Fahad Gilani

Watch 2Do in Action

For all our existing and new users alike, we’re happy to announce that 2Do for Apple Watch is ready. As you all are probably aware, Apple Watch will be available to pre-order starting the 10th of April and should be in your hands on the 24th. We’ve made sure you’ve got one more reason to buy that watch!

2Do for Apple Watch is going to be a natural extension to the app on your iPhone, iPad and Mac. If you happen to be aware of the subtleties and limitations involved in developing for Apple Watch, you’d appreciate that we went all-out on getting this ready for you. Instead of dumbing down the app in the spirit of we wanted to keep it simple, our team took up the challenge and developed a truly remarkable companion app – one that you’ll actually want to use.

2Do on the Watch will give you direct access to all your popular lists, including a hand-picked list. This could be anything from a simple list to a Smart List built around a complex set of rules. You’ll immediately be able to familiarize yourself with the task list layout, as it has been designed to resemble the main app. Additional information regarding dates and times will be displayed where possible. If you’ve got the habit of organizing your tasks into projects and checklists, 2Do’s got you covered. It’ll let you dig deeper into the list hierarchy and access all your sub-tasks, so you’ll never have to take out your phone again when shopping… unless of course you want to.

We didn’t leave the task details screen out either. At a glance you’ll get all the relevant details assigned to the task, such as start dates and due dates, durations, tags, locations or actions; and a simple swipe to the left takes you to all your notes. Beautiful.

You’ll also have the option to schedule or delete your tasks directly from this screen.

2Do for Apple Watch will be making its way through the App Store and onto your wrists as soon as Apple begins accepting 3rd party apps, which we’re hoping will be around the launch date: 24th of April, 2015.

We’re Ready

This is going to be short. We’re very pleased to announce that 2Do III is finally ready and it’s coming soon to the App Store along with iOS 8.
 

Info Zooming

If we haven’t already emphasized this enough, allow me to reiterate: our goal and aim is to make 2Do amazingly intuitive on the iOS devices and thus support desktop-class task management on the smaller screen sizes without burdening the user with a ton of options. 2Do has already accomplished great feats on the Mac and now it’s time to bring some of this to its smaller counterpart.

Allow me to however point out a problem we’ve had with earlier versions of 2Do, and based on some initial feedback from our public preview of v3, a more elegant approach was needed. For a number of years now, 2Do has supported various customizations that allow you to optionally toggle certain things on and off, such as the display of list names, notes, indicators and so on. This worked, except in situations where one wanted to quickly zoom into the task and see more information without having to toggle those options ON or OFF again.

Many times, for example, you would want to only look at the titles of your tasks to get a gist of what’s due today without having to go through multi-line titles, assigned tags, notes, list names etc – clutter that you don’t want. But then at times you would want to quickly get an overview of all your tasks along with their assigned tags and notes when performing a lengthy review of your tasks to determine which one deserves to be embarked upon next.

This selective information density zooming has not been possible, until now. To begin with, we initially solved the problem of selective zooming by allowing users to be able to enter, what we call, Extended Mode. Tapping the priority / down-arrow button next to the title would immediately expand the task and show all details at once, including tags that you had assigned. In other situations 2Do would show one to two lines of titles, where possible, along with a preview of assigned notes. Great, problem solved.

Not entirely, though. The second problem was the ability to selectively do this for all visible tasks in your list, without having to go through various toggle options in settings. Allow us to introduce to you: Pinch Info Zooming.

2Do v3 will support a simple pinch-to-zoom gesture, allowing you to move between three display modes: Compressed, Normal, Extended. As the names suggest, in Compressed you’ll only see task titles and dates. In Normal you’ll see titles, dates, notes and list names (where applicable), and in Extended you’ll see it all, all in one go – including multiple assigned tags.

We hope to make 2Do enjoyable, intuitive and easy to use, not to mention improve upon the vast usability options 2Do first introduced. Enjoy the demo.

Ta-da

2Do III

We’ve finally come out of the woods and felt it’s about time we publish an update on what we’ve been doing, what’s coming next and what’s so exciting about this next big update? Today, folks, is the long awaited ta-da moment.

