Nozbe Reviews

Not the most convenient or attractively priced. They lie about their security. 2 Helpful

Negative Review by JohnFastman
about Nozbe and Asana, Simpletask Cloudless, Todoist Jan 2017

Nozbe is a to-do list/task manager. It aims primarily at organizations rather than individuals. It has some features others in this space don't, but it falls short on multiple levels. And, despite how this review might seem in the end, I started out really wanting to like Nozbe. But I can't like it because its flaws are too serious.

The positives

  • One of the few commercial to-do/task managers that has a native Linux client. (However, see the second negative point below.)
  • Attractive, minimalistic interface and uniform experience on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. (I didn't try iOS.)
  • Very fast, dedicated customer service.
  • An integrated mini-calendar that apps like ToDoIst are missing. This makes easier finding a particular task.
  • Easy syntax. In Todoist and most other apps, you specify a specific list or project for a task with a hash, e.g. writing #Work will put that task into the "Work" list. Contexts are assigned with '@'. Prorities with '!!' and an integer. Nozbe does away with all that. It just uses '#' and a dropdown menu appears inviting you to choose what you want to add. A nice touch that simplifies life a little.
  • The Android app doesn't ask for every imaginable permission from Google Play Services. Which is a big privacy win.
  • You can use it to manage tasks between members of a large team.

The negatives

There are big negatives. I start with the most egregious:

1. Nozbe willfully lies about it's security

Nozbe's website claims (as of 28th Jan 2017 and for at least 1 month before that):

We take pride in our server infrastructure which we designed with customer data safety in mind. Our main data servers are located outside of the USA (NSA-safe!) - in the European Union.

This, I'm sorry to say, is absolute bullsh*t. The NSA (National Security Agency) is an extremely powerful intelligence organization that has orchestrated some of the most sophisticated cyber attacks in history. It has enormous capability. Moreover, the NSA has targeted data outside of the US, including servers in China, Japan and Korea and, of course, the data of EU politicians and companies.

I specifically contacted Nozbe about this. Here is what their customer support said (12th January 2017):

[W]e must recognize and apologize for the information that was published on our Help Page about Nozbe being NSA-proof. As I was informed, measures were taken to remove that information from our website.

When I pointed out the next day that no measures seem to have been taken:

Regarding the NSA claim, I'm sorry, it was my mistake - of course, we'll remove the information from our main page, as well as from our help page. I've already contacted our site administrator, they'll do this as soon as possible.

The "NSA-safe" claim is still up at the time of writing, over two weeks later.

Nozbe therefore admit that the current content of their website is misleading visitors about their security. Removing a piece of text from a website is trivially easy. There is no excuse for it to hang around misleading people. I can't help but conclude that Nozbe therefore intend to mislead. Quite aside from anything else to do with their product, for me this undermines their credibility, trustworthiness and therefore any chance that I would do business with them.

Their customer support guy also told me they have servers in Germany, Ireland, Australia and Japan. How are Australia and Japan in the EU?

By the way: Nozbe rent Amazon S3 server space, they encrypt user data at rest, and they say that if you delete your account, they will wipe all your data within 2 weeks, saving only the email account you signed up with. It's beyond me why they don't offer this information up front on their website in clear text so that customers know more about where they can expect their data to be stored.

2. Their weirdness about Linux
As I wrote above, Nozbe support Linux. Great! Better than Wunderlist, Todoist and Asana. On their Downloads page, however, Nozbe offer only an idiotically written script instead of the actual installer. After contacting them, they sent me a link to the real thing:

You can't find this on their website. So they are actually failing to distribute their own product for Linux users, simply because, seemingly, they can't be bothered to link to it on their website. How is that productive? Anyway, the Linux versions work very well, I'm happy to say.

3. Their client/app is ergonomically suboptimal
The client/app is pretty but not particularly efficient to use. Actions like adding a task take more clicks than on Todoist. There isn't a handy little submenu that pops up to quickly add which list, context, project, due date, etc. apply to a task. If you want to edit the list of tasks or labels, or add a label to a task, you have to go through an unnecessarily click-intensive sequence in which the buttons appear variously distrubuted in different corners for no reason. (Who puts "Done" top right? Are we Done with putting it bottom right now?) When a menu overlay appears on the mobile app, instinct tells you to close it by hitting the large area of what's underneath still visible to the side. Not with Nozbe. You have to hit the much smaller |<- icon. It's a first world problem, for sure, but Nozbe are in the productivity business and this nonsense doesn't help.

4. Nozbe is Expensive
A month for free restricts you to 5 active projects. After that, Nozbe costs an arm and a leg. The standard fare is €8/month (if you pay for 12 months) or €10 if you pay monthly. That's €96-120/year and it unlocks all the features for up to 2 users. Additional users cost €4/month each. So if you're an individual, Nozbe's pricing makes no sense. At all.


Consider the competition: Todoist gives you 1 month (no restrictions) for free, and asks for $29/year per user. That's it. So if I just want a to-do list as an individual, I'm paying about four times as much for Nozbe. (Why?!) If it's something for teams you're after, consider Asana: unlimited tasks and projects for up to 15 users. And after that it goes up to $8.33/user but Asana have quite a few more features than Nozbe, like an optional kanban system that's baked right into the app.

