Firstly let me declare my interest, I have tried a lot of these type of apps, from Wunderlist(RIP) to Things 2 to Omnifocus (pro) to 2Do to my current squeeze ToDoist (pro), all have promised to organise me and to be my friend for life, and all in some way lived up to their promise.
OK that said why the big deal over Things 3? Well it’s certainly a looker and we are all so easily seduced by good looks, and this was the almost unanimous view of the twitter sphere, that this was a stunner. It also had some rather spiffy new features, project headings, to break tasks into logical groups within projects, checklists within individual tasks, a clever quick add button on iOS and a lot of whitespace. So, succumbing to the hype I decided to at least have a look at the trial version available on the mac.
Ten minutes later I have a working copy installed with some provided sample content (a nice touch) to fiddle about with, shock it lasted about fifteen minutes before being consigned to the trashcan, why this quick dismissal of an app with so much praise? Well let me tell you. Firstly after ToDoist it just felt “crippled” no facility to submit tasks by e-mail, something I rely on for a couple of automations I have set up, no ability to attach files to notes, and no list sharing, which I do with my partner Mandy on certain projects.Things 3 certainly is pretty though!
There is a fine line for me between task management and task masturbation, the incessant fiddling with systems rather than the actual doing of tasks, and this is another display of me doing just that. I quickly asked myself what could Things 3 bring to the table that ToDoist couldn’t, and it was really only the checklists and headings that were of interest. However compared to the loss of features, mail in, collaboration, no integration through Zapier IFTTT etc to allow my task manager to talk to my calendars, slack app, form software, etc etc. seemed like too big a loss when weighed against the gain.
I recently moved clients projects to Trello, which gives me not only client participation in the project but also the checklists within tasks (cards in Trello), and the more I thought about it Things 3 seemed more akin to listified version of Trello for the single user, and it is that walled garden, single user focus approach that for me anyway meant Things 3 was a non starter.
Now this is not in anyway a slight of the programme, the developers have picked a market, a single user, with no integration needs, and built a beautiful app to accommodate them, for me and I suspect many others having embraced automation, integration and collaboration Things 3 feels like a lonely 21013 app wrapped in a shiny and oh so pretty and clever new interface. I’m afraid to say as someone who values form, that when it comes to it, function wins every time.
The bar has been raised in design terms by Things 3 and my quest for the perfect task list app continues, I suspect it will for a good while longer.