BitDepth#879 - April 02

Wunderlist makes a digital to do list present on multile devices and platforms.
The inescapable to-do list
Wunderlist on Macintosh. This simple and direct interface hides multiple lists and list item details in favour of a screen that urges next steps.

There’s a lot of buzz around about the cloud and the seductive promise of seamless data flow that it will bring to devices that are part of our personal Internet mesh.
There’s a sting in the tail to all that wonderful data flow though.

Most of it is quietly proprietary. Apple’s devices have a happy relationship with each other via iCloud, but nobody else is invited to that party. Google users will find that their Chromebooks and Android phones work seamlessly with each other, but support for that data stream, though widespread, tends to either spotty or more fluent in one direction than another. I can move my contact information from a Mac to GMail easily enough, but getting changes back from that dataset are painfully fussy.

Windows users have a particularly seamless grouping of cloud based tools and data sharing access points, but it all tends to work well in the Windows world and isn’t quite so sprightly on other platforms.
Increasingly though, there is an increasing awareness that people want access to their information across multiple platforms in real time. Just shy of a year ago
I wrote about DropBox, as an exceptional example of a company that’s committed to maintaining a consistent experience across multiple operating systems.

I’ve been using it for more than a year now to keep files synchronised between a Macintosh laptop, a Windows 8 tablet and an Android smart phone. DropBox is also a good citizen on iOS, Blackberry, Kindle and Linux.
DropBox isn’t the only data focused cloud service, and it gets some strong competition from, but nothing comes close to it for accessibility and ease of comprehension.

Other tools are appearing that are similarly focused on providing useful connectivity across platforms, and many are taking a cue from the simplicity and product focus of DropBox.
Wunderkinder’s to-do list software, Wunderlist is a promising new project in the genre.

I’ve long been a fan, if not the most consistent user of David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy, and one of the basic tenets of that method is “mind like water.”
Set aside your half-empty jokes right now and embrace one practical application of the philosophy, which holds that one of the paths to personal peace and focus is moving stuff out of your head and onto a “trusted receptacle.”

Depending on who you are that might be a half-sheet of paper stuffed in a pocket, a Moleskine, a personal diary or maybe, a digital to-do list.
Being prone to overdoing things, I own no less than four different software tools that promise to organise and process stuff I’ve got going on.

I’ve stuck with
Things, by Cultured Code on my MacBook Pro, but with no iPhone, there’s no way to move list information to an app in my hands.
Wunderlist, a deceptively simple app with an admirably single minded focus. Enter information into the software, say a shopping list for the grocery, and it instantly synchronises via the web to every other instance of the software you’ve got running.

That means you can start a grocery list at your desk, grab your phone and go check the fridge to see what’s missing, get a call from the household management while working and add another item. In the actual grocery you consult one, neat consolidated listing and proceed to win plaudits for your handling of this chore.
You can link the app to Facebook to share lists with your friends, but I can’t think of any reason to link a specifically personal collection of information like a to-do list with a social network, but this may appeal to the folks who are into deep sharing.

Wunderkind recently announced a Wunderlist extension for Chrome, Safari and Firefox that takes shopping planning to another level.
Wunderlist does one thing really well and as it turns out, it’s a really useful thing. Being able to do it on multiple platforms (no Unix version yet) for free and with a consistent and task focused interface makes it a no-brainer for anyone who wants to log and reference their next steps on more than one device.

Related cross platform tools…
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