Task manager apps all pose the question: 'How organised are you?' They imply that you're not very organised at all, or you wouldn't be considering software to help you get on top of things. But there's another question to consider: "How organised do you really need to be?" There's a world of difference between feeling the need …
Gmail now does tasks
If you run gmail in safari (hey - threaded email, how radical!) you can use the list manager that comes with it all nicely formatted for iPhone/mobile.
Just named lists with a hierarchical tasks and the ability to add some detail if you want.
But - when you're not on your iPhone but sat at your desk - there's the list again.
I think web-based is the way to go, personally. I would probably switch to a more sophisticated web-based task manager (even *shock* pay for it) but the google one does enough.
I still have What Tasks installed and I think it's pretty good, but having the same list on every platform wins every time, even if it isn't quite what I want.
Tags / labels rule
@Francis - I would be more interest in google tasks if they had followed the gmail paradigm of using labels and label views instead of lists.
As for Things, I've stopped using it for a while to see how I get on with an alternative method. The iPhone can search now, so I've been creating my own tags in Notes and the location field in Calendar in the form of ::tagname and -/tagname where :: prefixes personal tags and -/ prefixes work related tags. I don't make a new note for every single action as I would to in Things, just store them as a list of actions within the note. The new cut 'n paste makes pulling the next action to the top of the note nice and easy.
Seems to work quite well for me. After all pure GTD as designed can be done using using folders or files and even on collections of paper (hipster). It doesn't need fancy new tools to make it work.
Please stop wasting time reviewing apps if you cannot do it properly. Things is also a desktop application for OSX. You fail to mention that, and of course you also do not mention whether or not the iPhone app syncs with its desktop version (it does). That's quite relevant information, and folks interested in the app would most certainly like to know whether or not the sync works flawlessly.
Thing is... I need sync with Outlook
Great, but ToDos on the iPhone won't be helpful to me until they sync with Outlook like my calendars, contacts, and memos do.
Omnifocus must be the definitive iPhone / Mac task manager. Syncs with its desktop self, and proves even better that I'm not well organised. Even uses GPS to tell you what you need to do nearby.
This "review" would be much better with a bit of a comparison of available task managers.
Apps reviews, when you doing some that are not for the iPhone?
Isnt the world domination file taken from red dwarf?
Maybe it is for ...
... PC users with no Apple Mail and no Mobile Me?
Apple, Mail, To Do items seem to meet both criteria mentioned in the review (go anal or keep it neat, sweet and petite).
Plus it can be Mobile Me'd mostly any where.
WAIT - ask existing customers!
Having purchased both Things desktop and the iPhone app, I have to warn that Cultured Code is an almost hilariously dysfunctional company, with almost zero customer service, communication or integrity. They launched and started charging in January, long before the app was ready (it still isn't fully functional), largely because they had booked a booth at Macworld long before, assuming they'd be ready. They knew they weren't ready but went ahead and launched, not wanting to miss the Macworld opportunity. They promised that essential features would arrive with the first quarter of 2009 but nothing happened.
Worse, they made no effort to let paying customers know what was happening. This let to a storm of protests on their forums. Instead of facing up to the problem and posting on the forum, they decided to effectively hide the forums, removing all links to the forums from their main site. This deeply dishonest tactic led to ever more people paying for an unfinished product. Hiding the problems also helped them to secure several design awards, apparently based upon the glossy looks rather than actual functionality. I suppose it is too much to expect competition judges or reviewers to dig a little deeper into the problems that existing users are having, fair enough.
A representative of the company has recently started posting on the forum, making more or less the same promises he made in January. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt but, frankly, we have been here before - it will be interesting to see if they actually come through on their promises this time.
As it stands, however, I have to recommend that people avoid making the mistake that I made and invest time and money into an application that is unfinished and a company with no concept of customer service or communication.
Happy Things user
I am a long time Things user. I am using both the desktop and the iPhone version. After about a year ago I discovered the beta version of Things. After trying it out for a few weeks I was surprised that it didn't feel like a beta at all. It was the one to-do manager that finally worked for me. Wrote to customer support two times and got very nice and helpful replies within 1 and 2 days. If you are like me one year ago trying different approaches and nothing sticks, give Things a try.
A little perspective....
All this talk of memos and to do lists got me thinking of one app at the other end of the spectrum, that fills a very important role for life with an iPhone...
Whose turn is it at the bar!
don't take like too serious with all these to do lists.
other phones? possibly off topic
while reading this review, i couldn't help but think that all this app seems to do, is the same stuff as the calendar app that came with my 2 year old n95 8gb
I dont know a great deal about what iphone apps are available, but I have yet to be presented with an iphone app (or rather an ad for one) and think "that would be impossible on my phone"
the closest they've got to it are those "tilt to steer" games. They seem pretty nifty, although not enough for me to fork out more than the price of a wii with mario cart (no i dont want a contract with o2...)
