Wunderlist becomes a platform, aiming to be “the home of all the world’s lists”

Wunderlist 3

Wunderlist 3 is out. It’s faster, more conducive to real-time collaboration and — most importantly — it sets up 6Wunderkinder’s Sequoia-funded productivity app to become a list platform for the wider web.

On the surface, an extensive redesign has made the cross-platform app, used by 8 million people, look more modern. Under the hood, there are some big changes, too: real-time sync has taken over from the old every-15-minutes automated sync regime, making it much better for teams, and there’s a new distributed database architecture that’s designed to make Wunderlist faster and more stable.

Now that the new architecture is in place, Wunderlist will also start putting out much more frequent updates — an area where it has arguably been weak — and the change should also make the service much easier to scale. That could prove handy, given the introduction of Public Lists in Wunderlist 3.

“From utility to platform”

Christian Reber and Benedikt Lehnert from 6WunderkinderIn the words of 6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber (pictured on the left, next to Chief Design Officer Benedikt Lehnert), Public Lists moves Wunderlist “from being a utility to being a platform.” “We want to be the home of all the world’s lists,” he said.

The first step in this shift, included in Thursday’s release, makes it possible to share lists through social media and embed them into webpages. So, while Wunderlist has traditionally been for shopping lists and shared to-do lists, this makes it more appropriate for, say, lists of favorite movies and how-to guides.

When someone clicks on the link for a shared list, they are taken to a mini-site that allows importing into users’ Wunderlist apps; obviously this is partly intended to introduce a viral effect. These lists will become searchable in an update soon, Reber promised.

What’s more, 6Wunderkinder is preparing a new API that will make it possible to integrate its lists with Google Calendar and Evernote and Dropbox, but that will also allow people to build new services on top of Wunderlist lists.

New ecosystem

I mentioned to Reber and Lehnert that there was a certain irony here. In the Berlin startup scene, now-dead services like Amen and HowDo were trying to build list-based businesses, and one of the key survivors, 6Wunderkinder, is now building a platform to support similar ideas.

“Public Lists is a great feature but hard to design as a standalone product,” Lehnert said. “You want the content but you don’t want to switch from the service that holds the rest of your life.”

Overall I think this platform play is a very smart move, one that could help 6Wunderkinder take on the likes of Evernote — a key rival in my book — without losing its core focus. As with Evernote, there’s scope for evolving a lot of interesting new features, but the key is in the name.

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