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    Tinker is a simple, interesting task manager for iPhone


    Apple's App Store has no shortage of task managers. Poke around and you'll find options as involved or simplistic as you like. Last May, Tinker joined the fray (US$0.99), and I spent the last few days trying it out. It's a simple, nice-looking app that will appeal to those like a certain style of working. Here's my look at Tinker.

    Tinker is based on timed tasks. You won't find projects, actions, contexts or a detailed project history. Instead, Tinker lets you create per-task timers -- as many as you like. A timer can be used immediately or at a later date and time. Once your designated time arrives, the app pings to get started.

    Tinker iPhoneTo create a task, pinch-to-zoom. A circle appears, representing your task. There's a minimum amount of information to be entered: title, start date & time, and finally duration. Tap a task once to start the timer, and again to pause it. Or, use what could have been my favorite feature: cover-to-pause.

    Enable cover-to-pause in the settings and the app pauses the active timer(s) whenever the iPhone's proximity sensor is covered. So, simply flip your iPhone face-side down to pause, and turn it over again to resume. It's so easy and infinitely better than having to fiddle with buttons.

    Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work consistently. Sometimes the feature would function properly, and sometimes I'd lift my phone, wake up the display and find that the timer had continued counting. At first I though my case was interfering: maybe the gap it created between the table surface and my iPhone was enough to mess with cover-to-pause. However, removing it didn't fix the issue. That's a big bummer and hopefully something the team will address. It negates what should be the app's marquee feature.

    Why would you use a task manager that uses timers exclusively? I thought of the Pomodoro Technique right away. In a nutshell, Pomodoro has you alternate timed work periods with timed rest periods. You could easily set a timer for 25 minutes, work the whole while, and then take a five-minute break. It's also useful or exercising, writing, or ben taking a nap (as long as its modest end tone will rouse you!).

    The app has a dark theme which is nice, but I suspect some users would appreciate a brighter alternative (myself included).

    All in all, I like Tinker a lot, despite the cover-to-pause issue. It's simple and useful. Give it a whirl.

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