Over hyped thing.
I tried a stack of different to-do apps in order to find one that works in a way that was quick and useful to me without being over involved and bothersome and bought Things because of it's rating and I suppose the hype it peppers itself with. Only to find, once I'd bought it that it's no better or worse than many of the others on offer. Ultimately I settled on 'Ultimate Todos' which is free integrates with Toodledo and is far more flexible and useful. Things is a bit of a let down, very glossy and appealing but it doesn't do a thing.
WAIT - Ask another existing customer
I've been using Things - both the iPhone and Mac software - since late january and I'd like to add some balance to the review, and some balance to donnacha's comments.
First off, the review. With any piece of software, you should read a little before jumping in. Cultured Code are very clear that the Inbox is where you create stuff you don't want to, or can't yet, classify. It won't appear in any other view. If you don't like working this way simply do what I do and create new tasks in the 'Today' view instead. I don't use the Inbox at all. It's that simple. RTFM, and you won't get confused about things in Inbox appearing nowhere else. Perhaps Inbox is badly named but the way it works IS quite clearly explained.
As for working in an organised fashion: About 70% of all my tasks appear in 'today' and never leave until they are completed. Every so often I have a group of tasks I decided to put into a project. Using Today to create your tasks you are never forced to organise anything, unless you really want to. If I was forced to organise stuff I wouldn't be using the software. I have attention deficit so being organised has to be optional!
I don't think this reviewer has really used Things for very long, or tried to get beyond their mental block with the Inbox. Things for the Mac is also a very good product and the two synchronise seamlessly for me.
Onto customer support. When Things was released, yes, with a few flaws, Apple also put out a new iPhone 2.x release and some people had problems with synchronisation as a result. The feedback I saw on some Mac forums made it clear that Things had become quite popular very quickly and I'm sure this would have affected the level of support that Cultured Code, quite a small company, was able to provide. I was one of those people and once I'd reported my problem on the forums I was asked to try a few things to help troubleshoot. Within 24 hours a new version of the software fixed my problems.
Others may have had less smooth experiences but how much one-to-one support do you expect for £5.99? This is the elephant in the room with iPhone apps IMHO - you can't expect much support for any piece of software that costs less that £50. I have visited the forums from time to time and whilst I can't vouch for the presence or otherwise of Cultured Code staff, I can't say I ever noticed that the forum links disappeared.
donnacha is clearly not a happy bunny but I have been completely happy with the software, both Mac and iPhone, and the support when I have needed it. There are one or two small annoyances that I'd like to see addressed but these don't stop me using it effectively.
Things is NOT a simple task manager or notes application, it goes beyond that to the point that I use it to track and control all my one-man projects and will continue to do so.
Todo/planning tools for the really unorganized
I'm eagerly waiting for a TODO tool that assumes you are *not* organized to begin with. That bugs me like hell without me starting the application manually and go to the list. That if it alerts me in the middle of a meeting and I can't deal with it right then, gives me easy choices right there without going into the application and "recode" the entry. A simple dialog "Bug me again in 10 minutes", "Bug me again in an hour", "Bug me again tonight", "Bug me again tomorrow morning", "More....".
And the alerts should vary, fist maybe just a one of those alert sound you barely can hear, then maybe a voice saying "Come on dude, you can do it!!". Then if still procrastinating, sad musik and a picture coming up with R.I.P sucker, do this or die!! And similar, not aways the same. More aggressive. More fun. More creative.
I'm a mess with planning, I want real help from a tool, not the equivalent of a non software time manager.
I like the review because it tries to have a bit of this view, from the unorganized.
Is this related to Devourment's 1.3.8?
iPhone, Android, what no Symbian?
Why have El Reg. only just realised you can buy applications to run on mobile phones - but have so far only discovered you can do this on the iPhone and Android handsets?
I'll be over at MySymbian checking for updates to the apps. I've been adding to and using on my various Symbian handsets since 2000!
I love Things
I'm a big believer in the way of GTD, and I find Things the perfect application for helping me. I use the desktop application, and you can utilise Dropbox to use it easily across multiple machines (at home and work).
@other phones? possibly off topic
Bebot, a fun little four channel analogue synth app would be impossible on your N95 8Gb. It can handle up to four fingers worth of simultaneous prodding and dragging to generate cool sound effects.
Pointless but fun and not-do-able on the N95. Sorry.
Surely you'd want to sync your task lists to your computer desktop? In which case you also need to buy the desktop version of Things. This comes to a total of £38.35 which is a ridiculous amount of money just for task lists. I advise using Evernote instead. It's got clients for many platforms and is free if you don't go too over the top with the amount of stuff you're syncing each month.
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