They say pictures speak louder than words. Maybe not so much for this post in question. The glaringly obvious visual changes, design language and UI elements is there, but what it can’t tell is how amazingly tangible it now is. That’s what this update has been all about. We kept improving it till there was, for now, no more room left for improvement. Everything is more fluid in every way imaginable. Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself:

What’s New

Everything – including the stuff that was already there before. It’s new. The underlying code is new, the way you’d interact with it is new, the way tasks get updated, added, deleted, moved, dragged; from tabs to tasks to tags to editors – we literally dumped all the previous code ever written and re-wrote it from scratch. That took a lot of time, but boy are we glad we took this route. It opened up ways to new things, new ideas and new ways of doing the same ol’ stuff.

2Do has always had this unique look and feel about it, including its ability to offer everything under the Sun without compromising ease of use. The list tabs that we all love, as well as the several different intuitive ways you’d go about managing your stuff. The core ideas it evolved with over the years were all great. We wanted to retain all the goodness and improve upon the core. Our journey involved working on new ideas as well as porting proven ideas and concepts from our Mac app, ideas that earned it the ‘Best of 2013’ title on the Mac App Store. Without further ado, let us delve straight into some of these. Bear in mind though, this post is in no way an expansive overview of what’s to come. This is merely a glimpse of what to expect – a very thorough glimpse to say the least.

The Three Ts (Tabs, Tasks, Tags)

Up until now, the ability to move rapidly between your lists, tasks and tags was only possible on the Mac, thanks to the amount of screen real-estate you inherit. We’ve explained in a previous post how Tabs make our lives easier, by allowing us to switch context easily and effectively; something that we believe is vital when it comes to being productive. Our recent update for the Mac showed that people fell in love with Tags, all over again. It boiled down to mainly one thing: the ability to quickly and effectively reach out and access tags in between your usual workflow, so you could find stuff quicker, and the quicker you find them, the quicker you do them.

Tags have been part of 2Do for numerous years, but it’s the first them ever that we’re bringing them out in the open; access them as you would on a Mac, right next to your tasks. A single swipe gesture and you’re in in Tags. In an instant, know which tasks are tagged, known which ones aren’t, and find and act upon those that are. It’s simple, beautiful and you’ll love it. [···]

Why do you need my iCloud credentials?

keychain-300x300

With a recent scare from a calendaring app called Sunrise brought to everyone’s attention by John Gruber and Marco Arment, it seems many are not clear why 2Do needs their iCloud credentials too and what it does with it. This article is meant to clarify a few things. Bear in mind though, 2Do only requires this when synchronizing 2Do with Reminders over CalDAV (and so this does not apply to other supported sync methods).

Apple has made vast improvements on Reminders / Calendar and iCloud in these past few years. What was once a side-feature of iCal transformed into what is now ‘Reminders’. But long before all this happened, 2Do became the first iOS task manager to fully support direct synchronization with iCal and Mobile Me (what later transformed into iCloud in a broader sense) by supporting the CalDAV protocol. This kept 2Do highly functional and flexible as it was able to now synchronize with other personal and enterprise devices using these services.

In order to do this however, 2Do acts like a typical 3rd party CalDAV client (like iCal, Outlook etc). It uses your credentials to connect to Apple’s iCloud servers directly over a secure connection, in order to keep 2Do’s local data synchronized with that in the cloud. The login and password itself are stored in the System Keychain. At no point in time does 2Do establish any connection with any other service / server. All data stored on your phone and in the cloud belongs to you, is managed by yourself and is completely inaccessible by any 3rd party (including our staff).

Apple now also (finally) supports two-step verification, which means you can now create app-specific passwords. This way, the password you use in a 3rd party app is tied to that app alone, and the 3rd party in question has no way of accessing your iCloud account in normal circumstances even if they somehow got hold of this password. We would highly recommend you switch to two-step verification in order to increase security around your iCloud account. If and when you do, simply change the password you use in 2Do to use the new account and you’re all set.

