I like to think I do a pretty good job of keeping the major stuff in order, on track, and on time. Where I begin to lose focus is in the personal details of my life. Ask me what I’m doing this weekend for instance, and I’ll almost always defer to my lovely activities coordinator (e.g. my fantastic wife). So you could say I’ve been very much in need of some ubiquitous way of managing these ‘little’ tasks that tend to slip through the cracks of my memory.
I’ve done my best to mash the likes of Evernote and other reminder/note taking/productivity apps available on the iPhone, into my natural workflow throughout the day. But no matter the level of effort I’ve applied to each, it’s been a larger task to utilize these solutions than it has been a help to me. You may have guessed it by now — this is where reQall comes screaming in as my saving grace.
ReQall (free, via the iTunes App Store) seems, on the surface, very similar to the likes of Evernote in that there’s an iPhone client as well as an associated web application. Where it stands apart is in the native ability to transcribe your voice recordings into text. From reQall’s website:
Use your voice, email, instant messaging, or text messaging. No other memory tool makes it as easy to capture, retrieve, and share ideas and things you need to do—anywhere, anytime.
Rather than a stand alone client application for the PC however, there’s a great Firefox toolbar add-on for quick entry. On the topic of a Firefox plugin in the stead of a client app, I find that it’s easier for me to access a Google searchbar-esque entry box in my always-open Firefox, than it is to switch to a not often used one trick pony of an application for reminder entry.
The true standout feature comes with the iPhone based version of reQall. I tend to review all the things I need to get done while I’m in my car, so as I mentioned above, the ability to record voice notes that are then transcribed into text for ease of use later is invaluable to me. Better still is the ability for reQall to recognize words like “buy”, “ask”, and “note” and then categorize my tasks accordingly. Dates — both specific and relative — are also recognized. So for instance, I could say “Buy ice cream on Friday”, and reQall would create an item on my shopping list to ‘buy ice cream’ and mark it due on this coming Friday. Likewise, I could substitute ‘Friday’ for ‘October 24th’ and get the same result.
The web presence of reQall is not one I’ve used extensively but it is integral to the function of this system — it’s where your recordings are sent and transcribed before being synced in text format to your iPhone. The web interface is quite nicely designed and I’ve mainly used it to setup my various preferences for how reQall handles my tasks and reminders. It is possible to do some of the setup from the iPhone application, but there’s much more power after configuring through the web interface.
The whipped cream and cherry topping to reQall is the ability to setup (via the web application interface) other reQall contacts, and then share tasks, ideas, and reminders with others without having to send them via some alternate method. But of course all of these great todos, reminders, and so on would be no good without an automatic way of reminding you. So reQall takes care of that by emailing (or texting) you at a preset time prior to the item being due, all set to your preferences of course.
So to recap: Type your items in via iPhone or Firefox plugin, or record by voice on your iPhone and have reQall transcribe for later reminders and alarms. ReQall recognizes key words and takes on the task of categorizing your thoughts for you, and then executes the reminders based on your stated deadlines. Get those reminders via whatever methods work best for you (IM, text, email, etc) so you never miss another detail in your life.
If you’re stuck trying to decide what option in the App Store will best assist you in keeping track of the rest of your life, I very highly recommend you give reQall a try. Costing exactly nothing, what have you got to lose?