Google Apps for Business is one of the leading online communication and collaboration suites currently available. It offers a range of software that businesses of any size can use to keep individuals productive and keep teams moving.
The suite includes GMail under a custom email address that includes your website domain name (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) and it also provides Google Drive which offers 30 GB of online storage space per account. Google Drive allows users to store documents, pictures and other items, and although 30 GB of space is probably ample for the average member of staff, you can buy more if you want. It also provides video chat and document editing capabilities. One account costs a reasonable $5 per user per month, or $50 per user per year.
Where Google Apps for Business excels is in it collaboration capabilities. The system offers an excellent calendar option that allows you to track your appointments and arrange meetings with other members of staff. You can check when they are free by look at their calendars, send invitations and confirm details without ever picking up a phone. Alongside Google Calendar is Google Tasks - a simple but effective Task List that allows you to note what you need to do, when it needs to be done, and indicate when you have done it.
The very best thing about Google Apps for Business is that it is mobile - being in the cloud it is accessible anywhere through your mobile phone. Although you can sync Google Apps for Business to your IPhone, obviously it is more tightly integrated with Android Phones. Simply log into your account through your Android Phone and you email is delivered to you, you have access to your documents, and your phone's calendars fill up with the appointments you have made. I use a phone using the Android 2.2 operating system, and I have no trouble accessing anything I have in my Google Apps for Business account.
Curiously though, despite very tight integration between the Android OS and Google Apps for Business accounts, there has never been an option to sync Google Tasks with an Android Phone. This cannot be an oversight - the current Android version is 4.2 and every update people have asked the same question: What about Google Tasks? Perhaps one of the reasons Google has not integrated Google Tasks with Android is, they don't have to. As soon as the gap was recognized a number of developers seized the opportunity to create an app that Android users could download to their phones and which would keep Google Tasks synced with their phones.
Simply put - if you use Google Tasks, you need a Google Tasks App!
Here then is a list of what we think are the four three best Google Android Task Apps in no particular order.
GTasks (Free Version with Premium Add-on costing $5)
GTasks is very probably the best App to add Google Tasks functionality to your mobile. When you use it, it strikes you as a mature technology and it does everything that it says on the can. Your tasks are clearly laid out in an interface that allows you to quickly scroll up and down your list of things to do. Your tasks appear in the Tasks Lists that you create on your PC, but you can also add and delete Task Lists direct from your phone. A tick box at the side of each task allows you to mark a task as completed. Tick the box and a 'strikethrough' line goes through the text to show that it is done. In addition, the text in the task becomes lighter so that the uncompleted tasks stand out.
In every list, press on a task for a few seconds, and it becomes movable, meaning you can move a task up and down the list vertically. Flick the list horizontally (left to right; right to left), and you move through the Tasks Lists you have setup - it is a very smooth "thumb-only" operation. You can also easily sort lists by order, by date, by name, or by priority. Adding a priority to a task means you can add a date when the task is due. In addition, you can repeat tasks which are going to happen on a daily, weekly, monthly or otherwise basis. To some extent this replicates functionality available in Google Calendar, but it is good to have nonetheless.
One outstanding GTask feature is an "All" view, which allows you to look at all lists as a single long list. Simple, but it is surprising how useful this is, and this specific feature is often requested by Google Apps for Business users on forums as something Google should add to Google Tasks.
There is a free version of GTasks which works perfectly well but which features adverts. If you want to miss the adverts and get a number of premium features, you can pay $5 for the privilege. Premium features include being able to customize background sync, meaning you can choose your tasks to be updated every 15, 30 or 60 minutes (rather than the default 60 minutes with the free version). However, there's a 'never' option in both versions and as you can manually update your tasks by quickly clicking on an icon on the screen, paying for an automatic update every 15 minutes seems excessive - you might need that level of syncing on the floor of a stock exchange, but probably nowhere else!
The premium version also allows you to add batches of tasks (although we can't figure out why you would do that) and you can add a "pattern lock" which means only you can access your data (which to some extent is overkill). The premium version also allows you to switch themes from "light" to "dark", and vice versa, rather than stick to the "dark" theme which is default on the free version. Actually, aside from saving you from annoying adverts, the premium version does not really add a great amount of value. However, the paid version of GTasks does offer a number of widgets that allow you to put tasks directly on your phone's screen so that there is a constant reminder of what you need to do to have a constructive day.
An unofficial Google App with an official 5-star Google Apps rating - you can't complain at that. This is a good, solid bridge between Google Tasks on your PC and your phone. A very nice solution indeed. You won't be disappointed.
Tasks is another excellent solution, and very reminiscent of GTasks. In fact, aside from a few minor differences, you can put most GTasks and Tasks functions side by side. Once again there is the list of tasks set up in Tasks Lists that you set up on your PC or directly from your phone. Once again hold down on a task and you can move tasks up and down a list in a virtually identical fashion to GTasks. Once again, swipe left or right and you are sent through the Tasks Lists. You can set priorities, and dates for when a task is due, but even with the paid version, we couldn't find a way to repeat tasks. Like GTasks there's a "Light" and "Dark" theme available and you can set up when Tasks and Google Apps for Business syncs your items. In fact, from this description you might think that Tasks is a GTasks clone - it isn't. It just that like GTasks it has got all the features you need for a great Tasks App. One difference is the price, Tasks is just $0.99 for the paid version - substantially less than GTasks. If you have to discuss negative aspects of Tasks, it is only really in relation to GTasks. Whereas GTasks is a very fluid App, sometimes Tasks is a bit clunky - you might have to tap something twice or hold it down a bit longer than you thought you would, but fundamentally this is a solid technology. The only real complaint with Tasks is that with the Task List names at the top of each screen, if you use longer names (like I do) they have a tendency to run together a bit and get a bit cluttered. This might be more to do with the handset I use than the solution - I use an old Galaxy Pro with a 3 inch screen. But I always feel this is an acid test - whatever it is, if it's good on my phone, it must be good!
