Getting things done with iOS and OS X

I like to get things done. I also absolutely have to keep lists of these things. At college I used to have a list presented to me every time I logged into the UNIX mainframe. From there I moved on to various PDAs, such as the Palm IIIx. These days I mostly use equipment running iOS or OS X so consequently I want solutions that synchronize between all of those devices. I’ve read quite a few reviews of all the major offerings, but never found one that gave the answers that I wanted. Several of the reviews just contained marketing material and little of substance. So I’ve been spending quite a lot of time and money to test the applications myself. If you’re in the market for a to-do app, you could do worse than reading this short review of Things, Todo Cloud, Wunderlist and Omnifocus.

Things 2

Looks great on OS X, awful on iPhone and OK on iPad. I’m disappointed that so few of these developers have managed to update all of their applications to iOS 7 style several months after it’s release. It’s not like it came as a surprise. However like Omnigroup, Culturedcode have one up their sleeve. Things 3 promises to fix the visual presentation and also improve the application in general. If you’re on iOS 5 or 6 the look and feel of Things will be just right.

I really like the OS X version and especially the fact that I can simply drag and drop documents and e-mails into a task. It appears that only links are stored so the attachments will not work on the handheld devices. I really dislike the daily review though – the last thing I think about in the morning is to check the todo list. I’d much rather have time-and geobased alarms.

Todo Cloud

This is the only one on review that have upgraded the application to iOS 7 on both the iPad and the iPhone. In fact it’s the same application. You don’t need to keep two different binaries. The OS X application makes you want to cover your eyes. It does the job, but that’s all. It does not support attachments, but it does have geo-fence and even task actions; Link to a contact, SMS/Call a phone number, show a location and view a website.

Now, geo-fence alarms on your Mac may not make much sense. However it does when on the iPhone, and even more when paired with a smart-watch such as the Pebble. At a noisy shopping centre you may not hear the alarm – but a slight vibration at your wrist will certainly get your attention.

Wunderlist

Wunderlist is the only one of these I have not tested extensively. Frankly it appears it has been made to look good and not so much be a professional tool – which is fair enough. Most people would probably be happy what it has to offer. Also it is free unless you need some of the more advanced features. However these features come at a high price and I don’t think the good looks along can justify it.

OmniFocus

The iPad interface will never win a beaty pageant. It’s plain ugly and also a quite clunky. However it does get the job done, and judging by Omnifocus 2 on iPhone we’re in for a treat – because that both looks and works great. The OS X version could also need as a facelift and it appears they are working on it. Of all the solutions reviewed it is the one offering the best organizational features. For large projects it is a better match than the others. But it will cost you. At US$140 this is by far the most expensive. Is it worth it? Compare with i.e. Todo Cloud which will give you a similar feature set and seven years of free updates at the same price.

The verdict

The table below shows a list of all the features I think must be considered when purchasing a to-do solution. Prices are in USD per year or for the application all devices. Ratings are for iPhone, iPad and Mac in that order.

FeatureThingsTodo CloudWunderlistOmnifocus
Map viewNoNoNoYes
Calendar viewYesYesNoYes
AttachmentsYesNoYesYes
Cloud syncYesYesYesYes
ProjectsYesYes (lists)YesYes
ContextsYes (areas)YesNoYes
SubtasksNoYesNoYes
FoldersNoNoNoYes
TagsYesYesNoNo
Task actionsNoYesNoNo
Focus listYes (today, next, scheduled)YesYes (today, week)Yes (forecast)
GeofenceNoYesNoYes
Alarms (on time)NoYesYesYes
Siri integration YesYesNoYes
Price$80 $20/year$50/year$140
App store ratings4/4.5/4.55/5/44.5/4.5/4.54/4/4.5

Personally I’d go for Todo Cloud. It is cheap, the iOS version is great and it supports most features except attachments (which I really miss). And lastly; If I’ve stopped liking it I can always cancel the subscription. On second place it’s a bit of a tie between Omnifocus and Things. I really like Omnifocus 2 on the iPhone and it’s has great management features. On the other hand Things on OS X is much easier to use. Both needs updates which have been promised for some time this year.

Note that several of these solutions offer the ability to share lists in one way or another. I’ve not tested this.

Update: I just got the good news from one of the Appiego guys that they are also working on an OS X version that will be easier on the eyes.

 

Leave a Reply