Begin 1.5

It seems like only a short while ago that we launched Begin and here we are with a huge update to version 1.5.

Ok, we may suck a little bit at version numbering. Version 1.5 is a substantial update, free for all users, which brings:

  • The ability to edit to-dos by double tapping (finally).
  • Increased duration that uncompleted tasks stick around from 2 to 5 days.
  • We also added a nice little indicator for when there are uncompleted tasks to get your attention. It turns out we were forgetting too.

And the biggest feature of all, we've added an Extension to Begin which is an in-app purchase. The Extension adds:

  • Optional full screen mode, no more status bar.
  • Typefaces: some amazing options including the crowd pleasing Avenir.
  • Last Chance Reminder: for those of us that need the snooze button — you can now set two daily reminders.
  • The ability to badge the app icon with the remaining task count.
  • The option to disable reminders on the weekends — we all need a break.

Of course, users who have purchased the ‘Themes’ in-app purchase will automatically be upgraded to the Extension for free. When your phone updates to version 1.5 these features should all be ready to go for you.

Begin v1.5 is available in the App Store now. Go get it.

Freeing Begin

As of today we are announcing that Begin will be a free app going forward. We will still offer an in-app purchase to extend Begin. Right now users can purchase additional themes at $0.99 for the lot, but the app will be free for all to download and use.

Look for the 1.1 update (coming soon) to add another nice perk for those who have, and will, purchase the app extension.

Ben and I both love developing Begin, and our sincere hope is to continue to make Begin great for all users. At $0.99 for entry, we wouldn't have been able to keep Begin alive. I hope you can understand why we made this decision.

Thanks for your support!

Today, or Tomorrow, What About Next Week?

From the outset, Kyle's idea for Begin was to create an app that refreshed your to-do list each day. Providing a blank slate for to-dos on a daily basis. Thus mimicking the idea of using one flash card per day, containing all of your tasks on it.

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 Above is just what the first pass of the app looked like. A single listing of your to-dos for today — come tomorrow your to-dos would leave for a farm where there is plenty of grass to run free on. 

As you likely know, Begin does handle today and tomorrow, but that decision wasn't made lightly. 

It was made forcefully after we realized just how cumbersome it was to manage just the tasks for today with no option for tomorrow. The decision that needed to be made was whether or not we wanted our app to be limited by the same physical bounds as that flash card, or if we wanted to compliment the flash card idea and extend it through code.

To that point I volleyed this mockup back over to Kyle:

KyleR copy.png


My thinking was that most people are probably focusing on today, and many on tomorrow (especially as we get later into the day), with a few wondering about the next few days. So why not make today and tomorrow concrete items, and the future a bit fuzzy. 

Ultimately though this lead to a new challenge in the form of a lot of visual clutter, and how to define "a few days" in code. To some a few days may mean "always Friday", three days to others, and hopefully "never on the weekends" to most. It's not a concrete enough of an idea to commit to code without a deluge of options for each user.

It would make for a nice demo video, but it would lead to a horrible user experience. So we cut its head off — didn't even send it to the farm. 

This left Begin with a list for today, and a list for tomorrow. The simplified view was much easier to look at, and more importantly much easier to understand when you looked at the app for the first time.

Begin is today and tomorrow only because, anecdotally, it felt like the right balance between 'what people do on paper lists' and how we could extend that experience on a digital canvas. Of course we needed tomorrow in hindsight, but that wasn't as clear at the start. 

Anything beyond tomorrow though, even the tasks you think you need to do, get a bit fuzzy and that makes your whole to-do list system fuzzy. The goal of Begin was to take away as many fuzzy decisions as we could, to get the user back out of the app as fast as we got them into it so that work could be done.

More time doing and less time fiddling.


After about 25 hours of using the app, I lost a bunch of ideas for the app, that I was storing in the app. At the time we didn't have the uncompleted list finished. This became a bit of a priority, because it drove me nuts losing my tasks. 

We decided quickly against having uncompleted tasks pushed to tomorrow simply because we could potentially be moving forward items that you did, but just never got around to checking off. The question was: allow people to revive tasks they want to revive, or force them to swipe away tasks that they never got around the checking off the day before. The latter seemed less user friendly and more cumbersome overall to the app. 

We decided that Begin should think the best of its users and assume we are all very productive beings. To account for the fact that you may want to revive a task from the day before, uncompleted was added in, but uncompleted only stores your tasks for 48 hours. 

Begin assumes that if you don't get to those uncompleted items in 48 hours, well, perhaps it is done, or not going to be done (don't worry,  Begin only assumes the latter about your coworkers, not you). 

With Begin we didn't have to be as strict as paper, so adding a little user friendliness here and there is something that we tried to do only where and when it made sense.

Today, Tomorrow, but Never Next Week


Begin's goal has always been to break monotonous to-do lists (and sometimes mountainous to-dos) into small two day chunks. Focusing on today, but allotting for the fact that stuff will come up today that you will certainly want to push off for tomorrow. 

At the same time, you never are forced into using the tomorrow list and could only use Begin as your list for today, all with no extra work or penalty for using Begin for just today

This is part one in a series of posts on the decisions that lead us to Begin.

Begin, Here

The idea that managing your todo lists needs to be done with some over-wrought software seems silly. You already know how to do what you need to do, you already know what you need to do, you just perhaps would like a little help remembering what needs to be done today. 

We know we need some help with that.

We’ve found that a lot of people like to wake up and make their todo list for the day and that those people don't want to wake up and manage their list for the week, month, or year. 

Begin is made with this in mind. 

The idea behind Begin is pretty simple: fast todo entry for today and tomorrow. At the end of each day Begin takes your uncompleted todos from today and vanquishes them (don’t worry if so obliged you may resurrect them), and moves your todos from tomorrow list into the today list. Begin is designed to only manage two days at a time, so you don't have to worry about what may, or may not, need to be done days or weeks in advance. 

Gesture Driven

Begin is designed to be used one handed with as little tapping as possible. Instead focusing on swipes to give your thumbs a more forgiving, but equally fast, interface from which to interact with. This limits accidental actions as you move from one todo to the next. 

We are launching Begin at just $0.99 in the App Store for iOS 7 only. Complete with URL-x-callback support for power users and a light and dark theme* that can automatically change depending on the time of day for everyone. Begin is simple and effective, just how todos should be handled. 

Stop wasting time managing your todo manager, get Begin today.

Begin is available now on the App Store.

*Additional themes, including Solarized coloring, are available via in-app purchase at $0.99 for the lot.