Things 3 - Mac and iOS
The Mac and iOS platforms have long been built on the strength of their app stores. One of the more highly-contested categories has always been in the task manager and productivity space, and Things 3 has a lot of competition. Is it worth the comparatively steep asking price?
Whether using the MacOS or the iOS version, it's immediately clear that Things 3 has been designed with your tasks in mind. The interface is sleek, looking like something Apple themselves has designed - and certainly cleaner than their own Reminders app.
The side bar to the left features a task "Inbox", as well as sections for any tasks with a deadline. Below that are "Projects", grouped tasks pertaining to a certain area - for example, tasks solely for work, or a shopping list.
Things 3 also uses really neat animations to do basic things such as add a new task. While this may seem a small touch, it adds a more tactile and surprisingly premium feel - and makes adding new tasks a strangely enjoyable action.
Being built on the GTD framework (that's Getting Things Done), Things 3 can be tuned to your area of responsibility. If you're a teacher, you can set areas for a student for example, reference notes as well as a task list. Project managers can keep tabs on work progress just as easily, too.
While using the iPhone or iPad versions is a breeze, the app's keyboard shortcuts add a wealth of quick-fire options when logging a list of tasks - from simply creating a new entry, to editing, or autofilling certain details. When you just want to get something written down, it can be a godsend to put as little friction between your brain and the place where you keep your notes.
Speaking of notes, Things 3 doesn't just offer reminder functionality. Offering a space within projects and to-dos themselves dedicated to note taking - There's nothing worse than seeing a list of requests from a colleague with no context, after all. Unfortunately, there is no Collaboration here - working with a colleague must be done in isolation, referring back to each list. Items can be shared, but a more traditional way to collaborate would be a huge boon.
The app can import information from other similar apps, as well as your own Calendars and Reminders. These are optional, but it feels great to have everything "under one roof" - at a glance, tasks due today, appointments to attend, and notes on all of them are available. This kind of quality of life addition is incredibly helpful.
Regarding the iOS version specifically, Things 3 carries through its excellent design ethos to the smaller screen (and iPad) with aplomb. The iPad keyboard shortcuts aren't as intuitive as the MacOS version, but aside from that almost the entire application feels ideally translated to touch controls.
There's Apple Watch functionality too - although this is limited to tasks that need to be completed "Today". It's a nice "at a glance" list to have, but those looking for anything for the coming days will need to pull out their phone.
There are some minor disappointments with Things 3, however. The lack of collaboration is one thing, but being unable to attach a file to a task feels like an oversight. Things Cloud allows syncing between devices, but being able to download a file on whichever device you're working from would've been nice.
The other issue here is the price. While the iPhone version retails at £9.99 and the iPad version at £19.99, the Mac version retails at a not-inconsiderable £48.99. There's no arguing that the app is incredibly well designed, but I'd imagine many will be put off by the "Sticker Shock" associated with such a price.
It's a shame, because Things 3 should be tried by all. On an anecdotal level, I know fellow writers and self-employed business owners that swear by it, and I'm pleased to say I've joined their ranks. After using Things 3, I think I'd find it incredibly difficult to go back to not using it - there are cheaper alternatives, but nothing comes close to its relaxed, clean approach to task management.