OmniFocus 2 iPad Review

My biggest question as a long-time OmniFocus user when I realized that OmniFocus 2 for iPad had been released for $29.99 + a $19.99 in-app purchase, was: is OmniFocus worth the price of entry (to me)?

This post started with the intention of being a simple review. And it is, but it’s more of short review in the context of my story. While it’s not a long post, I think it’s fair to start with a brief synapses of the post:

OmniFocus fanboy hears of the pricey new release. But even fanboys can have a hard time shelling out the money for an update to their beloved app. Said fanboy tries the app and decides it’s worth it assuming you want to use OmniFocus on your iPad.

 My history and use of OmniFocus

I should begin by saying that I’ve been using OmniFocus for years — first on OSX, later on the iPhone and then finally on the iPad. When I first used the iPad version, I was pleasantly surprised — I thought it was the best version of all three. I beta tested OmniFocus2 for OSX while using OmniFocus 2 on the iPhone. When beta testing was over, I bought OmniFocus 2 OSX. It’s safe to say I’m a dedicated user. I drank the kool-aid but I still have a hard-time shelling out the money for the app. I fully believe in supporting developers and in paying for the things that are valuable to you. Still, $50 is not a small amount for me. Especially considering I just paid for the OSX version and a while ago for the iPhone version.

When I started using OmniFocus, it quickly became a part of my routine. I started using OmniFocus for creating simple to-do lists and then realized I could use it for managing projects. Over time the way I’ve used OmniFocus has shifted and evolved significantly. I’ve stopped using it for some things (taking notes) but started using it for other things (recurring reminders). I used to use omnifocus in a very project driven manner and I’ve started using it in a more context driven manner. I now use projects for organizing my tasks and contexts for prioritizing them. I keep 4 main contexts (inspired by Gneo) Important, Urgent, Urgent & Important, Neither Urgent nor Important. I use flags for in progress items.

That I’ve been able to keep using OmniFocus even though my manner of using it has completely changed is ultimately a testament to just how flexible it is, which is, in fact, one of my favorite parts of OmniFocus. I haven’t had to switch software just because my workflow has shifted.

 Moving to version 2

I have to admit, even though I thought it was lovely, I had a hard time adjusting to v.2 on the iPhone — so much so that my use of it dropped significantly in favour of the computer version. However, I quickly missed it on the iPad — so much so that I stopped using OmniFocus on the iPad. It just didn’t fit the iOS style anymore. Version 2 for OSX was a different story. I really appreciated the performance boost and I’ve been using v2 for so long that I have a hard time remembering why it’s different from v1. It feels like a logical progression.

Now we get to the new iPad version. At first glance, it looked exactly like what I would expect after using the iPhone version. Then I ran the two iPad versions next to each other and immediately noticed how clunky the old version felt compared to the latest version. Which is funny considering the iPad used to be my favourite version in no small part because it felt the most natural and therefore practical way to quickly process and organize my tasks.

So looking at the update it felt instantly familiar as a result of omnifocus 2 iPhone. Yet it was like a breath of fresh air — I can use OmniFocus on my iPad again was my first thought. Did I mention it’s fast? After installation, I finished giving it all the permissions it needed — which is in and of itself a very well done process — and it was synced and ready to go. Searching is also lightening fast. And, I must say, it really looks clean.

 The pricing.

The pricing is two tiered. 30 for the app with a 20 upgrade. Before existing owners freak out like I did when I first heard the new pricing: the upgrade is free for existing iPad omnifocus users.
If I wasn’t already a user, I don’t know that I would pay 20 bucks for the upgrade. It’s a feature set that I haven’t really dived into yet. Luckily it’s optional.

 Conclusion

I’m not going to lie. I really wish the a new interface for iPad had been released ages ago. Followed by the new features. However, that may not have been possible. Regardless, while it may have taken far too long I’m glad to see that the new app immediately takes advantage of iOS8 only features such as widgets, background syncing and sharing which is a really nice touch.

Yes it’s expensive - it feels too expensive. Truthfully though, it’s one of the few apps I’ve used for this many years as frequently as I do.Most apps don’t offer the same level of integration and flexibility and certainly not without without feeling cumbersome.

And I believe in paying developers for their efforts. At the end of the day it’s a price I’d reluctantly pay and afterwards be glad that I did.

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