Things 2: Tasks in the Cloud

Some say this day would never arrive, some even called it abandon-ware, but Things 2 is finally here. Cultured Code, the developers behind Things for Mac, iPhone and iPad released an updated version of their suite of productivity apps today. Also arriving with the set of updates is Things Cloud – Cultured Code’s sync service that keeps your copies of Things updated on all of your devices.

Let’s take a look at Things 2 for Mac as well as Things Cloud and explore what’s new since we first covered this task manager back in 2009 and what might tempt you to make the jump from another task manager.

First and Foremost, Things Cloud

This update has been nearly two years in the making and shows it with the level of polish and speed at which their new sync engine works. If you’ll remember, when Things launched on the iPhone and Mac you needed a Wifi network that supported Bonjour to sync. It was limited to local network syncing and required both apps to be open to initiate a sync. In late 2010, Cultured Code announced in a blog post that they were working on a new cloud based syncing solution. Unfortunately, it was a far way out. Cultured Code didn’t start open beta trials of its syncing solution until May of 2011. On top of the long wait, they announced that it would only be available for Mac-to-Mac syncing first.

The poster Cultured Code made when they announced their Over-The-Air syncing solution.

In August of 2011 Cultured Code announced the limited availability of cloud syncing with iOS devices. Through a hidden feature launched with a pervious version of Things, you were able to shake your phone on the settings screen to activate the beta features. In February of 2012 they announced the open public beta of their cloud syncing solution, meaning that anyone could try out the new Things Cloud service, even if they weren’t the first few to sign up for the beta when it was announced in May of the previous year.

I began testing the beta of Things Cloud back in early August 2011 on my iOS and Mac devices and found it to be incredibly stable and miraculously fast compared to other Over-The-Air syncing solutions out there.

The Things Cloud preference pane

Setting up Things Cloud can now be done from the preferences screen of any of their apps and requires just an email address and password. Things Cloud is a completely free service.  One of the best features of Things Cloud is how invisible it is: instead of having to press a sync button, Things will automatically sync every time you make a change to any to-do, create or edit a project, Area of Responsibility, or reorganize your tasks. The only way you’ll have any idea that Things Cloud is working is a small cloud icon that appears next to the Full Screen button in the title bar.

Once you have Things Cloud set up, you can just forget about it and know that your tasks are backed up and synchronized with every change.

Daily Review

In Things, you can easily organize what you need to get done by the end of the day in the Today list. Items used to get moved into Today automatically when they become due as well as well as when they are scheduled for today. In a slight departure, Things 2 separates these tasks, placing them into a “Daily Review” list. That way, you can easily mark the tasks that you actually need to to today and which you can delay until later.

The Things Daily Review card

I found the Daily Review list to be an integral part of using Things. Every morning all of the tasks that I have either postponed until today or are actually due today appear in the Daily Review. I can easily reschedule tasks that I don’t have time for as well as mark the important ones for completion today.

Reminders Integration

Adding tasks via Siri is one of the coolest features of Apple’s built-in Reminders app. Things 2 now has integration. In Things’s preferences, you can have the app monitor tasks that are on a specific list and load them into Things’s inbox. This way you can enter tasks via Siri and have them show up in your Things suite. You can also have Things export your Today list to another list if you so choose.

The sync panel in Things’s preferences.

Other New Features

There are a few other features that are important to note in this 2.0 release. Full screen mode is now enabled and the app is Retina-ready for those with the new MacBook Pro. Things is also now sold exclusively through the Mac App Store, with a trial still available via their website.

Things in fullscreen mode

Wrap Up

The app hasn’t changed a great deal, in terms of user interface design and I for one am really glad about that. The app remains one of the most beautiful ways to manage your tasks on your Mac, iPhone and iPad. Now powered with a brand new cloud backend, you’ll never be out of sync. Daily Review provides another great way to quickly power through your scheduled and due tasks and the Siri integration works quite well.

I would highly encourage you to check out Things for all of your devices. Let us know what you think in the comments!


A beautiful and powerful task management solution.