CHECKMARK. The app, which is available only on the iPhone, allows you to set location-based reminders. The images above, taken at various times, show notifications flashed by the app.

To do: Install to-do apps on phone

(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.

CHECKMARK. The app, which is available only on the iPhone, allows you to set location-based reminders. The images above, taken at various times, show notifications flashed by the app.

CHECKMARK. The app, which is available only on the iPhone, allows you to set location-based reminders. The images above, taken at various times, show notifications flashed by the app.

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.

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MANAGING TASKS. From the clipboard to phones and tablets, task management has gone digital. Above, my Galaxy Tab displays active tasks that I have to do right away. The clipboard, on the other hand, lists routine daily tasks related to my business section responsibilities.

My phone’s a slave driver

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.

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Rise of the personal ‘cloud’

THE long-awaited launch last April 25 of Google Drive puts into focus advances in consumer cloud computing, the term for remote computing and storage services accessible through the Internet.

Google Drive offers five gigabytes of free online storage space that can be synchronized with various devices in different platforms. This means that if you place a file in the Google Drive space in your laptop, is accessible from anywhere via your browser and in all other connected devices, even Android phones (the iOS app is still coming).

Google is late to the online storage space party — Dropbox, Box.net and Microsoft’s Skydrive predated it by years. But the stature of the search giant as well as the promise of tight integration with its already popular services and its mobile OS Android give it a key advantage.

I’ve been using Google Drive but I still rely on Dropbox because I work on three operating systems – Windows in the office, OSX on the laptop and Linux on my home desktop – and only Dropbox supports all three. Google Drive still does not have a Linux client and its iOS apps are still not available.

With all these offerings we are finally realizing what a Sun Microsystems employee said decades back, “the network is the computer.”

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