tech, simplified.

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone is Really, Really Great

A review of the app that makes sure I write reviews

OmniFocus is a fabled name in Mac geek circles, made by an equally legendary team of developers at The Omni Group. It’s fabled for good reason: it’s powerful.

Based on the outlining app OmniOutliner, OmniFocus on the Mac feels almost more like a spreadsheet or plain-text app than most polished to-do list apps, and that’s a huge benefit. With its Projects, Contexts, and start and due dates, you can view everything in your entire task database at once, or drill down to just see what’s most important for your work at hand. You can even arrange projects in the order stuff needs done, so (say) you won’t see a task to backup your Mac until you’ve completed the “buy an external HDD” task. That, in a nutshell, is what I love about OmniFocus. It’s powerful, and works great.

But, it has never has sported the most polished UI on the market (that award would have to fall to Things or Wunderlist). If anything, the first OmniFocus for iPhone was the ugliest of the trio of apps. It looked essentially like a stock list app in iOS, with the power of OmniFocus’ features underneath. The iPad app was the one with the polished, custom-designed UI that made it the version of OmniFocus of choice for many of us, but the iPhone app felt fully utilitarian, perhaps on the level of the Mac app. It’d keep you organized, and you’d come to fully rely on it more than you possibly could any other task app, but it sure wasn’t the app to go to for UI design inspiration.

That is, until OmniFocus 2 for iPhone was released. The new version immediately looks at home on iOS 7, but is also obviously not a stock app. The Omni team took the default UI style in iOS 7, and made it their own while bringing every single OmniFocus feature to the computer in your pocket. The main place you’ll spend your days is the Forecast view, which first came from the iPad app and now is equally powerful on the iPhone. The lite UI lets you easily see all of your data in an uncluttered interface, with little enhancements like Save+ to quickly enter tasks one after the other that make it more powerful than ever. The new design is nice enough that it’s easily the nicest app in the OmniFocus suite while staying as powerful as its counterparts on the Mac and iPad. And, best of all, it still works great with apps like Drafts and Siri Reminders to easily send tasks to OmniFocus on the go.

Much ado has been made over the price of the new version, but I see nothing at all to complain about. We get the Omni Sync Server for free if you choose to use it, and the Omni Group’s great support and generous 30 day return policy that no one else offers on the App Store. That and, of course, the most powerful task app with a beautiful iOS 7 design — that’s got to be worth something. I was more than glad to pay for the upgrade this time, and if in 3-4 more years they see fit to make another equally exciting upgrade for that price, I’ll be glad to pay again.

But you know what’s great? OmniFocus for iPhone v.1 still works great on iOS 7, and their team just issued an update to quash the few bugs it had on the new OS. So, if you own the older version and don’t want to shell out, you still can use the old version just like you can still use Photoshop CS5 on your Mac. Just don’t watch the OmniFocus 2 demo video, or you’ll end up wanting to open your wallet.

Next up: OmniFocus 2 for Mac. I can’t wait to see what it brings — and if it’ll finally be the leading app that the other two versions need to catch up to. But I’m fine waiting — OmniFocus 1 for Mac is still working fine, as is the current v.2 beta, and v.2 for iPhone has me more happy than ever with my taskmaster of choice.

Originally published in Techinch Magazine Issue 6

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