iOS App redesign?


#1

I am a new user to OmniFocus and I have been scratching the surface on all platforms (MAC, iPhone, iPad and Web). So far what I have noticed is that the Mac app is superior to both iPhone and iPad apps. I understand that the web app is only a companion app. But from using the iOS apps, it looks like it has most of the features that the Mac app has to offer, but the UI makes it so difficult to use the app. I am hoping that the team is working on enhancing the UI for mobile platforms. I see threads 6~7 months old asking for something along the lines of improving the design. Any comment or suggestions?


#2

The 2019 road map talks about improving the iOS experience. Eagerly waiting for it.

In the second to last paragraph…

…the overall theme of our work for 2019 across all our product lines will be to improve the flow of using our apps. We’ll be reviewing the ways customers navigate our apps—making them easier to navigate on small touch devices, more efficient to use from a keyboard, and more accessible to the sight-impaired…


#3

There are substantive limits on what iOS, HTML vs. OSX can do. You can think of this as you would Photoshop. To get the full use of that application you need the power and flexibility of a computer that does not have the limits HTML and iOS have. iOS is great for something in your pocket - but most of the work I do with Omni Focus is on my computer. I think the web platform is good if you have to work on a PC at times - but I have only used it a couple of times. I would use it more if I was forced to use a PC.


#4

I think everyone would agree that the experience on iOS is subpar compared to Mac and even compared to other task managers on iOS. Our lives have become too mobile centric. With that said, Adobe has found it worth investing in a native photoshop experience on iPad - https://www.macworld.com/article/3313881/software/adobe-introduces-real-photoshop-on-ipad-coming-in-2019.html


#5

I agree. Navigate in nested projects, in folders and with the tags is not very friendly on iOS. I hope it could be improved in the future.


#6

Good that Things3 is here. Omni has got way more features, but mobile UX… it’s good to have some competitor pressure here :)


#7

I agree. Because of the limits of the IOS app, I’ve stopped using OF3, as good as it is on the Mac.


#8

I’ve often felt like OmniFocus is similar to an IBM mainframe app where you do a lot of data entry in contrast to a modern day app where u use gestures and drag and drop to quickly organize your data.

I’ve tried to bring up the forecast view calendar, tags view and project view all at once on the Mac so that I could begin to drag and drop tasks. For some reason the developers will only allow to shrink the window so much so that u can’t just see the calendar, tags and projects.

It would be great if you could right mouse click to copy a link to the task that could be pasted anywhere (email, Calendar or Word Doc, Evernote, Bear etc) even on to the home screen of an iOS device or the desktop of a Mac. It would be cool if they were live links so that if you changed a date in the calendar it would update the date in OmniFocus or if you added a note in Bear it would also update.

Just imagine being able to drag and drop links to task from OmniFocus on to a Mindjet Mindmap.

For those of us w ADD, having them visible is key to important tasks not getting lost. Being able to change the font to make text bigger or a different color would be great.

I would love to have Siri read a task list while driving.

I suffer from a problem that MacSparky has reported he gets asked about 2 to 3 times a week. That is that once you do the brain dump you just have this blob of tasks that even with folders and projects just becomes this big blob of undoability.

I am not sure how to solve this but most of the recommendations go along the lines of just don’t put so much into OmniFocus but that kind of violates one of the tenants of GTD which is get it out of your head. I’ve got it out of my head but now it’s overwhelming. I am trying to use Perspectives to provide focus but most workflows break down when you have 1000’s of tasks.

Lastly, I know it’s possible to kind of create a prioritized daily to do list but is there anyway to make it easier. In other task management apps I would look at my tasks and drag them and drop them to days of the week to kind of balance my workload and then go to each day and drag the important ones to the top of the list and then drag them to time slots on calendar in the app.

It would be great if OmniFocus had its own calendar and would sync both ways to the Apple Calendar. Maybe you should buy Fantastical.

With all that said I do want to mention that I’m amazed you were able to build in such flexibility Into OmniFocus 3. I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring.

I also want to say the main reason I stick with OmniFocus is because of the excellent Technical Support provided by the humans on the support line. They are very creative in helping us get OmniFocus to do what we want.


#9

Don’t impune the mainframe. Most data entry is database query or batch files. And most mainframe interactive data entry is done off-platform e.g. web or mobile.


#10

I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a redesign at this point. Version 3 has been released very recently as a major upgrade (on every platform) after years, but had no major UI redesign, which shows that it’s low importance for the Omni folks. I like all the features OF offers, but at this point I think we are all used to the apps being ugly and looking old.

Something that @SteveU wrote made me think though:

I suffer from a problem that MacSparky has reported he gets asked about 2 to 3 times a week. That is that once you do the brain dump you just have this blob of tasks that even with folders and projects just becomes this big blob of undoability.

Holy crap! For the last few weeks I felt overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I have to do, but I use an app like OF exactly to avoid this feeling (and I have been using the GTD method for years, so I was confused). I couldn’t quite point my finger to what might be off though, but this freaking nailed it. A “big blob of undoability” sums up my current OF situation perfectly.

It’s no wonder that I feel overwhelmed with my to-do’s when OF itself is a mess and makes it difficult to bring up what needs to be brought up. Perhaps the design issues are deeper than just visual.


