How Can I Make the iPhone a Decent Personal Information Manager?

in iPhone edited January 2014
I bought a 3g iPhone to replace my 2+ year old Palm 700P. I really like some things about the iPhone, but find it sorely missing in a couple of key areas.

I've been using Palm OS devices since they started, which was March 1996, a Pilot 5000. Back then it was simply a handheld device with four capabilities: Contacts, Calendar, To Do lists/tasks, and Memos/notes. You could search for a word, and it would search across these four applications. It would also do a great job syncing this data between your handheld and your desktop. Some of the more memorable Palm OS devices I've had were the first wireless Palm VII (1999) and my first combined Phone/Palm OS/data device, the Treo 300 ( 2002). All these devices had the four key personal information manager (PIM) parts: contacts, calendar, tasks, memos. From the Treo 300 on, I no longer had to carry a stand alone PIM Handheld along with my mobile phone, because I had phone and internet capability along with the PIM capability in one device.

Now that I bought the 3g iPhone, and have been using it a while, I realize how important those basic PIM apps are to me. The iPhone has calendars and contacts covered pretty well. But, there is no way to do a search, other than the most basic search for names in contacts, and not at all in calendars. Example: I want to find people in my contacts who are working the XYZ project. Palm OS: pull up search, type in 'XYZ,' and all contacts with this keyword (along with all tasks, calendar events and memos) will show up, quickly and easily.

Tasks? Completely missing

Notes? Very basic capability on the handheld (no folders, no search), and from what I can see, doesn't sync to desktop.

So, my question is, "What do you use to fill in this gap?" I'm willing to wait a while for Apple or third party apps to bring this basic capability, but it's hard taking this much of a step backward with the iPhone in the PIM area. This is all I've been able to do so far:

- No To Do/Tasks capability. I bought Todo by Appigo. I like most things about this program, including the capability to sync with some web based programs (for your desktop). I use Toodledo for this. I found that the syncing doesn't always work though.

- Poor Notes capability: Bought FileMagnet from Magnetism Studios. This allowed me to capture my existing notes from the Treo and put them on the iPhone. However, you cannot edit these documents on the iPhone, and of course no syncing (one way only, desktop to handheld). And again, no search.

The biggest 'miss' for me with the iPhone is not having a Spotlight-like search capability. On average, I would estimate I used the global search capability on my Treo 4 or 5 times a day. Yes, I've tried the free Google search app. Doesn't do it.

What do you use for Tasks and Memos?


  • Reply 1 of 6
    Well, you could always buy a program like Tap Forms, which is a personal information manager application for the iPhone.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    sc_marktsc_markt Posts: 1,395member
    This doesn't have much to do with your wish to make the iPhone a decent PIM. But I think it would be very useful if you could attach a keyboard and mouse to your iPhone. I also think it would be useful if you could view your iPhone screen on a computer screen while using a keyboard and mouse attached to it. It would be like a true portable computer.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    akacakac Posts: 511member
    Take a look at

    No notes (yet - we have it in the WM version), but Search is there.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Here's a review of an upcoming version of Tap Forms on in case you wanted to see a bit of what it was like. Although the review focuses more on the included forms than actually how it works to add data to the PIM.

    I guess a hardware keyboard would be pretty good too, but then it would probably have to be built-in to the iPhone. I wouldn't want to have to carry around an external keyboard. The G1 phone is good for that. But it's no iPhone. I like the simplicity of the iPhone. With decent import & export, then having a built-in physical keyboard isn't as necessary. The next release of Tap Forms will have import & export.


  • Reply 5 of 6
    f1turbof1turbo Posts: 252member
    Thanks for the inputs, brendand and Akac. I'll give Tap Forms a look, and PocketInformant when it comes out. I also use Splash ID as a password manager, and it looks like Tap Forms will do a lot of that too. I still find the lack of search, especially with notes, to be my biggest issue with the iPhone. I think ToDo by Appigo is a great app, with ease of syncing to an online account (now works reliably for me) being a nice plus, and the search isn't quite as big of a deal with To Do lists as it is with address book and notes.

    Looks like PocketInformant may be trying to do too much with one app. I do plan on sticking with Apple Address Book and iCal, although if it can do a true seamless integration, that may not be an issue.

    sc_markt--I'd like to see some add ons like that too, especially an easily portable keyboard.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    akacakac Posts: 511member
    Originally Posted by F1Turbo View Post

    Looks like PocketInformant may be trying to do too much with one app. I do plan on sticking with Apple Address Book and iCal, although if it can do a true seamless integration, that may not be an issue.

    I don't think so - we've been doing for eight years you know. On Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. Its not unlike iCal having both Tasks and Calendar. Or Entourage having Contacts, Tasks, Calendar.

    The fact is that if they are all separate pieces -sure its not a great design. But when they work together - tasks showing up on the calendar on the dates they are due for or in progress for example, or creating a project of appointments and tasks - that's when the integration works really well.

    What we do, we do really well. Its not like we're putting everything in but the kitchen sink and being mediocre about it. Our Calendar and our tasks are - bar none - the best you can get on mobile platforms today. And on the iPhone we're not simply taking our design from BB and WM and plopping it onto an iPhone interface. Its being designed from scratch for iPhone usage to be really really optimized. As an example, we removed Contacts from PI on the iPhone because as of right now we can't really improve its usability. We can make it nicer looking, Coverflow, etc..., but real world usage isn't going to be better. So we took that out. That leaves Calendar, Tasks, and Search: three pieces that work together beautifully.
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