AnyList, the mark of a great accessible Productivity List App.

There are hundreds upon thousands of ToDo list apps on the app store. Some of them developed by corporations and some of them are developed by just your random individual sitting somewhere who might have a better idea than the next person. The app I’m going to review here has been on top lists ever since its inception.

I’m focusing on AnyList for the iPhone. There is a web app, but I do not use it. This app holds a special place for me because it was the first app that I ever contacted the developers about and received feedback almost immediately as my suggestions were implemented. I don’t even remember how I came upon the app in the app store. I think I was just looking for something to make a grocery list that my wife Priscilla and I could share.

At first, the app was not very accessible but the changes that were needed to make it accessible appeared to be manageable. The first change I asked for was to have some sort of textual notification that items were crossed or not crossed off the list. This was a simple change and was implemented in the next update. It’s amazing how one little change such as hearing your screen reader voice-over say “crossed off,” while standing in the grocery store can make a world of difference. Other changes like button labeling were soon to follow and seemed to be intuitive after I had informed the developers that not all of the buttons were labeled properly. As you will see from subsequent posts, especially on iOS, the issue of button labeling is of paramount importance especially for those of us who read very quickly using our phones. If a button is not properly labeled, then it is simply a nuisance rather than something that can be utilized to move things forward.

The developers of AnyList caught onto the idea of textual indications wherever possible. Instead of having a little pencil that just was graphical, the words “edit notes” or something similar showed me where I could put in a comment about whatever item I was changing. It doesn’t have to be all 508/WCAG appropriate, it just needs to work.

There is a recipe and meal planner section of AnyList, but I do not use it so it will not be included in this review. However, Priscilla and I went on to create several dozen lists that we shared between us which ran the gamut from everyday grocery shopping to things we needed to pack in case of an emergency; that list was created in September 2013 when Boulder, Colorado was flooding. The app has a number of things going for it but here are some highlights:

  • shareable lists
  • ability to show or hide crossed off items with a button that is properly labeled
  • ability to edit items on the fly
  • ability to add items on the fly based also on previous search suggestions which appear below the edit box.
  • two-member developer team which responds to inquiries very quickly
  • very reasonably priced premium subscription which unlocks all features
  • skill now with Amazon Alexa so that things can be added wherever your Echo can hear you. I use this quite frequently and have it synced up to my shopping list.
  • The ability to design lists that have built-in categories or to simply give you a blank slate so you can design your own list with as little or as much complexity as you like.

You will notice from the unordered list above that not all of these relate specifically to accessibility. However, the fact that the app itself is extremely accessible makes it that much easier to use the features that I have written down. This should be the model app for anybody wishing to create their own type of to do list app. Judging from the continued popularity and integrations that AnyList has received, the visual appeal must be such that it is still extremely nice to look at and operate.

Until Next Time,
Dave