iPhone app review: Awesome Note

I have used a ton of to-do systems, mostly recently Remember the Milk, but they have never really fit the way I needed to remember things. RTM in particular is like pole-vaulting over mouse turds: it's overkill for what I need. Awesome Note for my iPhone combined with Evernote and Google Calendar have finally, I think, filled the bill for me. A review of Awesome Note follows, but first here is a quick description of my system. I created a new Google Calendar called "My Tasks" for tasks that absolutely have to be done on a certain day (repeating tasks like "take out the trash"). They send SMS or e-mail reminders to me. The e-mailed ones are automatically tagged "To Do" in Gmail. Yes, I use my inbox as a to-do list, and I feel fine about it. It works for me. I look at it constantly and feel an innate drive to get rid of those to-do labels. Inbox Zero is not in operation in my life. It's the other to-do items and notes that have floated from one system to another for me. I've even used paper because dang, these electronic systems get too complicated. I use Evernote to capture a lot of stuff, but it's not fast enough to suit me for capturing quick to-do items and you can't create to-do's from the iPhone. It's great for reference material, though, so I wanted to keep it in my system.

Finally, Awesome Note ($3.99 in the App Store) has filled a gap. It lets you create categories and combine notes with to-do items in ways that are intuitive to me.

  • It has to-do flexibility. Badges update in intuitive ways (all notes, notes due today, or today and overdue). It is easy to make notes into to-do's or to make a note with pics in the to-do. This is important to me because I often snap pictures of things to remind me to do them or to add info. (Example: "Call Linda on Tuesday about lunch," with snapshot of the scrap of paper she scribbled her phone number on.)
  • A due date of "someday" puts the task in a "next" list. I have all kinds of stuff that needs to be done sooner rather than later but if I put it into Gcal I just move it back day by day, which is frustrating and discouraging. The "next" list solves this tidily.
  • You can also rank notes and to-do's by priority and sort them that way. In fact you can sort by due date, priority, date created, and date modified, both within and between categories.
  • It has templates. It has nothing to do with organization, but I like, eg, the travel ones for planning my upcoming trip.
  • You can add a passcode by category.
  • It syncs with Google Docs and Evernote. DING DING DING. I backup my Awesome Notes to Google Docs for safekeeping (it restores from there too), and I sync them with Evernote. It creates new notebooks that start with [aNote] and plunks your notes right in there. It's not gorgeous and has some formatting issues, but this is a quick-and-dirty system for me and works fine. My notes are there on my Macs and my iPhone, and it's painless.
  • It's got a landscape mode so you can actually do some hardcore typing if you want to make long notes or journal.
  • It's got a Quick Memo function so you can jot stuff down and file it later.

Example: for this blog post, I had an idea "Blog about Awesome Note." So I put that in Awesome Note as a task. As I thought about stuff, I added it either into my iPhone or through Evernote. The task therefore ended up being a to-do item with text notes and screenshots to remind me of things I wanted to mention. Now I've filled in around the edges and am good to go.