iOS App redesign?


#48

I’m a long time OF user (since v1) and have always loved it. For years I used primarily my Mac and then iPhone and iPad when they came out. I’ve had all OF apps and have updated as they are released. I never had any complaints about any of them.

However, in February this year I started a new job and for the first time in my life I had to use a PC. It was just too much of a mental shift, so I’ve been using my iPad as my primary device since. I love everything about it except 3 things:

  1. Keynote/PowerPoint: It’s great to present from and for minor tweaks, but doing a big presentation from scratch is a pain. I use the PC for that.
  2. Excel: Similar to the above, it’s great most of the time, but for large spreadsheets even my 12.9 iPad is too small (maybe I’m just getting old).
  3. OmniFocus

When I had a Mac during the day, it was perfectly fine on iPad. But using it exclusively (or primarily) on iPad is horrible. Too many taps, visual clutter everywhere, dragging works in some instances and not in others, no Focus mode. I know it’s subjective, but I find the look and feel pretty bad as well. But mostly… just so… many… taps.

It got so bad that I bought Things to give it a try. I used it for a month and it is so much better on an iPad… if your life is simple. It just doesn’t have the power of OF (no perspectives, only one level of hierarchy under project).

But OF for iPad could learn a few things from Things:

  1. The floating plus button is a brilliant idea and it works incredibly well.
  2. The overall design… you can drag a task into a project. Try doing that in OF for iPad! It’ll take you a bunch of tapping.
  3. The date picker is brilliant. OF uses the system picker which is horrible. It works for picking a date, but if you’re working with multiple tasks you start to get annoyed pretty quickly after repeating the same thing so many times. Again, Too. Many. Taps.
  4. Headings. In OF a “heading” is really another task. The way Things implemented it it’s just for visual separation and it doesn’t do anything other than that. But on a small screen it helps a lot.

I’m torn. I love OF but I just can’t use it on iPad. It frustrates me to no end.


#49

Did you know that OmniFocus already supports both of these things? The plus button in the bottom right corner can be dragged into any list (just drop it where you want to create your new task), and you can also drag tasks between projects.

Thank you for the concrete, actionable feedback!

Hopefully knowing about the first two items will help. But you might also want to take a look at OmniFocus for the Web, which was designed to help with this exact scenario of needing to access OmniFocus when your primary workstation is a PC.


#50

Thanks for the reply @kcase. A bit more info:

Yes, but you can only create a new task, not a project (unless I haven’t figured that one out).

What I meant by “too many taps” is that in OmniFocus:

  • You can only create a new task within the project(s) you can see on screen at the time you drag the button. If you’re in Forecast view, you can’t see any projects.
  • Adding a due and/or defer date means tapping and scrolling for day, month, year.
  • Adding a note to a task, means more tapping, then tapping back.

For example (and apologies for the super long explanation), a common scenario would be this:

I’m in Forecast view working through my tasks and while doing X task for Y project I realise I need to add 3 more tasks to that project.

If I hit the plus button and drag, I can only add tasks to what’s on screen. So either Due on or Deferred to the day I’m on, or drag to one of the days at the top. I cannot put them in a Project.

So to add those 3 tasks to the project I have to either:

  1. Tap the Plus button (without dragging) to create a new task. Give it a name. Then:
    1.1 Tap on Project
    1.2 Tap on search bar to search for Project (or scroll)
    1.3 Tap to select the Project
    1.4 Tap on Due/Defer.
    1.4.1 Tap, scroll, Tap, scroll, Tap, scroll to select dates in the horrible iOS date picker.
    1.5 Tap Save +
    1.6 Start at 1.1 again (plus all the tapping to put in tags, flag, reminders, notes, etc.)
    If I do this, the tasks will be at the bottom of my project and I can’t decide where they go from here.

or

  1. Tap and drag the Plus button to a date. Give it a name. Then follow the steps above. All I’ve saved here is that it’ll auto populate the due date to where I dragged.

or

  1. Navigate out of Forecast and go into the project and add them there:
    3.1 Tap Projects.
    3.2 Tap the Folder.
    3.3 Tap the Project. (Assuming only one folder deep)
    3.4 Tap and drag the Plus button to where I want the task and give it a name.
    3.5 Tap on Due/Defer.
    3.6 Tap, scroll, Tap, scroll, Tap, scroll to select dates in the horrible iOS date picker.
    3.7 Tap outside to drop the task.
    3.8 Tap and drag again, or just tap the little + button on the left, and start again for the 3 tasks. Unless these are nested tasks, then there’s more tapping.
    3.9 Tap on Projects to get out of the task list.
    3.10 Tap on Home to go back to Home
    3.11 Tap on Forecast to get back to where I was originally.

