OmniFocus notifications, Apple Watch, and Wrist Detection

The following isn’t quite to the state where it’s ready to be a ‘real’ support article, but a customer email gave me an opportunity to dig into the expected behavior of OmniFocus’ notifications on an Apple Watch. I figured a lightly-edited version of the wall of text I ended up sending them might be of use to other folks, so here we are. :-)

The customer in question expressed their desired workflow really clearly, and it’s something I’ve seen others express, as well: “because the Apple Watch is best at getting my attention, I always want OmniFocus’ alerts to appear on it.”

They were seeing OmniFocus’ alerts on both devices at different times, and the behavior wasn’t understandable to them. From what I’m seeing in Apple’s documentation, showing alerts on different devices at different times is intended to be a feature. The desired outcome appears to be for the notification to appear on the ‘best’ device (and only that device) at whatever time it should come up.

(All of the following is about which device an alert appears on; if alerts are not appearing on either device, that’s a different problem.)

Reading between the lines of the article, it appears that metrics like ‘which screens are active?’ and ‘which devices are unlocked?’ are being used to try and determine which device should show each alert. For most customers, that’s probably the right choice. For someone reading this article, it may not be.

We have conversations with Apple about issues like this on a fairly regular basis, but in our experiences, requests from customers who have purchased their devices have at least as much pull as ours do. If you’d like more precise control over which devices your OmniFocus alerts appear on, please let them know that’s the case.

In the short term, it looks like there’s a setting which could theoretically be changed on the Watch to make notifications behave more consistently, but it’ll affect all apps, not just OmniFocus. I don’t know exactly what one does to get “Recommended” status on Apple’s support site, but a poster with that status suggests turning off Wrist Detection in order to get alerts mirrored on both devices.

Caveat: even with wrist detection turned off some phone-only alerts will probably still happen. My Watch locks itself a couple of times a day due to tattoos, for example, and if the watch is locked, the alert won’t show there. The setting should increase the number of alerts that go to the Watch, though.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.