I’ve been a big fan of Remember the Milk (RTM) for a long time. So far, it’s been everything I need, with one glaring exception. Text entry is the only method to get something on your to-do list. For the most part, since I spend most of my day in front of a web browser, this is fine. However, if you’re like me, you usually remember something you need to do while you’re driving down the road. That’s not the ideal time to start entering text into your mobile device. And red lights are never long enough when you’re trying to get something entered on your to-do list. Ideally, you’d be able to talk into your mobile device and have it put the entry on your list. Unfortunately, RTM doesn’t offer voice input (yet). So I looked into alternatives and, while there are a few, reQall seemed to have the most momentum. I decided to give it a test drive for a few days and see how it stacked up to RTM. Following are my observations.
First, I love how reQall handles new users. You’re automatically given Pro status for two weeks. After two weeks, you’re downgraded to standard. If you found the Pro features useful, you can easily upgrade to Pro for $25 per year or $3 per month. This is the right way to do it. During your initial two week intro, you have access to all reQall features and you can upgrade to permanent Pro status at any time. Following the downgrade, you lose functionality but you don’t lose data. If you’re happy with the standard features, you’re good to go. Otherwise, you can upgrade with just a few clicks. This is an awesome model which I’d like to see more web services implement.
Voice recognition is awesome. It works much better than Google Voice’s recognition.
Email and txt reminders are awesome. However, I received a few weird txt reminders and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. If I made changes via the web interface and did not sync my phone, I’d get reminders that didn’t correspond to my latest changes. It was odd getting notifications for something I knew wasn’t due for another two weeks. reQall would also send me reminders for items I’d already marked complete. So if I complete an item early, I still received the SMS notification that it’s due. This is an unnecessary annoyance. The lesson here: Keep your phone synced.
Calendar sync works but annoyed me because I don’t want to-do’s on my calendar. I want appointments only, but I’m anal that way. This may have been due to a miscalculation on my part, but I don’t think it was.
Notes are very cool and work the way you’d expect. I didn’t fully test this feature, so ymmv.
The ability to assign someone else a reminder is nice, especially if you want to annoy your significant other. However, there is currently no easy way to import existing contacts. The guys at reQall are working on this, but this is a huge issue if you have a large contact list. Entering contacts manually is a pain and is a huge spike in the usage/switch curve.
The iPhone interface is borderline. Voice recognition makes data entry painless. So painless in fact that I actually considered ditching RTM. It just works, provided you pay attention to the onscreen instructions.
Transferring data from RTM to ReQall was item-by-item. ReQall has no method to import an existing to-do list. This was a huge pain.
During my testing, I kept two calendars, which is typically a huge no-no. But I subscribed to my ReQall calendar from my Google calendar which meant I saw everything. When I was at a computer, I’d enter appointments straight into Google calendar. When I was away from my desk, I’d enter appointments through ReQall (using the voice recognition) which would appear on my Google calendar via the calendar sync. So although I technically had two calendars, it worked.
While the voice recognition is awesome, it’s also awkward. When I’d say “Meet with Dave on Wednesday at 8pm,” that’s exactly what was entered on my calendar. I’d prefer it to put only “8pm Dave” as an entry on Wednesday. This made for cluttered entries, whether it was on my calendar or my to-do list. Also, if I said “Call Dave tomorrow,” reQall puts exactly that (Call Dave tomorrow) on whatever day tomorrow is. However, when tomorrow becomes today, I’ll see an entry that reads “Call Dave tomorrow.” I need to call Dave today but since it says tomorrow, guess what I’m not going to do today. Right. Edit: It turns out that reQall will edit out tomorrow, leaving only Call Dave. Sorry about that.
Places is very cool. When you’re at home, you can easily configure the Home item’s GPS coordinates. Once done, you can click Home and reQall will show you ever item associated with that place. This makes grocery shopping a breeze once you have your grocery store’s GPS associated with Shopping.
There’s no way to prioritize your to-do’s. You can see everything that needs doing today, but there’s no way to give one item more importance than another.
Given reQall’s love for both dates and times, the Overdue list does not work the way you might think. I created an item due at 11:00pm on 8/11. As of 11:06PM, the item was still listed in My To-Dos but did not appear in my Overdue list. If an item is due at 11:00PM on 8/11, it should appear on the Overdue list at 11:06. On the morning of 8/12, the item had moved from Today to Overdue. The Daily Memory Jog email (optional) noted that 1 item was due yesterday and still not complete. reQall defines Overdue as “[i]tems with past due dates that are not marked complete’,” so it appears that they’re not taking time into consideration. If an item is due at 10am, it won’t appear on your Overdue list until the calendar date changes. That’s kind of a big thing, imo. I submitted the suggestion on reQall’s support forum.
If you delete a recurring item, you’re given the choice of deleting all occurrences or canceling the delete. This is stupid in the extreme. There is no way to delete only one occurrence of a repeating item.
The web interface is tragic. It takes far too many clicks to do what you want to do and is far too painful, especially compared to RTM. It’s so bad, it’s the primary reason I decided to stick with RTM. I cannot express how painful it is. It’s just horribly bad. I wanted so much to love reQall, but the web interface was a death blow. I gleefully retreated to RTM. It’ll take some real user interface love before I even consider giving it a test drive again. It’s just that bad. Really.
To delete your account, you must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address you registered with. I sent a delete request on 8/17 at 10:15AM. I received a confirmation email at 11:33AM advising that my account would be deleted within 24 hours and by 11:24PM my account was gone. While I prefer an automated and more immediate delete function, this was fairly painless. I secretely suspected that I might meet some resistance from the reQall staff but their confirmation email was to-the-point and only asked that I provide some feedback regarding my experience.
So, what of the original problem, driving down the road and remembering something? I’ve temporarily landed on Dial2Do. It’s easy to configure your account to feed RTM and, for the most part, works. The voice recognition isn’t perfect but it’s good enough. I hope to have a report either here or on MyAppleAnd.Me soon. Stay tuned!
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