The productivity section of the App Store holds a surprisingly small percentage of total applications available – a mere 2.34% at last count. Nonetheless, to-do and other productivity-based applications are becoming more and more popular not only within the business community, but within personal usage as well. The developers at Wolter Group New York are one of the latest to satisfy this new demand with Crosscheck, an iPad-only “super-simple” productivity application for iPad.
At first glance, Crosscheck appears like a more GUI-friendly version of TaskPaper (an application that received a worthy 4.5 stars). The interface is clean and intuitive, resembling applications made for iPad by Apple.
Crosscheck uses tags and specific filters like #, @, ! and [ ] to organize content. Whilst this may seem obscure initially, it improves time and customization, as well as being quicker than going into drop-down boxes and checklists. For reference, a hash tag is used to tag certain words (think Twitter), allowing you to group certain tasks together. They can be used for time (#urgent and #quick), importance (#high and #low) or really anything you wish. @ is used for names, for example @Mark or @Stacy. ! is used to gauge the priority of a task – the more exclamation marks, the higher priority the task is. Finally, square brackets [ ] are used for dates. Crosscheck automatically configures dates into words like Tomorrow and Next Thursday depending on the date you type within the brackets, eg. [19 August 2010] transforms into Thursday. To get started, add new groups for your tasks. You can have as many as you like, and each are colour coded for quick viewing.
The portrait mode interface is refreshingly simple, with almost all of the iPad’s generous display being taken up by the content you have created. This content can be sorted manually, by priority – the number of exclamation marks, when it was created, when it is due – the date within square brackets or by an auto-sort feature, which keeps all tasks in their respective groups, but then orders it by priority within each group. Up top is the ability to create a new task, to export all tasks via e-mail and to synchronize shared items. Despite the initial $9.99 purchase, it appears that you need to buy an additional $9.99 subscription to make use of this synchronizing feature. The year’s subscription package also provides TLS encryption for document safe-keeping, and an unlimited API access – allowing other applications to link into Crosscheck.
The landscape mode of Crosscheck is where the application really feels like an official Apple app. A fixed Groups column on the lefthand side of the screen (also available by tapping ‘Groups’ in portrait mode) provides the ability to search and filter content by their group, as well as filtering by the @ and ! tags. The number of tasks within each group and filter are also visible, as well as the ability to see all upcoming items.
The interface in creating a new task is also intuitive and simple. Choose what group the task should be in and type away. An always-updating list of filters is present, specifically ones that you have created, meaning there is no need to type them in manually if you have written them before. In addition, # @ and [ ] are always present, however the priority filter – an exclamation mark – is missing. Nonetheless, the existence of these keys significantly reduces time spent typing, particularly seeing as the iPad’s keyboard requires an extra tap just to get to a non-alphabet character keyboard layout. Whenever an application is marked as done, it is crossed out with a strikethru.
The time spent learning Crosscheck is minimal – important for a productivity application. There is no excess to the application; a good use of space and focus on content is provided. The heavy use of official Apple integration in Crosscheck through the iPad SDK – for example the way to sort content or mail all tasks – gives the application an official feel to it. In other words, if you know how to use an iPad, you know how to use Crosscheck. I am impressed that it has been able to retain its simplicity and ease of use with the features that it has.
However, there are a few drawbacks. First of all, despite all of my searching, I couldn’t find a way to delete a specific task (it can only be marked as complete). Even after marking a task as complete and quitting the application, it remains there when you next open Crosscheck. In addition, Crosscheck lacks password protection – even though this may not concern mainstream users, those who are looking for local security for their private content will not be able to find it here. Even a basic level of local encryption would be a welcome addition to an otherwise impressive application.
Somewhat disappointing is the need to buy a subscription even after you’ve purchased the application to make use of the advanced features (you need a subscription if you want to collaborate with others by sharing groups and to-do items). However, a major flaw is the syncing capability itself. With no desktop app coupling the iPad version, the only form of syncing that can be done without an additional subscription is not a sync at all: merely an e-mail. However, if you do opt for the subscription package, Crosscheck syncs with a number of calendars with to-do capabilities, including Apple’s iCal and Google’s own calendar. Microsoft Outlook is also supported. Data can be exported manually through an XML document that “describes all your groups and to-do items” and the subscription package even provides an RSS Activity feed of all your tasks.
In conclusion, Crosscheck is a productivity application with an edge. The smart design coupled with excellent integration makes it a contender for one of the best designed to-do applications out there. If you’re prepared to shell out a bit more for the subscription package to enjoy full syncing, this might just be what you’ve been looking for. When used in conjunction with a productivity application on your Mac or PC, Crosscheck suddenly makes sense.
Tagged with: $9.99, crosscheck, Productivity, todo, wolter