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Posts tagged with "omni group"

The Omni Group Adopting Standard iOS Document Browser

Ken Case, writing for The Omni Group:

In 2019, we think it’s time to retire our custom document browser in favor of using Apple’s built-in document browser—and with our iOS 13 updates this fall we’ll be doing just that. Instead of seeing our custom file browser, you’ll be presented with the standard iOS document browser—just like in Apple’s own iWork apps. Using Apple’s browser, you’ll be able to store and sync your documents using Apple’s built-in iCloud Drive, or third-party commercial options like Box—or even in cloud- or self-hosted collaborative git repositories using Working Copy.

Syncing through OmniPresence will still be an option, but it will no longer be the only integrated option. In fact, it might be the least privileged option: since OmniPresence isn’t its own separate app, it won’t be listed in the document browser’s sidebar where you find your other document storage solutions. Instead, it will present itself on iOS much like it does on Mac—as a folder of synced documents. We’re not trying to drive people away from using OmniPresence—but in 2019 we don’t think it makes sense to push people towards it either. OmniPresence is not a core part of our apps or business, and in 2019 there are lots of great alternatives. Seamless document syncing is essential to our apps—but exactly where and how those documents are synced is not!

This is an excellent change and one I hope more apps move toward. The document browser in iOS is essentially a special view of the Files app which is used as the root file management UI in document-based apps that adopt it. As Case points out, all of Apple’s iWork apps support the document browser, and several key third-party apps do too such as PDF Viewer, MindNode, and Pretext. The document browser not only enables users to store an app’s files in any file provider they wish, but its other primary benefit is offering a single unified file browsing experience for users on iOS. As more apps adopt the document browser, that unified experience becomes more a reality for iPad and iPhone users.

The timing of the Omni Group implementing the document browser is surely no surprise: this fall Apple’s Files app is being upgraded with support for external storage devices like USB drives, a new Column view, shared iCloud Drive folders, and more. By adopting the document browser in apps like OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle, the Omni Group gets the advantage of having all these new Files features built right into their apps.

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OmniFocus for Web Review: Access Your Tasks Everywhere

The best task manager you can have is the one that’s always with you, no matter which device you’re using. Many people started with paper notebooks or index cards, and nowadays we have iPhones and iPads that can go with us everywhere, and even Apple Watches that can be independent devices if we need them to be.

The web is a ubiquitous platform – it’s everywhere, the framework behind much of what we interact with, and something we nearly always have access to. OmniFocus for the Web is a brand new product that makes the most of the web platform to allow you to manage your tasks on any computer – be that Windows, Linux, or a Mac.

OmniFocus for the Web is intended as a companion product; you need either the Mac or iOS version of OmniFocus 3 in order to use it. You can either pay for access to the web component separately, or if you don’t own OmniFocus on another platform you might choose to go with the complete subscription package, which includes the iOS, Mac, and web applications for the length of your subscription. Sign up is done through the iOS or Mac applications - which means payment runs through Apple’s subscription service.

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Omni to Offer Optional Subscriptions to OmniFocus and Its Upcoming Web Service

Next month, OmniFocus for the Web will launch as a subscription service for $4.99/month or $49.99 annually. In a post on The Omni Group blog, Ken Case explains that the subscription is necessary to pay the ongoing costs of the web-based version of the popular task manager:

Running it on our computers means we have to maintain those computers, their network connections, power, and so on, as a constantly available online service, for as long as customers use the product. Running that service costs us money every month, so if we want the service to be sustainable we need an income stream which brings in money every month to cover those costs. In other words, this service model requires subscriptions—an arrangement where customers pay us money each month to keep the service going.

In addition to offering a subscription to the web version of OmniFocus, Omni will offer the Pro versions of OmniFocus for iOS and the Mac as a bundle with the web version for $9.99/month or $99.99 annually. As Case further explains, the subscription is entirely optional. The Omni Group will continue to offer its iOS and Mac apps as separate purchases as it does now.

When a historically paid-up-front app introduces subscription pricing, there’s usually an online dustup of unhappy customers who don’t want to subscribe to the apps they use. Although Omni’s announcement was met with a handful of angry tweets, the reaction has been notably muted, which makes sense because the subscription isn’t required. Users who have already purchased the apps can subscribe to just the web service or subscribe to the service plus the apps. The only combination that doesn’t appear to be possible is subscribing to just the iOS and Mac apps.

Adding subscriptions as an option adds complexity to OmniFocus’ business model, but the upside is choice. Instead of migrating its entire user-base to subscriptions, customers can keep using OmniFocus the way they already do. They also gain the option to subscribe to OmniFocus for the Web when it becomes available in January. The approach strikes me as the right balance for an app like OmniFocus, on which users have relied since the earliest days of the App Store.

