Personal Information Management (PIM) apps are the Swiss Army knives of mobile devices. Full featured PIMs assist in managing Calendar events, Tasks, Contacts, and notes in a single application. Extreme Agenda by Birdsoft is a full featured PIM application that competes with the likes of other popular apps such as Pocket Informant, Calengoo, SaiSuke Calendar, and other full featured calendar apps for iOS devices.
Extreme Agenda’s strength is calendar management. Several views are offered: Year, Month, Week, Day, and Agenda. Extreme Agenda uses the native iOS calendar database so all of your iCloud, Google, Exchange calendars are available and synced by the application. As is the case with most calendar applications, you can easily include or remove calendars from any view within the application. I personally spend most of my time on the month view which usually provides me a quick view of the entire month.
New events can be added to a calendar either by clicking the always available "+" icon on the upper right hand corner of the screen or by a press-and-hold on the day/date that the event should be added. The press-and-hold will generate a dynamic pop-up submenu giving options to add an event, task or favorite. The availability of what can be added is dependant on what view you are currently in. For example, you add a task in the month view by selecting a day, but cannot do so by performing the same action when in the Today view. I found this inconsistency of selection choices frustrating at times.
Extreme Agenda uses a customized new event screen which allows for the usual data points needed for event entry. There are several tools that assist in quickly entering informaiton that is repeatable or used frequently. First, there are templates, which are pre-saved events that can be used to quickly fill in information for a new event and can be used many times as needed. Set up correctly, templates can really speed up new event entry. For example, I have a generic template set up for each of the doctors I visit regularly and saves me the effort of entering the same information each time I have a doctor appointment. All I need to do is use the template and update the time and date. Another entry tool is predefined text phrases such as "Call with ***", "Meeting with ***", which are available for subject field, and "Home" or "office" for location field. Each list screen provides the ability to add or remove the standard text phrases that are available when entering a new event. I should also mention that Extreme Agenda has one of the most extensive repeatable event selection criteria of any calendar/PIM app I have used. One screen shot alone does not show all the available options, which are shown specific to the day/date that you are currently on. This is a definate plus for entering events that re-occur over time. One feature that is lacking is the ability to add contacts to an event (as an invitee) and have the request emailed. I know that the functionality is available in the standard UI Apple provides for calendar entries, so maybe the developers of the app will implement this feature in future updates.
Application Navigation and Controls
Navigation is facilitated by horizontal gesture swipes to move the active calendar view forward and backwards. Buttons to return to the current date, settings, and category filters are available on the top menu bar. The bottom menu area is customizable by going to the "More" tab and clicking the Edit button. A configuration screen is displayed which allows drag and drop of functions to and from the bottom bar, similar in functionality to the stock Apple music app. The customization settings also allow you to forgo the tabbed UI and go with a grid style function selection screen. In this mode, Extreme Agenda displays a smaller menu bar at the bottom of each screen with various functions and a grid icon to return back to the menu selection screen. The application also has a global setting to allow integration with TextExpander, a data entry utility that allows shortcuts to be used for longer and more complex information input.
Agenda Extreme offers a rather vanilla approach to listing contacts. What I found rather odd is that the only way to add a contact to an event is from the contact screen. Even then the only field I could add a contact to was the subject of the event (as I mentioned, there is no invitees field when entering a new event). When you select a contact in the contact tab, a pop up window is displayed with the contact information which can activate a call, SMS, new email, or opens a Safari web page depending on the information type.
Tasks and Lists
Extreme Agenda also provides in-application managment of tasks and Lists. Tasks are simple "check the box" type items. At the current time, tasks are internal to the application and are do not leverage the iOS API's to access the native reminders database, a feature that will hopefully be implemented in a future update. Lists however, are a bit more flexibile than Tasks and allow for things like grocery shopping lists where an items can be added as well as the price can be added. As you add items and their prices, the totals are automatically summed. Another nice feature is the ability to share your list with other people using Bump technology (Bluetooth transfer) by touching phones (ala Samsung Galaxy SIII). Lists can be shared with others who use Jot List, a dedicated list application also available from Birdsoft. I did not test the functionality, but I have used Bump before with other iPhone users and the technology works as advertised.
