Thinglist: A To-Do List for Your Personal Life

While conversing with a friend they recommend a new movie they’ve seen, an album they recently downloaded, or a restaurant they really enjoy. What do you do with this information? Some individuals will attempt to make a mental note, while others will immediately whip out their iPhone (or perspective smartphone) and enter the information into an app of their preference.

If you find yourself in the latter group, I bet dollars to doughnuts that most of you use the first-party Notes app for this function. Others will make use of a third-party notes app such as Evernote, Catch Notes or Simplenote. While all of these apps are useful for jotting down a quick word or twelve, a more customized approach may be better for managing a list that include items of this nature. Enter Thinglist, an app solely dedicated to such a task.

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Adding Things

There’s nothing powerful about Thinglist, which for everyday users is great. When you fire up the app for the first time, there’s no step-by-step tutorial or hand holding involved. There’s no need for such things. Instead, you’re immediately placed in the first step of adding a thing — selecting a category (e.g. food, idea, movie, etc.). The page consists of nine category icons spread out into three rows, all featured with flat icons that are beautifully designed.

The icons are very easy to distinguish from one another.

The icons are very easy to distinguish from one another.

Once you’ve selected a category, you’re prompted to enter a title for your thing. For example, if you select the music category Thinglist will suggest that you add an album, artist or song as your title. Tap the checkmark icon in the upper right when you’re finished. From here the app will transition to the notes page, where you can add subsequent information about the thing you’ve added. The notes section offers only simple text formatting, so there’s no means to add bullets or format the text in any manner, which would be useful when adding recipes or an idea. Again, tap the checkmark icon when you’re finished.

It's best to keep titles as short as possible.

It’s best to keep titles as short as possible.

Browsing Your Things

After successfully entering a new thing, you’re taken to the main list page. Here you can browse all of the things you’ve entered, which are marked with a category icon and subtitle to help distinguish between things. You can enter a new thing by tapping the large + icon at the bottom. Tapping the grid icon in the upper-left, or swiping down on the screen, allows you to select a category by which to filter.

You can edit a thing by tapping it, and then tapping the edit icon in the upper-right or tapping the note section.

You can edit a thing by tapping it, and then tapping the edit icon in the upper-right or tapping the note section.

Filters are immensely important once you’ve added a large number of things to Thinglist, mainly because the app offers no other means of sorting. Things are listed in the order they were entered, and the main list can not be sorted in any other manner (e.g. by category or alphabetically by title). When an app is designed to be simple to use, as is the case with Thinglist, it often has to sacrifice some useful features (like sorting options).

Tap the X when you wish to remove a filter.

Tap the X when you wish to remove a filter.

A Wonderful Design

When designing anything, there are a number of goals a designer should strive to achieve, but the most important purpose is not to get in the way of the user. It should, instead, be a guide for the user as they interact with an app. Without a doubt, Thinglist achieves this important characteristic in spades. As I said previously, there’s no need for hand holding when using Thinglist; Developers Elepath have done an impeccable job of creating a simple app that almost any user can understand.

Thinglist is a great example of flat design done well.

Thinglist is a great example of flat design done well.

Future Improvements

There are limitations when a developer strives to create something so simple, and because of this there are a few issues I have with Thinglist. Often times I receive recommendations that include a website link, which when entered into Thinglist are not actionable (i.e. they can’t be tapped to open the web page). When adding a place, it’s useful to add a corresponding address to be used when needed. With most apps, addresses can be tapped to open the Maps app. However, much like links, actionable addresses are unavailable in Thinglist.

Actionable links and addresses would be a very helpful feature.

Actionable links and addresses would be a very helpful feature.

When you’re finished with a thing the only option is to delete it from your list. Instead of permanently deleting a thing, I’d much prefer to archive it so that it may be accessed again if needed. One missing feature, that seems rather odd considering the philosophy for the app’s creation, is sharing options. Options to share via social networks, text message and email are obvious inclusions to be added, but how cool would it be to be able to share a fully fleshed out thing with another Thinglist user? Very cool, I say.

Make sure you have all the information you need before deleting a thing.

Make sure you have all the information you need before deleting a thing.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, Thinglist is a very good app for it’s intended purpose. As someone that regularly reviews apps, my number one rule is to evaluate an app based on what the developers strived to achieve when creating it, and not evaluate based my own perceptions regarding what I want the app to be. While I want to see more features get added to Thinglist, the developers may be hesitant to do so in fear of diminishing the app’s simplistic nature.

To that end, I applaud Elepath for designing such a wonderfully minimalistic and intuitive app that anyone can use for quickly jotting down a movie, book or place when the time comes. If you’re content with using Notes, Evernote or any other app that offers more functionality, Thinglist may not be right for you. But if you like the concept of managing all of the things you need to remember with a single app, you may want to add a spot for Thinglist on your home screen.


Summary

Elegantly manage a list of books, movies, places, people and more that you wish to remember for later.

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