OmniPlan and OmniGraffle now run on iPhones

The Omni Group’s excellent project management application OmniPlan and its impressive graphics software OmniGraffle have both had major new releases with many new features. Dwarfing them all, though, is that the two can now also run on iPhone.

Previously… there was a Mac version and an iPad one but no iPhone. Now that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have big screens, the Omni Group has been moving their apps to the phone.

That’s obviously good: even the bigger screen of the iPhone 6 Plus is not as handy as an iPad or Mac but you always have your phone with you so the usefulness is high. What’s nicer still, though, is that if you already have these apps for iPad, you’ve now got them for your iPhone. For free.

It’s the same app in both cases. Just go get them from your Purchases section in the App Store. That’s still true even if, like me, your iPhone is the older, smaller type, an iPhone 5.

I’ve not been on the beta tests for either of these but I have for the other two Omni Group apps are that coming to iPhone very soon. And I can tell you that having OmniOutliner available on my iPhone has been a huge boon. I don’t have to tell you that having OmniFocus on my iPhone is superb.

Of these four apps, only OmniFocus was already on the iPhone – but it was there in an iPhone-only edition. That was good, I used that thousands upon thousands of times, but now that’s gone and instead we get the iPad edition turned universal. That means we get features that were previously only on the iPad. And yes, that means Reviews. We finally get OmniFocus’s reviews feature on iPhone.

I have been using this lots. Lots.

A tease about the new OmniFocus, sorry

Oh, the pleasure I get from great software: it’s immeasurable and terribly surprising. Today the Omni Group released a new beta of OmniFocus and I shouldn’t talk about it. Not because I’ve signed anything, not because of spoilers, but because it is a bit mean of me when you can’t get the new version yet.

You will soon. You will.

But I’ve been waiting for one feature in this beta and was taken by surprise by another one.

The one I was expecting was that when this comes out in the next few days or weeks, we will finally be able to do a Review on the iPhone. Previously, Review was a feature of the Mac and iPad versions of OmniFocus but not the iPhone one. I’ve said this before and lamented it before and scratched my head before, but no longer.

It is weirdly freaky seeing such a familiar feature in an unfamiliar place. But then I’m also beta testing OmniOutliner which is coming to the iPhone for the first time ever. That is seriously odd, just seeing the icon my iPhone home screen. Mind you, it’s only odd in that one way. In every other way it is fantastic to have this app on my iPhone and it went straight onto my home screen.

The unfamiliar feature, the one that took me by surprise, was that the Omni Group has revamped how the iPhone and iPad handle Notification Centre. Previously, even just a few days ago, I wrote a piece for MacNN about Notification Centre and how To Do apps were using this. At that time, OmniFocus was doing okay with this thing: whatever you’re doing on your iOS device, just swipe your finger down from the top and you get Notification Centre. Within that, OmniFocus showed you the most urgent To Dos on your list.

Or it did. Now it can show you that or it can show you other things that you decide within the main app. I expect to be fiddling for days and I expect to be using Notification Centre more.

And every time I do, I promise I’ll feel rotten for saying there’s this great OmniFocus update and you can’t have it. Not yet. Not quite yet. But soon. Honest.

Review feature coming to OmniFocus for iPhone

This made me sit up. The Omni Group is revamping its productivity apps and bringing ones to the iPhone that have only ever been on the iPad – and that now includes OmniFocus.

OmniFocus is a To Do app that has long, long, long been on iPhone and I’ve used it pretty much hourly for the past three years. But when there were three versions of the app – one for iPhone, one for iPad and one for Mac – it used to be that they each had differences. Each were best for certain things. The iPhone one, for instance, was best for adding new tasks on the go and looking up the next thing you needed to do.

It specifically lacked a feature called Review where you go through every task in every job and make decisions about whether to keep them, whether to do them, whether you need to do anything else. This is a fairly quick thing to do but you tend to do it when you’re in a fairly reflective mood and don’t have new tasks flying at you from everywhere. So the Review feature was on the iPad and the Mac versions of OmniFocus and it didn’t exist at all on the iPhone one.

“That’s a really important feature and I think a big omission from the iPhone OmniFocus” I said back in September 2014’s If you can buy only one OmniFocus, get the iPad version. Not anymore.

