For years, one of the first applications I installed on any Windows Mobile PDA was Pocket Informant. This personal information management application offered far more features than you could get from the built in calendar, contact, and task applications. Pocket Informant makers WebIS have been offering a finger-friendly version of Pocket Informant for the iPhone and iPod Touch for a while, and I took it for a spin recently.
There are a few significant differences between the Windows Mobile and iPhone versions of Pocket Informant. The first and most noticeable is that Pocket Informant for the iPhone has been designed to be easy to use with your fingertip rather than a stylus. Instead of tapping and holding on tiny text, you can tap on a day in the calendar to bring up an Events view with larger text showing appointments coming up each day. Tap any appointment to see more details or edit it.
The second, and at least as important difference is that at $10, Pocket Informant for the iPhone is significantly cheaper than the $20 Windows Mobile version. There’s also a free version of Pocket Informant for the iPhone with a limited feature set.
This pricing makes sense since iPhone apps tend to be cheaper and $20 seems like a lot of money to pay for an iPhone app. There are also an awful lot of iPhone users out there, which could theoretically make it easier to make money by selling the software for less money.
The iPhone app doesn’t include a contact manager. But the calendar is at least as good as the version for Windows Mobile. One of my favorite aspects is that there’s a very usable week view. For some reason, most mobile calendars I’ve seen have decent day and month views. But when you switch to the week view, you see a bunch of lines letting you know when there are appointments instead of text telling you what those appointments are.
Pocket Informant divides the screen into 7 segments and lets you see what’s actually happening, today, tomorrow, and a week from today at a glance. I don’t know why this is such a revolutionary concept, but it’s almost worth paying $10 for this feature alone. But it’s the next one that gets me really excited.
Pocket Informant for the iPhone can synchronize your appointments with Google Calendar. If you have multiple Google calendars, you can select which ones you would like to sync, and Pocket Informant will synchronize just those calendars — using the same colors on your iPhone as you would get from the web interface.
This means you can make an appointment from any PC by visiting Google Calendar in your web browser and it will show up on your phone. Or vice versa. You can even use Google Calendar Sync to keep your Outlook, Google Calendar, and Pocket Informant calendars all synchronized.
The free version of Pocket Informant will let you synchronize your appointments with Google Calendar. But it will only synchronize 3 weeks of data at a time — this week, last week, and next week. If you want more complete data you’ll need to pony up $10.
The full version also lets you view mini-text in the month view. Having used the Windows Mobile version of Pocket Informant, I can tell you, there’s not a lot of room to display multiple appointments in month view no matter what you do. But if you just want to get a sense of what you have to do on each day of the month and not just see a block telling you that there’s some sort of appointment that day, this feature can come in handy.
I didn’t spend a lot of time using the task manager, because it doesn’t synchronize with my online task manager of choice — Remember the Milk. But it does sync your to do list with web-based task manager Toodledo if you enable the synchronization option.
You can set the task manager to use three different styles: Getting Things Done, Franklin Covey, or Toodledo.
Pocket Informant ($9.99) and Pocket Informant Lite (free) for the iPhone are available for download from the iTunes App Store.
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