not only functional, but beautiful. Increasingly, if an app doesn’t have an Action Bar, I’ll pass.

Last week I talked about Epistle, a slick, well-designed text editor that makes excellent use of several Android core features (Holo theme, system share menu, etc.). I think apps like this showcase what makes Android special: simple, consistent user interface and a focus on discrete functions. I prefer simple apps that interact cleanly with others to behemoths that try to do everything.

This week I want to introduce you to another app built with that philosophy of simplicity. Even the name is simple: Tasks. (There is an ad-based free version, but this link is for the paid version, 99 cents for a limited time.)

There are lots of to do apps for Android. Most of them sync with Google Tasks. So what makes this one different?

It does less.

Tasks is just a Google Tasks client, and it adheres tightly to Google’s design guidelines to keep things simple. Create a new task by tapping the + in the Action Bar. Move tasks up and down in a list by dragging them with your finger. Promote or demote (indent) by tapping and holding to enter select mode, tap the items you want to change, and then < or > on the selection action bar.

In short, if you know how to use any modern, guidelines-compliant Android app, you know how to use Tasks.

Syncing so far has been flawless. It only syncs with Google Tasks, but that’s the point. You can clear completed take from each list, but you can also bring up a view of just completed tasks (via the Action Bar overflow menu).

Widgets are flexible and efficient. They scroll and resize on ICS and sport a + for quick task creation. You’ll need a separate widget for each task list or category you want on your home screen, and the widgets support indentation. Tapping on a task in the widget pops up a dialog asking if you want to edit the task or just mark it as complete.

There’s not a lot more to say. Tasks is fast, clean and elegant. If you’re already a Google Tasks user, this is the Android app you’ve been waiting for. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles sone other apps have, but the sheer speed and simplicity make it worthwhile.

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