For a long time Things was my favorite task management app – on the iPhone, the Mac, and then the iPad. It has a beautiful and basic UI that makes it tremendously easy, with enough clever features to meet my needs as well.
I used Things every day on iPad, iPhone, and Mac – so effective, easy sync was a crucial issue. And it became an increasingly frustrating issue – as there was no cloud sync, only WiFi sync when iPad (or iPhone) and Mac were on the same WiFi network, and even that sync would very frequently fail. The developers of Things have been promising a cloud sync solution since back in 2010, but their progress has been ridiculously slow – which I griped about numerous times last year. Eventually I gave up on Things and switched to OmniFocus on the iPad, iPhone, and Mac – and I’ve been very happy with the switch.
There are still some things I miss about Things though, and I’ve kept the app installed on my MacBook Pro and iPad 2. My friend and colleague Thomas Wong has stuck with Things and has been involved in their Things Cloud Beta, which has now (finally) extended to iOS devices. He’s been telling me recently that the cloud sync works quite well in the beta. Then this morning I received a beta invite for the Things Cloud Beta for iOS. I’ve now installed the Mac and iOS beta apps and setup and turned on cloud sync.
My plan for now is to try out Things Cloud Beta with just a small set of non-essential tasks. If it looks like it really does work well, I’ll add more tasks to it and sort of run concurrently with OmniFocus a bit, just to see what I think.
Even if I don’t ever end up going back to Things, I’m glad to see there’s finally some solid progress on their Cloud Sync solution.
Cultured Code published a post at their Things Blog yesterday, with their latest update on the status of cloud sync for the Things task management app. The big piece of good news in their update is that they will not be charging for the cloud sync feature / service when it is eventually available.
It turns out that the hard work of making our solution scalable has paid off – our sync service has gracefully handled this increasing traffic – and with usage data on hand from this large group, we can also now confirm that there will be no need to charge for the service. Our cloud sync service will be free for all users of Things.
The bad news is that their beta program seems to be continuing at the same leisurely pace that has been the trademark of Cultured Code’s approach all along. The beta program started in early May but included only Macs, no iOS devices. Yesterday’s post states that iOS testing will begin with a small group of testers, on August 22. So it sounds like they are still months away from a public release. Bearing in mind that several rival apps have offered cloud sync for a long while now, the lack of any sense of urgency on this subject from Cultured Code continues to surprise me. This is all too little and too late for me; I’ve recently switched to OmniFocus and I’m very happy with the change.
For more details, and to hear what Cultured Code think about iOS 5 and iCloud and why their own solution is still the right one, see their full article here: http://culturedcode.com/things/blog/2011/07/cloud-sync-beta.html
Cloud sync is by far and away the biggest missing feature in the otherwise excellent Things task manager app for iPad, iOS and Mac. It has been for a long time now, while other rival apps have offered it well ahead of Things.
Last month there was some relatively good news for those of us long awaiting this feature; as Cultured Code (developers of Things) started a Things Cloud Sync Beta in early May. The not so great news at the time was that only Macs (no iOS devices) would be involved in the initial beta period, there was no timeframe at all for the beta period or ETA for when the feature would be released, and no indication as to whether the cloud sync feature would be free or paid for.
I’ve been curious about how the beta testing is going and hoping by now there might be some word on ETA for the new feature release – so today I had a quick check of the Things Blog and Cultured Code’s Twitter account. Their most recent tweet was a reply pointing a user at an FAQ page for the latest info on Cloud Sync.
Cultured Code has kicked off their beta testing program for cloud sync for their Things task management app. They’ve started the beta testing on schedule with a small group of testers that will be expanded as the testing moves forward.
That’s the good news, that beta testing has begun. Here’s the not-so-good news:
— The current round of beta testing includes only Macs, no iOS devices at all.
— There’s no timeframe announced for how long testing will take.
— There’s no decision yet as to whether the cloud sync service may be charged for or not.
I love Things as a task management app, and it’s been one of my most used apps on the Mac and on iOS for ages – but its current WiFi sync is getting worse all the time, and Cultured Code have taken so long to address this cloud sync issue, and there’s still no end line in sight and no clear answer on whether it will be charged for. It’s becoming harder and harder to stay with Things. I now find myself looking closely at every tasks app that gets an update and adds features.
The screenshot above is one I’ve got to know quite well over recent months. Far more than I would have liked to. It’s a status / error message from the Things task management app on my MacBook pro, concluding with
Waiting for Things on your mobile device …
The thing is I see this message when the mobile device in question, my iPad, is roughly 10 feet away from my MacBook (or less). The iPad is on, the Things app is open – so my rather obvious question is WTF is Things on the Mac waiting for?
