iPhone Life magazine

Sooner Review - Manage your time with a thumb-swipe!

Apps that help organize your life are a dime a dozen, and while many are effective, it's hard to find one that brings together all the right features. Sooner does a good job of unifying time management needs into one handy interface, but you actually have to spend some of your precious time organizing activities, listing goals, and then setting some deadlines and reminders to achieve them. There are likely a hundred different ways (and apps) to achieve time management nirvana, but if you take the time to set it up, Sooner does it with singular aplomb!

 

Time is a wheel. Like the hands of a clock, each day a carousel of time-space into which we are constantly trying to squeeze more crap into our routine. So it is fitting that Sooner attempts to address this requirement by utilizing a wheel-like structure.
The main app interface is dominated by a large rotating disc, letting you slice up your interests into categories, and similarly slice up your schedule accordingly. The rotating disk turns smoothly with just a thumb gesture, allowing you to quickly define/navigate your activities.
Once you have your main category areas outlined, and a list of tasks (really lists could be anything--notes, item list, todo, whatever), you can quickly set related events into your calendar with reminders for these events. iOS Calendar integration is also functional (requires you to allow it), which will let you view all your coming deadline reminders in the native app. You can also set up calendar syncing as well.
The novel wheel interface in Sooner is effective and screen efficient, but also attractive. Sooner includes really outstanding tutorials to get you familiar with the interface. After building categories, you can then select from them and create new list items by simply dragging the fingetip-sized "+" widget up in the list view.
You can select a deadline and reminder for the item, after which it will appear in the daily wheel view accordingly. You can then adjust the time of an event-driven item by simply holding the item down, and then moving around the wheel. The hour scale of the wheel can be expanded by tapping it. You can also create ad-hoc appointment items in the daily view (though they will not be assigned any color, or grouped into your categories).
So, you might ask why you wouldn't simply rely on the built in Reminders/Calandar apps in iOS to do all this? You could, of course, but the benefit of an app like Sooner is that it provides a visual overview of not only your interests, and activities, but also an easy one-handed way to manipulate them.
The color-coding can be used to great effect, provided that you select colors that are meaningful. For example, if you select the color red for your most import category of tasks, those items are going to stand out clearly in the daily/weekly wheel view. You can also quickly drill into a category and (with a swipe), check an item off the list, for example, which then drops it (appears greyed-out) and suspends related reminders.
Sooner is not without a few minor issues. It crashed at least once on my iPod touch, and though the interface is one-hand friendly, a soft button placement caused an annoyance--trying to select the Friday wheel item often resulted in the settings being opened. After adding ad-hoc reminders, you cannot later define them as tasks in your category groups, and it doesn't integrate with the iOS Reminders app at all. It is also an iPhone-centric app, meaning it would probably not be optimal to run on iPad. The app worked well on my iPod touch. I definitely recommend it if you have been looking for an attractive iPhone app to track activities, and not getting enough mileage out of the internal iOS apps. You can grab it here on the App store.
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Nate Adcock's picture

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.drupalgardens.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.