Notes are free form text stored within the application. Like Tasks, they are also not linked to the native iOS counterpart. Also, I was not able to link notes stored in the application with new events. The new event field for notes did not link to the application notes database and only presented the option to enter free form text. It would be nice if a future update allowed for either free form text entry or option to select a note from a list. The notes function does allow for sending a particular note in the body of an email and as an text attachment.
Extreme Agenda is a powerful PIM app for iOS. It offers one stop shopping for PIM management. However, there are a few things that keep it from being my primary calendar app. At times the application felt disjointed and not fully integrated across the various functions of the application. The UI of the app for the most part is clean but there are spatterings of small touch points and over use of sub-popups which are a bit inefficient and frustrating to use at times (i.e. little 'x' to close a pop-up window, ellipses ("...") that activate sub-menu popups in contacts, etc.). I would have also appreciated some customization of font sizes in the calendar month view. I found the standard font used a bit on the small side. I would have to say that the closest competitor to Extreme Agenda is WebIS PocketInformant, another all-in-one PIM solution. In terms of features, PI offers a quite a bit more in terms of in-app integrations (modules that work and share information together), as well as integration with iOS reminders for tasks (a big feature add for me). While Extreme Agenda has lots of UI and feature customizations, PI offers a bit more in terms of customizations and the overall UI feels a bit more polished than Extreme Agenda. However, that being said, Extreme Agenda is no slouch and is an all-in-one solution that I would recommend to anyone that doesn't mind the issues that I have outlined in this review.
Extreme Agenda - $9.99 (Universal)
Technology is moving at the speed of light. Well, maybe at the speed of business. Moments after my manager's approval via the company procurement system, I received instructions and authentifcation information to install and use the Good Client software for iOS.
Installation was quick and easy. I downloaded the client app from the iTunes app store (link). On first launching, the application asked me for my login information and the private key sent to me via email. Before I knew it all of my corporate Exchange emails, contacts, and calendar events were synced to my device. In all, it took less than a five minutes to get all of the information on to my device. At the current time, Good limits the number of emails downloadable to the device at 1,400.
The Good application supports push notifications and application badges, but has very limited notification and lock screen support. This means that you will get a notification that a new email has arrived or calendar event is due to occur, but unlike the native email or calendar, the information details contained in each are not visible via banners, alerts, or lock screen notifications. In addition, it is important to note that all PIM information as well as email is contained within the application. There is no integration with the standard iOS contacts, calendar and email functions. Good does provide an option for IT admins to allow contact sharing from the device to the Good app, but that feature has been turned off by my company's IT admin. Information security policies make it evidently clear as to why many organizations are implementing this type of "walled garden" of corporate data. On a personal level, I actually prefer this implementation as I like to keep my corporate separate from my personal information.
When you open the Good app, you are presented with a password screen (if your session has timed out), and a typical iOS-type bottom action menu consisting of Mail, Day (agenda), Contacts, Month view, and preferences.
The full complement of event management features are offered such as accepting/declining meeting requests and creating meetings with invitees. Adding invitees supports corporate Exchange server searching as well as determining availability so adding people that are not on the local database is not an issue.
Email attachents are also viewable within the application using a built-in document viewer. The document viewer can handle standard office documents (Excel, Powerpoint, Word), text files, as well as PDFs.
The preferences section is pretty extensive allowing for:
Bye Bye Blackberry.
Update: As of Feb 2013, Good has still not updated the application to take advantage of the iPhone 5 screen!
As an avid tech fan I look forward to sharing my tech experiences both personally and professionally with those that have similar interests and passion for technology.