Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Apple and IDEO Vets Create Social To-Do App: Orchestra

If there’s one thing the iPhone isn’t lacking, it’s to-do list apps! But here’s another to add to the mix — Orchestra — and it comes with a social twist.

Before Orchestra, “to-do lists were locked in this single-user world,” said Orchestra co-founder Gentry Underwood, in an interview last week.

In contrast, Orchestra lets users assign tasks to themselves and each other, and to chat about them. It snappily updates new content between the iPhone and Web version (and soon Android and Mac desktop). It accepts voice or text input, as well as emails forwarded to It’s also rather pretty.

To be sure, a social to-do list is just about the same thing as a collaboration or project management tool — but Orchestra exists within the familiar to-do list framework, rather than changing things up like the recently launched Trello.

Orchestra was founded by a couple of collaboration geeks from IDEO (that’s Underwood) and Apple (former Mac and iPad operations team leader Scott Cannon), who both had created internal tools at their respective companies to manage projects and operations.

After two months of beta testing, Orchestra just got picked by Apple as a “New and Noteworthy” app. For that occasion, it’s opening up to the general public.

Orchestra is free, though eventually it may add premium features — for instance, Underwood suggested the app could link up with a service like TaskRabbit to help users pay someone to complete their lingering to-dos.

Palo Alto-based Orchestra raised seed funding from Mitch Kapor and other angels, and has nine employees.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik