We released Steps in beginning March, and it has been a big success so far. Some users pointed out they were missing certain features or had ideas on how to improve Steps. We are thankful for every new idea. We evaluate them all very carefully before we go ahead and implement a new feature.
Steps was designed with the idea to remove unnesseary clutter and to focus on usage, on how the app implements in your daily life. It was made to do tasks, not so much to manage them. We decided to leave out flagging, tagging, complex sorting or task management features, for this very reason. Steps should be easy to pull up and fast to use. Fast means also having a single window to work with, not having to flip between panes to access a feature.
Probably the second, if not the most mentioned feature request was for recurring tasks. We thought about this even before we had released Steps 1.0 and we dropped the idea. Why? Think about the purpose: they are reptitive events that remind you of birthdays, of Monday morning meetings, of laundry days… Recurring tasks are more events than they are tasks. You don’t work off a list of recurring tasks, like “Get milk” in a shopping list.
In fact, if we introduced recurring reminders, it would defy the very concept of Steps: to work off tasks in your consolidated Open list. A task that keeps popping up in your to-do list is not really helpful, it gets in the way.
You are aware of repeating events. You just need a reminder to not forget them. And that’s what calendar apps are perfectly suited for. The majority of repeating events are meetings or day long events, such as holidays or birthdays. We really think there is a difference in what a list app should do, and what is the purpose of a dedicated calendar app.
Including “recurring events” would be a diversion from the course of Steps.
Another popular request were color themes and sounds.
There is an app out there that was pretty successful when it was introduced, even though it cannot do very much. It is colorful and makes cute sounds with every swipe. And this is fun. It gives you an immediate reward.
When we built Steps, we asked ourselves if we should include different color themes and sound sets. We made a number of mockups and tested various color combinations. The reason why we ended up with blue and white was no accident. It looked bright and provided contrast without being flashy. It was not distracting, but soothing for the eyes to use.
We also asked ourselves: what do you want to spend your time with? Fiddling with backgrounds and theme settings or getting things done? Color themes do not provide improved functionality, they were just more bulk, so we left them out. We went for satisfaction over quick fun.
Sounds, on the other hand, have a different purpose. A sound can be a reminder or a confirmation, when something has been completed. So with version 1.0.2, which is now available on the App Store, we introduce three kinds of reminders and an optional sound that confirms you have completed a list.
An Improved Open List
We have begun looking at Steps for iPad and Mac OS, but at the moment we are focussing on making Steps for iPhone work really, really well. As part of this effort we have drastically improved the Open list. Previously, sorting in the Open list did not make a lot of sense. Tasks appeared in order of the time when they had been created. It was actually a lot of work and took quite some time to rewrite our sorting algorithm, to make this work in a better way.
Now, the Open list consolidates all tasks from the lists you created, but it now sorts them in the very same order, beneach each other. You can sort your tasks within a list and the sorting in the Open list will reflect these changes.
When we set out to create a task manager that would sync with both, iCloud and Google Tasks, we knew this wouldn’t be simple. Because these two systems work entirely differently, they serve different purposes. Google Tasks is very limited. Its API does not allow the access of its calendar implementation, and things we do in Steps, like sorting in the Open list, are not reflected in Google Tasks. Even worse, Google Tasks overwrites lists that were created on the iPhone when there is no Internet connection. This is an issue we recognized, but it is not an easy one to solve.
Because Steps can already do so much more than Google Tasks, we deicded to change the role of Google Tasks for Steps. It will reflect the content you create in Steps and it will sync with Steps, but we will no longer limit our feature set by the limited capabilities of Google Tasks today. Who knows what the future brings? Google might decide to step up (pun intended) and improve its task manager product. But for the time being, we need to focus on what we want Steps to do, not what Google Tasks can do today.
We believe this is in the best interest of you. After all, our goal and determination is to give you the best and fastest list app for every day’s tasks.