Talk about a stupid, rogue error message. The one above is a sync error in the Things task management app. It says: “Abort. Things Mac was disconnected unexpectedly.”.
Oh really? Things Mac – at the exact time of this error – was running quite happily on my MacBook Pro – and my MBP was sitting about one foot away from the iPad that was trying to sync with it over my local WiFi network. So what provoked this error? I switched away from Things via command-tab, and had another app in the foreground.
Just recently I’m seeing a number of occasions where Things sync somehow gets its knickers in a twist, despite all being good on my local network – occasions where sync seems to freeze, saying it is awaiting the iPad when the iPad is alive and kicking and doing its best to sync.
This is a pain in the arse in its won right, but it is made all the more of a nuisance by the fact that sync is already a major weak spot for Things. It’s a major weakness because it does not support over-the-air (OTA) sync. So if you want sync to work between your Mac and your iPad or iPhone, you already have to have them both on the same local network, and have your Mac on (sync does not seem to like the Mac to be in sleep mode either). This means whenever I’m out and about, or even just laying on a couch at home but at a time when my MacBook is in sleep mode, if I suddenly think of an important task I have to email it to myself and then get it into Things next time I’m at my desk. This happens a lot.
The fact is OTA sync is a pretty crucial factor for most serious productivity apps by now – many of the very best ones support it. Several support it via strong 3rd party services – e.g. 1Password sync via Dropbox. Things is clearly a premium productivity app; and one that is priced accordingly at $50 for the Mac version, $20 for the iPad version, and $10 for the iPhone version.
So it’s more than a little disappointing that the app has still not added any OTA sync options at all – even if they cannot yet build the feature themselves, I don’t believe it is that hard to add it on via Dropbox or a similar service. Much more disappointing to me is that Cultured Code, the developers of Things, have stopped communicating with their users about this subject – completely. Their ‘status’ for their work on this feature has not changed in months, and their blog has not been updated for over 8 months.
For me, providing good support is an important part of what makes a great app, and communicating with users is a major part of providing good support. Cultured Code’s lack of communication is taking a it of the shine off their great app. I hate saying that, because I’m a huge fan of Things – but as Things’ sync continues to get worse not better I just can’t help it.