Things iPhone Sync

August 19th, 2008

Yesterday, Cultured Code updated Things for the iPhone (iPhone Things?) to include synching with its desktop counterpart. When I began using Things on the desktop, I bought Things for the iPhone as well in anticipation of iPhone synching, so I was quite excited to see this update.

Rather than synch through MobileMe or Cultured Code’s servers, Things synchs over your own local wireless network. More on this in a second.

They have created a dead-simple way to connect Things for the iPhone and Things on the desktop. The desktop version’s preferences now includes an iPhone synching tab. When you open it for the first time, it has a configuration assistant. Much like the AppleTV and iTunes, to configure your desktop and iPhone version of Things, you simply open Things on the iPhone, and the assistant will recognize your iPhone on the network. Choose it, then it will give you a password to type in on your iPhone and boom — your iPhone and Things synch.

Cultured Code deserves a lot of praise for how easy it is to synch the iPhone and desktop version of Things. Wireless synching on other platforms, such as Windows Mobile, is more black magic than science, and it is great to see a company get the synch configuration right. It really does just work.

Back to synching over your local network. This means of synching certainly has its benefits — synching does not require a $99/year subscription to MobileMe, and does not present a privacy threat by passing your data through Cultured Code’s servers, and it is also fast.

But it is not seamless. MobileMe is much maligned, but I have had an excellent experience — it lives up to what Apple promised. When I create a new contact or event on my iPhone while away from a computer, I have no doubt that it will be on my computer when I need it. The reason I can have such confidence in it is because it synchs to the server immediately, in the background. I don’t have to do anything for it to synch.

Things, though, while it synchs reliably, requires my intervention. When I get home and want to synch new tasks to my desktop, I must physically launch Things on the iPhone. This is an extra step that discourages my using it, which decreases its utility. Things’s value is proportional to the amount I use it, so anything that decreases my likelihood to use it also decreases its value.

Luckily, however, Things is not a finished product. It is still being actively developed, and Cultured Code has said in discussion that they will be adding more synching options later.

I see this as an evolutionary step, albeit a large one, in Things’s development, and it is another example of Cultured Code’s attention to detail and desire to make Things as great an application as they possibly can. This is their first step of iPhone synching, and it is a well-placed one.