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.
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.
New website dedicated to The Omni Group's upcoming automation features in their apps, created by Sal Soghoian:
As for the technology itself:
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.
Each year, Ken Case of The Omni Group takes a look back at the past year and ahead to what’s coming next for the company’s products. It was a good year for Omni, which released a major update of OmniGraffle for Mac as well as updates to OmniFocus for Mac and iOS and OmniPlan for iOS. The year concluded with OmniGraffle for Mac and OmniPlan for iOS making Apple’s ‘Best of 2016’ list.
In addition to planned updates to OmniGraffle for iOS, OmniOutliner for Mac, and OmniFocus, Ken Case outlined ambitious plans to bring new automation features to its iOS apps with some help from Sal Soghoian, who has been reviewing Omni’s efforts:
We’re also adding support for background scripts which can automatically respond to document edits.
Omni is going further with URL schemes too:
Oh, and did I mention that we’re including support for calling out to other apps by their URL handler? So you’ll be able to tie into the Workflow app and its already great ecosystem of automation. In OmniFocus, imagine the possibilities that open up when you can trigger a workflow just by checking something off!
The prospect of desktop-class automation in The Omni Group’s iOS apps is exciting and right in line with its original vision for the iPad.
It's hard to capture exactly what OmniGraffle 7 is. Sure, it's a vector drawing and diagraming tool, but 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. With Version 7 of OmniGraffle, The Omni Group plays to its strengths, further extending the power, adaptability, and ease of use of those tools in what adds up to an outstanding update.
Ken Case, writing on The Omni Group's blog, has announced a notable change for the company's download model on the App Store:
The underlying problem, as noted above, is that downloading the app has a fixed cost. We’ve always set that cost to be the standard price of our app, leaving us no way to charge less. But what if we take a fresh look at this problem, and make our downloads free? You know, like every iPhone app in the Top Grossing List has already done? It’s not that they don’t sell anything—or they wouldn’t be on that list. They just don’t sell the original download. (Which we’ve never done on our own store either.)
With the original download free, we can implement any pricing options we want to offer customers through In-App Purchases. We can offer our standard unlocks of Standard and Pro, of course. But we can also offer a free 2-week trial which unlocks all of the features of Pro and Standard, letting you freely choose between them. We can offer a discounted upgrade to the new Standard. And we can offer free upgrades to the new versions to any customers who recently purchased the old app.
Well, I’m pleased to share that that’s exactly what we’re going to do—starting next month, with the App Store edition of OmniGraffle 7.
You don't get a better sign of the times than this. The Omni Group was the poster child of finding success on the iOS App Store with paid upfront pro software priced like desktop apps. But as Case argues, most apps in the Top Grossing charts have switched to a "free with In-App Purchases" model. That seems to be the clear path forward for developers who want to build sustainable software while also ensuring users can properly test their apps and take advantage of discounted upgrades.
It doesn't surprise me that The Omni Group – unlike other developers who keep hoping Apple retrofits the App Store for purchase mechanisms of a decade ago – went ahead and took a fresh approach to figure this out. The new policy isn't limited to the upcoming OmniGraffle 7: every Omni app for Mac and iOS will move to a free download with one-time In-App Purchases to buy the full feature set.
Omni's solution seems elegant and straightforward. The apps are free to download and they can be used as viewers when unlicensed; the free trial is an In-App Purchase set at Tier 0 that counts down 14 days; the full apps are unlocked with Standard and Pro levels of In-App Purchases. The only negative aspect I can think of is that In-App Purchases aren't available to Family Sharing, but that's on Apple to fix.
If Omni's approach works well in practice (and I can't imagine why it wouldn't), I can see a lot of developers following their model.
Derek Reiff, writing on The Omni Blog:
Recently customers have been wanting to take advantage of automation apps like Workflow, Drafts, Pythonista, and others to quickly add new actions or projects or switch to different views inside OmniFocus.
With 2.14, OmniFocus now includes best-of-class support for callback URLs. At its simplest, this means that you can create a workflow that adds more than one item to OmniFocus. But we didn’t just add support for two-way communication between OmniFocus and other apps, we added support for automating a whole lot more of the powerful capabilities of OmniFocus.
Ken goes into the nitty gritty in a detailed Discourse post. But aside from doing the usual name and note additions, you can add estimates, attachments, dates, repetition rules, flags, and even set a project to Parallel.
While I won't be switching away from 2Do, I've tried the beta of OmniFocus 2.14 and the new automation features on iOS are impressive. I think a lot of people are going to reconsider OmniFocus and take advantage of callbacks for app integrations.
The examples posted by Ken Case on the forums should give you an idea of the improved capabilities. It's no surprise that The Omni Group continues to redefine what making pro apps on iOS means.
It's also great to see TaskPaper being used as a structured text communication format – I'd like to see more developers follow this route.
There was a time when I thought that I needed a powerful GTD app to be productive. Over the years, I've come to realize that all I need, really, is just a list of things to remember and some calendar events. I've been using Apple's Reminders and Calendar with iCloud as my primary todo systems for over a year now, and my schedule hasn't been disrupted by a cataclysm of missed appointments and overflowing todo lists.
It's with this mindset that I approached OmniFocus 2 for Mac, released today as a new version of The Omni Group's popular GTD software: fundamentally, I don't need the app. But as an old OmniFocus user who switched over to Apple's less flexible Reminders and stayed with it in spite of its (sometimes disarming) simplicity, I thought it'd be interesting to evaluate OmniFocus 2 with a fresh pair of eyes and a genuine curiosity for the work put into this new version.
First teased in December 2012, shown at Macworld 2013, and scheduled for a 2013 release date, The Omni Group has today announced that the new version of their popular GTD app OmniFocus, OmniFocus 2 for Mac, will be released this June. The Omni Group is resuming beta testing of the app with 30,000 testers today, and expects the final round of testing to focus on the changes the app has gone through in the past few months. Read more