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OmniFocus 2 for iPhone Review and Video

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OmniFocus 2 for iPhone Review

OmniFocus 2 for the iPhone was recently been released and we’ve been flooded with emails from readers and customers who want to know two things: what we think of it and if it’s worth upgrading.

The Asian Efficient answer: we like it a lot and yes it’s worth upgrading.

NOTE: if you are a OmniFocus Premium Posts customer, you will shortly receive an email from us with instructions to download the latest version of OmniFocus Premium Posts that has the latest OmniFocus 2 for iPhone content.
Update: All OmniFocus Premium Posts customers should have received email instructions to download the latest version that contains instructions for OmniFocus 2 for iPhone.

I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to play around with OmniFocus 2 for the iPhone for a while. The Omni Group was kind enough to provide me early access so I could play around with it before the general public. My first thoughts when I saw the new UI: bananas!

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone homescreen

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone homescreen

It’s obvious from the redesign that The Omni Group has embraced the direction of iOS 7. I mean, it’s completely different. From my experience, new user interfaces can be a blessing or a complete disaster. New UIs can imply new learning curves and features that you loved are now gone.

Fortunately, that’s not the case with OmniFocus 2 for iPhone. In fact, I think it’s more streamlined. It’s now easier to stay on top of your projects, to quickly dump stuff in your inbox and navigate around.

I’ve also made a quick video for you to see the new UI (and get a sneek peak of my OmniFocus setup):

Click here to watch the YouTube version of this video.

Here’s a quick rundown of the changes that I particularly like:

  • The homescreen (when you first start OmniFocus) has big buttons. This makes navigating much easier.
  • I’ve noticed more count numbers which I really like. I can quickly see exactly how many items are in my inbox, how many commitments I have in my Forecast and the number of flagged items.
  • Items that are due soon or overdue are now color coded in the circular box that you check off. In the previous version the whole line would be color coded, but now it’s just that circle on the right. This avoids the overwhelm you might get when you see a list of overdue items. I think a lot of you will appreciate this new look.
  • The quick entry box is now always on your screen in the bottom right corner. This makes capturing fast and easy. Plus entering multiple quick entries is even easier now. This is by far my favorite update.
  • The forecast view is now on top of your screen. It’s easier to see now what your schedule looks like.
  • All projects and lists have dots under them and this shows you visually how many items there are in there. This is great to quickly see which projects are stacked and which ones are not.
  • In the same feature, whenever there are overdue items, you’ll see red dots appearing. Now you can quickly see which projects and lists have a lot of overdue items that need your attention.
  • The inspector (where you can view the specific details of your tasks) looks amazing and is soooo much easier to use. Before you had this popup that was cumbersome but this new inspector makes it easy to change specific details of your task.
  • You can now share tasks easily over email. Every task, in the inspector view, has a buttom called “Share”. Tap on that and it will open Mail so you can send someone an email with the task and notes in the body of the email. A great feature for one-off things that need to be done by your spouse or assistant.
  • I really like the “Convert to Project” option in the Inspector. I have a lot of ideas in my inbox that are projects, so turning items in my inbox into projects with one tap in the inspector is really nice.
  • Syncing seems to be a lot faster now. This was always a big drawback on the first version but I’m happy to see that not being an issue anymore. Now I don’t have to add “just be patient with the syncing sometimes” whenever I recommend OmniFocus.

There are also a couple things that need improvement:

  • It still doesn’t support project-based perspectives yet. I was secretly hoping it would be in this update, but it will come in a later update.
  • Start dates are now gone and renamed to “Defer until”. Maybe it’s the meticulous programmer and planner side of me, but I like “start dates”. When I think of deferring, I think of “dumping it somewhere” for only to be shown again at a later time. It’s something I have to get used to even though the feature is exactly the same, it’s just renamed.

Overall it just feels really intuitive. Whoever was responsible for redesigning the UI should get a pay raise. Whenever I am browsing around and I want do something, I’ll try a gesture that I think I need, and it has always been the correct gesture. That just shows how intuitive it is and how tightly this redesign works with iOS 7. From an outsider this might seem trivial, but I can tell you that a lot of work goes into designing, scripting and executing this properly. So hats off to the team who made this redesign.

