Minimalist task-tracking with BiteHippo
BiteHippo’s stated goal is to provide a simple, text-based to-do list. It does this with a no-frills interface which simply features a text area, a keyboard and some dedicated buttons for performing some of the app’s specific functions, most of which can also be performed using gestures.
Pulling down from the top of the screen creates a new item at the top. Adding a colon symbol to the end of a line turns that item into a section heading and puts it in bold print, with everything underneath then being indented slightly. Double tapping an existing items allows it to be edited, long-pressing allows it to be dragged and moved in the list, and swiping allows it to be marked as done. All of these functions are accessible from the button bar above the keyboard.
That is essentially everything BiteHippo does. There’s no online syncing, no collaborative task lists, no filtering or searching task lists by category, no due dates, no reminders, no integration with the iOS calendar and limited sharing facilities — a list can either by emailed or printed from the app. In this sense, it’s an ideal app for those who prefer to have hard copies of task lists — perhaps for sharing with other people. The simple, clear presentation of the lists that the app creates is ideal for printing on paper and ticking things off by hand, but it is perhaps less practical for use as an electronic to-do list.
One peculiar aspect of the app is the fact that it is iPad only. There does not appear to be any particular reason that the app only works on iPad, as there is a lot of unused white space on screen at all times, and the text-based to-do list approach would work just as well on the small screen of the iPhone as it does on iPad. The only possible explanation for this that I can think of is working on the large screen of the iPad allows printed to-do lists to look the same on paper as they do in the app, whereas composing on the smaller screen of the iPhone would either require the use of word-wrap to be legible, or a tiny font to accurately reflect the printed layout.
BiteHippo is a solid, if rather simplistic app, then, and as it’s free there’s certainly no risk to users who want to try out its minimalist approach and see if it works for them. In future updates, it would be nice to see iPhone support and the ability to have nested lists rather than the simple two-layer approach it has now. It would also perhaps be good to see some form of social or collaborative support, as this appears to be the fashionable new thing to include in productivity apps these days. As it stands, however, BiteHippo does a good job of fulfilling its stated purpose — just little more than that.
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