#11

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#12

Hmm… I’ve felt the overwhelm regardless of the task manager app being used. Sometimes it’s just time to cut off or at least slow down the information flow coming in that overfills our buckets. Then it’s time to start curating our task database by delegating, deleting, deferring, or automating our work.

The big blob of undoability can overcome any task manager. The user interface of my favored iOS app (OF, Things, Todoist, or others) wouldn’t matter because I’m overloaded.

But, yes, I would be interested in seeing what UI redesign that Omni will have coming this year.


#13

I like OmniFocus’s ability to adapt to my workflow. The features like Custom Perspectives allow me to focus on the tasks I need to do, and quickly to switch to another area of focus if needed. It’s so convenient when you put all of your to do’s into the Omnifocus system, assign due dates and tags, and then the system will help you to finish these taks. However, Omnifocus’s power and flexibility can also be it’s downfall. For those who use this app for the first time, it’s hard to know where to start. But, you can find lots of helpful videos or people in the community. So, it’s not a big problem. In comparison to some manager apps from top1apk, Omnifocus is superior for sure.


#14

I’ve experimented with other todo apps, and they all can be overwhelming as you say. Basically we are arranging information in a way that can assist us to perform tasks efficiently. I prefer OF because of it’s ability to place less important information out of the way, whilst still be able to retain it long term. I have appointments with attached files, tickets, documents and often these are for many months away in the future. These can clog up a lesser system with no ability to defer.
This is a huge help to do-ability.


#15

I agree.
I have been using OF for some time and as much as I appreciate the work put into OF3 and love the functionality built in, and that the UI on Mac is pretty good, the whole experience on IOS is for me a cluttered mess. It feels like the UI is designed by programmers rather than UI experts.

In IOS some of the clicking and navigation actions really just don’t seem to work that well or have inconsistencies in use depending on where you are in the myriad of screens, but the real big gripe for me is the UI look and feel.

It is just so cluttered with information that the screens especially in a phone can be indigestible on a quick look. On the mac it is possible to turn off the clutter to some extent … not so on the IOS version. Surely this must be achievable?

I hate to admit it having been on OF for some years, but I have recently been using Things3 more and more despite its inferior capabilities, and it is all down to the beautifully clear UI (it feels like Cultured code worked back from the user to the technical design whereas Omni builds a technical/data design and thought about how a user might use it after) . In things3 I can see information quickly, and clearly and simply surface detail quickly and as I need it. It gets out the way (where as OF gets in the way) even if I have to scroll through tasks that are not currently relevant (which is where OF3 beats T3 hands down)

This seems daft. For me, OF3 with the right UI improvements would be without any doubt the King of the Hill, but as it stands, the better looking and more agile Prince that is T3, is ahead in terms of usability on the IOS platform, where I spend a large part of my day ‘doing’.

I really, really want to see Omni address this soon so that I don’t end up departing for good the OF shores for other lands.


#16

Just my opinion, but the iOS version will not have the capabilities of OSX. One only need to factor into this the processor, RAM, and storage to see those limits. Then the UI will have it’s limits. An OSX machine with a Wacom interface will still function in a superior way.


#17

The problems with iOS aren’t limitations of iOS but app design.


#18

To a point, yes. But screen size (especially iPhone and iPad mini), and the lack of multiple windows are significant factors. There are also app integration challenges (no way to get an email from IOS Mail directly to OF).

None of these are necessarily insurmountable, but I do think they are significant obstacles to feature/uage parity between the Mac and IOS versions.


#19

Funny I switched to OF3 before the Mac version was out, so I did all my reorganisation and tagging system design, new perspectives, etc. on iOS. At this point I find it much more elegant and pleasant to use. Sync seems way faster, too.


#20

If one needs to factor in processor, RAM and storage then one does not know what they are talking about. Apps like OmniFocus do not require the processing power, amount of memory or storage capacity a Mac offers. In fact OmniFocus is limited to the size of the database itself and that limit applies to all of their versions. That limit is lower than the amount of storage an iOS device provides. Or simply put: storage is not an issue ;)

The capabilities of the iOS version is going to be different than the Mac version for a far more simple reason: the workflow of those systems differ. iOS is touch based, macOS isn’t. Also screen size can be very different. A smartphone will not have a screen as big as a 12" MacBook which will limit features (i.e. split screen, slide over) but also affect data density. However, a lot of the workflows will be the same. Btw, the fact that the iPhone has a smaller display than a Mac can even be a plus. It can make certain workflows a lot simpler and it is a device most of us will be more likely to carry than a Mac. So no, a Mac is not superior to an iOS device per se (and vice versa).

The point being made here is 1. OmniFocus needs to be more tailored to the device it is running on (which is on the roadmap as “workflow improvements” so OmniGroup is working on this) and 2. there is no feature parity for the features that can be put on all the devices (there is some slow progression there; look at the first OmniFocus 2 versions and look at the current ones and you’ll see there now is more feature parity than back then). The first is what is meant with “the problems with iOS aren’t limitations of iOS but app design” (the feature parity plays a much lesser role in this). This is also something that you’ll notice when you look at the competition on iOS. If the competition can do it then clearly iOS is not what is holding them back. As said, OmniGroup is well aware of this given that they have put workflow improvements on the 2019 roadmap.