Upgrading

Obviously, to run OmniFocus 2 you need to have iOS 7. The Omni Group have announced that they’ll stop supporting the first version that runs on iOS 6 and below. They are fully committing to this new version and I think that’s a good move.

That does mean that this is a paid upgrade. You have to make a new purchase to get this app and from checking the Twitter-sphere, some people are hesitant about this.

Here’s my take on it:

  • If you are a happy version 1 user, upgrading should be a no-brainer. This app will just streamline everything for you so if you use v1 a lot, this upgrade will make you even more effective.
  • If you have never used OmniFocus before or any other todo list app, paying $20 is a scary thing to do. I get it. How serious are you about your productivity? If you’re like me and you value your time, get it, learn it and reap the benefits. You can always get our OmniFocus Premium Posts to help you get setup and started when you want some extra support.
  • If you’re an unhappy user of version 1, reconsider. I think most people agree that the UI of version 1 wasn’t stellar. It was good, functional and it helped you get what you needed. This new UI makes it worthwhile to reconsider getting OmniFocus for all the points I’ve mentioned earlier.

Bottom line: upgrade and get it. As I’ve written before here, if you don’t understand the value of your time, then you can’t see why $20 for this app is NOTHING compared to how much more effective you are and the number of hours you free up.

People always ask me which todo list or task manager I recommend and I always say the same thing without hesitation: OmniFocus. If you’ve been following me, Asian Efficiency and our content all over the web, you know that already. We love this software, the company behind it (see our recent trip to their company HQ), the community around it and the customer support they have. With this new update I’m happy to say that I will continue to recommend this app. It’s available now worldwide on the App Store.

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31 Comments

Posted by Aimé Banyiyezako  | September 20, 2013 at 2:00AM | Reply

Hi Thanh,

I fully agree with you that OF 2 is a worthwhile upgrade and I didn’t have to think twice about paying an extra 20$ for it.

I would like to come back to something you said in your review: Defer…
They should think about bringing back Start Dates as this is not the same as deferring which is putting of an action or to say it simply, postponing. The idea of postponing is already there with “Later”, “+1 day” etc.. So the disappearance of Start Dates is the only gripe I have with this upgrade.

Other than that, the changes are great especially the home page which gives you a bird’s view of everything that’s important.

I look forward to receiving the Omnifocus Premium Posts update.

Aimé

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:03PM

Yeah I hear you on the start date versus defer. The OmniFocus Premium Posts update just went out last night.

Posted by Michel  | September 20, 2013 at 5:14AM | Reply

Hi
Big tha,ks for this information.

Will the new Mac version be as clear as this iPhone version ?

Omnifocus 1 for is too geeky and hideous for me and I prefer the Things zen approach.
But of course, this Omnifocus 2 iPhone version is very interesting and – miracle – it’s close to be gorgeous, which was unexpected.
I want to touch “purchase”, but I will not do it until I will have more information about the new Mac version…

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:06PM

Michel, nobody outside The Omni Group will know but knowing them, I expect it will be just as clear. I’ve played with the new UI of OF2 for the desktop (that they showcased earlier this year) and it’s nothing like the interface of the current version. It’s much improved but we’ll have to wait and see.

Posted by Wilson Ng  | September 20, 2013 at 6:19AM | Reply

Thanks for the great review. The article and video is perfect for folks who are straddling the fence unsure if they should pony up.

This is the best twenty bucks I’ve spent as my first iOS7-specific app.

