Review of the BlackBerry Torch’s task app

I've been meaning to write this post for a while now.

Before getting my BlackBerry Torch, I'd heard the native BlackBerry task app was buried deeply within the OS and wasn't too streamlined for efficient use. So I was interested to see if that'd be my experience.

I of course use Lotus Notes with eProductivity, and my tasks sync seamlessly to the BlackBerry thanks to the power of BES. So at least getting the task information to and from the device is quite simple.

Task App Location and Favorites menu

So is the task app buried deeply? Yes it is.

To get to it, you have to go to the Applications folder, which is itself pretty far down the icon list on the home screen. Featuring the Task app doesn't seem high on RIM's priority list, a curious decision because isn't BlackBerry's cachet all about business productivity on the go?

Anyhow, we can easily make the Task app more accessible by adding it to the Favorites menu. I had to hunt around a bit before figuring out that to add new apps to the Favorites menu, you have to press down and hold for a second on the app's icon. Then a little menu pops up asking if you'd like to mark the app as a favorite.

So I did this for the Task app, plus a few others. Here's my current Favorites menu:

20101104-blackberry-torch-favorites-menu.jpg

I also looked at programming the Convenience Key to point to the Task app instead of the default Camera app, but the Task app is not one of the listed options. Bummer.
Sorry for the misinformation, this is not true. The Task App IS an option. Not sure how I missed that when I checked on this initially...

Viewing the Task List

Now that I have easy access to the Task app through the Favorites menu, let's take a look at it.

Opening up the Task app brings me to an long, unfiltered list of every task in my system regardless of category. The list includes both completed and uncompleted items.

OK, that's not too helpful...

20101104-blackberry-torch-task-list.jpg

To make the list more manageable, I first went to the BlackBerry menu and hid all completed items. If they're done, no need to see them all the time.

Secondly, I took a look at the filter option on the BlackBerry menu which allows me to display tasks that only belong to a selected category.

20101104-blackberry-torch-category-filter.jpg

So to test, I just selected the "Errands" category...

20101104-blackberry-torch-tasks-errands-only.jpg

Much more manageable.

Of course I'll have to visit the filter menu all the time to flip between categories, but at least I have a way to view clean task lists. Flipping between categories takes a few clicks because I have to access the filter menu, scroll through to locate the new category, and then select it.

As a side note, the categories available inside the filter not only include my Lotus Notes categories, but also the categories from my Lotus Notes Journal. Not ideal because it means more (bogus) categories to scroll through. There doesn't seem to be a way to modify this behavior.

Creating New Tasks

This can be done a couple ways. One way is to click the BlackBerry menu button and then select "New" on the menu.

20101104-blackberry-torch-new-task.jpg

The task form includes standard fields such as Due Dates, Reminder alerts, and Category. It's simple enough to fill out. But quickly creating new tasks on the go can be tedious because getting to the New Task form requires some clicking.

One thing to note for eProductivity users is that you can create Projects here on the BlackBerry and then sync them back to your desktop eProductivity software. Simply assign the new task to one of your "Project" categories and once you sync, it will show up in eProductivity in the corresponding category. From there, you can link it to any actions/emails/etc that you desire.

Completing Tasks

There's a dedicated Complete button, so it's easy to mark tasks complete.

Since my preferences are now set to hide completed items, any tasks marked complete immediately disappear. So once I have the right category displaying via the filter, working from that list and marking things off as I go is straight-forward.

20101104-blackberry-torch-tasks-completed-task.jpg

Summary

That's a glimpse at most of the features of the BlackBerry task app. The main things I left out were a few sorting and reminder alert options.

A few things I learned:
1. Not easy to access the app unless you add it as a Favorite
2. Make sure to hide Completed items to clean up your lists
3. Jumping around categories requires pressing the Filter button a lot
4. Creating/completing tasks was straight-forward but sometimes tedious

Conclusion: a workable little task app with lots of room for improvement

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