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OmniFocus 3 Review: More Approachable and Powerful, All at Once

If you’re anything like me, you probably remain perpetually dissatisfied with your task management setup. You may have chosen an app and settled in with it, but some of its design choices don’t quite fit with your way of working, so you’re always keen to try the latest and greatest app that comes along. Realistically though, you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that the “perfect task manager” doesn’t exist, and likely never will.

Task management is a tough problem to solve, because every option out there is optimized for specific use cases, resulting in different complexity levels. Some aim to remain simple and user-friendly, while others try to put every tool at your disposal, endearing themselves to power users while scaring off prospective customers who need a bit less. On this complexity spectrum, OmniFocus has historically been the poster child for the weightier end: if you have a lot of complicated projects that need a high degree of structure, there’s no better place to start than OmniFocus; however, for lighter needs, I’ve always found its myriad of options too overwhelming to recommend.

OmniFocus 3, released today for iOS (and later coming to the Mac), adds even more power and options to the app’s existing toolset, yet rather than growing more complex in the process, it’s surprisingly become more approachable. This improved user friendliness is achieved thanks to a new level of flexibility that can, upon tweaking your ideal setup, obscure the app’s complexity in everyday use. In more ways than ever before, OmniFocus provides the tools to make the app your own.

Outside of a lovely new design, where icons and fonts are bolder and everything feels more fresh, my favorite changes in OmniFocus 3 are this increased flexibility, which encompasses a lot of new and updated features, and its excellent iPad improvements. Let’s dive in.

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OmniOutliner 3 for iOS Review

I think in outlines. When I was in law school, that’s how I was taught to break down legal issues and structure the enormous amount of information I needed to know to pass exams. Outlines became second nature – something I still use today to organize research, write longer articles, and organize projects.

I wish I had OmniOutliner when I was in law school. Those outlines grew as the semester wore on, adding complexity that made them harder to edit. Although the word processor I used could handle outlining, it wasn’t optimized for huge outlines the way OmniOutliner is.

Today, my outlining needs are much simpler. I’m not creating 100-page outlines. If an outline is more than a few pages long, it’s only because it’s full of detailed notes. More often than not, all I need is a quick indented list, with simple formatting, and the ability to reorder sections easily.

Perhaps the greatest strength of OmniOutliner 3 for iOS is that it can handle both scenarios. That’s because OmniOutliner 3 isn’t one app, it’s two: OmniOutliner Essentials and OmniOutliner Pro. Essentials includes all the tools you need for basic outlining, and Pro adds extensive customization options, section navigation, automation, and other features.

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Omni Outlines Its 2018 Plans, Including Updates to OmniFocus for iOS and Other Apps

Every year, The Omni Group reflects on the past year and provides a roadmap for coming year. In 2018, OmniFocus will play a prominent role along with updates to OmniGraffle, OmniPlan, and OmniOutliner.

OmniFocus for iOS has been around since the earliest days of the App Store. One of the biggest changes that will be debuted in OmniFocus 3 for iOS is the elimination of contexts, a Getting Things Done concept that hasn’t aged well. Contexts will be replaced with tags, which can be used like contexts or to indicate other attributes of a task like its priority, location, or time. With tags, Omni is will also introduce manual reordering of tasks within a tag.

The way OmniFocus deals with dates and notifications is being revamped too. With version 3, OmniFocus will add more fine-grained control over repeating tasks. To avoid complexity, The Omni Group’s Ken Case says:

we turned to a design principle called progressive disclosure: we ask you to make simple decisions up front (like checking the option “does this repeat or not”), and as you proceed through the interface we progressively disclose more and more options based on what we already know about the task.

Similar flexibility is being added to notifications, which will include more detail in each notification. OmniFocus is also adding the ability to add multiple custom notifications to single tasks and notifications that will continually badger you until a task is marked as complete, as can be done today in apps like Due.

OmniFocus 3’s design will also be refreshed. Omni hasn’t shared many examples of what the update will look like, but here’s an example from the company’s blog post:

JavaScript-based automation, which is included in some of Omni’s other apps, is coming to OmniFocus as is collaboration, which will feature a system that lets multiple people share the same task by linking them. Omni says the system will allow everyone on a shared task to see its status, but place the task wherever they want within their task management setups. Finally, Omni plans a basic web version of OmniFocus that will allow users to access their tasks, though with a limited feature set.

Omni has changes in store for its other apps too. The first 2018 update to OmniGraffle for Mac will focus on the Stencil Browser, which users will be able to place in the left-hand sidebar. A later update will add improvements to SVG import and export support. Later in the year, another update is planned to improve diagramming.

