What’s next for Microsoft Sticky Notes?

The desktop version of Windows has included Sticky Notes for a while; the Tablet PC edition of Windows XP included a Sticky Notes application, Vista included a Sticky Notes gadget, and then Windows 7 introduced the Sticky Notes app that most people are familiar with. This version was also included with Windows 8, 8.1 and the first version of Windows 10.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update featured a number of improvements with the Windows Ink Workspace. One of the new features included was an updated Sticky Notes app, now rebuilt for the Windows Store and upgraded with ink and some basic integration with Cortana and Bing.

It’s worth mentioning that some users of the original Windows 10 Sticky Notes may have been a bit grumpy as the new app didn’t migrate notes properly. It also uses different fonts and generally behaves differently to the previous version. Overall, this upgrade wasn’t completely welcome to existing users and therefore the app store ratings are fairly low (1.8 out of 5 at time of writing).

sticky

I used the original Sticky Notes occasionally, but after the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it became a bit of a curiosity of mine and I’ve been wondering what future it has in store for this kind of short term digital note taking.

Right now, the features are as follows:

  • Create Sticky Notes – A simple and smart design that makes capturing all your notes – small and big – easy, quick and fun.
  • One click access – Access your Sticky Notes with just a click of your Surface Pen to bring up the Windows 10 Ink Workspace.
  • Type or write, the choice is yours – Use your Surface Pen with Sticky Notes to capture your ideas in your very own handwriting or if you prefer to type, tap away.
  • Create Cortana Reminders – Never forget a note again with Cortana. Simply jot down a time or date with your note and it will be highlighted. You can then tap on it to create a Cortana reminder.
  • Added intelligence – Get to where you need to go with one click. Sticky Notes detects addresses, emails and cell numbers so all you have to do is tap the highlighted text to open Maps, Mail or Skype.
  • Track your flights & stocks – Keep an eye on an upcoming flight or stock option by typing a flight No. or stock ticker with ‘$’ at the front. Bing then delivers the information you need to your note.

Something new is coming…

Recently, the development of the Sticky Notes application has moved into a new Notes team over at Microsoft. According to the Microsoft Careers website, the Notes Team has been founded by some of the creators of OneNote and Wunderlist, and they are working on a new service to power new mobile apps and a web experience.

The Notes team also seems to be on GitHub, which makes me wonder if they’ll be open sourcing any of their next generation app.

By the sounds of it, their focus is on short-term note taking. I’m thinking this is just a continuation of Sticky Notes up in to the cloud and mobile devices.

Hopefully, this new Sticky Notes will bring some of the following features I’d be interested in seeing:

  • Synchronisation across machines
  • Mobile apps (including Windows 10 Mobile)
  • Move a note into OneNote or Wunderlist
  • Integration with other upcoming productivity offerings

As well as a next generation of Sticky Notes, I’d be interested to how it all fits together with Microsoft’s next generation to-do app (Project Cheshire?) and their upcoming universal clipboard / collection app (Cache?).

Keep in mind all of this is yet-unreleased and speculative. I get the feeling that Microsoft is trying a lot of different things in an effort re-enforce their desire to be known as the productivity company.

Wunderlist

I had been looking at a replacement for Outlook tasks for the longest time. Since Windows Phone 7 came out, Microsoft’s mobile offerings for Outlook tasks have been… sub-optimal.

I had heard of Wunderlist through sites like Lifehacker and The Verge, and in 2014 6Wunderkinder released a new real-time sync engine as well as new beta versions for Windows Phone and Windows 8. I thought it was about time I switched from Outlook, so I gave it a shot.

A year later and I’m still using it every day.

Wunderlist is intuitive and easy to use. The free version does more than other apps, and it’s totally cross platform with first-class apps for Apple’s platforms (including Watch), Android, Windows and the web. It features recurring to-dos, subtasks, reminders, due dates, multiple lists and folders to organise them. Smart views let me order the to-dos by today or this week. This is where I spend most of my time when actually doing things. I like working through to-dos in due-date order, across all of the lists.

The latest new feature was a Wunderlist API. Integration with Slack and Sunrise has been useful, but I’m still waiting on integration with Outlook (coming soon) and IFTTT.

wunderlist-ui

Now Wunderlist is part of my Action Management System and vital to how I get stuff done. Here’s how I have it set up.

Inbox

The Inbox is where I collect any of my to-dos as I record them. I try to keep my inbox fairly minimal, so I regularly review it. I often put links or other small reminders to myself in here and check them off without ever organising them into folders. The way I use inbox is in a similar way to my email: it’s a great collection point, but it should be regularly emptied – either by doing the to-do, or organising it into one of my folders.

Actions

Anything that takes longer than a couple of minutes goes from the Inbox and into here. Pretty much anything goes, as long as doesn’t fit into any of my other lists. I regularly review this list to add due dates or subtasks.

Habits

Daily, weekly, and monthly habits are stored here. All of these to-dos are recurring, so as soon as I check them off they return for the next date. For example, every week I review my finances and every month I review my projects list. These will appear on my weekly smart list as they need to be addressed.

Wishes

There are often things I am thinking about doing or getting which are either just ideas or not feasible right now. This is where my wish list comes in. Putting items in here gets them off my mind into a place where I can review regularly.

Waiting

This list keeps track of any items I’m waiting for including Kickstarter projects, deliveries, book and music release dates and other things like that. I also use list to keep track of things that I am waiting on from people too, including items loaned to friends.

Projects, Objectives and anything else

All of the above to-do lists are actually inside a folder marked ‘Personal’. As well as this folder, I also have a folder called ‘Projects’ which contains number of to-do lists for projects I am working on – and these come and go depending on what’s happening in my life. In fact, some of these lists may even be shared with other people.

Currently I also have an ‘Objectives’ folder which is keeping track of a some bigger picture things I want to achieve, but this is not permanent. I like to keep things flexible inside Wunderlist, and creating ad hoc lists and folders makes it easy for me to do so. I always review my to-do lists once a week a week anyway.