Life Balance for Android (with improvements)

Life Balance is a really neat dynamic ToDo list manager. Ideally, if used appropriately it can almost exactly suggest you what you need (and would enjoy) to do at any given moment in your life.

Like all near-perfect things it has a number of drawbacks though:

  • Rigid contexts. In Life Balance a task can be assigned only one context.
    In many cases it is sufficient and it makes up for a good deal of simplicity in the UI. However, two or three contexts per task would allow for some nifty new possibilities. Current workaround is to have all possible combinations of multi-dimensional contexts flattened into a large list of single-dimension contexts but that gets unmanageable very quickly.
  • No support for dependent tasks.
    The tree task structure with tasks and subtasks sets LB apart from the more traditional task list managers like Microsoft Outlook or Google Tasks. The subtasks feature even may be used as a surrogate dependent tasks feature. Still, when several tasks depend on a single task, it is annoying to see them all at the top of the To do list and be unable to get down at them directly.
  • No reminders.
    No big deal for the concept LB is built upon (to live a balanced life with no emergencies), but sometimes reminders are nice to have.
  • No location sensitivity support.
  • The only mobile platform LB is available for is iPhone.
    All other apps I care about are fine with the more ubiquitous Android (and quite a few of them are unavailable in the Apple ecosystem), so this is a major one.

Considering the last point I have looked around at what was available for Android.

The closest thing which could become a good starting point for the Life Balance Android implementation turned to be the open source Astrid, arguably the most popular to do list app for the platform. Soon after I started fiddling with Astrid, it went defunct and further development was picked up as a fork project named Tasks by Alex Baker.

Astrid/Tasks is very close to Life Balance, just a couple of features need to be tweaked:

  • A new tasks sorting function.
    Astrid has a few tasks sorting modes, but they are not especially clever.
  • Subtasks.
    Astrid have had a half-baked subtasks feature for ages, though it is not as elaborate as in LB, and needs to be refined.
  • Priority needs to be made continuous.
    Currently it is the standard 5-level priority selector (same as in Outlook), but for a really dynamic to do list it has to have much smaller granularity.
    Internally Life Balance has something like a 0-100 priority scale and it is called “Importance”. So the Tasks’ 5-button priority selector should be replaced by a slider.
  • Shortcut buttons, e.g. for tasks postponing

Seems like a trivial thing to undertake for someone familiar with Android mobile application development. For me it is going to be a bit of a journey. So the real challenge now is to decide whether I should work on the to do list manager refinements or give it up and proceed to getting the real stuff done and checked out from the conventional to do list I already have in my mobile.



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