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Finding the best app for lists

David Sparks | March 14, 2013
Many great apps for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone will keep track of your to-do list. But what about other lists--ones that aren't composed of things you have to do but instead are just lists of things?

Next I tried an iPhone app called Checkmark. Like Clear, Checkmark's developers spent a lot of time on the user interface, and it shows: The app is easy to pick up and start using right away. Checkmark also has great location support that ties locations to entire lists, not to individual items. The Grocery Store list, for instance, will appear when I arrive at my local grocery store. As much as I liked Checkmark, though, it didn't fell short, too: No complimentary Mac version is available, and you can't add tasks to it with Siri.


Finally, I decided to try Apple's Reminders app for my lists--and it worked. Reminders delivers the features I like most: easy capturing, syncing, and sharing. I wanted to be able to add items quickly with Siri, and Reminders delivers. Telling Siri, "Add gouda to my grocery list" does just what I want it to, witout my having to to open any apps or do any tapping, scrolling, or searching. I have multiple running lists, and this capture method works great with them.

Furthermore, with versions of Reminders for the Mac, iPad, and iPhone, I can edit and review these lists from anywhere. Finally, Reminders lets me share my lists with my wife and coworkers. (To share a Reminders list, tap the radar icon in the Mac app or from Reminders in Since I share the grocery list with my wife, the gouda shows up on her iPhone as well as on mine.

Reminders isn't perfect. Though it supports location-aware notices, that feature isn't particularly easy. You have to set the location on each individual Reminder item. Checkmark handles this task much more elegantly, letting you attach the location to a list as a whole. Moreover, in Reminders, you must either enter the grocery store address or create a grocery store contact and add the entry that way, which is a pain. But again, since I don't use the location-aware feature for running lists that often anyway, this shortcoming wasn't a deal killer for me; otherwise, I would probably have chosen Checkmark or OmniFocus.

Plenty of other apps available for both iOS and the Mac can manage lists for you. Nevertheless, I was surprised that, at the end of my journey, Reminders was the best option for me. It provides the right mix of features, including easy capture with Siri, syncing between devices, and sharing my lists with those important to me.


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