Blog Post

BusyToDo Review: MobileMe Syncing at Last

BusyToDo, a new to-do app for iPhone(s aapl), aims to bring the most obvious omission from MobileMe to subscribers of the cloud services package from Apple. It does this without much flair, and it has a fairly high asking price. So is it worth it?

Much could be improved with MobileMe, starting with a free version, but Apple’s cloud service does wirelessly sync personal info like bookmarks, contacts, and appointments, but frustratingly not tasks. To fill that gap, there are apps like OmniGroup’s OmniFocus, but it’s both more powerful and more expensive ($19.99) than most people need. Appigo’s ToDo app is also feature-rich, and at $0.99, it’s a bargain, and even syncs wirelessly over a local network.

The downside of apps like Appigo’s ToDo is that they usually require companion server apps running on your Mac, as well some user intervention when syncing wirelessly. Also, the recent upgrade to online calendars for MobileMe users caused havoc with ToDo for me. All my tasks were stripped from their respective calendars, and while there’s a workaround, it’s still frustrating.

BusyToDo from BusyMac, the makers of the iCal-on-steroids app BusyCal, provides the syncing that Apple should have included natively. It’s a spartan to-do list with few of the advanced features of task apps like those from OmniGroup or Appigo, but BusyToDo is still missing a few basic features, too, like a badge on the icon indicating due tasks. There isn’t a native version yet for the iPad, either. What you see in the screenshot is what you get, though if you use BusyCal in combination with BusyToDo, you can get a little more, like repeat to-dos and tags.

Task can be shown or hidden by associated calendar, and the list can be sorted by due date, priority, calendar, or alphabetically. I prefer to sort by calendar, but since calendars are shown alphabetically, I used “00” as a calendar for today or priority tasks. As can be seen in the screenshot, you can’t hide tasks that fall outside a timeframe like you can in iCal.

Again, as the settings illustrate (not shown is a slider switch to display alarms as local notifications), BusyToDo is a basic task list. At $4.99, such a simple to-do app would be way overpriced, except for its singular “killer” feature.

BusyToDo syncs iCal or BusyCal tasks through MobileMe, which is also the only way to sync with BusyToDo, but then that’s the point. Having logged in once to MobileMe, I created tasks and calendars on my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone, and they were instantly pushed to the other devices. There were no problems, no additional software or services were required, and BusyToDo worked over Wi-Fi and 3G.

It’s not fancy, and it’s not exactly cheap, but it works, and until Apple introduces its own solution, BusyToDo is your best bet for syncing MobileMe to-do tasks quickly and easily over-the-air.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

5 Responses to “BusyToDo Review: MobileMe Syncing at Last”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this app since I purchased my first iphone and I have been completely confused by apple not making this a native iphone app. It’s like they purposely don’t care about it, yet there it is on ical and mobile me. It’s a mystery.

    I’ve tried Omni Focus and a host of other solutions including ToDo, etc. I just don’t need the power of those other todo lists. I like to have a running list of items that I’m working on and I have ical open at all times. Why should I use yet another app. So, for me this is the best $5 I’ve spent in a long time. Finally, my todo list is everywhere that I am…my iphone, my laptop, my netbook, my two desktops and I don’t have to try and Sync up with some wifi or bluetooth solutions.

    All I can say is Thank You!