Today marks the launch of new desktop versions for windows and mac of the nozbe productivity app. This post is a fully independent review of version 1.00 of the mac desktop version, which I am running on os 10.7.3 (lion).
Nozbe is the brainchild of michael swilinski of apivision, whose website describes the software as a ‘web-based time- and project-management application for busy people and teams’.
Nozbe has been available as a browser-based app for five years. More recently, the company released apps for the ipad and the iphone. The desktop version can be downloaded for free from the nozbe website. It works faster than the browser version and lets you work offline.When you first open the desktop app, all you see is an inbox. As you enter tasks and specify their details, more icons (contexts, next actions, calendar) appear in the navigation pane on the left. This is very nicely done – it is as if the app grows organically to match your needs.
However, there is a limit to all this responsiveness. The desktop app does not let you create projects; this requires synching with the browser version.
You can sign up for a free nozbe account, but this restricts you to five projects and five contexts. If you want more, you will need to subscribe. The current rate for individual subscriptions is $9.95 per month, discounted to $89.95 prepaid per year.
If you are after an individual task management app, this is a hefty charge compared to the subscription fees of competitors such as toodledo, remember the mIlk or todoist. The fairest comparison is probably with toodledo, which offers a fully featured GTD compatible app for $14.95 (pro) or $29.95 (pro plus) per annum. The regular subscription costs also cancel out nozbe’s advantage over high-end desktop apps, such as omnifocus, which are expensive to buy ($79.99) but have no subscription fee.
If the price is not a dealbreaker for you, there is much to like in the nozbe app. It has an attractive user interface, is easy to use, provides solid integration with evernote and dropbox and is compatible with david allen’s getting things done™ (GTD™) approach.
The evernote integration is well executed and one of my favourite features of this app. Grant nozbe access to your evernote account, use the name of your nozbe project as a tag in evernote and all the notes tagged with that project name will show up in your nozbe project folder.
The nozbe web app is looking a bit cluttered at present but the developers advise that it is about to be overhauled. Given the swish look of the desktop app and the ipad version, this sounds promising. If you do not require multiple platforms, the ipad version is actually a viable way of avoiding nozbe’s subscription fees. It is an excellent app in its own right that sells for around $10 and has full functionality, including evernote and dropbox integration. It also lets you create more than five projects…
So how does nozbe stack up against omnifocus, which is still my gold standard for productivity apps?
On the positive side, nozbe looks prettier and is easier to master. A major positive is that it lets you allocate multiple contexts to a task. I also like how it adds up task durations within a project so you can see the total time estimate for the project.
Omnifocus still provides more options for managing tasks though: they can remain hidden until a future start date, they can have subtasks and you can specify whether tasks have to be completed in sequential order. There are also more options for repeating tasks. See my review of omnifocus for more detail. Another major strength of omnifocus (and the zendone beta – see my zendone review) is that the GTD’s crucial ‘review’ function is built into the workflow of these apps, whereas this dimension is absent from nozbe.
However, there is no denying that nozbe has developed into one of the leading GTD-compatible productivity apps. In my view, it shares that space with well-established apps such as omnifocus, things and toodledo and promising new contenders such as zendone and nirvana. If I were michael, I would be feeling rather proud right now. I would also reduce the nozbe subscription rate and go for greater market share.
The nozbe desktop app for mac at a glance:
- easy to use
- elegant user interface
- integration with evernote and dropbox
- strongly anchored in GTD approach
- need to link to browser version to create projects
- free account is restricted to five projects and five contexts
- subscription is expensive
- no embedded tasks