Of course that’s just a rhetorical question. I’ve learned by now that the issue is generally resolved by closing out Things on the iPad, closing and restarting Things on the Mac, or some combination of these. If this happened once in a great while, no biggie; but when it happens several times per week, as it does for me, it is more than a little bit of a pain in the arse.
I’ve spoken to someone at Things / Cultured Code about this in the past and they suggested that it must be a problem with my wireless router. That is possible, but I find it highly unlikely – as the issue has persisted over enough months to include a time when I used a NetGear router and now an Airport Extreme I’ve had for several months. And none of my other apps that make use of local WiFi connections, or sync between Mac and devices, have had any issues at all.
So my thought is that this is just Things sync getting its knickers in a twist, annoyingly often.
I love Things. It’s one of my most used apps. But the lack of cloud sync has been a sore point for a long, long time now – and now that WiFi sync frankly sucks in terms of performance, it is adding insult to injury. It’s a great app – but the developers seriously need to figure sync out very soon.
Bitch and you shall receive, that’s how the saying goes right? Just yesterday I bitched again about the lack of OTA sync in the (otherwise excellent) Things task manager app, and last night the folks at Cultured Code (developers of Things) announced on their blog that OTA sync will begin testing in May.
Here are some of the major points outlined in their blog post:
— Things on iOS and Mac will need to be updated to enable communication with the cloud server.
This software upgrade will come at no charge, and will also sport a revamped database layer that is not only faster, but specifically optimized for cloud sync usage.
— Things sync will not be automatic it sounds like, but it will sync ‘frequently’ enough that ‘there should hardly be any reason’ for doing any manual syncs.
Whenever you open Things, switch applications, or wake your computer from sleep, Things will check back with the server to see if there are any updates to pull.
Things – the excellent task manager app for iOS – got another update last week, to version 1.7.2. The update added the ability to create repeating tasks on the iPad or iPhone, and not much else.
Here’s the key thing this latest update did not add – over-the-air (OTA) sync – which continues to be the one huge missing feature in an otherwise stellar app. In my view, this is a long overdue feature by now. Things has been in the iOS App Store since 2008. The iPad version of the app has been around since April of 2010. The iPad and Mac versions of Things are priced at relatively premium levels, at $19.99 and $49.99 respectively. Many other top productivity apps have offered OTA sync for a long while now, and many have recently added cloud sync via Dropbox and similar cloud services.
It is way past time for Things to offer OTA sync. Right now, as soon as you step away from your local WiFi network, Things sync ceases to work. So if you’re out and about and remember a critical task you need to jot down, Things is pretty much no use to you. Worse still, Things’ WiFi sync is getting worse and worse. I find more and more often lately it gets stuck and fails to complete even when my iPad and MacBook Pro are within 15 feet of each other on the same WiFi network.
Things has been my favorite and everyday tasks app – on the Mac and iOS devices – for years now, and I hate thinking of switching away from it. But I am fed up with waiting on OTA sync and I now look carefully and longingly at every new tasks app I see hit the App Store. I am also seriously looking at other existing apps for this purpose.
Of course I’m just one user – but it seems to me that if someone who has been a huge fan of the app is feeling ready to switch away from it, that’s not a good omen.
Things is one of my all-time favorite and most essential apps – for keeping up with tasks on my iPad, iPhone, and Mac. I’ve talked a bit recently about how much I’d like to see the app add OTA (over the air) sync to its feature set, and even criticized its developers (Cultured Code) for not communicating more with users about the status of progress on developing this feature.
So I was very happy to see a new blog post up at the Cultured Code site earlier this week – titled State of Sync – Part 1. It’s a post that tackles their users concerns about lack of communication on this subject head-on – and provides a lot of insight on their approach to adding this big new feature.
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.
That’s the screen shown on the Status Board page at Cultured Code’s site. Cultured Code are the makers of the superb Things task management app for iPad, iPhone, and Macs.
The good news here is that ‘Cloud Sync’ – over the air sync for Things – is right at the top of the list, noted as being at ‘Full Speed’ status, and everything below it is either already done or on hold. So it looks like cloud sync has the full focus of development efforts for the app now. Probably wishful thinking, but maybe we’ll see it in time to include in an iOS 4.2 update over the next couple weeks.
This is easily my biggest wish list item for the Things app – so it can’t come soon enough.
Thanks to Thomas at iSource for the heads-up on this.
Image Source: dan-dare.org
I’ve noticed two major apps that have some big problems on the iPad, at least on my iPad anyway. The two apps are Evernote and Things.
Evernote – this is a favorite app for me on the iPhone, the Mac, online, everywhere basically. It was one of the first few apps I installed (the iPad version) and it was looking very nice the first few times I used it. I loved being able to add a new audio note from right within a text note for example. The only problem is … after several uses the app began crashing back to the home screen each time I launched it.