What “Things”?

Things is a to do list app that sets out to replace pen and paper.

In my opinion, writing a to do item down on pen and paper is much more easier than tapping on a screen multiple times. My trusty Muji todo pad has been serving me well since the start of University days.

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However, to facilitate learning about what has Things done well, I shall list down the three points about the application which makes it really popular.

It has only four fields to fill in

I feel that this is one of the main attraction of the application. Having only four items to consider when creating something to do reduces the amount of time planning, to actually doing. In fact, I believe that the time taken to fill in those four fields should not take longer than the time to actually write down in pen and paper itself. Also, it gives the app a very clean feel, removing the clutter that we see in forms we encounter everyday.

Clean and efficient UI/UX

Things does what it does beautifully. The UI/UX of Things stands out above the rest as really simple and intuitive to use. User retention is often about how beautiful an app looks and Things have done that well by putting in lots of considerations about their look.

Non-collaborative

Things did not have collaborative features such as Todoist or Trello. (if that is even considered a todo list) I think they hit spot on with this decision since a todo list is something very personal and private. In actuality, we do not write a todo list and share it with everyone to clear it together. (there’s the post-its to do that, but that’s more of a Trello thing) Perhaps we can gather around in a meeting and list down the things we have to do, but a todo list is something that one writes down to set his productivity achievements and target for the day. It is something personal and should not extend to a group.

With regards to Things being Apple-ish about this, “use it or find something else”, I love the attitude too. It shows how much the company believes in their own values and is definitely something worth learning from.


There’s a problem which I cannot get over with about Things. The price. Why would I pay a hefty $10.00 for an app that can be easily replicated with pen and paper, or even something free such as Chrome’s Momentum or Todoist?

In fact, there’s even the Open Sourced TodoMVC by Addy Osmani which makes writing a web version of todo list very easy. (At the same time learn one more new MV* framework out of the 1259812 ones out there)

One can argue that the company needs a small amount of paid users. I believe there needs to be a balance in this. To me, $10 for a todo list app is way too much that I am willing to fork out.

In conclusion, I am convinced that Things might have done certain things right about a todo list app. But to totally replace my awesome Muji pad at a price of $10? Probably not.

P.S. A Muji pad costs something too, but I’m willing to spend that amount for convenience of a tried and tested method, rather than an app that I may or may not continue using. 😀

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3 thoughts on “What “Things”?

  1. Hi Bili! I agree with you that even while Things does hit the spot in certain areas, it certainly won’t be something I would fork out $10 on. In a world where there are just so many todo apps out there, I would not opt for Things over the alternatives – why pay when I can have something so similar cheaper or for free?

    Like you, I used to use a Muji planner – they’re great, being cheap as heck and aesthetically pleasant in its classic minimalist way, and I’m very inclined to use pen and paper all the time. I also say “used to” because I’ve actually been using Wunderlist this semester instead. I started using Wunderlist a semester ago, because I needed to plan my packing list and todos while on exchange, and I thought it was very cool to be able to have it on mobile to use it on the go – I can just strike something out the moment I’ve done it.

    Something that bothers me is that while having very simple and easy-to-use interface, Things isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing app out there. The greys and the blues bore me and makes the planning of the todo list (and the carrying out of the todos themselves) a dreaded chore. I would actually greatly prefer something that makes me look forward to logging in to see the endless amounts of tasks that I have to clear – such as the app Quest, that gamifies todo lists. The price point of Quest is also only one-fifth of that of Things, but in knowing that I’ll get so much more entertainment and motivation to continue, I feel much more compelled to purchase that app instead.

    I’m guessing Things has its own consumer base and these users are likely loyalists – but whether or not they will stay/whether new users will choose to come onboard in the face of all the competition remains unseen.

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    1. Hi five for the Muji planner!

      Yes I’ve used Wunderlist in a previous semester before and found that it’s really convenient to use given the way it helps us organize our different categories of tasks. (Like by grouping them in different modules and projects) Also if there’s a need for mobility then of course an app would definitely be the way to go! Imagine writing a todo item on pen and paper while walking around on foreign lands. :O

      I think the main reason why todo apps are not needed is still because of the ‘overkill factor’. The ultimate goal of having a todo list, for me personally, is to keep focused and get things done. Weed out what’s not important and zoom in on the urgent tasks we have at hand right now. Gamification may sound like a good idea but I’m not sure if people will end up focusing more on the game aspect of a todo list rather than their actual task itself. I’m not very sure about that. 😛

      Still, we can all agree that Things has a really high price point among all the other todo list apps. Totally agree with your view about purchasing Quest instead of Things. 🙂

      Cheers, and all the best for the final two assignments!

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  2. Hi Bili,

    I fully agree with your point about Things being overpriced. It’s $49.99 on the Mac App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/things/id407951449

    To me, that’s actually quite a feat, to be able to make a relatively simple product and yet sell it at such exorbitant prices. Other than that, I’m also pretty amazed by the people who actually buy it at that price. I guess ultimately, people are irrational when it comes to the pricing of products. $10 is actually just 2 McSpicy meals. :p

    I think one learning point about this is that making a great product (clean and efficient UI, simple) will increase the likelihood of your app being able to attract users who want to use it everyday and don’t mind paying you for the effort you’ve put in.

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