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Daylite Touch for iPad brings project management to your fingertips

The folks at Marketcircle have released Daylite Touch for the iPad, which joins the iPhone and desktop versions to further extend the productivity solution across Apple's hardware. You can read this blog post from Marketcircle about the app.

Much more than a task tracker, Daylite offers complete project management for individuals and large companies alike. We've been beta testing the iPad app for a while now, and we are glad to share our experiences with you.

Please note that Daylite 3.13, also available today, is required to run Daylite Touch 1.6. Some other good news from Marketcircle is that they've changed the licensing structure. Now it's based on a per-user basis (instead of per device), as customers often use more than one iOS device.

Getting started


As we said, Daylite includes everything you want: projects and tasks, contact management, a calendar, leads (they call them "Opportunities") and more. You can use it as an individual, but its power becomes obvious when managing a team. The iPhone app added portability, allowing workers in the field to access information in a shared database via Daylite Server. Since changes made on the iPhone are synchronized in real time with the desktop version, remote workers and office-bound supervisors can stay on the same page. It works quite well. So why add the iPad?



Why iPad?

It could be argued that the iPad is less "portable" than the iPhone. I don't mean that it's more difficult to carry about. Instead, it's simpler to pull an iPhone from a pocket for quick reference as opposed to pulling the much-larger-than-a-pocket iPad (unless you've got one of these) from a bag or case. So why run Daylite on an iPad?

There are several reasons, and the first is room to breathe. The iPad's large screen presents much more information at once than the iPhone's smaller screen. For example, Daylite's home screen on the iPhone provides a color-coded list of upcoming tasks and appointments plus any pending notifications. That's great, but the iPad offers so much more.

Each task, appointment or notification is presented along with its full details. For example, a task that would simply read "Compile research documents" on the iPhone is enhanced with a due date, status (open, in progress, pending, etc.), related task(s), type (email, phone call, etc.), related contacts, associated businesses or projects and any reminders ... all at a glance. Best of all, I can edit any of that information right then. There's no need to navigate to a special edit screen; I simply tap the edit button, make my change and it's synchronized across all devices. All from the home page.

Likewise, creating a new appointment, meeting or task can be done from the home screen. Just tap the "+" in the upper left corner to get started. The iPad's larger keyboard makes it much easier to enter a lot of data than the iPhone's keyboard (unless you have the fingers of a newborn or are under 25).

Another benefit of Daylite on the iPad is what I call the "Here, look at this" factor. We all know how annoying it is to hover around a computer screen. It's even worse on an iPhone. Now, you can easily hand an iPad to a colleague during a meeting and say, "Here's what I have for [Project X]. What do you think?"*

Finally, this isn't a web portal or some flimsy front-end. Daylite Touch for iPad is a complete, stand-alone native app that's just as speedy and crisp as you'd expect, with support for fast-app switching under iOS 4.2. Those who've been using Daylite Touch for iPhone will find it immediately familiar. That said, let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

Objectives

Unlike Daylite for Mac, Daylite Touch for iPad bundles Projects and Opportunities together. The difference is this: Projects are up and running. Opportunities are leads that you'd like to turn into active projects. For now, let's look at Projects.

In the screenshot at right, I've created a demo project. Specifically, getting my dog, Batgirl, enrolled in training classes.** To get started, create the Project and give it a name. Next, you'll describe the overall objective (what "Done" will look like), select a due date and priority. Then you can choose a category (these can be customized with Daylite for Mac) and add any keywords.

Next is the Pipeline. Use it to track your project's progress from start to finish. There are several "pipeline templates" to choose from, like Marketing Campaign, Design, etc. Again, these can be customized with Daylite for Mac. Selecting Design, for example, will produce options like Concept Planning, 1st Draft, Revisions, etc. Pipelines are a great way to keep a team focused and on task.

From there, delegate project oversight to any one of your Daylite contacts and even add a custom field. Again, the iPad's large on-screen keyboard makes it much less painful to create an involved project than it is on the iPhone. Once that's done, you begin creating tasks (Get immunization records, schedule appointment, buy training treats, etc.) and "link" them to the project. Notes can be added (show up 5 minutes early on the first day), and the project itself can be linked to a given person or business. Once several projects have been completed, they can be sorted in a list by due date, priority or customizable categories.

Opportunities

The process of creating an Opportunity is much the same as with an Objective, though the purpose is quite different. The purpose is to put a "stake in the ground" in order to keep that lead in in your mind. Again, the iPad's large display allows for nice, full-sized fields that are easy to read, tap and fill. Plus that omnipresent Edit button is always available, so you can edit anything you like at any time.

Contacts

Ah, that dual-pane iPad view. On Daylite for iPad, People and Organizations are grouped the way Projects and Opportunities are. On the left, you see a scrollable and searchable list of all of your contacts, complete with their related business (where applicable) and customizable, color-coded dots.

Daylite for iPad adds the second pane on the right where additional and extremely useful data is displayed. Select any contact to see his/her company and category, as well as that record's creation date and author. You can also see when it was last modified, which can be handy when trying to ensure that data is current.

Below that you'll find the Activity section. This lists any notes tied to that person, as well as tasks assigned to him or her, appointments or projects she/he's on. Again, the iPhone version doesn't offer all of this data at a glance. Best of all, it syncs with Apple's Address Book, so you needn't enter information twice.

Calendar

The calendar looks great on Daylite and syncs with iCal. It offers a daily, weekly and monthly view. I like the daily view the best. With a scrollable list of that day's activities on the left, tap any one of them to reveal the full details on the right. Are you sensing a theme? You should be, and that's because it works -- overview on the left, details on the right.

A super cool way to add an event is to tap and drag with two fingers, right on the calendar itself. Touch the start time on the designated day and drag down to the end time. You'll see your event appear on the calendar, and when you release, you'll be presented with the edit screen. Very cool.

Tasks

Finally, the tasks screen offers a nice overview of what's got to be done and by whom. With just a few taps, you can see what's due and who's responsible. Sort by category or location (GTD nerds will say "context"). The "Delegated" section will appeal to managers looking for a weekly review of who owes him/her what. So mind your P's and Q's.

Conclusion

Daylite for the Mac comes with a learning curve. It tracks a lot of information, and there are so many ways to get at what you need that it's easy to get lost. Initially I'd sit and wonder, "Now where is that again?" I've got it now, but it took some doing.

In many ways, the iOS version eliminates that. I tap tasks, and there are my tasks. I tap projects, and there are my projects. It's just as powerful as Daylite for Mac, but the UI feels more focused. While it's quite similar in design to its counterpart on the iPhone (that's a good thing; training time for iPhone users will be nill), the team took advantage of the iPad's large display in seriously wonderful ways. Never has Daylite provided so much useful information at a glace, in a manner that's highly legible, clear and concise.

If you're after extremely powerful and portable task management for the iPad, look to Daylite Touch. It's clearly the professional's choice. Daylite Touch for iPad is available now for US$49 per user per year.


*Don't go on about "You're just going to hand your iPad over?" I'm talking about a co-worker in a business setting, not some yahoo at Starbucks. You trust those people -- at least while in the confines of the boardroom --- right?

**Yes, I use Daylite for more business-focused tasks as well, but you don't need to be seeing that info, right?

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