The Omni Group recently announced that it was bringing all its iPad apps to the iPhone and like anyone else, I didn’t think of OmniFocus because it was already there. I am keen to see OmniOutliner, that’s the one I was looking forward to and in fact I am beta testing it right now. But otherwise there is the project planning app OmniPlan and a diagramming tool called OmniGraffle, that’s what I assumed was coming to iPhone.

Today the company announced that OmniFocus is coming too. All of the company’s apps are coming to iPhone and they’re coming in Universal versions which means:

Since all of the apps in the Omni Productivity Pack will run on both iPad and iPhone, there will no longer be any need to purchase a separate app just to run OmniFocus on iPhone. The price for the new Universal app will be just $39.99 (a savings of $9.99 compared to the current two-app pricing for customers using OmniFocus on both devices)—and it will be a free upgrade for anyone currently using OmniFocus 2 for iPad.

Omni Productivity Pack coming to iPhone in Q1, 2015 – blog post by by Ken Case, Omni Group (8 January 2015)

I’m not honestly fussed about the pricing because this stuff is so useful to me that it’s now just a mandatory purchase. But:

Customers who want to upgrade from the iPhone app to the Universal one can simply pay the difference in the prices by taking advantage of a $20 Complete My Bundle option we’ll make available. Of course, we’ll continue to update OmniFocus 2 for iPhone, but Pro features such as custom perspectives will only be available in the Universal app.

I have all three versions of OmniFocus available today and I use them all, all of them, constantly. So for me I’ll just be using a new version of OmniFocus for iPhone some day shortly. Which I realise means I will actually delete the old iPhone-only edition. That’s not something I thought I’d be saying to you: I’m actually going to delete a version of OmniFocus.

That’s practically a Dear Diary moment. Not sure when it will be but as I say, I am on the beta test for OmniOutliner for iPhone so it’s well along and I’m expecting the shipping products to be out in the next couple of months.



OmniOutliner 2 for iPad revisited

I wrote here about how good this app was when it first came out a few months ago but today ran a new piece of mine about how great it is after you’ve been using it for those few months. It’s an outlining application and I am not naturally a guy who likes outlines but what I wrote includes this:

This is one of those apps where the feature list doesn’t tell you what you need to know. All outlining software lets you slap down some headings as you think of them and then fill in details or shove thoughts around until everything looks sensible. The difference between these apps is in how little they get in the way of your starting, how much they help you as you go along, and then how much you can do with your outline at the end of it.

You can open OmniOutliner on your iPad and just get going: we’ve been testing it for months on assorted jobs and keep coming back to the very basic options for their sheer speed and ease of use. But one project was going to be for several different audiences who would need different amounts of detail. We just outlined as normal but added extra columns for these audiences, adding notes where we needed to and knowing that as we adjusted the outline, those notes would follow.

Hands On: OmniOutliner 2 (OS X, iOS) – William Gallagher, MacNN (3 January 2015)

Do read my full piece. Though I say full, I’d like to be fuller: there are options and features I didn’t get you. The one that’s on my mind to tell you is that I have a base outline now for a particular workshop I do and while I rewrite the presentation every single time, I can now start with this one outline and start shuffling. Once or twice while I’ve been presenting I’ve also tapped a button and had OmniOutliner record audio right into the outline too. That’s been invaluable when I’m revising the presentation and can simply hear how people reacted to sections where we were all talking and discussing.

I do like software and I do love software that transforms my working life. But there is a special place in my heart for software that changes my mind about something. I’m still not a natural outliner, I still like diving ahead and seeing where I end up, but more and more I’m using OmniOutliner to help me get jobs done well and faster.

If Omni makes, it’s worth a look

I don’t honestly know what OmniGraffle is for. Hang on:

OmniGraffle is for creating precise, beautiful graphics. Like website wireframes, an electrical system design, a family tree, or mapping out software classes. For artists, designers, casual data-mappers, and everyone in-between.

OmniGraffle – The Omni Group blog (XXXXXX)

Thanks. For some reason I read that, I understand it, but I forget it. And the next time there’s a new version of OmniGraffle, I get to wondering: what in the hell is OmniGraffle?

It’s not for me, that’s the other answer and it’s the explanation. I don’t need graphics like this, I don’t create them, I can’t create them. So in my productively-focused brain, it wouldn’t get into my head and it wouldn’t get a spot on The Blank Screen. But it’s by the Omni Group.

I am wedded to this company’s To Do software OmniFocus. If it ran on Windows and Android, I would skip a whole chunk of my workshops and just recommend OmniFocus to everybody. As it is, I recommend OmniFocus to everybody. Buy a Mac first, if necessary.