Again, another solid solution that won't let you down. A solid range of widgets available with the paid version means you can keep your tasks in mind 24/7. Good stuff.
If GTasks and Tasks are the business end of Task Apps, Any.DO is the style end of the spectrum. However, it's a solid mix of style and function, and although it has a major problem as far as syncing to Google Tasks is concerned, somehow, this is the Task App I WANT to use. First of all let's just get that problem out of the way.
Any.DO does not automatically sync with Google Tasks. If you want it to sync to Google Tasks, you have to go into the App, and press a particular button which forces the sync. If you update Google Tasks on your phone, or in your Google Apps for Business account, unless you remember to go into the system and force the sync, you might end up with different tasks in your Task Lists of your PC and phone. Nor is the sync with Google Tasks that pretty when you do remember - tasks that you have deleted in Any.DO list appear in Google Tasks as completed tasks, which is not that great, because you have to delete them again when you are using Google Apps for Business on your PC.
Rather than sync automatically to Google Tasks, you can add an application to your Chrome browser, and your tasks are automatically added to your Chrome interface. Click on a button at the top of Chrome, and all your tasks are there. As you can sign into Chrome from any computer, this means your tasks appear on any PC as they appear on your handset, and vice versa. But this is NOT updating Google Tasks.
If your nose in continually in your Google account and there is a constant interplay between your Tasks Lists and Google Calendar, this is NOT the App for you - choose GTasks or Tasks.
With that said any review should probably stop there. But this is a great app, although clearly not for the same reasons GTasks and Tasks are great. Any.DO has a beautiful design - one that makes you want to come back again.
Any.DO once again puts tasks into lists based on the Task Lists you set up, but this time splits them up between "Personal" and "Work", which is an immediately nice touch as it reminds people that they do actually have a life! However, the menu allows you to quickly move between a "folder" view that allows you to add tasks to specific categories, and a "date" view where your tasks are categorized as "Today", "Tomorrow", "Upcoming" and "Someday" - which for us is just about perfect. You have the tasks you need to do today in front of you, but by scrolling down you also get a reminder of what is on the back burner. This feature is not unique. It is available in GTasks and Tasks. But for some reason - one that is a bit difficult to articulate - with its big, bold labeling and a minimalistic design, it just works with Any.DO. You spend your time bringing tasks into today's list, and moving tasks you didn't complete into lists for the future. For some reason, this helps you keep in mind what needs to be done today, in the near future, and in the longer term future much better than GTasks and Tasks. And that really is what Task Lists are all about, isn't it?
Alongside a great interface, Any.DO has a number of sweet little features. First, it offers you a quick presentation of what you need to do today. It plays a little background music as it goes through your tasks. Probably unnecessary, but certainly fun, and as the interface encourages you to "Take a moment to plan your day", you find that's exactly what you do - you give the day a dry run so to speak.
Any.DO has a number of touches that impress. To show a task is complete you just run your finger across it rather than click on a tick box. When you have a lot of complete tasks, simply shake your phone, and they disappear. Nice. Equally nice when you create a task you can set up a recurring item from the get go - easier than in other Apps.
Any.DO also tells you when you need to return calls - rather than a little icon at the top of the screen you get a big, bold message telling you who to call! If you can't return a call now, Any.DO will remind you to call later. You can also use Any.DO to SMS someone you can't talk to because you are in a meeting or the cinema, etc. If you are on a call and someone calls you, you get the option to "Send Text" such as "Can't talk now. What's Up?" or you can put in your own custom message in the template.
Although Any.DO does not integrate especially well with Google Tasks, it does add an option to your Google Mail that allows you to turn your email into a task. This used to be in the free (read old) version of Google Apps for Business and is missed, and so Any.DO fills a gap very well indeed.
There's plenty to play with as far as Any.DO is concerned, but as you are playing, you find that Any.DO integrates nicely with your phone and your lifestyle. This is certainly one of our favorites of any apps.
Astrid Tasks & To-do List
This article was originally the four best Google Task Apps, and Astrid Tasks & To-do List was certainly on our list. Open source and out of this world, Astrid brought a touch of class to Google Play. However, it was recently bought by Yahoo! and we aren't including it... For some reason it seems Yahoo! are killing it off. Here's a message from the team:
Astrid Winding Down
First off, we want to sincerely thank you for being an Astrid user over the years. Your support every step of the way has meant the world to us. As of August 5, 2013, we will be closing the Astrid service. We know that a transition can be tough, but we want to make it as easy as possible for you. Please go to this link: astrid.com/home/export to download your data. Once you have your data, we recommend you check out one of these applications. They will allow you to easily import your data, so you can pick up where you left off: Wrike, Wunderlist, Sandglaz, and Any.DO. When we built Astrid, we sought to help as many people as possible become happier, healthier and more productive – and we certainly hope we helped you. Thank you again for your support.
Jon Paris & the Astrid Team
So, goodbye Astrid - it was nice knowing you. Hope Yahoo! keeps you alive in some way!