I have always been list adverse. To-do lists rarely work for me, because I spend so much time managing them, I get distracted from doing them. The most effective I have ever been was when I kept a text file on my desktop and made it part of my evening routine to edit it for the following day.
There’s a new iPhone application that may finally bring me on board with listmaking. Yesterday, DropList was released to the App Store with the promise of “fast and easy” task list creation. The selling point for me, though, was the integration with Dropbox.
With Droplist, you can type, or copy-and-paste text from anywhere on the iPhone and magically get a checkable list. Once the list exists, the interaction is well done, too. Swiping your finger and tapping gets rid of a task, and it is easy to toggle to a title or task if the app makes a mistake interpreting your pasted text. Everything is stored as plaintext files, keeping the app lightweight.
The killer feature for Droplist is that it leverages Dropbox, the file sharing platform that has proven to be a godsend for collaboration. It has replaced email attachments and Google docs for most of my group projects, including the things my wife occasionally wants me to print out on campus. I have moved many of my desktop files there so they are available on all of my machines. Adding to-do lists—particularly ones I can share with my family—could be a practical benefit.
That scenario was the motivation for the app. Developer Drew McKinney, a recent alum of the HCI/d program at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, got an email from his girlfriend containing a grocery list. “I couldn’t find a single to-do list app that would simply let me paste in the content from
email as a list and go from there,” McKinney recalls. “I kept thinking, ‘Why isn’t this as easy as scratch paper?’”
McKinney says the integration with Dropbox was a breeze because they tailored their API for mobile use. They provide a simple SDK and sample code. Other apps, like Frenzy, are leveraging the private and localized file sharing capabilities of Dropbox, too. “I have two other projects in the mix that allow the user to grab files from Dropbox to enrich an experience,” hints McKinney.
The app currently costs a buck, but there will be a free version in a few weeks with iAds and a task limit (15 max per list). Other changes are already in the works, based on early feedback. “I’d like to make checking off list items more fulfilling,” says McKinney, citing EpicWin as a good albeit grandiose example of rewards.
Drew is currently the Mobile Lead at Cook Medical, helping sales reps improve their work experience in the field. His startup company, Bloomingsoft, creates user-focused software for mobile devices. Droplist is the company’s third iPhone application in the last several months, the others being Driving Buddy and Corporate Slang.Tags: alumni, automation, Bloomingsoft, Drew McKinney, Droplist, HCI/d, informatics, integration, iPhone application, to-do list