August 22, 2014

App Review: TouchDown by NitroDesk

Main task view

Main task view

On the one year anniversary of the release of their Exchange application TouchDown, NitroDesk remains the de facto choice when it comes to superior functionality, quality, and ease of use.  TouchDown is rife with a treasure trove of features that work across all areas of Outlook, it’s almost as if you were using the full-blown program itself.

Do you use SSL?  Do you use Exchange 2007, 2003 or ActivesSync?  Don’t know?  No worries.  Set-up with TouchDown can only be described in one way: Simple as pie.  Enter in your Outlook User ID, Domain name, password, and server address and the “Quick Configuration” will help detect the rest of the information that you need to get connected.  The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.

As you can see, the application has a very user friendly UI that is beautifully put together.  On the main screen you have options running down the left side to access the main areas of TouchDown.  Along the bottom you can see when the last update was performed, and occupying the main portion of the screen is a box that gives you an “at-a-glance” view of what outstanding items are contained in your mail, calendar, or tasks.

From the main screen of TouchDown, the menu button will bring up extra features that allow you manually refresh, run a diagnostic operation log, and to clear a queue of any items that are pending sending, etc.

The inbox is nicely laid out and provides you with the ability to mark multiple messages at once in order to perform standard actions such as: deleting, marking as read, and moving messages to another folder.  TouchDown also uses standardized icons that let you know if an item has an attachment, has been forwarded, replied to, etc.  A recently added feature (AND MUCH APPRECIATED!) is the ability to “Flag Items for Follow-up”.  Also you can flag a message from inside the message itself by clicking on the flag icon that shows up on the top left-hand side of the screen just beneath the subject line.

Another awesome feature of the inbox that has recently been added is the ability to filter messages.  This feature that is extremely helpful because you can filter by flag, conversation, importance, emails with attachments, unread, etc.  Basically we are talking about a lot of ways to organize. I don’t think that NitroDesk left anything out here, and I am sure you will find something that fits your needs.  If you filtering isn’t your thing, TouchDown also allows you to search through your inbox via the menu button or search icon in the top right of the screen.  The search is very robust and accurate.

Just like all great emails clients should do, TouchDown gives options for reply, replying to all, forwarding, marking as unread, and deleting all from within the message view.  You can also navigate from one message to the next within the message view using the forward and backward buttons provided on the bottom of the screen.  The phone back button will always take you back one level when in TouchDown.

The Calendar view works like a charm in TouchDown and provides you with all the views you could possibly want: one day, month view, seven day, and agenda.  TouchDown provides functionality for scheduling and inviting attendees to meetings straight from your phone as well as accepting/declining appointments.  Somewhat above and beyond other exchange apps that I have seen, TouchDown also allows you to mark the time on your calendar as busy, tentative, free, or out of office.

While using the seven day view or daily view, if you click on an appointment on your calendar it will bring up a brief description along the bottom of the application showing meeting time and location.  Long-pressing in the calendar view will allow you add new events, edit current events, or categorize events already shown.

Tasks within TouchDown are easy to use and go a long way in keeping you organized and on schedule for completion dates.  Features related to tasks include the ability to set reminders, priority levels, privacy levels, and to categorize tasks.  The main task screen will show you which tasks have been completed and which are still outstanding.  Also, outstanding tasks will show up on the main home screen of TouchDown.

Along the top of an open task, you have simple controls that allow you to cycle through tasks using forward and back arrows, change the status of a task by using the blue button, categorize the task view with the palette button, or to delete or add a new task.  Also, in the individual task view you can see a summary of the due dates, status, privacy, importance, etc.  Along the bottom, any notes will display that you have associated with the task.  One feature that would be nice to see in future updates (maybe it is already included and I just can’t find it) is the ability to delegate current tasks to other Outlook users.  It should be mentioned that you can also filter your tasks by clicking on the menu button and the choosing the filter option.  Filtering tasks is nice because you can easily find items overdue, or with looming due dates.

If you are a settings fiend and love to tweak your apps to bow to your desires then look no further.  TouchDown is packed full of them.  To begin with you have standard options such as font size selection, download size, message history, and selection between Push or Pulling email.

Also included in what I call the “Macro” options is the ability to:

  • Notify on successful polling or polling failure
  • Notify when new emails arrive
  • Enable/disable appointment reminders
  • Enable/disable HTML email (love this)
  • Don’t mark read on server
  • Update Contact changes to phone
  • Enable contact syncing with Google
  • MUCH MORE

The biggest win for TouchDown is that you can customize alerts and change the LED color for appointments, emails, and tasks.  If you find yourself in a lot of meetings,  you can use the LED as an indicator to know what kind of alert has taken place.  The last thing to mention about TouchDown is that it comes with three widgets that can be placed on your home screen – a calendar,  inbox, and a task widget.

WOW that was a lot to talk about, but hopefully you have a greater understanding of what TouchDown is capable of and why it remains one of the most downloaded exchange apps in the Android Market.  TouchDown’s simple user interface combined with feature rich components that operate across all areas of Outlook make it the most usable and manageable of all the exchange applications.

I urge you to go into the market and download the FREE 5-day fully functional trial that NitroDesk offers.  If you like it, buying a product license for it is a couple clicks away.  NitroDesk has also made it known that during their one year anniversary they are offering a reduced price on TouchDown of $9.99!  I have to say for all the functionality that the application packs, this is a complete steal since the standard price is $19.99. (still worth every penny at full price)

TouchDown by NitroDesk is one of those few applications that I can truly say deserves 5 droids out of 5 in all respects.  Download the trial today and see for yourself.