Good news/bad news time: List-making apps are a dime a dozen (glut, bad), but app developers have been trying to break the mold and create novel experiences for those of us who just love to make lists (innovation, good). Few, however, seem to nail it. The concept might push the envelope, but the interactive experience or core functionality is so poor the app is ultimately not worth using. The latest experimental failure worth investigating, but ultimately not using, is Well for iPhone (free). The twist? Well adds a social component, so that you can make lists that other people can see and adopt, or let people contribute items to your lists.
It’s not designed for task management, but more for “stuff to do,” like “Books to Read,” and “Ultimate Beer Lover’s List.” And while interesting to toy around with for a while, the Well app suffers from too many problems to actually be worth your while.
For starters, the oddly short and generic name makes the app hard to find—so let me help you out with a link to the Well iPhone app. As you first start using the app, you can “follow” other users at random, but if you want to look for people you know who might also be signed up, it’s a little trickier. Sure, there’s a button that lets you find people via Facebook and Twitter, but you have to go to a totally different section of the app (profile, then settings) to find yet a different button to actually authenticate with either or both of those sites.
An Explore button in the app’s primary navigation toolbar shows a selection of lists you might be interested in following, and in the week or so that I’ve used Well, I have yet to see anything new populate this section. The content is completely stale.
Let me take off my naysayer hat for a moment, though, and explain how the social aspect of the app actually does partially succeed. If I create a list of, say, “The Best Pizzas in New York City,” I can populate it with items and then choose to either mark it private or leave it open for others to suggest new items to add, pending my approval. Likewise, if I find a list that interests me, I can suggest new items for it. When someone’s contribution to a list is accepted, you can see his or her username beneath the new item, which means you can tell just by looking at the list whether others have collaborated on it.
Every list has a cover image, which you can change to be something from your iPhone’s camera or an image from Instagram, as the app hooks into that network to let you browse pictures to reuse.
Back to the problems: It’s difficult to figure out how to manage a list. You can’t reorder items once you add them. You can edit a list item, but it’s difficult to figure out how to do it. And as I mentioned with the example of connecting to Twitter and Facebook, some of the primary functions are quite simply buried beneath some menu and almost never where I expected them to be, and other functionality just doesn’t exist. Finding people to “follow” is a chore. The primary button names are befuddling. What’s the “news” button, exactly? Answer: Notification of specific activity, including “likes” and list-item approvals, not to be confused with the button called simple “activity.” Sigh.
If you’re interested in exploring more of these experimental list-making apps, check out another unsuitably named app called Carrot (99 cents, 2.5 stars), a task-management tool that gets angry at you when you’re lazy and don’t complete your to-dos, but rewards you by unlocking new features when you tick off tasks. Another one is the Clear app (99 cents, 2 stars), which has a lovely design and supports a wide range of interactive gestures, but isn’t set up to handle the very basic functionality of a list-making app (read my review via the link for details). The best list-making app for serious todo-ers based on my experience is Awesome Note (+Todo/Calendar) ($3.99, 4.5 stars), which has all the core features you’ll want, despite the fact that it doesn’t try to revolutionize list-making.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc