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Microsoft To-Do for iOS review: One step forward and two steps back

Microsoft has had many task management offerings, such as Wunderlist and OneNote, and while both were fairly popular, the former has been replaced by Microsoft's new service called To-Do. The app is available for all three major platforms, Windows 10, Android and iOS, which means you can easily sync content between devices on these platforms.

We put the iOS version (opens in new tab) through some tests. Here's what we found.

Getting started with Microsoft To-Do

Microsoft To-Do is a beautiful application, and you feel it right from the beginning. A lot of effort was put into the look of the app, and that is something we rarely see from Microsoft. The whole design language reminds me a little of Google's "Material Design" style, more so than Microsoft's own "Modern Design Language 2," which is obviously ironic.

The app syncs with your Outlook Tasks content, too. So adding an Outlook task on one device instantly syncs it over to your other devices.

Complaints

Unfortunately, To-Do is missing other features that are present in Microsoft's Wunderlist.

Microsoft To-Do lacks the ability to color-flag tasks, in order to sort their priority, as well as basic stuff like moving a task from one list to another. You can add notes and reminders to tasks, thankfully, but the lack of basic functionality is disappointing. And the complaints don't stop there.

The iOS client lacks features like being able to share links, text or any other form of content to the app. This is something I used on a daily basis with Wunderlist and I really hope that an update will add this functionality.

The whole app is weirdly designed, and navigating through it is confusing and tiresome. Most of the time I have no idea what is happening on screen or where I am going. The app lacks labels to describe the functions of different elements, which is odd because Windows 10's design language is primarily focused on describing every part of the interface so you know what every button does when you press it. Microsoft didn't follow its own guidelines, and the result is a pretty but unintuitive app.

The app proved to be very unstable and it likes to crash, not only when it's open it but also when running in the background. I was forced to reboot a couple of times because the app got stuck in a crash loop, which resulted in my notification center getting spammed with crash reports.

On the subject of notifications, my reminders failed to initiate multiple times. They sometimes went off a few hours late or not at all. In fact, the majority of my reminders had some issue, which is unforgivable for a service that is supposed to organize your workflow or daily life.

The whole app feels like a poorly-made Microsoft Garage project and not a flagship service, which is how Microsoft advertises it. Project Cheshire had been in testing for many months, yet this is the result? The app follows a sad pattern of Microsoft releasing unfinished and not polished products to the masses, while not labeling them as "alpha" nor "beta."

The competition

Microsoft To-Do falls short not only when compared to its predecessor, Wunderlist, but also when compared to current alternatives from other companies. Google's note-taking and list-managing app, Keep, does a way better job delivering what it promises, and the popular Todoist app has controlled the market for a good reason.

Compared to Google Keep, Microsoft To-Do lacks many features, is less user-friendly, and the only advantage it has is that it looks better, which really depends on user taste. This is quite sad, because Microsoft products usually keep a good position when compared to Google's offerings.

Todoist, on the other hand, seems to have fewer advantages over To-Do, but there are some. Todoist is less practical, and the interface and its hoard of features feel overwhelming and result in poor navigation and user experience. The app is also less attractive than Microsoft's competitor. Its stability, however, has been excellent, and it hasn't crashed or hung up on me at all.

Conclusion

Microsoft To-Do is a good-looking but flawed app. The iOS variant is beyond underwhelming. The app crashes all the time, doesn't push reminders on time, and is generally unpleasant to us. And that's all very unfortunate ... and disappointing.

There are many better alternatives out there. One of them is Microsoft's Wunderlist, which To-Do is supposed to replace at some point in the near future. That does not sound like good news, because this successor to Wunderlist is far from delivering a consistently and good experience.

I say avoid To-Do and stick to Wunderlist for as long as you can, or at least until Microsoft makes some much-needed improvements.

You can find Microsoft To-Do for iOS on the App Store (opens in new tab).

Pros:

  • Attractive looks.
  • Fast and fluid.

Cons:

  • Extremely unstable.
  • Confusing navigation.
  • Lack of standard features.
  • Doesn't push reminders on time.

Dennis Bednarz is a former writer for Windows Central and the guy behind ModMy. He has been a recognised member of the Microsoft community for years and owns everything from Lumia phones to Surface PCs. He occasionally likes to rant about Windows Phone and drink tea. You can go ahead and follow him on Twitter at @DennisBednarz