After seeing OF2 for iPhone, I feel a little more secure about the future of OF2 for Mac. I’m looking forward to OF2 for Mac and then OF2 for iPad afterwards.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:07PM

Thanks bud! Good to see you on here :)

Posted by mat  | September 20, 2013 at 6:32AM | Reply

Hey Thanh,

great reading as always! I am actually “on vacation” from OF- in order to stimulate different perspectives I am using Things for a while. I figured that the different approaches are hard to get into one app and throwing tasks there and back into OF is not such a hassle thanks to scripts… Reading this I am quite sure that I will happily return to OF when the rest of the iterations are in place (ipad and Mac)…
AND I would sorely miss the landscape data entry right now! due to my huge hands (I am 6’8″) that is the only option- but of course I could bridge that using the nice drafts app that updated yesterday to iOS7 shinyness…

@wilson: great to see You here as well!

Cheers! mat

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:08PM

OF vacation? That sounds so alien to me ;-)

Posted by Mat  | September 21, 2013 at 4:14PM

DANG! dang dang dang!

After watching Your video for the second time and reading Davids wonderful review I could not help it but to buy and have a look myself… what can I say? It was some short vacation…

Things still is simpler to handle (though not on the iphone ,the version is much less useful!!!), but, depending on the size of the db, you are invariably losing oversight as well…
My biggest reason for returning: Forecast mode! I was so used to having an idea what will be due the next days left me really paranoid with things showing me only today (no matter how nice and easy that one is done, though)…
So, my combination of choice right now is going with OF1 on the Mac and the marvelous OF2 version on the iPhone… as I wrote before, using drafts to enter tasks in landscape mode is the workaround for lack of landscape support…

Thanh, whatever You guys are doing to put the posts out with such a high quality, keep doing that! I am enjoying the heck out of a well- structured and meanigful review like this!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 21, 2013 at 11:47PM

Haha! Thanks Mat! Glad to see you back on the OmniFocus train. Things will only get better from here :)

Posted by Thomas Hart  | September 20, 2013 at 7:31AM | Reply

Good review, though I wouldn’t consider upgrading to be a no brainier. In particular, I found two things very frustrating. In order to stay focused on the tasks I needed to complete, I’ve created custom perspectives (many using the tips here). In OF1, I’m able to move those perspectives above the built in Project and Context buttons, giving them priority. In OF2, they are at the bottom of the home screen with no (visible) way to restructure the home screen. For me, this is a real downside.

Secondly, there is no Home button anymore to get back to the beginning. Returning to the home screen now requires many, many clicks. Step backwards in my opinion. I’ll stick with OF1 for now. Also, agree that Start is better than defer.

If anyone can show me that these things are present here, I’d love to know it. Would change my opinion on the app.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:12PM

Having the starred perspectives at the bottom is not an issue for me since I prefer having the Forecast view on top, but I see where you’re coming from.

For the second, there is a way to quickly get back to home. Just tap AND hold the top left corner (the project/list/context name) whenever you’re in Projects or Contexts. This will bring you right back.

Posted by Dr Mark  | September 20, 2013 at 8:01AM | Reply

thanks for the vid – will give the upgrade a go and let you know what I think.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:12PM

Thanks Mark!

Posted by PF  | September 20, 2013 at 10:41AM | Reply

I have been reconsidering my approach to “productivity” and wondering if fiddling with OF is the best use of my time. Having invested so much in iOS and Mac OF apps, I felt I needed to give it a fair shot. Been using it for a year, have seen marginal benefits, but nothing earth shattering. some nice improvements to my ability to manage tasks. But working in a predominately Windows environment I am not seeing the full benefits during the workday.

If they had offered a discount on intro, I would have jumped to lock it in. Since they haven’t, I am likely going to take time to reassess. I just bought Omnifocus last year on 3 platforms and frankly I’m not crazy about shelling out full price again so soon after. If you bought it 5 years ago I don’t think it’s a big deal but if you bought in the last couple of years this pricing is a real disappointment.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:15PM

I hear you. I think if you haven’t found a workflow or system yet that works, then holding off might seem like the right move.

For me, since I already have a workflow and system (as outlined in OmniFocus Premium Posts) this upgrade was easy because it’s just easier to use. It doesn’t affect my workflow nor system – I can just do things faster with less friction.

