When you send or receive a text message or an iMessage that mentions a date or time, you can tap it and add it as a calendar event or even a reminder. It’s little things like this that make the iOS platform wonderful to use. And apps like Alter that take it further and improve on it. Alter is an iOS app available in the App Store for $0.99 and it turns text from email and messages into lists. You copy and paste text from an email body or from a message, and the app parses it into to-do items that can be crossed off. There is one catch though; it doesn’t just work for emails but for any and all kinds of text. That means you can copy the ingredients of a recipe you just read in your browser, paste it into Alter, and you have a shopping list.
You start off with a brief tutorial on how to use the app and how it identifies items to separate them into a list. Comas, line breaks, and full stops are an indication of a new item. Copy text from an email (or anywhere really) and paste it in the app. The app will show you how the list items have been identified. When you’re ready to create a list, tap the list button at the bottom right.
The items on the list can be swiped to mark them as done, and if you long press on an item, you can change its position in the list. To restore a ‘done’ item, scroll to the bottom of the list and double tap the item you want to restore.
If you tap the plus sign at the top right, you can manually add an item to the list. It’s possible that perhaps the app is parsing the text too much and every little thing is being treated as a separate item to appear on the list. That has to do with which character it uses to delimit the text. From Alter’s settings, you can disable the comma and the full stop as a delimiting character as well as enable vibrate feedback.
Concept wise, the app is excellent but if we were to write a wish list of features we’d want the ability to copy the list and paste it elsewhere, and the ability to have more than one list. Should multiple lists be incorporated in future versions of the app, list names should be added along with it.