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Summary:

Smartphones are the perfect tool to use for both keeping on top of schedules and tracking things that must get done on time. Pocket Informant for Android is available in a public beta, and from a first look it might be the best PIM app.

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Smartphones are the perfect tool to use for both keeping on top of schedules and tracking things that must get done on time. The phone is always with the user, and the large screens commonly used on them can display a lot of personal information at once. While phones make good personal information managers (PIM), having the right app to handle the task is key to making it work well. Pocket Informant has recently been released in a public beta for the Android platform, and from a first look it might be the best app for handling personal time.

Pocket Informant (PI) has been around for a long time, and its longevity in the market is a testament to how good it handles PIM functions. It has been a long-time player on the Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and the iOS platforms. The introduction of the beta on the Android market makes PI available on the majority of smartphones on the market. The app is free while it is in beta.

I have been a PI user for years, on all of the supported platforms, and I was anxiously awaiting its appearance on Android. I installed it as soon as it appeared in the Android Market, and I have been using it heavily. The app has been working solidly for me even though it is a beta, although some users have reported problems to the developers.

PI consolidates all calendar and task functions in one place, and provides two advantages to users. The first benefit is demonstrated through the many ways to view PIM information. The program can display calendars in daily, weekly, monthly and agenda (list) views, and each of those have multiple options. The goal is to allow the user to view a lot of information in the manner that provides the best focus on what needs to get done. That ability to focus on what’s important is the second advantage to PI users.

I am not a practitioner of the Getting Things Done (GTD) method of time management, but those who are should note that PI has native support for the methodology. The GTD support is enabled with a setting in the app, and activates the use of locations, contexts and projects for task management.

The app is fully integrated with Google calendars, which requires no user configuration given Android’s native Google support. All Google calendars are visible in the PI displays, although the user can turn off any calendars as desired. Each calendar can appear in a different color, either the default Google calendar colors or user defined, making it easy to focus on particular information. Switching calendar views is done by selection on a tool bar at the bottom of the screen. The app supports both portrait and landscape orientations, with a smooth transition between the two.

Google tasks are not supported by PI due to the lack of an API by Google. The developers have chosen to provide sync support for online task manager Toodledo, and this support works well. I use Toodledo, and as I use PI on both Android and the iPad, all my tasks stay in sync everywhere.

This is an early version of PI for Android, and there are features missing that the developer promises for a future iteration of the app. Android has advanced the use of widgets by apps, but PI is lacking this ability in version 1.0. My experience with Pocket Informant over the years leaves me confident the Android version will evolve quickly, and will soon be one of the most-used apps on my smartphone.

 

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  1. James,

    Thanks for showing this off. Looking at your screenshot, I’d be interested in reading about how you manage your work using PI. I love your “day in the life” posts. I think a post on how JK uses tech to plan work would be cool. You’ve also mentioned using mind maps. I could use a productivity 101. I think I’m just barely scratching the surface with these tools.

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  2. Dear James,

    Thanks for the review. This is exactly what I’m looking for!

    All the best to you,
    Christopher

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  3. I’ve been a fanatic user of PI since the WM 2003 days, I picked up the AT&T Captivate and was thinking of returning it when I realized that there wasn’t an Android version of PI. I’m definetly Snoopy Dancing right now…

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  4. I am curious to know how it manages contacts. I have found workarounds for limitations with syncing and task management but I still have issues with the ability to group, sort, and search contacts. I would need to know more about contact management before considering the app. Also, the lack of a widget, which so large a part of the Android experience is a deal-breaker for me. I will wait until I learn more or perhaps until version 2 (or whenever widgets are supported).

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  5. My pocket informant doesn’t sync from PI to google. Is there a setting I’m missing

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    1. It syncs automatically from install, given the Android login to Google. Make sure you have not turned syncing off in the settings.

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      1. Hello James
        At first it worked well PI synchronised well. After I did a cold reset from my HTC Desire PI is not synchronizing to my Google agenda anymore, In the opposit way it is working right.
        I cannot find where I could turn on or off syncing in my PI settings.

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  6. Still wish it had Exchange sync for Tasks. (Same problem on iPad app.)

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  7. want 2love android but Monday, November 1, 2010

    James,
    I want to love android and drop my iphone. I love my PI on the iphone and I have been anxiously waiting for pi 4 android (PI4A)to come out.At first look of the screenshots, I have to admit that pi4A does NOT look as “clean” as it is on the iphone. There are way too many color, as a good example. I find it frustrating that developers consistently produce much more inferior versions of the same app for android than they do for the iphone. And I don’t know why. Hence, PI, craigspro+ and some other popular apps are a few examples. Several months ago, I had a unique two-week opportunity to play with an android phone and found it to be the case. Why is that so ugly on the android version ?

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  8. I’ve been looking for some time to replace my trusty ol’ Tungsten E2 – never finding anything satisfactory. The smartphones out there have rudimentary calendars and virtually useless task managers.

    It must be synchronicity: I recently finished reading David Allan’s GTD book and was interested in a tool to implement this methodology, you write this article about Pocket Informant which is GTD compliant, just as my carrier is about to announce the availability of the Galaxy S Vibrant…

    Sooo…I’m taking the plunge!

    James, you’ve done it again! Many, many thanx.

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  9. I have loved PI on my Ipod Touch for a few years. I installed PI on my Droid 2. Although beautiful in appearance and function, it needs further tweaks on battery usage. It seemed to drain the battery quicker than usual.

    I will monitor the bug fixes to see if this is adjusted. Cant wait to try it again. It’s golden on my touch.

    Hurry guys!

    Be interested on this comments section if anyone had similar experience with battery drain.

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  10. This product is not ready for simple GTD stuff. It isn’t fast enough in a sense that there are to many obstacles before you can really enter a project or anything else.

    Anyways, you did a great reviewing job!

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