Wunderlist 2 makes its debut today, with new apps for iPhone, Mac, Android, Windows and web, all free and all completely rebuilt with a specific native version for each platform. The app adds a few new features to its free task management service, for sure, but the real story is behind the scenes, founder and CEO Christian Reber told me in an interview. That’s because where originally Wunderlist was built by 6Wunderkinder as a cross-platform app made via Titanium, the team made the hard decision to rebuild everything.
Why start fresh? It’s a question of being able to deliver the best experience possible. In fact, Reber wasn’t even shy about calling the previous version of Wunderlist sub-par. “If you know Wunderlist version 1 on the App Store, then you see it’s actually kind of not that good of a product,” he admitted. “That was what frustrated us, and we wanted to really make it perfect.”
The challenge was getting that extra level of quality out of apps that weren’t native-built for each platform where Wunderlist appeared. Reber said that while cross-platform tools like Titanium enable you to build a pretty good product on several platforms at once, none allowed them to go the extra mile and deliver something truly special. I asked if Reber agreed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s complaints about trying to leverage HTML5 and webviews to build cross-platform for mobile, expressed at TC Disrupt this year before the company launched all new products, and he said he did, wholeheartedly.
“It’s about the last five percent [of improvement],” he said. “If you want to continue to improve and improve and improve, as we did, you reach those limitations with cross-platform development and that’s really difficult. That’s why we decided to go native, and I can definitely agree with all of [Zuckerberg's] points, I was following their transition from HTML5 to native stuff very carefully “
Visually, and in terms of responsiveness, Wunderlist 2 on iOS is a definite improvement from the first version. There’s also new features, including recurring tasks and subtasks, and a toll for adding notes to any task, which can then be uncoupled later. There’s a new notification area in the Activity Center, and new sharing options. It’s a massive improvement from top to bottom.
6Wunderkinder raised a new funding round over the summer to help carry it through with the new version of its product, but the total amount isn’t something Reber is ready to share. He says the company is always careful to ensure it has enough to sustain its efforts for a long time going forward. Reber also says to watch out for its new paid options in 2013, which will be the app’s first attempt at revenue generation, and will take the form of premium features for a small percentage of power users. With 3 million active users on its service, it has a good base to start converting paid users from when it does launch those options.