When I jumped into the iPhone pool last year, one of the big surprises was just how hard it was to sync my Notes and Tasks from Outlook (our company uses Exchange, and I use the heck out of Outlook).
Version 3 of the iPhone firmware solved the Notes problem, as it will now sync Outlook Notes directly into the Notes app on the iPhone. Not so for tasks (No task app on the iPhone? After 3 versions? Really?)
Taking the iPhone to Task
In searching for a way to automatically sync tasks to the iPhone, here were my requirements:
- Must offer the ability to sort / group tasks by Category (for GTD) and due date.
- Solutions should be as simple as possible (the fewer moving parts the better, no re-entering text, etc.)
- Must support offline viewing and updating of tasks, through a native iPhone app
- Reasonably priced
The most popular apps (I sampled systems like Remember the Milk, ToodleDo, Nozbe, Google, and several others) had (at least for me) show-stopper issues:
- Some apps required syncing from Outlook to a service in the cloud, then from that service to my iPhone, and many of these required me to pay an additional fee for a subscription account.
- Some apps required me to run a separate desktop app alongside Outlook. Yuck.
- Some apps provided only web-based viewers (not iPhone apps), which meant I couldn’t get to my lists on the plane or in areas with no data coverage.
Luckily, I have found one solutions that works quite well, and meets or exceeds my requirement.
My favorite task solution for Outlook and the iPhone [so far]
My favorite solution so far, is an app called iMExchange (available in the App Store for $7.99). iMExchange syncs directly with Microsoft Exchange, and can bring in your Tasks and Notes (for those of you still running a pre-v3 iPhone OS).
iMExchange also creates a local, cached copy of your Tasks and Notes so you can access them even when you aren’t connected to the internet. Once you’ve synched (over the air), this means you can access your tasks, add new tasks, update the status of existing tasks and so on from the iPhone.
I’ve found that the flexible sorting options (see screen shot at right make it easy to work within the Getting Things Done methodology from my phone).
As an added bonus, since the app connects directly to your Exchange Server, you can edit your Out Of Office message and adjust your Out Of Office status directly from your iPhone. Pretty cool bonus.
Bottom line: If you use Microsoft Exchange / Outlook and the iPhone, I think you’ll like iMExchange for managing your tasks while on the go.