Things 3

Things 3 is a VERY exciting and aesthetically pleasing replacement for the default Reminders app. With a lot of improvements that make your life easier. But don’t mistake it for a *real* project management tool. It’s not that and I have a feeling it hasn’t been designed for that purpose.

It’s good for managing personal to-do’s, shopping lists, and small-scale GTD. And it does it with style.

Here’s a quick rundown of things I like, things I don’t like, and my wishlist for future features. In no particular order:

  • VERY aesthetically pleasing. This is the best looking to-do app I’ve ever seen. The overall design, the animations, the transitions, all the little touches here and there. All of it, it just looks great. And makes working on your tasks a surprisingly pleasant experience. It just gets me, this is totally my style.
  • No collaboration options. Can’t share tasks with your significant other, family, or team. Seems like a major oversight in 2017.
  • No rich links in to-do’s. Can’t attach files, no rich previews for links. Can live without, but still…
  • No Fantastical-grade natural language parsing on iOS. This is so useful in Fantastical or Todoist. Too bad it’s missing in Things.
  • Can’t complete repeat tasks ahead of time. Another weird design decision.
  • No location-based reminders. Not that I use them that often, but still a strange omission for an app that’s specifically meant to replace your Reminders app.
  • Can’t make saved-searches. Saved searches and smart lists are super helpful in a to-do app. Yet another weird omission.
  • Some good integrations. I love how nicely the Calendar is integrated into the app. Siri/Reminders integration is a very welcome touch as well. You can also see third-party developers are adding their own tie-ins into Things 3 — e.g. Airmail, MindNode. There’s a basic URL scheme as well, so for instance you can use Drafts for adding new to-do’s. Haven’t checked how it works with Workflow yet, though.
  • Start Dates are good, but not great. When I work with a to-do app, I really need something more than just a Due Date. This is why Deferred tasks are so useful in OmniFocus. Things 3 attempts at that as well, with Start Dates. But then again, some critical things are missing. You can’t add a specific time to a Start Date. That makes tasks appear in a weird order for a given day and makes you rearrange them to bring more structure and logic to your daily agenda. This is particularly annoying for repeat tasks. There should be an option to set a Start Date and Time for particular tasks.
  • And while we’re at it, there should also be an option to set any scheduled tasks to appear in Evening view automatically.
  • No sequential tasks/projects. You can’t make one task appear only after the other one has been completed. The only trigger for a task to appear in your Today view is the date. This is one of the major reasons for which Things 3 is not suitable for serious/big project management.

Overall, it seems that there are quite many features missing — a surprising amount, considering the development time of Things 3.

Also, the developers seem to have a very strict and rigid workflow they want you to follow. This is a very opinionated software. Not everyone will like that.

Wish that some of the attention and time spent on all the visual details was allocated to implementing features that would allow for more flexibility and bringing functionality that seems obvious for a modern to-do app (collaboration!)

I sincerely hope that with the new app, the updates will be more regular (in contrast to Things 2), and that Things 3 will quickly catch up in the areas, where there are still shortcomings. Because despite all the omissions and annoyances, I still love using Things 3.

So I wrote all this shortly after Things 3 was released. So around May 2017. It’s now November and I’m still using Things as my primary reminders-slash-task management app.

In the meantime I tried getting back to Omnifocus, but that was brief. Bounced off OF and got back to Things. This piece of software is just so gorgeous and most importantly — it works the way I work.

See, most of my tasks are time-based. There’s a certain time I should get to them, a certain time I should at least start thinking about them and having them on my radar. Some have hard deadlines. Some don’t.

Thing is, I’m not this GTD guy who has a bunch of “next actions” laying around and deciding each morning which ones to tackle. I have more-or-less firm agenda for each day set ahead of time.

And in this context Things 3 shines.

It’s by far my favorite app on iOS.