It’s worth mentioning that we have no servers that 2Do connects to. ‘Push’ notifications you receive are in fact ‘local’, i.e. information related to your tasks are stored locally on your device and alerts are generated by the System. Unlike some apps / services, 2Do does not use your account details in order to ‘help’ you with email alerts and reminders. We take security seriously and for this reason do not offer our own Sync solution. Your data is as safe as the rest of your information stored in iCloud.

In case you’re interested, here’s a bit more background: The first update we pushed out with CalDAV sync support in fact asked users to enter their ‘iCloud Login’ details. Reminders / Mobile Me Sync was the only sync method we supported at that time. This was immediately picked up by Apple and we were prevented from publishing our update to the App Store. After a number of emails and phone calls with management at Apple, it was decided that until and unless it was made absolutely clear that 2Do used CalDAV directly from within the app, in addition to supporting other generic CalDAV services, they would not allow this. At that point we actually had to delay the update for a couple of months in order to add support for a number of other CalDAV services, namely: Yahoo! Calendar & Custom hosted Mac OS X iCal Servers. We also had to change the name to ‘Reminders Sync (CalDAV)’ in order to avoid confusion and change the way the setup screen looked. To the user it was now more of a ‘Pick from a number of supported CalDAV Services’ and ‘Enter credentials’. The store’s description also had to be updated to reflect support for CalDAV.

So why don’t we simply support the built-in Reminders Sync feature that was made available to developers some time ago? The main reason is lack of meta-data storage per task. Plus we get to support Siri for free (tasks added using Siri make their way into 2Do via CalDAV sync). 2Do adds a lot of value on top of the simple Tasks you see in Reminders. In order to ensure all information is synchronized correctly across various devices, we would need to store extra meta-data that the built-in Reminders SDK does not currently support. Once this feature is made available, we will look into supporting Reminders Sync directly. We may still never replace our current implementation using CalDAV as this will later be expanded in order to support other popular CalDAV servers.

Crossroads: State of the iOS 7 Update

First of all, we’d like to thank everyone for the tremendous feedback we’ve received so far after 2Do’s recent update on the Mac. This update meant the world to us, and we’re happy to learn from our users that it was well worth the wait. To top it off, we’ve been humbled to see Apple feature 2Do under the Best New Apps category.

“Good for you, but what about an update for iOS 7” you ask? In short, we’re working on it, but it won’t be out any time soon. I admit, that was pretty cold. Please allow me to elaborate.

2Do v1.0 came out late 2009, when the App Store was young and so were we. In those early days, 2Do unexpectedly saw itself climbing the charts, being featured by big names in the industry, making television appearances* and even signing autographs – okay, I got carried away there for a second. It was immediately obvious though, that there was a lot of potential in this little app. And so update after another, we kept raising the bar.

Where we went wrong, or so we thought

Perhaps we didn’t see it coming, or perhaps we were trying too hard, but as time flew by, the very technology and tools that our code was built around, changed profoundly. That left us with code that seemingly worked great, but was in fact a hurdle in moving forward. While that left us grappling in the dark, we came at a crossroads in 2012. We could either continue to shy away from developing a companion Mac app or fix something that wasn’t really broken on iOS.

If we had gone for the latter, we would have spent numerous months re-writing code that still would have compiled to essentially ‘look the same‘ (i.e. the user interface). Sure, in that process we would have refined certain on-screen elements and tuned the rest of the experience, but it would still have been the same app. Instead, if we were to concentrate on developing a Mac app, that would have given us the reason and drive to re-write the underlying logic, whilst re-imagining it for the desktop. Logic that we would later share with our iOS apps.

All’s well that ends well

iOSv3

Note: An early mock-up. Not the final preview of the app

With hindsight, everything was perfectly timed. When we started working on updating the Mac app, which was soon after it got released, we weren’t counting on re-writing a lot of code, again. The re-design and development of v1.5 took approximately 8 months. During this time, iOS 7 got announced and released around the same time we finished on the Mac.

