FCTasks by FranklinCovey

FranklinCovey is a giant in the organization/personal productivity arena. Do you remember the famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Before digital PDAs, I carried around the hardcopy Franklin binder system, following the A-B-C priority philosophy espoused by this book. Boy, have we come a long way from pencil and paper to floating electrons. I can remember writing and re-writing whole to-do lists from page to page, day after day, to keep abreast of a busy schedule. Now, swipe-of-finger and touch interface rule the day. When I saw FranklinCovey had produced an iPhone app, FCTasks, it was a no-brainer to want to get it, use it and review it. 

I’ll have to be frank up front, FCTasks is a mixed bag in my opinion… a disappointment actually.

Functionally, you can get things done with this app. At it’s core you simply list your to-dos or reminders. However, If you are new to the FranklinCovey way of personal workflow, this app may not be for you. It does not come with any on-board help features, nor are they laid out on the website. It assumes you already understand the methodology (i.e. A-B-C, 1-2-3 priority system, delegate/forward/completed/in-process etc.).  This should be no problem for followers, but if you’re not one, then you will have to either get it intuitively or be willing to expend the energy learning it via the book.

Some odd things:

- “Attachments” is a funny name for pictures. Normally, we think of attachments as documents attached to the task,
- The “Forward” button is inactive. Perhaps this is a feature for a future update?
- The “Sort” button performs the edit function; a different way of saying this from most other iPhone/Touch apps, 
- “Master List” seems weirdly titled as it only holds actions that are not time specific. Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it “Undated Actions?”

Aesthetically, the app is attractive. The color schemes are beautiful and coordinated. The design encourages you to work in the app and feel comfortable, undistracted. But, there’s really something missing, a feeling of incompleteness, unfinished business. I took a look at the FranklinCovey website. Pictures of other operating systems, of other software offerings for other mobiles boast of features like team, tasks, schedule, blogposts and goal tracking. Those phones and PDAs are able to synchronize to a desktop or laptop computer and/or the web. Yep! that’s it, that’s what’s missing in this app for the iPhone/Touch. There’s no comparable desktop and/or web-based application to synchronize with. Most of the major productivity apps today synchronize somewhere, extending your capabilities; especially when there’s large amounts of data that cry for a desk or laptop interface. 

Another questionable area for me is pricing. I hate to complain about AppStore pricing. I am personally willing (and have in the past) to pay more money for applications that are worthwhile, but this app seems overpriced at $5.99 in light of it’s competitors (In fact, a quick look at some of the comments in the App store express regrets for paying so much for so little). Perhaps this first attempt should have been priced as free, 99 cents or, at most, $1.99 as an introduction. Maybe this should be called FCTasks Lite. It really seems as if more is planned and more is needed for this application.

At the end of the day, personal productivity apps or organizers are decidedly a personal choice… like a good pair of jeans. Everyone has their own opinion about a good fit. I cannot commend this app for a hard core get-it-done person. I even hesitate if you are actively looking for an application because you don’t currently have one or are not happy with your existing system. The $5.99 price tag makes trying this on for size too expensive. I will give this application an above average for potential but a below average for usability. I have just come to expect more from personal productivity apps, especially from a noted name as FranklinCovey. Maybe this will change with an update.

UPDATE 3/2/09: As I was posting this review, I checked the website one more time to ensure the accuracy of my information. I cannot find FCTasks on the FranklinCovey website, nor any reference to the iPhone/Touch. It’s still for sale in the AppStore though. Curious!

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