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Message to Cultured Code: Focus On The Things That Matter


Why the maker of the popular GTD app should forget about the Apple Watch and focus on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

On the surface, the German company seems to be riding a good streak. It started with Things for Apple Watch, which it released on April 24 to positive reviews from both the press and the public (for an idea, just read the comments on this article). What’s more, Cultured Code saw its Watch app shown in the Apple Watch keynote as well as in the App store.

screenshot of Things for Apple watch

*Nice, for sure. But was it necessary? *

To be sure, all of this made Cultured Code look responsive and agile. But was it enough to make it shed its lethargic reputation?

The answer, sadly, is no. Here’s why.

screenshot of two comments doubting Cultured Code will release app in time

screenshot of another comment doubting Cultured Code will release app in time

Some users didn’t even think Cultured Code would even manage to release the Apple Watch app in time.

The Apple Watch is too new a product

The truth is that no ones know how many Apple Watches have been sold. Much like Amazon does not disclose sales of its Kindle e-readers, Apple announced from the beginning that it would not reveal Apple Watch sales numbers. (Although Tim Cook did say that they have so far beat the company’s expectations, we may never know whether that was really the case.)

The point is, even if the Apple Watch has truly exceeded Apple’s internal expectations, there are still too few people who own one, at least when compared with iPhone and Mac users. For starters, it’s available only in “1% of 220,000 locations where the iPhone is available,” as reports the Wall Street Journal. It’s also expensive, not to mention part of a trend (that of wearable technology) that has yet to be embraced by the public.

For Cultured Code, this must have posed a dilemma. If you’re so obviously short of staff and/or money that you struggle to deliver products on time, should you devote a considerable part of your resources to working on an app for a device that has yet to prove will be hit? Doing so will initially make you look good. It will also appeal to hardcore Things users who decided to buy an Apple Watch.

But for the rest of us, I think I can safely say that we would rather have Things 3 on the iPhones and iPads and Macs that we already own. Sadly for Cultured Code, there’s many more of us than there are Apple Watch owners.

The status quo hasn’t changed

The last time I wrote about Things 3 was on April 15, 2014. A lot has happened since, but you wouldn’t know it looking at Cultured Code’s status board. Back in April it claimed that it had introduced animations, all new-sidebar icons and behavioural refinements. Today, however, it only says Things 3 for Mac is in Beta, while the iOS version is in Alpha. *And that’s exactly what it’s been saying for a long time now. *

Too little, too late?

I like Things. It’s elegant and it’s easy to use—two traits that many of us Apple users appreciate. Yet I find I’m increasingly frustrated with how Cultured Code has been dragging its feet. The app does look outdated (even though I concede that that shouldn’t be a big deal). More importantly, it doesn’t do things that would greatly improve my workflow, like searching by multiple tags, allowing me to use a Quick Entry feature on my iPhone, and having time- and geo-based reminders.

Next week, I’ll be taking the Hit List for a test drive. Recently resurrected by Karelia Software, it has quickly become a favourite of Kerry Dawson’s, editor of The Daily Mac View. (Click here to read my own comparison of Omnifocus and Things.) If I like the Hit List, there’s a good chance I’ll dump Things. Cultured Code had better hurry up—I’m not alone in wanting more, faster.

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  1. A year on from your article and nothing’s changed! I’ve been waiting for / hoping for / asking for one tweak to things iPhone/iPad which would (I imagine) be easy enough to implement but life-changing for productivity:
    1. Allow multiple selection of tasks for rescheduling – currently you have to laboriously select and move each one in turn! What other apps are that limited?!

    I’d like to see the number of clicks it takes to do anything reduced too – the UI is dreadful by modern app standards – in usability alone – not even talking about aesthetics.

    They spend way too long fiddling about with stuff I just don’t care about and neglect fundamental flaws in their software. Trouble is, there’s no other apps out there that I fancy switching too. Unless I’m missing something? They are the worst/least least responsive developer of any app I use regularly – I just don’t get it?

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