Software is a work in progress.
Just as you’ve mastered an application and found ways to work around its quirks, an upgrade fixes the problems.
Developers add new features; introducing new quirks and new workarounds. And just to complicate matters there are regular security updates and patches.
Desktop PC applications evolve at a breakneck speed but web-based applications change even faster. The main difference between the two types of software is that you can easily choose not to update a PC application you’ve fine-tuned to perfection; with web-based software you are force marched to the updated version. This is good.
One of my favourite productivity applications updated last night. When I launched Remember the Milk this morning it told me I was now looking at the Smart Add edition.
In simple terms, Remember the Milk is an on-line to-do list manager. That’s like describing Microsoft Excel as a calculator.
Smart Add allows you to enter new to-do list items in plain English. It works similar to the way you enter information on Google Calendar. But the software removes any doubts you may have about the exact meaning of your entries. This comes into its own when you use the program from a mobile device. There’s a full explanation of how Smart Add works at the Remember the Milk blog.
Because it is online, the software allows you to integrate your to-do list items with maps, pictures, digital calendars, personal information managers, mobile phones and just about everything else that’s web-enabled.
You also share lists with colleagues and slice or dice the information to meet your ever-changing needs.
The basic version of Australian-developed application remains free, but there’s now a US$25 pro version which comes with priority support and the ability to synch to mobile devices including the Apple iPhone and iPod touch, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices. You also get priority support – though I’ve only needed to contact support once in the three years or so I’ve used Remember the Milk – and I had the answer I needed within hours.
Remember the Milk now integrates with Gmail, Google Calendars and Twitter. You can also install an iGoogle Remember the Milk gadget if you use Google’s home page. There’s a list of official and third-party add-ons at the Remember the Milk site.