A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) when iPad AppStorm wasn’t even its own site, we looked at one of the most popular productivity apps for iPad, Things, and we gave it a highly praised 8 out of 10. We liked its stylish interface yet didn’t particularly like its expensive price tag back then, which seemed a little excessive for just a simple productivity app.
Well, a lot has changed with Things since then, so let’s revisit the app to see whether it can still live up to that 8 out of 10 score.
Things is a task manager which aims to offer the perfect balance between ease of use and powerful features. It’s the brainchild of developers Cultured Code, who are based in the German city of Stuttgart and they have also written versions of Things for both the Mac and iPhone.
The main screen of Things offers no surprises if you’ve used other task managers before. Running along the left-hand side you’ve got your inbox (which collects to-dos when you haven’t decided where you want to put them) and quick access to any tasks that are coming up; access to projects (which we’ll look at in a bit more detail later on); and to your logbook.
Managing Your Tasks
Managing your tasks is really easy in Things. To add a new task, simply click on the + icon in the top right corner of the screen, where a pulldown menu will appear and you can customise your new task.
Apart from the task’s name and due date, you can also add tags to tasks to help you categorise them easier. Tags can be customised (when you install the program for the first time a couple of default ones will appear, such as Work and Home) and tags can be sub-divided as well. For example, if you’re working on two different projects at the office, you can create tags for each one under the main Work tag. Notes can be added to individual tasks as well, eliminating the need for storing them elsewhere (although you can’t attach anything to tasks unlike in OmniFocus). Due dates can also be left open as well if needs be.
When you add a new task to Things, it will ask you exactly where you want to assign it. There are a number of places in the app where you can assign individual tasks, namely the Inbox, which collects to-dos when you’re not yet ready to decide where to put them, and the Focus sections, which include the Today, Next, Scheduled and Someday sections, allowing you to organise your tasks more efficiently.
From your Inbox you can filter tasks according to their tags (if you’ve assigned tags to them), star tasks alerting you if you want to accomplish something today or move them to another to-do list (Next or Someday, for example). Once a task has been starred, it pops up in the Today section.
Projects are a great way to keep track of a task that has more than one step. Once you’ve given your project a name, any tags and a due date, you can choose precisely where you want to store it (either in Active Projects, Scheduled or Someday). Let’s use “making cookies” as an example.
Things will keep all tasks related to the cookie baking project in one section so that you can complete them in order (although you can complete them in any sequence you prefer). You can also edit individual tasks in the Projects view, such as move them to other areas of the app (the Focus view, for example), filter them by tag and star them for immediate completion. You can store as many projects as you want in the app and they are laid out similar to PDFs and books in iBooks.
In order to keep on top of your daily and weekly progress, Things also includes a Logbook view, which logs tasks once they have been marked off as completed, so you can see what you accomplished in that day.
From the Logbook view you can edit all completed tasks (say if you want to assign tags or note snippets to them), which saves you sifting through all the individual sections to find a particular task. You can also move them, if necessary.
This time round, Things scores an extremely impressive 9 out of 10 score. I love its slickness and ease of use — task adding is a dream and there are no complicated user interfaces to have to deal with (unlike OmniFocus for iPad). The app really sticks to its roots and does exactly what it’s meant to do extremely well. Although it’s not loaded with features, everything there is completely necessary and the leanness of the app is something that really appeals to me — I don’t want loads of white elephants floating around in there.
Having said that, the price of the app still does worry me, and unfortunately, it hasn’t dropped since we last reviewed it. Now I’m all for paying for a decent iPad app, but I still think that $20 for basically a task manager is a little excessive, even in this day and age. Yes, it’s fantastic and yes, it syncs with your Mac (only if you’ve bought Things for Mac, though) but I think the developers are pricing themselves a little too highly here, especially when there are other iPad task managers out there which do pretty much the same for a lot cheaper.
If the app were, say, $10, then I would not hesitate to give it 10 out of 10, as it really is a great little app. But for that price, I’d prefer to save on a task manager and spend my money elsewhere.