New DailyMacReview.com contributor Alain Latour sums up his review of German-designed Things 2 as follows: if it were a car, it would be a VW Golf — sleek, efficient, and a joy to use.
Are you a new GTDer and a dedicated Apple user — one who isn’t likely to switch to a different platform anytime soon?
Are you looking for a simple productivity tool that works out of the box, as it were?
If you answer yes to either question, do yourself a favor: take Cultured Code’s Things 2 for a spin. If nothing else, you will appreciate its simplicity and elegance.
But if you are an avid GTDer who wants the most powerful tool with a plethora customization options, I recommend you steer clear of Things. (I understand the complex OmniFocus might be a better option for you, although as complicated tools will do, it does entail a steep learning curve.)
Things, on the other hand, is so simple that even most Mac users will have no trouble with it, including those who have yet to read David Allen’s Getting Things Done.
This is partly because Things’ design is so clutter-free and simple that it looks right at home in an Apple environment.
It’s also because Things makes the most of some the most convenient features of Apple’s products.
Namely, Things’ excellent iPhone app syncs flawlessly with iOS’ built-in Reminders app. This means you can dictate a to-do to Siri, and it will appear a few seconds later on Things’ inbox as if by magic.
Things on Every Device
Luckily, integration with some of the features in Apple’s products isn’t limited to iOS devices.
On the Mac, (where Things and Reminders are also integrated), a function called Quick Entry allows you to enter new to-dos from whatever application you’re using, while the Quick Entry with Autofill boosts convenience further still by automatically pre-filling a new to-do with useful information from the application you’re using at the time.
For example, if you receive an email that entails a new to-do, the Quick Entry with Autofill feature will create a link to this email, as well as copy any text you’ve selected. (I can attest that this feature really comes in handy when trying to keep your inbox at or close to zero.)
Even without using Autofill, the Quick Entry feature, when combined with the the Reminders integration on Mac and iOS, allows you to add tasks quickly and efficiently, with minimal interruption . And thanks to Things Cloud, the company’s free sync service, you can literally find tasks on one device second after entering it on another.
More than anything else, this sums up pretty well the approach that Cultured Code’s programmers must have had in mind: to turn Things into a task manager that works with and for you. Learning how to manage your tasks in Things is definitely not a complex project.
In fact, in the time I’ve been using Things Cloud, I have yet to witness it hiccup even once. (Ironically, Things Cloud is a proprietary service that’s completely independent of Apple’s own iCloud.)
Although Things Cloud is optional and requires user activation, I for one can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t go for it. (Unless, of course, you have only one Things product.)
Lastly, if you have a new MacBook Pro or an iPhone 5 or 5S, you can sigh in relief — Things for Mac features Retina compatible graphics. I don’t know about you, but when an app’s icon looks fuzzy and pixelated, I’m very tempted to take my money elsewhere.
Bang For Your Buck
Things is well priced. While its Mac, iPhone and iPad apps cost $49.99, $9.99 and $19.99 respectively, OmniFocus, arguably its main competitor, will set you back $79.99 (Mac), $19.99 (iPhone), and $39.99 (iPad). Both Things and OmniFocus offer a free two-week trial on their Mac apps.
Things’ price list is identical to the Hit List’s, with one glaring exception: the Hit List does not offer an iPad app.
As any GTDer worth his salt will tell you, being able to quickly and efficiently enter new tasks into your inbox is one of fundamental tenets of the GTD philosophy.
Things 3: Coming (Too) Soon?
I feel confident in recommend Things 2 — with one caveat. Cultured Code is working on Things 3, but hasn’t committed to a release date.
Rumored to be a fantastic update, Things 3 will introduce “a fresh new visual style, a revised user interface, more structure for your lists, and an array of great new features that are designed to make you more productive.” Cultured Code calls it “the most ambitious update” they’ve ever undertaken.
It all sounds great, but since the company won’t reveal when they will launch Things 3, you could well find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having shelled out $50 for Things 2, only to find a newer, better version released a short time after.
Things 2 is an elegant, easy-to-use to-do manager designed with both and non-GTDers in mind. Apple users will appreciate its excellent integration with Siri and Reminders, as well as its near flawless sync service.