Then if I’m wedded to that, I’m having a fling with OmniOutliner. This is the outlining software that changed my mind about outlining. I used to do it solely when contractually obligated. Now I am still an explorer on the page but if I have to do anything quickly, I whack down some thoughts in OmniOutliner and let them grow until they find their own form. I’ve done books like this. Interviews. Events. I’ve done things where having juggled the outline around until I’m happy, I’ve then sent that outline directly into OmniFocus where it’s become a whole series of tasks.

I am now planning a lot more events and I’m toying with OmniPlan chiefly because it’s made by the same firm. So when the Omni Group announces a new version of OmniGraffle, I notice and am compelled to tell you about it. I’m just rubbish at actually telling you anything about it. So do go read the full piece on the Omni blog.

OmniOutliner, OmniPlan and OmniGraffle coming to iPhone

They’ll join OmniFocus, which I may have mentioned one or a thousand times before. There’s no timescale yet but the Omni Group is looking for beta testers for the apps:

Are any of you interested in helping us test our apps before they’re ready to submit to the App Store? We’re working on bringing all of our iPad apps to the iPhone, so we have a lot of testing to do! And with Apple’s new TestFlight Beta Testing program, we’re able to invite up to 1,000 of our customers to test our apps while they’re still under development.

Interested in testing Omni’s iPhone and iPad apps? – Ken Case, The Omni Group blog (7 November 2014)

There’s not a lot more detail in the full piece but it does include instructions on how to apply to be a beta tester. I think that 1,000 Apple-imposed testing limit will fill up very quickly so go take a look now if you fancy it. I’ve applied but I only really know OmniFocus: as much as I use OmniOutliner, I’d say I’m a very basic user of it. I’m looking at OmniPlan but haven’t even glanced at OmniGraffle.

So for me the news here is that at some point soon we’re going to have OmniOutliner on iPhone and that’s big.

You have to suspect that this move is related to the bigger screens of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. I’m currently sticking with my iPhone 5 so I’m curious to see both how these apps work on that and whether their presence will change how I use the iPad versions.

Speaking of which, the iPad versions of OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle and OmniPlan are available now. There’s also the iPhone version of OmniFocus and there are Mac editions of the lot too. Those Mac ones are available in the Mac App Store but I recommend getting them from the Omni Group’s official site.

Launching today: OmniFocus 2 for iPad

I lied to you. I said that the instant, the instant that OmniFocus 2 for iPad is out, I’m buying it. My heart was telling the truth: OmniFocus 1 for iPad has been that useful and the version 2 releases for the Mac and iPhone are great, I will be buying.

But OmniFocus 2 for iPad requires iOS 8 and until you have that, you can’t even see it in the App Store. I don’t know if it’s there yet: I can’t see it because I don’t have iOS 8.

The new iOS 8 is coming today and is likely to drop around 6pm UK time. By when I’ll be off working for the evening.

So let me amend all this to say that the instant, the instant I’m back from the work I’m doing, if iOS 8 is out then I’m getting that free upgrade immediately and if OmniFocus 2 for iPad is therefore revealed in App Store, I’m buying that instantly, instantly.

Not as pithy as my original line, is it?

While we wait, there are more details on The Omni Group blog which says in part:

Beyond its new design, OmniFocus 2 for iPad offers two great new iOS 8 extensions, interactive notifications so you can immediately complete or snooze a reminder, improved searching, and background syncing. And, of course, all of the great features pioneered in the original iPad app, such as the built-in Forecast and Review perspectives.

OmniFocus 2 will be available for just $29.99, and its Pro upgrade will be available as an optional in-app purchase for $19.99.

For those of you who purchased the first version of OmniFocus for iPad, we have a very special deal: we appreciate the support you’ve given us through the years, and we’re showing our appreciation in a very concrete way by giving you the $19.99 Pro upgrade for free.

Introducing OmniFocus 2 for iPad – Ken Case, The Omni Group (17 September 2014)

I do like how well this company treats its customers: the upgrade pricing is unnecessary, given that I would still just buy it, but obviously very welcome.

OmniFocus 2 for iPad just days away

And it’s going to look a lot like OmniFocus 2 for Mac. These are good things.

The Omni Group just announced:

Well, we’re very happy to share that OmniFocus 2 for iPad and OmniGraffle 2 for iPad have been submitted to Apple for review. And they’re both incredible.