36 Comments
  • what is this sorcery... something that works better for Win10 :P
  • The same with Office Lens. The best version is actually on W10M, iOS second and Android far far away. It's the worst of them all.
  • Haha. So glad to see it works better on our side. XD
  • Oddly, notifications is something Microsoft has always struggled to make work 100% reliably.  If could, Skype would be a much better product along with all their other tools. I have been using this on W10 mobile and desktop and it hasn't even synced to the phone.  So this should really have had a big BETA tag.
  • IT really is a beautiful app, but it lacks so many options. I am back using Wunderlist. 
  • This is a basic pim function and it took them so many years to come up with such results.
  • Todoist is the leader....its updating very regularly, the options are there for people to tailor it to their own workflow. So far as GTD methodology goes Todoist is the best. Microsft needs to get their cheque book out and buy Todoist.
  • This would be the worst thing that could happen. Microsoft is unwilling to cannibalize one of their own IPs in favor of something that is a better product.  They bought Accompli, Sunrise and Wunderlist and none of them got better while under Microsofts watch. As a matter of fact, they integrated it or slapped their name on it with less functionality and features than the existing platform had. I have to give them a solid D for their purchases. 
  • Its iOS, who cares?
  • iOS has over a billion actuve devices. 
  • And plenty of better to-do list apps.
  • Still don't care!
  • It's a bad idea to live in a bubble. 
  • Not liking and having no interest iOS isn't living in a bubble.
  • Not caring at all about an entire OS is kind of a tech bubble. Especially when that OS likely has more normal consumers than Windows. 
  • Not that i am surprised, but ... well ...
    The circle continues with MS
  • cuz we really need a review of a microsoft app for another platform
  • I tried saying this in another thread and got downvoted as if what I was saying was wrong. To me, unless you have NO expectations for a task manager or are completely overwhelmed by essentially any feature, THEN ToDo may be a decent option...and even then I'd say bad apps like Apple Reminders is STILL better which is absurd considering Microsoft is the productivity kings. 
  • I haven't had such issues with the app, works for me quite well. The issues I have are mostly related to features missing rather than crashing or instability. Actually I am glad finally there is a solution to sync Outlook tasks.
  • It was my understanding that To-Do was in preview, although it doesn't seem to say so on the store pages. Can anyone conform that it is officially out of preview?
  • Why can't I block this Dennis guy and his articles from showing up altogether? 😔 This app is obviously a PREVIEW. This is why Microsoft didn't retire Wunderlist yet... Isn't it clear? Btw, although it really lacks some fancy features, it's already a pretty good basic ToDo app, and rock stable on W10 and W10M. And that's all that matters to me. And the biggest bullcrap is this sentence: "Google's note-taking and list-managing app, Keep, does a way better job delivering what it promises". This app isn't even positioned as a Keep competitor. If you want want a Keep competitor from MS, take a look at OneNote 😂
  • It's in the store vying for mindshare now though. Folks take one look at this, realize it has no features and then never come back again. You can say, "this is why they didn't retire Wunderlist" but that doesn't excuse them. It's available, they're making blog posts and hyping it up. This isn't a good app. To me, they need a HUGE night and day update within the month. 
  • They constantly update and improve it every few days, at least on Windows 😊
  • I was a beta tester before it came out in preview, were you? Not asking in a judgmental way, just saying that it has come a long way. Yes, it doesn't have feature parity with wunderlist yet, but it's been a good app for me.
  • Here is my twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DennisBednarz Block me all you want.
  • The article title should be the companies motto under this regime.
  • Strange that it would run so bad on iOS, it works perfectly fine on Windows 10 and Android from my experience.
  • Oh my gosh, a still beta program is rough... If you can't handle testing and giving feedback then yes, do avoid. So far i have been happy as they improve it. I still use Wunderlist for the every day, but i have To-Do (which doesn't suffer the stability issues on W10) installed and run a few low priority projects on it to get the feel of it and provide feedback.
  • Okay someone please explain: They bought Wunderlist, all they had to do was put their name on it. Why a new app? Oh wait this is Microsoft...
  • Does the ios version differ from the win 10/m version? I thought they were the same and u can move todos around
  • It's a preview in everything but name. So far the only improvement over Wunderlist is sync with outlook tasks. Now if it could later sync Cortana reminders that would be great. I'd also like it to get the share integration with edge browser, I used to use Wunderlist to share websites between devices as syncing was pretty reliable.
  • Shouldn't this be on your partner site and not here at Windows Central? The Windows Phone version is very stable.
  • It may work better on Windows 10 but the UX is still terrible - it feels very unintuitive, with options that should be available with a right click only available from a primary click. It uses a non-native menu system for Windows 10 UWA design, and it wastes so. much. space. at the top of the app for a very limited number of colours and themes. Even on my Lumia 950 it feels like the app is scaled up about 50% more than it should be compared to the rest of the OS. The big problem for me is it doesn't support Office 365 education or business accounts, making it useless in work - which happens to be where I usually need a to-do list more often than at home. I look forward to seeing a huge feature and design update over summer for this as it begins to be an actual replacement for Wunderlist rather than a Garage side-project. I am hopeful though, it is a decent start for a 1.0 service, it's just Microsoft doing the usual thing of releasing a replacement for an existing service before it's ready to replace the original, making all the flaws and missing features stand out more than they otherwise would.    
  • It does support Office 365. Because it is still in preview the admin has to enable it on the Office 365 account though.
  • I find OneNote to be very useful. Yes, it can be used as a list or task manager, but I use it more for documenting.
  • I actually appreciate a ToDo list being simple and yes there does seem to be some missed opportunity and wasted space for now but since I have been using this app on first my Android phone and now my Windows desktop I find them to be synced together seamlessly and there have been improvements to the interface. As another wise person said in these posts this is a preview program so use it to provide feedback that can be useful to MS or don't. It is that simple. Things get complicated when there are people using this forum to call others names, insult other peoples intelligence and ability to make their own choices without having to explain them to a complete stranger who will never accept that explanation because the cycle of bullying would have to stop. First on the To Do list should be better moderation on these forums because I am tired of hearing mean people spew their thoughts here when they would do so much better with a therapist in private!