Hands On Review – Google Tasks

Rumors of a Google Task Manager Application have been circulating for years. ZDNet speculated back in April of ’06 and again in October ’07, while we posted our own plea back in April.

The Googlers responded a couple weeks ago with their launch of a Gmail Labs Task Manager, and like any self respecting Google junkie I just had to give it a shot.

So let’s fast forward a couple of weeks and see how they did.

Gmail Tasks Because it is a labs feature, you’ll need to activate the tasks functionality before it appears. Do this by clicking on the green labs beaker or by choosing the labs tab under “settings”.

This adds a menu item to your sidebar so you can access your new tasklist.

Because of it’s integration with Gmail, creating tasks directly from an email is a key feature, and is really easy.

From your “More Actions” menu choose “Add to Tasks” and a new task is created with a link back to the related email. Otherwise, just click any empty area and start typing, a new task will be created for you.

Once the task appears, you can add more information, notes or a due date.  I liked the ability to drag and drop tasks to reorder them or indent them to make subtasks.  Keyboard shortcuts make most tasks easy.

Your task list appears in a pop out window so it can remain active while working in your email or can be detached for use as a more standalone application.  I can’t seem to find a way to open tasks other than through the Gmail link.

Overall, I was frequently frustrated by the limitations, while the benefit of email integration is easily mirrored by most other to do list applications in some format.

If you’re a task junkie, you’re likely already using a full on task management system like Toodledo or Remember the Milk , and there is nothing here to pull you away from those tools. The level of functionality there is well beyond the basic tools here.

However, if you’re a Gmail user looking for a quick and easy check-list application with some nice email integration, it might serve you well.

Here’s the rundown:

Gmail TasklistThe Good:

  • Nice integration with Gmail and tasks are really easy to create.
  • Keyboard shortcuts and drag and drop make task management a breeze.
  • You can create multiple lists and tasks can be indented at multiple levels for organizational purposes.
  • The interface is simple with an iPhone like appearance and navigation.

The Missing:

  • There is no sorting, like by due date.
  • Minimal task information, there are no priorities or contexts.
  • While you can set due date, there is no calendar integration, reminders, or recurring functionality.
  • I can’t seem to be able to move items between lists.

I know this is an initial release so my expectations shouldn’t be high, but I’m a little disappointed in this first outing. There are good ideas here but I fear it will suffer the same fate as the integrated Gmail contacts feature.  As an adjunct to Gmail, while basically functional, it never seems to flourish and doesn’t really serve to the level that it should. I hope tasks fares better.

Have you tried Google’s Tasks? What were your impressions?