I have a certain notoriety among friends because of my poor memory, which is particularly bad when it comes to to-do lists. It's so bad, in fact, that I've resorted to all sorts of mental and linguistic tricks. It's not uncommon to hear me leave the house muttering "monkeys, Ferrari, alien death ray" to help me remember to buy peanuts, park the car inside and make an appointment with the doctor.
Thankfully technology can help, and there are more to-do list apps for smartphones and tablets than you'd ever care to, um, list.
A simple and yet powerful app I've been impressed by is Any.DO, available free for iOS and Android. The app's core is a home screen that breaks your list of to-do items into sections for Today, Tomorrow, This Week and Later. Adding a new item is as easy as tapping on the + icon, which leads to a new screen where you can enter the task.
After you've typed whatever it is you need to remember, you can arrange a reminder notice. You can also share the information with a friend, either by allowing the app to integrate with Facebook or via an e-mail.
You can edit an item, mark it as important -- in which case it stands out in your list in red -- or file it in a folder labeled work, personal or a category you choose. You can even add subnotes to each task, handy for jotting down gift ideas if the main item is "remember to buy anniversary gift."
Tasks are marked as done with a simple swipe-right gesture, and tapping and holding an item lets you drag it to a new position in the list, even if that is later in the week. You can view the tasks by date order or by folder category.
For me this app's simplicity and tidy interface remove many of the barriers to using it regularly.
For a more comprehensive to-do app you may prefer Remember the Milk, which is also free on iOS and Android. This app is similar to Any.DO and offers many of the same functions in creating and sorting your tasks.
But it also lets you flag a location for each task, and you can list tasks by location, which is useful if you usually make reminders that begin "next time I'm in town. ..." You can assign degrees of importance to each task, from high to low, and this is shown as a colored flag so important items stand out. There's also the opportunity to set a repeating task.
Remember the Milk also syncs across your devices, though this requires signing up for a free account. There is a Web interface so you can see and edit tasks when away from your smartphone. The one thing I don't like is that sharing tasks with people seems a little complicated, and to get useful syncing between your smartphone and the Web you have to sign up for the Pro service, which is $25 a year.
The to-do app I like best is almost the opposite of these. It's Clear, $1 on iOS. What makes it great is that it's boiled down to the bare minimum of just a colored list of tasks and a gesture-based interface.
For example, you pull down on the list of items to create a new one at the top, or push apart two existing items to add one in between. A menu is brought up by squeezing your list "shut" on the screen, and you can then customize the app or create sublists for work, play and so on. It's no more complicated than that.
There are no alerts, and you type items directly into the box where they will appear on-screen, so there are no subpages, edit buttons or other distractions. If, like me, all you need is a simple digital tool to remind you of things you need to do, then this app is ideal, and it's a delight to use.
Orchestra To-do is another free iOS task-planning app that's worth testing because of its very simple interface. But its real strengths are syncing between devices, its Web app and its integration of a chat function, which is handy for maintaining joint lists with a partner. And Astrid, free on Android, provides a kind of digital assistant that lets you organize, subdivide and share elaborate task lists and collaborate with other people.
Try them all, and choose the best one for you. They're all better than relying on a fallible memory.
The Scout Plus app, an iOS GPS navigator app that has turn-by-turn voice commands and speech recognition, used to cost $25, but is now free on the App Store. ... The classic computer game Prince of Persia has a new lease on life as a $3 Android app. It's an official port by Ubisoft, and its great graphics and game play will take you back to yesteryear.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.