Contrast this with Things. If I’m in the Today view, I can:

  1. Tap on the Project visible on the left pane since they’re always there, (maybe another Tap if the Folder/Area is closed)
  2. Tap and drag on the + button and give it a name.
  3. Tap on the date picker and Tap on the date. No scrolling and tapping to selecting date, month, year separately because it has a calendar date picker.
  4. Repeat the Tap and drag 3 times.
  5. Tap on Today to go back to where I was.

Plus, with Things I can navigate most of it with the keyboard.

If I had to add notes to the tasks, in OF there would be even more taps, whereas in Things I’d just tab and keep typing.

I hope that helps.

I miss the Mac look so much on iPad. Just having the left pane always show me my projects without having to tap, tap, tap in and out would be amazing.

I did, but honestly I don’t think this is a solution for my circumstances. If I only had a PC and no access to any Apple devices, then yes. But I have my iPad with me all the time and the iPad app should be just as quick, powerful, and pleasant as using OmniFocus for Mac. Otherwise, what’s the point of buying the iPad app?

Another reason I like the apps is that I travel a lot and I love managing OmniFocus on the plane while I’m away from WiFi, phones, etc. It’s my quiet time to plan, organise, and yes, fiddle with OF.


#51

It certainly does. Thanks for showing exactly how the current iPad design is getting in your way!


#52

@kcase Happy to help! If I can contribute in any way to making OmniFocus for iPad as awesome as the Mac version, I’ll be very happy!

The things that trip me the most are:

The left pane
Because it uses sliding instead of disclosure triangles (or open/close), you can only see one level at a time. It makes it really hard to move around. Too many taps to go in and out of the hierarchy. In Things, the whole thing is there at all times. You can see all your folders (Areas) always. Tap an area to open and see your projects.

Examples of friction:

  • Today I needed to move a project from one Folder into another.
    • In OF I can either tap to drag, then while holding with one hand, navigate with the other one on the left panel to find the right place, then drop; or tap on the project and on the detail overlay tap on the move button, find the folder and tap. This will also take me to the destination folder. So if I wanted to move another one I have to tap tap tap back and start again.
    • In Things, I would just tap and drag the project to the relevant folder (Area) already visible on the left and drop. Done. And I stay where I am so I can reorganise my project super quickly.
  • Triaging tasks from the Inbox is a one by one and very slow process. I can’t just pick up a few tasks and drag them to a project because I can’t have the projects on the left while in the Inbox. I can select multiple ones and then batch change, which is awesome, but the list of projects from here is very unfriendly. It’s a long list of truncated titles. So I need to search. That’s good if it’s an active project, but if it’s one I’m not working on regularly I might not even remember. On the Mac I can always see the whole list while doing this and it triggers my brain to keep them top of mind while triaging.

The look & feel and UX
This might sound petty, but the iPad version is just so different from the Mac that it feels like using 2 very different applications pointing to the same database. I need to think in different ways when using each.

For example:

  • The left hand pane, as above.
  • On Mac, I don’t use Fluid. I have the check circles on the left and tags/dates/etc. on the same line (or not at all, depending on Perspective). I can’t change that on the iPad, so it feels completely different. (This might be just me though).
  • Icons are in different places. The Project list on Mac clearly shows folder icons and project icons (sequential, parallel, sal) on the left. On iPad, folders are on the right, and projects don’t have icons on the left pane. Plus, on Mac the hierarchy is clear with icons and indented. On iPad I get lost.
  • The ribbon with perspective icons from the Mac would be ideal, instead of the square bits with names.

Keyboard support
I’m not a massive keyboard shortcut user, but there are a few instances that in my head are basic that OF for iPad just doesn’t do or does something weird. For example:

  • On a list, Return should behave like on the Mac. Just add another line (task, project). Try this:
    • In any project, add a new task, the overlay on he left appears. Type the name, hit return. Nothing happens. I’d love to just get a new line to quickly add tasks.
    • In the Inbox, add a new task, the overlay/pop-up appears in the middle. Give it a name, hit return. Something seems to happen, but I’m not sure what. Hit it again and the task gets created, but now you have to tap the button to create another one. Again, this is critical for those brain dumping sessions when you quickly need to get stuff out of your mind. There isn’t even a cmd-N to create a new task.
  • Perspective shortcuts don’t exist on iPad. Ideally, the same ones on Mac would just work. My fingers know them instinctively by now! Granted, I have no idea how complicated this would be or if it’s even possible.
  • Arrow navigation would also be great. So quick and easy!

