My Patience for "Things" is Running Low

Things is one of the best designed apps for iOS and Mac, and it has been my task management app of choice for many years. I’ve been happy with it, and really enjoy its ergonomics vs. Todoist, which I was coming from. Yet my patience is running low.

Things has clearly been actively developed, as shown in their excellent release notes. Yet I also feel it has stagnated in the areas I care about. There is often healthy discussion around when software can just be considered “done”, and how a lack of new marquee features doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. My argument to that would be it is entirely dependent on the user as to what they consider “done”, and the vendor needs to communicate their version of the status.

Communication is probably the key gripe I have with Culture Code:

  • Their blog was just updated for iOS 16, but the previous update was nearly a year ago
  • Tweets are similarly rare
  • Rarely an announcement on the Things subreddit
  • Even their main web page is, as of this writing, still touting “The all-new Things”… as it has for nearly 5 years (5/2017)

So with little official communication, users are left wondering whether their improvement or feature request, bug fix, etc. has been prioritized, rejected, deferred to a new Things 4 (will that even exist?). The total lack of roadmap is just frustrating to deal with. If there are no intentions to add a feature or change something, then I feel that not communicating that, and letting people hold on hoping in vain for months and years, is just a crummy way to run things. I’m not looking for release dates, but at least a high level roadmap, even annually, of what they’re considering would be a big improvement.

Some of the specific items I’m hoping for:

Images Link to heading

Being restricted to text notes in Things is probably my biggest gripe. Use a task app with easy image attachment for a few days and it is apparent how incredibly convenient it is. I don’t want my photo albums filled with pictures of a box of screws I need to pick up at Home Depot, or the random screenshot of a bug report, or of the sign advertising soccer signup info. I want that in the task I’m going to action. That’s the best and only place for that information!

To the GTD adherents who consider this “project support” material meant for some other system, I ask why then did Things recently put out a task notes update to support Markdown? It’s clear that customers will want to attach a variety of task-relevant material to the task, and most competing apps allow this.

Location Reminders Link to heading

This a perplexing one. If nothing else I consider Cultured Code to be a premier Mac/iOS development shop, and something like location alerts seems like the sort of OS feature they’d be keen to expose on launch day. But years later, nothing. It might be a smaller feature, but when needed it is very useful, and it something has made its way to many task managers.

Search in share sheets Link to heading

OK this is one is pretty small, but I encounter it multiple times per day. When you go to move a task to a Project, you get this dialog:

I have a lot of projects and that search box at the top is really useful! But when I Share on iOS to Things and go to choose the Project, the dialog is identical except… no search box. So I scroll and scroll looking for the target Project.

I’ve written them about this but have received nothing but a stock email responder reply. This is the sort of small refinement I actually do expect them to be working on, but I have no idea if this change has been considered, rejected, or fallen into a black hole.

Bug Fixes Link to heading

It’s clear that Cultured Code is committed to quality and is constantly refining the apps. So I was surprised when, after providing a detailed repro doc about broken repeating tasks, their response was simply that they’re working on a major overhaul to the repeating system and had no ETA for fixing the bug. A similar bug reported in the App Store got the same response. While I understand their focus is on the “real” fix of shifting to the new system, something as core as repeating tasks can’t just linger in a broken state.

Conclusion Link to heading

I do hope Cultured Code changes their ways. They have an excellent product, and I don’t want them to falter because of an overly conservative, non-communicative posture. Ship a Things 4, ask me for a monthly or yearly fee, and enjoy that recurring revenue. I’ll happily pay, provided they offer a few more peeks behind the curtain once in a while.