Pocket Informant may be one of the longest running apps for handheld devices. Austin-based WebIS has been distributing the integrated Personal Information Manager (PIM) program since long before the smartphone was around. The program has evolved over the years and has finally come to the iPad in the form of Pocket Informant HD. Pocket Informant (PI) brings integrated calendaring and task management to the big touchscreen. More importantly, it brings background syncing with desktop clients and the cloud.
WebIS has employed a tabbed planner interface for PI, and it works well. The interface is attractive while keeping common functions at the user’s fingertip. There are four tabs running down the right side of the “page” — Today, Calendar, Tasks and Settings. The app makes good use of both portrait and landscape orientations by changing the display accordingly.
The Today tab is where many users will spend a lot of time. It is a page that aggregates everything pertaining to today, both calendar events and tasks. It’s a simple list of what to expect to happen each day, and remind you what needs to get done. A nice touch is that PI adds a section for attendees when the schedule shows a meeting. It adds a list of attendees for all of the day’s meetings to show at a glance who you will interact with that day.
The calendar tab gives full access to all scheduling and planning needs. There are four calendar views accessible via buttons on the top of the display: List, Days, Week and Month. The List view is a rolling agenda view of both events and tasks by due date. Days view shows a week at a time with events blocked out over the scheduled times. Week view shows seven days in a graphical style, with the current day at the top of the screen. Month view shows the entire month with each day’s events in the proper day’s block.
Task management is an important part of keeping track of the day, and this tab is where that is controlled. It is a task list grouped by due dates or priority (configurable), and tapping an event opens the editor. As in the calendar views, the task list can be filtered to only display those tasks of interest. You can filter to display only overdue tasks, or those due either today or tomorrow. There are lots of filters available to give the user focus over task lists that are out of control.
The Settings tab gives total control over all aspects of PI. There is a settings section for each tab so each can be tailored to fit user preferences, along with general program settings. Of particular interest is the Sync Settings section, as that is where the power of PI can be leveraged.
The advantage of PI over the standard iPad calendar lies in two areas: the integration of the calendar with tasks, and the ability to have PI sync those functions with outside sources. The PI calendar can be synced to desktop clients (Outlook, iCal) and to Google Calendar online. Tasks can be synced to the online service Toodledo. Development is planned to add Exchange support and full OS X support in the future.
This ability to wirelessly sync both calendars and tasks online and to the desktop is something iPad owners have longed to have since the appearance of the device. Having this powerful capability included in an app that facilitates working with the calendar and tasks is icing on the cake.
Pocket Informant HD has only been out for a day, and I’ve been using it since I bought it. I have shared how I use the iPad as my electronic organizer, and PI has taken over that role already. I fire up the app and head to the Today tab to get a feel for what to expect from my day. I bounce between the calendar and tasks tabs as needed. It is so much better having both of these critical functions integrated in one program. It was getting tiring bouncing between two apps to do the same thing previously. PI is available in the App Store for $6.99, but will go up to the normal price of $12.99 soon.
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