Posted by J Doss  | September 20, 2013 at 12:13PM | Reply

Hey there guys, I am very excited about Omnifocus 2 for iPhone. I am forced to use a Windows PC at work and can’t bring in my own computer. Do you feel Omnifocus 2 makes it easier to manage your tasks & projects primarily from your mobile?

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 20, 2013 at 12:18PM

I find it a little easier assuming you already have a workflow and system that works for you. If you don’t then you might not get the most bang for your buck but it’s still a good upgrade for future proofing yourself.

Posted by jason  | September 20, 2013 at 2:29PM | Reply

Cool vid, I bought the new app right away and really like it. Anyone whos serious about being productive will not complain about a 20 investment IMO…..

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 21, 2013 at 11:48PM

Thanks Jason and totally agree with you!

Posted by Larry Morris  | September 20, 2013 at 3:17PM | Reply

Absolutely was a no brainer for me to upgrade. I was comfortable with the original UI but this new one makes things easier. Really like it. I am hoping to see the same for the iPad as well.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 21, 2013 at 11:48PM

Hey Larry thanks for dropping by. The iPad version should come out after the Mac version is done.

Posted by Peter Denison  | September 21, 2013 at 1:36AM | Reply

Hi Than,

As usual a great review, and the video is a nice touch to allow better consideration from a potential user standpoint prior to purchase. I was an OF 1 for iPhone user and have upgraded, really liking the changes so far. I also use OF on the iPad, and windows at work (not uncommon from the comments). I too am interested in your thoughts on using OF without a Mac (though I hope to change this soon). Thanks again for the review.

Posted by Mat  | September 21, 2013 at 4:28PM

Hey Peter,

been doing this for a while- to me the secret was getting OF for the iPad and a keyboard that can switch to the iPad for input via BT- like the k760 from logitech. You push a button and are able to input Your tasks FAST on Your “second screen”. This in theory would actually also work with the iPhone, but the screen estate (ahem, the lack thereof) makes this option harder…

Now that I made the switch to the mac at my workplace (and what a relief THAT is!) there’s even software to relocate my wired keyboard to the iPad: called 1keyboard by an incredibly nice guy from Israel… worth checking it out (http://www.eyalw.com/1keyboard)…

cheers!

Posted by Peter Denison  | September 21, 2013 at 8:28PM

Thanks Mat,

That is a fantastic idea. I have seen reviews of the Logitech keyboard however never thought of using it that way. I have been using OF Maildrop to send tasks to OF from my office PC, however this would give me more options to process the items at the time. Thanks for the tip, much appreciated!

Posted by Thanh Pham  | September 21, 2013 at 11:52PM

What Mat said :)

For tips using OmniFocus in a Windows workplace, check:
http://www.asianefficiency.com/technology/omnifocus-windows/

Posted by Peter Denison  | September 22, 2013 at 1:31AM

Thanks Thanh – apologies for the missing h on my first comment.

Keep up the great work!

Posted by Peter  | September 23, 2013 at 6:54PM | Reply

Am I missing something or is the forecast in OF2 for iphone different than the ipad version? I love the forecast in ipad because it shows all available tasks along with your calendar, but in the iphone version it looks like you can only see items due. I avoid due dates on almost all of my tasks for a variety of reasons. So in the forecast it looks like I have nothing to do that day, which would be great if true!

Its entirely possible that I am missing some easy setting somewhere to show all tasks available in that forecast view.

Posted by Mattheous  | September 27, 2013 at 3:16PM | Reply

Can I start using Omnifocus for iPhone and then sync it with Omnifocus for Mac later? I can’t afford the Mac version yet…

Posted by Jason  | September 30, 2013 at 3:07PM | Reply

Hello! Thanks for the review. I just wanted to see if the badge count will now update itself automatically. Before, I had to open the app and it would then show the correct badge count for overdue tasks. Thanks!

Posted by Dmitrij  | December 7, 2013 at 7:58AM | Reply

I have Omnifocus1 for Ipad and Omnifocus2 for Iphone. When using iphone version I am always puzzled with inbox . The action doesn’t dissapear from indox when I give it a context. Why?

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