OmniPlan for Mac will add a Project Summary Inspector that provides summary information about a project like its total cost and duration. OmniPlan Pro users will get a new timescale feature for customizing Dashboards too. Improvements to OmniPlan Pro’s publish and subscribe sync feature are planned for later in the year.

OmniOutliner 3 for iOS is scheduled for release in February 2018. The update will introduce Essentials and Pro versions of the app. Essentials offers a simplified outlining environment, while Pro includes advanced features like saved filters, encryption, and JavaScript automation.

It looks as though 2018 will be a busy year for Omni. Updates to apps like Things have raised the bar on task management apps, so it’s good to see Omni rethinking and redesigning some of the fundamental aspects of OmniFocus. I’m also looking forward to the OmniOutliner, an app that I’ve used on and off since it was first introduced on iOS.


OmniGraffle 3.0 Brings the Power of Its macOS Counterpart to iOS

OmniGraffle got a major upgrade on macOS last fall, and now, it’s the iOS version’s turn. Today, The Omni Group released OmniGraffle Standard and Pro 3.0 for iOS. What I said in my review of OmniGraffle 7 for macOS is equally true for its iOS equivalent:

…the power of OmniGraffle lies as much in the flexibility of its tools as anything else. By giving users the ability to tweak virtually any property of a shape, line, or other graphic element on its canvas, OmniGraffle works equally well for prototyping an iPhone app as it does for laying out an addition to your house or creating a corporate organization chart.

The iOS version of OmniGraffle adopts the paneled design found on the Mac, which should make fans of that version feel right at home with the update. The app also brings the iOS version in line with the core functionality of the macOS version including features like artboards.

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The Omni Group Announces Low-Cost Version of OmniOutliner

Ken Case, CEO of the Omni Group, wrote today about a new detail of its upcoming OmniOutliner 5 software. In addition to the traditional Pro version, OmniOutliner will also come in a new Essentials version.

In OmniOutliner’s new Essentials edition, your entire focus is on your own content: there are no distracting sidebars or panels. You can choose to work in a window or in a distraction-free full-screen mode, selecting from a set of beautiful built-in themes. As you write, you’ll be able to see some key statistics about your content so you can track progress towards your goals. But our goal is to help you focus on your content and whatever task you’re working on—not on the tool you’re using.

With the Essentials edition, we’ve lowered OmniOutliner’s entry price from $49.99 to an extremely affordable $9.99. And since we want our upgrade price from Essentials to Pro to be $49.99, the new list price for Pro has been lowered to $59.99:

While Case’s post references OmniOutliner for Mac specifically, he later confirmed in a tweet that OmniOutliner Essentials would be coming to iOS as well.

This announcement represents a shift in direction for the Omni Group. The company’s traditional offerings have included Basic and Pro versions of each program, but the Basic version has historically not been anywhere near the price point of this upcoming Essentials edition. It will be interesting to see if this new approach expands to Omni’s other apps over time.

Today’s news is the second major shift in pricing strategy the Omni Group has made in the past year. Last September saw news that they would begin offering software as free downloads in the App Store, with an In-App Purchase to unlock full functionality. This change in pricing model made it possible to offer free trials, such as with OmniGraffle 7; trials are currently not possible on the App Store under the paid up front model.

OmniOutliner 5 for Mac is currently in a public test that can be downloaded here. More information about the Essentials version is available here.


Omni Group Automation

New website dedicated to The Omni Group’s upcoming automation features in their apps, created by Sal Soghoian:

By default, all of the macOS versions of the Omni applications offer robust integrated AppleScript and JavaScript (JXA) support for Apple Events scripting on the Mac. These excellent automation tools will continued to be integrated into every macOS version of Omni software.

And in addition, the Omni Group now offers integrated cross-platform JavaScript support for both the iOS and macOS versions of their popular productivity applications. Finally, the power of automation is available regardless of whether you use Omni tools on mobile devices, laptops, or desktops.

As for the technology itself:

OmniJS, the name for Omni’s new version of the JavaScript language, is based on JavaScript Core, the foundation of the JavaScript implementation in WebKit. Using OmniJS, the Omni Group suite of applications will be able to be queried and controlled on both iOS and macOS in ways similar to how they are automated today using the traditional macOS Apple Event-based scripts.

What’s most impressive is that The Omni Group is bringing all of these automation features to iOS as well – it’s not limited to the Mac. Watch the OmniGraffle videos recorded by Sal to get an idea of the functionality automation will unlock. I’m genuinely excited about all this.

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