Why is OmniFocus' geofences so big when other apps' are small?

When I need to remind myself about a task or activity at a certain location, I use the Reminders app provided by Apple because it allows me to setup a geofence with a radius as small as 100 meters. While OmniFocus for iOS also provides this feature, it does not provide the user with fine grained control over the geofence. Instead, OmniFocus provides three geofence sizes: small, medium, and large, with the smallest still having a radius somewhere around 0.5 miles.

In the past, I have read an OmniFocus developer’s explanation that Apple does not provide 3rd party developers with access to fine grained location data, which is why OmniFocus’ geolocation feature is required to use such large geofences. However, this no longer appears to be the case.

I recently stumbled across a 3rd party application called “Reminder 2.0” which provides the same level of granularity when setting up a task’s geofence as Apple does. I can create geofences with a radius as small as 100 meters.

This situation causes me to feel confused. In the past, OmniFocus has been extremely quick to integrate new features and capabilities provided by iOS. Given this situation, how come OmniFocus continues to use old geofence capabilities when much finer accuracy is available? Will OmniFocus be able to provide geofences with a radius as small as 100 meters in the near future?

The best place to get an answer will be from emailing Omni directly using the Help menu. This is a user forum that doesn’t always receive official Omni input (although much more frequently than the fora of many other companies)


There is a simple answer to this…

"Reminder replaces Apple’s native app with a more modern interface. " that’s all, it puts a skin and some added functionality over reminders, so its just using reminders access to the system level API’s which other apps do not have.

„Granularity“ as to location: agreed, should be more granualar. Not a big issue for me, though.
„Granularity“ as to time: Bothersome for me in Germany, where stores are not open 24/7 and some special, lovable stores only open 10 hours on weekdays, when the proprietor is in.
For that, at least, I‘ve got Launch Center Pro: Location reminders (plus a jump into my OF‘s „errands“-Perspective) only on certain weekdays in a certain timespan.


Hi CGHMartini, how is that jump working or behaving, can you share more specific, that sounds like a great workflow.

A matter of preference here:

  • I understand some prefer LCP reminding them only during certain hours even if there are no actions for a geofences location
  • I prefer having OF reminding me only when there are available actions even if not at the best times

Well, ediventurin, I use both, otherwise my trousers are buzzing each time I pass by those stores .

eichatoloto, in the App Launch Center I add the „time-restricted“ places to play a chord and launch OF. It‘s not ideal, as that place will now alarm you whether I‘ve got an active action in OF or not. I switch the chord on in Launch Center with 6 taps when I enetr such an action in OF and then switch it off again after having been there. Oh well… hoping for the scipting funcionality Ken promised for sometime 2018.

Where time-restriction is not necessary, I just use OF.
In OF I have

  • always-active locations as tags, for where I‘m a regular (Office, Home, …)
  • and ‚on-hold‘ tags for where I‘m at only sporadically (Munich, Berlin, New York…). I add e.g. restaurants to check out in that city (normal actions with the usual tags so that they populate my usual action lists when I activate that Berlin tag because I‘ll be there shortly). It also gets my „BrainDead“ tag, which is sorted to the top of my mood-tags and which see & check off most often & quickly.
  • and active tags for places / cities WITH location alerts in OF for stuff that I really want to do when I arrive in Munich, Berlin, New York etc. This might also be an action that simply tells me to check whether I‘ve got anything else to do there (i.e. to call up that tag in OF and have a look at the restaurants to possibly visit and take it from there). For some places, this is a self-repeating action that also has the „on-hold- tag for that place

Embed that wisely in your tag-structure and have some naming convention to tell you which tag does what when picking a suitable tag for a new action.

I‘ve discussed my whole way of working GTD with the help of OF and other software on PC, Mac, iOS in another thread. I call this „my GTD universe“. Yours can be different, of course.

Late response here but I didn’t see anyone address the specific size of the OmniFocus geofence. And considering that your original post was made after the release of OmniFocus 3 for iOS, I figured this is still relevant.

According to the official documentation the smallest tag notification distance is 200 meters, or about 1/8-mile — still not as small as 100 meters, but 4 times smaller than 0.5 miles.