iPhone App Review: CloudList

iPhone App Review: CloudList

September 1st, 2011 by

If there’s one thing “the cloud” is good for it’s for sharing notes and messages with others in an asynchronous manner, meaning I can make a change at my end that you can view later and vice-versa. Email and text messages can be used in a collaborative way, but tend to get out of control as the number of back and forth messages increases. CloudList takes the simple shopping list and adds cloud-based collaboration, so two or more people can work on the same list at the same time and see updated versions of the list when they view the app on their device. The app can of course be used with any list at all, not just a shopping list.

How It Works

CloudList has four main screens.

The LISTS screen is where you create new lists and access sharing and export settings for existing lists. PREPARE is where you go to add items and categories to your lists, and check off items that you want added to the SHOP screen, which is where you actually check off the items that are purchased as you go shopping. There’s also of course a SETTINGS screen, where you can turn on the app badge and adjust a couple other minor options.

The basic workflow is that you first create a list, of course. Tapping the arrow takes you to the list’s options screen, where you can share it, export it, rename it, or add a description. If you have more than one list you must tap one to select it, adding a big red check-mark next to it on the list. Then you can move on to the next step.

Preparing the list involves adding items to it and categorizing those items (if you wish to, it’s not mandatory to use categories). Once you add an item on the Prepare list, tapping the arrow takes you to that item’s options menu. Here you can adjust the quantity, give it a unit setting (Bottle, Cup, Dozen, cm), or just leave it blank. You can also add notes to the item. In order to build the shopping list itself you must add items from the Prepare screen by tapping the left-hand icon next to each item. This adds a little shopping cart and check box, and the badge on the Shop menu bumps up by one.

Once you hit the store and go shopping, tapping an item on the Shop menu crosses it off. If you’ve shared the list with someone that person can add an item on their app and it will appear on your list, so two people can run around Costco grabbing things off the list in a frenzy and check them off as they go.

Pros And Cons

CloudList is a great app and works really well, taking the shopping list idea a step further by including a collaborative element. It’s fun and helpful to add items to the list and have them show up on another device. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed something on my shopping run because I didn’t see or hear the text, only to find out once I got home that I had to run back out again for what I’d forgotten.

The only drawback to the app itself is the workflow: it’s a bit awkward and non-intuitive. What I wish was that there was some way first of all to create a master catalog of items from which all lists could draw: I shop at a few different grocery stores, and there is some crossover between them. If I want to add “Milk” to my Safeway list and my Trader Joe’s list, I have to add “milk” on the PREPARE screen for both lists. I could instead adjust my own organization and create one “groceries” list, using the categories to separate “Trader Joe’s” and “Safeway”, but then how do I categorize “Meat” and “Dairy”?

The overall steps taken to build a simple list is too cumbersome, and there should be some way to just add items to the “Shop” list and have them automatically populate the “Prepare” list, so that you don’t have to enter them again.


CloudList is a great idea for making your shopping trips simple and convenient, allowing multiple people access to one list. You can use it for any sort of list-based planning that would benefit from others’ involvement.

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