Touchdown For Android – Alternate View of Exchange Mail / Calendar / Contacts, Improved Tasks

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I’m going to show you an app for Android phones and tablets that is not for everybody – but a few of you will like it quite a lot, and it might give the rest of you something to think about.

The prerequisites:

EXCHANGE It’s increasingly common for small business employees to have an Exchange mailbox, either hosted online by Microsoft Online Services or running at the business on Small Business Server. This tip doesn’t apply if you have a Gmail account or a POP3 account from your ISP.

ANDROID Most people get Android smartphones in Sonoma County, since Verizon’s coverage is better than AT&T or Sprint up here. If you’re in another area, it’s likely to be a coin toss whether you have an iPhone or an Android phone. They’re both swell, they can both talk to Exchange. As it happens, this app is only available for Android phones for now.


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The most powerful tip I’ve written in the last couple of years was the suggestion to customize the Outlook task list and make it the center of your daily workflow. Michael Linenberger’s book Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook describes how to take the half-baked task list and give it real power. It takes some work and some studying to accomplish but the rewards are quite real. As I said before:

If you go through the first hundred pages of Total Workday Control with a copy of Outlook running nearby, reading and following instructions where necessary, you will have a system that tracks all of your tasks in Outlook, with complete confidence that nothing will be forgotten or overlooked; and you will have an empty Inbox every day.

Almost no one uses Outlook tasks. They’re not well designed until that kind of work is invested in them. That’s probably why Android phones ignore the Outlook task list. All Android devices are designed to sync mail and appointments with Exchange mailboxes, but tasks are nowhere to be found.

TouchDown is a twenty dollar Android app that duplicates the features built in the Android phone to sync mail, appointments and contacts. It has a nice unified main screen and the screens are attractive and well-designed.

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The selling point is that Touchdown includes full support for syncing Outlook tasks.  If you have followed Linenberger’s suggestions to customize your task list in Outlook, then Touchdown can be configured to match the Outlook setup. Linenberger lays out the steps here.

The result looks like the picture on the right. High priority tasks are on the top; medium priority in the middle. Tasks are sorted by date in descending order in each section. That might not sound important but it is the key to how my days are organized.

You can try Touchdown for 30 days free on your Android phone. Make sure you find the right choice in the Android market; and read the instructions, which have a slightly convoluted procedure to download the app and then separately purchase the license.

Take another look at the Linenberger tips and think about whether a well-organized, easily maintained to-do list would help you out. It can be done! I’m going to spend $19.99 on myself for Christmas. (It’s on my to-do list.)