OmniFocus 2 for iPad has some great new features and a brand new look. We’ve added a few useful extensions, too, like Sharing and a Today view. You can even create perspectives in Pro.

And finally. Expect each of those extensions in OmniFocus 2 for iPad in OmniFocus 2 for iPhone. As a free update, of course.

Just a short bit about a few apps and iOS 8 – Derek R., The Omni Blog (12 September 2014)

I’m not sure what that bit about extensions means. The full piece has a little more about iOS 8 which notably adds this new type of feature called Extensions but I’m not clear that’s what this is about. If it is then it means we’ll have OmniFocus functions available within other or all apps. That’s got to be good: that might add to the Mail Drop capability of adding tasks from Mail.

But we’ll see. And whatever the extensions are, I will have bought OmniFocus 2 for iPad before reading to the end of the sentence that says it’s available.

Microsoft giveth

From next month, users of Microsoft’s Dropbox-like OneDrive will get 15Gb free instead of the current 7Gb. If you’re an Office 365 subscriber, that goes up to an is-this-a-misprint size of 1Tb.


Our data tells us that 3 out of 4 people have less than 15 GB of files stored on their PC. Factoring in what they may also have stored on other devices, we believe providing 15 GB for free right out of the gate – with no hoops to jump through – will make it much easier for people to have their documents, videos, and photos available in one place.

Massive increase to OneDrive storage plans – Omar Shahine, OneDrive blog (23 June 2014)

Seriously? I think the 15Gb free space is tremendous but why claim 75% of all computer users have no more taken up than that? I don’t mean to be rude questioning “our data” but it is unsubstantiated. And this is Microsoft, the company whose user testing of Microsoft Word seemingly failed to include any tester trying to open an existing document or create a new one. Hmm. Everything makes sense now.

So does Microsoft making this generous deal and doing so now. OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of Dropbox and right from the start it has offered more space than that service. But now Apple is shuffling its iCloud service so that instead of only an invisible repository for documents, it’s going to be an actual space you can reach and add files to.

It’s not like I think Microsoft should say “hey, we’ve got this one rival we’re trying to unseat, right, and now there’s bleedin’ Apple coming along AGAIN, we’re going to shove some free space at you”. But the 15Gb is sufficiently generous that I think it could’ve just said that and not tried to claim that it can hold all the documents and images and music of all but 25% of computer users.

I don’t have a Microsoft OneDrive account and I do have a Dropbox one. To be honest, I do relish how useful Dropbox is and it would take work to switch away. You could and probably should have Dropbox and OneDrive, that would make a lot of sense for storing documents in places you could reach wherever you are.

But I have a low faff level. I already think it’s bad enough with iCloud that I have to think first, which application did I write that document in? And how I do sometimes have to stop to ponder, did I do that in Pages and store it in iCloud or did I do it in Evernote? I’m also an OmniOutliner user which comes with the Omni Group’s brilliantly-named OmniPresence.

Somehow without intending to, I’ve become fractured over several cloud services. I will get Apple’s iCloud Drive, as it’s going to be called, because it’ll just be here on my Macs and iOS. Maybe I can fold some things into that.

But isn’t the cloud supposed to make all this stuff transparently easy? If you’re in or you like the Microsoft environment, maybe this new OneDrive offer does.

Official OneDrive site

Free OmniFocus iBook

Maybe it's because I used to write manuals for a living – you cannot conceive how long ago that was – but I do like a good manual. This is a good one: if you are havering over buying the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac, take a look at the free manual.

OmniFocus is the personal task management tool that helps you keep track of all the goals, plans, errands, and aspirations that come up in your life. Whether the task at hand is something small, such as setting a reminder to swing by the bike shop after work, or the tasks are part of a bigger goal, such as making plans for that long overdue vacation, OmniFocus helps you keep track of everything you need to do throughout your day.

Available on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, OmniFocus is packed full of tools to help you prioritize steps within complex projects or simply jot a quick to-do list for a weekly meeting. OmniFocus works great as a standalone productivity aid or in conjunction with whatever time- and task-management scheme suits your personal style.

Excerpt From: The Omni Group. OmniFocus 2 for Mac User Manual

By the way, that last sentence is a coded reference to GTD, Getting Things Done (UK editions, US editions). OmniFocus works superbly with GTD but has no official connection with that system by David Allen.

More importantly, this smartly, clearly written manual is on iBooks and joins a growing set of free books from the Omni Group.