iPhone GTD apps that sync to the cloud

It's official. Cultured Code, the developer of Things, has started testing its own Cloud Sync functionality almost three years after the launch of its iPhone application. The long-awaited over-the-air (OTA) synchronisation could be a reality soon, but with its past track of updates, customers without access to the beta build of the Mac OS app can sit waiting for it.

Does every To-Do app sync across devices? (Cloud drawn by Nicolas Soret)

During this long period we have seen the birth of new iOS devices such as the iPad and Apple revamping its .Mac to MobileMe. So things have changed a lot. How will the charismatic Things conquer the hearts of those app freak who have been asking for this sync function to be implemented since the product launched? And most importantly, how will the service compare to To-Do and GTD apps who have been offering cloud sync services for some time now?

For the mobile folk who cares about multi-platform solution to keep track of tasks, the process must be seamless, fast and easy to set up without using cables. Let's have a look at the most popular options so you know your options once the final build hits the App Store.

Things by Cultured Code

When you see that blue icon you recognize quality instantly. Its design, simplicity and to-the-point approach convinced many Mac OS users since 2007 thanks to UI tricks and great use of the HUD quick entry windows. The iPhone brother came next and was a great example of how to design an app the Apple way, to the extent of winning a Design Award.

Cultured Code has started testing the Cloud Sync service only for desktop users who are part of the private beta. iOS devices will benefit from the feature after an update, but we don't know how long it will take to fine-tune its servers to cope with a massive audience nor its pricing. 

Todo by Appigo

Quietly climbing up the charts with every update, Todo is one of the best examples of filling in a gap in the market. There a cases where a Lite version help and seeing the pricing of alternative app combos, this seems like a great way to showcase your app's potential. Taking visual cues from Things for the iPhone app and a more risky approach with the iPad version, its one of the few that offer theming options. 

Fortunately, Appigo has worked to implement several sync options including a paid Todo Online OTA sync, iCal and the web service Toodledo. I'm waiting to see their upcoming native Mac app to complete the desk+mobile combo, otherwise its a perfectly fine option which includes some advanced features.

OmniFocus by The Omni Group

The preferred option for GTD hardcore users thanks to its polished native desktop app and singular focus mode has chosen to implement a sync function across devices with several services. Using either Bonjour or Wi-Fi connection, you can keep your tasks up to date without any need to plug in your iDevice. If you have a MobileMe subscription, you can also sync through the cloud or with WebDav (Google Calendar) for free. I've been using Omni's own Sync Server (free) for the last months and haven't had any trouble so far.

Flow by MetaLab

The new kid on the block shows its the ideal tool for working in groups making integrating a social aspect to task management. Need to delegate a task? Want to discuss details about your new project? Serious about categories and folders? Flow provides all these with an outstanding web application and its own iPhone app. Your tasks will live in the cloud, so there's no sync to set up. All these advanced features come at the cost of a monthly subscription, which many will find too steep. Since Flow now allows paying users to share tasks with users without a subscription, it might suit small groups that find Basecamp too complex.

Remember the Milk by RTM

The popular GTD web-based service has an iPhone counterpart for those iPhone users who want an app-like experience for their existing RTM account. With the limitation of just one sync per day, users can get a Pro upgrade to get proper unlimited auto-sync. Although there isn't an official desktop version for it, I like how Remember the Milk plays nicely with your Gmail or Google accounts. 

2Do by Guide Ways Technologies

This was one of the first productivity apps I tried that attempted to group your tasks in a different way. You can either love or hate its cluttered approach, but the truth is that the gesture combinations, along with its contact integration and the fact that its Universal, make it one of the most complete options out there. 2Do syncs with its Mac application via Wi-Fi, but can also use third-party services including MobileMe, Toodledo, iCal and CalDAV. 

Wunderlist by 6 Wunderkinder

A perfect example that free doesn't always mean low quality, Wunderlist's simplicity and multi-platform offer has been a strong reason to convince many. If you are not keen on wooden backgrounds, you can always customise it with the available themes, although you won't find such an easy fix for more advanced GTD features such as recurring task or projects. With its free cloud sync service, Wunderlist is a great way to manage your tasks on the go, even if you have to sacrifice pro functions.

Simplenote by Codality

The name says it all: an stripped down to the basics way to sync your ideas, lists and notes. Probably not the most loyal app to the Getting Things Done methodology but a step up from sending email reminders to yourself. The free version is ad-supported buy you can chose to remove them with in-app purchase or a premium subscription that gets you automatic syncing instead or the manual one.