Review: Things for Mac and iPhone

For a while now, I've been looking for a way to better organise my life. Between meetings at work, socialising with friends and writing articles, my life can become pretty difficult to keep track of. Although push synchronisation between my iPhone and iCal has certainly proved to be a necessity for those essential appointments, every day chores are usually forgotten. Whether it's remembering to pick up some milk or to even just put out the trash, I often need the occasional reminder for even the smallest task. I was beginning to come round to the idea that nothing could possibly save me.

Then along came Things.

Arranging your life

Although Things appears to be fairly simple GTD (Getting Things Done) application on the surface, it's structure and organisation is actually quite comprehensive. Divided into 3 key areas (Tasks, Projects and Areas of Responsibility), Things allows users so distinguish between tasks that are due imminently, on hold and completed.

At the foundation of the application are tasks. When creating a new task within Things, you are encouraged to add an array of details such as related tags, notes and a due date. Once you're done your new task will be moved to your Inbox, which is where all of the new tasks you create will appear. Of course, your tasks aren't going to want to stay piled up your Inbox forever, and thanks to the cleverly executed drag and drop functionality, moving your tasks is both easy and speedy.

Sorting your created tasks couldn't be easier, as Things provides you with the necessary arrangement to delegate: Projects and Areas of Responsibility.

Projects can be created to help organise work, whether it be a school essay or working on a website design. With a definite end in sight, once all the tasks within the project have been done the project is deemed complete.

Areas of Responsibility are the ongoing equivalent of Projects. Although tasks within an Area can be completed, the Area itself cannot. A good example of an Area could be housework or car maintenance.

Integration

One of my favourite features of Things is the elegant Quick Entry panel. With the simple push of a hotkey, I'm able to swiftly enter a new task without even opening the main window. All the functionality still remains, and it's pleasantly presented in a smart HUD style window.

Best of all, I don't even have to stop what I'm doing.

Impressively, Things can sync with both iCal and your iPhone. Any tasks in the Today category will automatically sync with your iCal To Do list. Useful for the avid iCal users amongst us, however those events won't appear on your MobileMe service.

Interface

Officially launched in January at the MacWorld exposition, Things had been in beta for a little over a year – and it shows. The UI is incredibly polished, so much so in fact it could quite easily be mistaken for an Apple program. Everything from the icons, colours, gradients and graphics all reek of a distinct sleekness that fits flawlessly within Leopard.

The included screenshots have probably left you a little baffled, and I admit I too was a little overwhelmed when I opened Things for the first time. However within 10 minutes or so I was in full flow, organising my life right before my very own eyes. This was down to the neat and subtle implementation of helpful tips and notes throughout the UI. If I wasn't sure what a certain segment could be used for, then Things was there to assist me along the way.

iPhone

Whilst the iPhone version isn't as fully featured as the OS X client, it too delivers in more ways than one. Sporting a graphical persona almost identical to the Mac client, all the categories (minus Areas of Responsibility) are present providing almost full functionality. The seamless ability to sync your events between your Mac and iPhone is practical, but is only currently available via wireless network. One can only hope cellular network sync is in the pipeline.

Conclusion

Although there were already a large variety of task management applications available for OS X, Things really stands out from the crowd. From the slick interface to the accompanying iPhone application, Cultured Code has created the definitive Mac GTD application that manages your daily routine, rather than interfering with it. Although a little pricey (a single license is $49.95), the simple yet profound structure is manageable even for the most basic of user.

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