Google has, for quite a while, been adding new features and options to Gmail to bring it more inline with desktop programs like Microsoft Outlook. Calendar integration was a big one, and recently Google added Tasks to Gmail. It’s now even considered important enough that in the new Gmail interface, Tasks is one of the three options above the Compose Mail button, along with Mail and Contacts. Of course, clicking on Tasks only brings up a little pop-up window, and not a new tab or something fully integrated with Gmail. It’s nice, and has a lot of options, but it’s kind of cramped.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, there are extensions available… quite a few of them, in fact. There is the Unofficial Google Tasks and the simply named Google Tasks. Neither is official, and both use the same Gmail interface to Google Tasks. This means they both have the same cramped interface. There is another extension (named Google Tasks as well), which uses the Android interface, but to my eye it looks just as cramped and not all that much better than the Gmail interface, although I suppose it is prettier.
If you’re a user of iGoogle as your start page, however, you have a bigger option, by using Tasks with canvas view. Canvas view was added to iGoogle a while back, and is a nice way to expand a gadget out to the full width of your web page. Both Tasks views (in Gmail and in iGoogle), keep synchronized with each other (they’re just two different views of the same data), but the iGoogle view isn’t exactly integrated visually with Gmail. You have to open up a new tab, go to iGoogle, and then choose Tasks in Canvas view. Well, if you’re a Google Chrome user, you now have another option. Named Better Google Tasks, this Google Chrome extension adds the Canvas view of Google Tasks to your toolbar, so it’s always only a click away.
I’ve been looking at Better Google Tasks for a little while, and I must say that I like it. If you’ve used the iGoogle version, you know what to expect. A much bigger area, meaning if you have longer tasks, it’s more likely the full task will show up, instead of the first few characters. In addition, while the same tools are available, the iGoogle interface (used by Better Google Tasks), has them all much more accessible. Instead of having them buried in a menu as the Gmail interface does, Better Google Tasks presents them in toolbars, for one-click usage.
I like it a lot. It seemed fairly quick to load, for one thing. This is always an issue with an extension that is (in reality), little more than a chunk of a web page that needs to be loaded separately. But thanks to the still-sparse layout, it appeared with only a bit of lag. Really, there’s only one quibble I have, and it’s not really with the extension, but with the iGoogle interface the extension uses. The Gmail interface to Google Tasks has an option to email your tasks, but the iGoogle interface (and therefore the Better Google Tasks extension), does not. I can’t personally think of a time when I’ve used the option, but having it available would be nice. Other than that, Better Google Tasks is a really good extension. It takes an existing tool (Google Tasks), then uses a nice interface to that tool (the iGoogle interface), and makes it available with just a single click.