(I wrote this for an article on digital to-do lists for the Sun.Star Cebu Weekend)
I arrived home to the ding of my phone reminding me to run 5K and finish writing this article on to-do lists and a blog post on Inbox Zero.
My phone flashed the reminders because it detected, through global positioning system (GPS), that I was home.
Beyond calling, today’s phones have become our main computer. For many people, it already is the main device to read or send e-mails. Increasingly, it is how people access social networks like Facebook.
If there’s one task phones are really good at, it’s keeping to-do lists. Even before smartphones, people were already keeping to-do lists via the SMS editor, alarm system, calendar feature or the rudimentary notes facility built into some phones to keep track of tasks.
Productivity apps are a dime an unli-SMS bucket today and you’d have a hard, albeit fun, time figuring out which app works best for you.
What makes the task of choosing an app even harder is the tight competition for features and users, with developers releasing updates every few months or so in a frenzied apps race where users, millions of users, are the top prize.
It was a gentle buzz at first, “You free? Time to finish TechNotes column.” I just glanced at the reminder on the phone while in a meeting last week in a coffee shop. The reminder was repeated on the tablet. I chose “snooze” in both devices and told the app, Astrid, to remind me again in three hours.
Then the reminders came in torrents and with more pressing urgency, “It’s time (urgent task here)” and “No more snoozing! (another urgent task here)” as my phone and tablet laid out a long list of things I was supposed to do and tasks that were nearing deadline. The klaxon of notifications (my alert tone is the sound of a modem initiating and completing a connection) provided me with the push to end the meeting on schedule.
From being a device to call people and later to send messages, the phone has increasingly become our main computer.