Now, with all the amazing shared logic we had a chance to re-write, and all the advancements in development tools, the timing could not have been any better. 2Do got matured on the Mac in less than 12 months of its release date, just in time to bring a lot of the new stuff over to iOS. You’ll love it when it’s ready.

What’s new?

If you were reading in between the lines, the answer is: everything. From the very logic that deals with creation of tasks to the meta-data that get synced across devices, we’ve re-written the actual framework that makes 2Do do what it does. That means the UI, from how you sort your data to how you edit tasks, will all dramatically improve. But not at the expense of UI clutter. Instead you’ll see purpose behind every feature, and a lot of thought.

So, again, about that ETA…

It’s impossible to give one, you see. But if it helps, we’re looking at a good few months. Early 2014 at best.

Pricing?

Absolutely, 100% free. No in-app advert, no in-app purchase and no annoying popups trying to sell you a related app. 2Do is a universal app. You buy once and get it for free for your other iOS device.

It’s worth mentioning though that there’s no doubt that even a small little update can at times end up costing a company a lot. Let alone major re-writes and re-designs. But there’s a problem that many developers have openly talked about. Apple does not currently provide developers with a way to charge for upgrades. Many companies resort to developing a ‘[Insert app name here] 2’ and begin treating everyone the same way. If you’re one of those unlucky ones who recently purchased v1.x, you’re forced into paying the full price a second time.

Are the developers who practice this to be blamed? Not really. Development companies really need to make ends meet. But is this practice any good? Absolutely not. Instead, developers need to reach out to Apple, explain to them how this affects their business and hope for the best.

We’d hate to buy 2Do only to pay more the next time we upgrade and we’re sure you would too. In all honesty, giving out free updates is not sustainable. At the same time, for us the alternative (i.e. publishing a new app) is not an option. Currently, waiting for the update to arrive is the only price you pay. We need the time to refine and improve the app in every way possible. We’ll keep you updated and we’re sure the next major update will blow you away.

* 2Do got featured by the BBC in the technology show called ‘Click’, won a the Best App Ever award and has appeared in an Apple iPhone advert to list a few

The Journey

With 2Do v1.5, we’ve hit a major milestone today. Not in terms of what it can do, but what it will be capable of doing one day, collectively across platforms. You know, the bigger picture. But it already does a lot, you say? Yes, it’s probably easier to describe what 2Do can’t do, than to list the things it can. But that’s beside the point.

I still remember the day we embarked on the journey of pinning down the ‘to-do list problem’, as we called it, long before 2Do saw daylight. It was never meant to be a traditional Getting Things Done (GTD) app, nor a fancy app that made some noise and recognized a few gestures. We wanted it to be meaningful, you know, an app you and I could use without first reading up literature on GTD. Not just during a trip to the local grocery store, but for everything else.

It became immediately obvious. ‘Tabs’, we exclaimed! There’s a reason why tabs are everywhere now. From Chrome to Safari to Finder (finally in Mavericks), tabs have found their rightful place in our complex lives. Apparently we humans are able to focus better when presented with disparate information in separately:

Tabs = Separation = Focus

If you were to plough through the enormous amount of literature on being productive, you’ll see how well this fits in. Contexts, projects, lists, areas of responsibilities; everything could be represented elegantly with this one simple concept. This gave us the solid design direction we needed.

Next up was color. Our brains love color. It helps us relate to events and remember things. All this led to the eventual release of 2Do in 2009.

Back to the bit about hitting a milestone. 2Do v1.5 for Mac is packed with so many useful features, we think you’ll want to be productive, just for the sake of using the app. With this latest update, we’ve finally finished writing a single core library that will eventually be shared by future updates of the iOS apps (iPhone and iPad). That will mean uniform integration across platforms, solid stability, big performance improvements and amazing connectivity (as if all that wasn’t already there!). We started working on this ‘smart productivity engine’ over a year ago, re-writing everything from scratch, using the latest technological improvements offered by the latest versions of Mac OS and iOS, and some common sense.

You’ll love what we have in store for iOS 7 and beyond. For now, here’s the latest and greatest for Mac OS. You can download it from the Mac App Store from here:

Redesigned