Asana Brings Hardcore Task Management With Lightweight Feel To Redesigned iOS App

Asana, the high-profile productivity startup that’s trying to redesign the workplace around tasks (instead of email), has a new iOS app out. It’s worth a closer look, even if you really love email. The biggest improvement today is a native task creation and editing interface, that includes features you’ll find on the web version: adding due dates, recurring tasks, adding task followers and tags, and creating and editing notes.

The previous big mobile update, from the end of 2011, looked good but didn’t let you do much. It had a multi-pane design that you’d swipe left and right to navigate through. This new version, built from the ground-up, has moved navigation to a top menu bar, which makes sense from a user experience point of view. If Asana has felt threatened by the range of very simple mobile-first task apps launching these days, this new version is also a nice rebuttal.

In testing it since last night (we use Asana to manage our weekend posting schedule), I made good use of the feature additions, and I could feel the speed improvements that also come with it. But I found one mildly annoying drawback. When you load the app, it defaults to whatever your home workspace is, not the one you use most often. Since I created a personal workspace first, this means I always hit that instead of my TechCrunch view. I have to trace back through top-level navigation any time I want to get into my work account. [Update: as my former VentureBeat colleague and current Asana guy Dan Kaplan notes in comments, you can fix this by dragging and dropping the workspace you want defaulted up to the top of the left-hand menu in the web app.]

The app is also missing the Inbox task activity feed feature that it added to the web version a few months ago. But in a blog post today, the company says that it’s coming.

There are a lot of startups trying to provide better productivity tools for workplaces these days, but Asana has always stood out for its larger vision of killing email and focusing work around specific things that individuals have to do. The overall product — and this app — might not be for everyone, but it’s worth a try because of its overall ease-of-use, and because of its larger vision. Started by early Facebook employees/cofounders, and with a big $28 million round now in the bank, Asana will certainly be around (and will improve) for a long time t0 come.

NB: I would use screenshots from my own account but then you guys would see what we’re planning for this weekend.