Things for iPad: Getting Things Done in Style

If you’re looking for a way to stay organised on your iPad, Things surely has to be one of the best options available. If you already own a license for your iPhone or Mac, great – everything syncs wonderfully. If not, it works absolutely fine as a stand-alone task manager.

The following review will offer a run-down of all the features on offer, highlighting some of the great features and a few that are lacking at the moment.

Getting Things Done

Since already been reviewed over at Mac.AppStorm, I won’t go into every little detail of the application or explain what a to-do/getting things done application can do for you.

Eye-candy and different platforms aside, there isn’t a huge difference between the feature set of Things on your Mac, iPhone or iPad. It still does the very same thing everywhere: helping you to keep track of your tasks.

For The Eyes

After you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be greeted by a welcome screen which already gives you a good impression of the visual and functional layout of the app.

The Launch Screen

The Launch Screen

This is an aspect I can’t stress enough. Things on the Mac comes with a very sleek and functional interface, allowing you to navigate quickly between sections. Things on the iPhone was a pain for me. The navigation was clumsy and once inside a project or a task, it took multiple touches to get back to the Home screen. While it was great to have my tasks with me, it was painful to enter or manipulate data.

With Things on the iPad, it’s almost as if you’re using the desktop version. The larger screen, the landscape mode and the huge virtual keyboard make it not only easy to use Things, but also fun.

Desktop Similarity

Desktop Similarity

Entering and Manipulating Data

Cultured Code have adopted the fly-out method to enter data. As you can see in the screenshots below, whenever you want to enter or manipulate data, a menu flys out.

Flyout Information

Flyout Information

The huge benefit of this method is that you always have your original lists/information in view, unlike the iPhone version. The only thing that changes is the view within the fly out. This is especially nice when working within projects. The project with all its tasks remains visible while editing a single item. Very comfortable.

Editing a Project

Editing a Project

The downside of this GUI is that the space to enter information is very limited. If you are pasting/writing a lot if information into the notes field, for example, it can become a little hard to read. A slightly larger fly out (or one that adjusts to the amount of information it holds) would be more comfortable at times.

Viewing Modes

As mentioned earlier, Things also makes use of the iPad’s ‘hold-me-whichever-way-you-want’ capability. You can use the app both in landscape and in portrait mode. Even in portrait mode, the app is easy to use and has all the information you’d normally see on the left side are displayed in a fly out list.

Popup Left Navigation

Popup Left Navigation

Differing Orientation

Differing Orientation

Contextual Menus

Certain functions of Things depend on which screen you are in – tasks, areas or projects. These functions are displayed discreetly at the top of the screen:

Context Information

Context Information

Depending on what you choose, this top bar is replaced with actions that are specific to the function you selected.

Syncing

Information exchange between the different platform works via Wi-Fi (providing all devices are on the same network). You need to tell your desktop app that a new mobile device is available to sync with, and everything else is pretty much self explanatory.

Syncing

Syncing

The Not-So-Great Aspects

Of course, no application is perfect, and as much as Things for the iPad rocks, there are some aspects that aren’t completely polished or functionally perfect.

First of all: you cannot create Areas on the iPad. You may set up new tasks and projects, but you can’t create Areas. For me, who relies heavily on that feature, that was a shock at first. After the first sync with the desktop version, my Areas – created on the Mac – showed up, though! So, you can sync Areas from the desktop version. A slightly clumsy solution, but at least a solution.

Support for Areas

Support for Areas

According to the status website, this issue will be addressed at least for the iPhone in the 1.5 release of Things (and hopefully also for the iPad!)

Repeating tasks are still not showing up in the Scheduled pane. If you set a due date, they will show up in your Next tasks and Today list, but not where you would expect them to be as well.

Project view isn’t perfect yet. Granted, it looks cute with the little notebooks representing each project, but it’s not functional. Right now, you have to go to Projects to see each project, select a project, and only then you see the associated tasks. It reminds me a little of the iPhone version of the app that also forces unnecessary clicks/touches on you. I’d much prefer a project view similar to the Next view, maybe with the first two or three tasks of every project listed.

Projects

Projects

My Wish List

And then there are functions which are completely missing from the app, but would really make it the standard for GTD across the different Apple devices.

Push notifications – You don’t really need me to elaborate on this aspect! Right now, I add tasks and for the time critical ones I need to go to Google calendar and set an email or SMS reminder. A push notification from within Things would completely eliminate this extra step, which will happen with the 1.7 release of the app.

While syncing between all the devices is possible by using Wi-Fi, it still is cumbersome to remember to sync every day after long hours of work. Especially if you try to keep three devices in sync. According to their status website, Cultured Code is at “full speed” to achieve over the air sync in an upcoming release. I can’t wait!

The Verdict

Things for iPad is a very, very pleasant application to use on a day-to-day basis. It makes managing takes not only easy, but fun. Except some minor usability niggles which hopefully will be fixed soon, but on the whole the app leaves a very good impression for a 1.0 version.

The darkest shadow looming over Things for iPad is the price, though. Granted, you can use Things independently on each device and in this case the $20 price tag is not too high for the iPad version. For users who have purchased both the desktop and iPhone version already, an additional $20 seems quite pricey though, bringing the total cost of Things for the entire setup up to $80!

Don’t let this put you off, though – if you’re a Things user, the application is an absolute “must have” for your iPad. If not, I’d recommend giving the desktop version a try first to see how it fits your workflow.


Summary

Things for iPad comes close to delivering the desktop experience on a mobile device. The interface is gorgeous, functionality excels, with the only downside being a high price tag. Don't let this put you off giving it a try!

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