5. No browser plugins
Just that.

6. The unsubtle self-promotion of their CEO
It's par for the course that productivity software would come included with advice, tips, newsletters and other guff advising users on how to use their time well. To that end, Nozbe's CEO, Michael Sliwinski offers a series of YouTube videos. These reveal his willingness to promote himself far more than any useful tricks for getting anything done. Also:
- How can a YouTube video be personal, when everyone can see it and all customers are offered the same set of videos?
- Michael Sliwinski calls himself "The Productivity Guy". That little trick works for Bill Nye, so why not for Michael Sliwinski ,right? (Oh... wait... I see the problem...)
- Who goes round calling themselves "The Productivity Guy". I mean, really. And, by the way, he is at best a productivity guy.
- In his YouTube vids, Sliwinski spends more time discussing how important it is to be productive than how to actually be productive.
- Some of his videos are awkward Skype interviews with other business people. Boring and unhelpful. You get the impression the calculation might be for followers of his guests to find the video, rather than it doing anything for existing Nozbe customers.
- Left to his screen-hogging self, Sliwinski likes to yap on about how Nozbe is important to his own productivity... at Nozbe. (I can see the headlines now: "World in Shock as CEO Admits To Using Own Software.")
- In one video Sliwinski promises to show you how he uses Nozbe on his very own personal device. Except, to obscure business sensitive information (very wise: you wouldn't want the NSA seeing!), he shows you his iPad's display only at a shallow angle so that you can't... see... what is happening... on... the... screen. On the plus side, you get to see Sliwinski's lovely fingers in fine close-up, dancing across an iPad screen to his strongly accented staccato verbiage. You stand to learn that he doesn't use the calendar function much and reads only "comments which are interesting to me". The prescience.

And now you see what I mean. Sliwinski thinks customers would be more interested in what he does than on what Nozbe can do for you. He's also happy for you to see his fingers more than to learn anything useful. It seems to me he likes himself just a little too much. In all, the YouTube videos are all a bit of a waste of time. Which is ironic, really.

Other efforts to promote Nozbe include Sliwinski leaning on the reputation of Michael Hyatt, an even better known productivity guru. (What?! Even better?) It's a veritable symbiotic diMichaelopoly, if you will. (No, I didn't think you would.)

Hyatt writes Nozbe-promoting material on his own site, including:

The founder of Nozbe, Michael Silwinski, is a personal friend of mine.

So he won't mind that you've misspelled his name, then, Mr. Hyatt. I'm sure he understands how long it can take to change text on a website.

Also, if he's Sliwinski's friend, Hyatt's opinion about Nozbe is hardly likely to be objective, is it? So, in the end... that's worth a whole bunch of absolutely nothing. (Hyatt's list of Nozbe's benefits include that it syncs (which is true), that it allows you to share projects with others (so does Asana), and that it integrates with other apps. (Almost every app in this market does that.)

There's nothing professional, informative or confidence-inspiring about Sliwinski's thinly veiled screen-hogging, self-promoting 'tutorials'. Nor about persuading, by whatever means, a more famous man to sing his praises in meaningless, orthographically inaccurate ways. I can't help feeling Sliwinski would better spend his time on removing false claims from his website, sticking a link to the Linux binary on his site and adding the comparatively few touches it would take for Nozbe to be more attractive in an ultra-competitive market.

For the moment, Michael Sliwinski The Productivity Guy (it does roll off the tongue, doesn't it) has produced an over-priced but otherwise average piece of productivity software. It's not awful. It's usable. It's just... okay. And over-priced.

The Bottom Line

Even if you're sure you want to store your to-do info on someone else's servers, Nozbe isn't the best choice. They willingly make overtly false claims about their security. Moreover, their product is (slighly) less convenient to use and (a lot) more expensive than ToDoIst for individuals. For teams it is less functional than Asana and much more expensive if you're fewer than 15 people.

By the way, you don't have to give your private information to any company. If you're an individual looking for a decent to-do list that's private and open source, try SimpleTask Cloudless. It's an incredibly functional and convenient Android app based on a formatting system for to-do lists called todo.txt (see here for more info). If Android isn't your thing, there are lots of other apps that are based on the same system. You can use the syncing service of your own choice to sync between devices, including desktop apps. It will be perhaps less shiny than some paid-for solution, but it will be free and privacy-respecting and every bit as useful once you get used to it.

[Edited by JohnFastman, January 28]


Selected Nozbe after many other tests 2 Helpful

Positive Review by etienne__dufour
about Nozbe Aug 2016

I tested my "task management" applications (my best ones being MylifeOrganised, GTasks and LifeBalance).
But Nozbe is clearly my favourite :
- really GTD compliant
- (somewhat) simple
- mulitplatform (Web, native, Windows, iOS, Android)
- integrated with mail (you can create tasks with labels and projects via mail), Evernote
- excellent support (multilingual) and VERY quick to respond
- extraordinary support information (video , newsletter, ...)
- It's recommended by key influencers (David Allen, Michael Hyatts, ...)
I stop here.

No tool can replace bad habits and lack of motivation
I would not change for any other software now