I think the iPad should be more like the Mac than like the iPhone.

The iPhone (and iPad) is great to work from. Once you have perspectives set up, it’s great to just go to the relevant one and start ticking off things.

However, the iPad is way too cumbersome to work on your lists. The iPad is big and powerful enough to deserve a full fledged OmniFocus app. I’ve used OF on an 11 inch Air and it’s perfectly fine.

One thing I’ve appreciated about Things is that it looks the same and pretty much behaves the same across Mac, iPad and iPhone.


#53

This important and specific point seems to have gotten derailed in this discussion:

This is currently available only for the default Projects and Tags perspectives. I’d like to see custom perspectives also display projects or tags in the left sidebar.


#54

I installed OF on iPad when released and had to quit. Today I updated the software to check if things have changed but I see it’s still basically the same. Came here and I see people still complaining.
@kcase as a customer of yours that pays lots of money for your products I have to give you my honest feedback on this. Hope you welcome it.
The IOS experience of OF is just unbearable to the point I had to move my project management tasks to other solutions many months ago.
I really really loved OF on mac but as a heavy ipad user I just had no option, honestly.
I’m the CEO of a software company myself. We develop many concurrent products at the same time and I have to coordinate many different team and tasks, probably as you do. The reason I’m saying this is because I bet my left hand that you do not use OF on ipad for your daily management work because if I were you I would be very pissoff.
In my opinion, the way the software handles very basic use cases needs to be rethinked, some shortkeys are not needed at all while basic ones are missing , navigation is odd to say the least, search, etc.
The overall taxonomy of the product and the way to move around it, move tasks, etc. Too many friction point for doing the most basic things. I’m sure you agree on this.
Sorry I know I’m not giving you any productive feedback as I hardly have time to go into detail but I sincerely hope you find the time & focus to get into this.
Best luck & cheers.
(excuse my english, I’m not native speaker)


#55

For ‘heavy lifting’ and organizing in OmniFocus, I definitely use my Macs. However, I’m an increasingly heavy iPad user and I’m hoping that with the arrival of iPad OS we might see some changes in the iPad app for OmniFocus. There are a variety of critiques and suggestions in this thread I hadn’t considered, but seem sensible. (And I agree that the UI design of Things seems highly appealing and I hope it puts some pressure on Omni Group to reconsider the design of the iOS apps.)

What I’d really like is the Forecast view of my Mac, which shows a calendar-like current week plus four more weeks, to be available on my iPad as well. The calendar like grid is often the way I look ahead to quickly remind myself what’s happening in two or three weeks. Perhaps I could do this through some custom perspectives (and perhaps through review, in a sense), but really the forecast view ‘like a calendar’, with its incorporation of events from my calendars, is visually ideal for me as is—I just wish it were on my iPad as well.


#56

Hi there. I am new here. I totally agree. Great idea.


#57

I am also new here I am 100% mobile based probably +80% IPad and recently switched to things 3 and will switch back immediately when they clean up the clutter. I love the power of perspectives in OF3. Many times I will open my task manager next to another app such as agenda where I keep notes and with things 3 I have a nice clean list of the tasks I need to accomplish, w OF3 the task list w tags etc… are all bunched tightly together, you cannot easily at a glance pick out the task itself. Maybe just my ADD but really this one change and I will be back in a heart beat. Sounds minor but it is real pain for me.

I want:

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Not

XXXXXXXXXXXX
Rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr
XXXXXXXXXXXX
Tttttt. Tttttt ttttt. Tttt
XXXXXXXXXXXX
Fffff fffff ffffff fffff ffff
XXXXXXXXXXXX

Simple vs overwhelming


#58

You are welcome back, then, as both the Ipad and the Iphone in each project and perspective now have a setting for hiding tags.


#59

The sliding left pane in the iPad version makes reorganising way harder.

Also, the inability to collapse sublists in projects is infuriating. I can do it at the top level of the project, so why not the sublists? (In MacOS I can collapse/expand all sublists no problem of course).

Moving items into projects is arcane, non-intuitive, and seems rarely to let me move into the project I most want.


#60

You can pin the sliding panes, no? The pin icon in the upper right of the pane.


#61

Yep - got it. Thanks for the RTFM support!