I have been a user of OmniFocus on a mac ever since it’s first prerelease. I also managed to buy a copy with a 50% discount (OmniGroup’s kind way of awarding early adopters). Amongst many apps that I use daily, OmniFocus is probably one of the top on my list. I ogranise both my work and my personal task and with every day that goes by I wonder how did I ever manage without it. Being also an early iPhone adopter I was very excited when Omni announced they will be releasing an iPhone app as soon as the appstore is up. What better way to organize and plan your days than when you are sitting on a train or in the park, eg. when you are mobile.
Since it’s release, OmniFocus has had some difficulties. Partly due to the problems with early 2.0 version of iPhone firmware but also to the sheer list of features Omni set out to include in the app. Iphone is a new development platform and one can be sure that Omni as well as many other developers found a learning curve pretty steep. I am sure if it was just a mac app, Omni would have no problem developing a rock solid app like the mac version is. More about the issues a little later in the post.
When the app was released I was very pleasantly surprised.Â EverythingÂ you would expect from a mobile task manager was there, including clean and well laid out interface, syncing with desktop over MobileMe or any other WebDAV server, contexts, project and more. Syncing was probably the biggest challenge for Omni and this is evident in the way app does it. It’s a kind of a non soÂ intelligentÂ sync where at times you have to make a decision which database should be used (local or server). This can sometimes be a problem if you are not sure whether you used the desktop or iPhone version last. Never the less it is great for Omni to have included sync in the first release and those accustomed to Palm syncing (me being one of them) will appreciate that iPhone and Desktop do actually sync. One of the features no one expected was location aware tasks. This allows you to assign locations to contexts so when you load up the application and click on the find-me button, your tasks will be listed by proximity. Omni’s ambitions for the appÂ unfortunatelyÂ have had some drawbacks. Application seemed very slow at times, took long time to launch as well as sync. As I mentioned earlier this could partly be blamed on the flaky 2.0 firmware but since the release of 2.1 firmware and 1.0.3 version of OmniFocus the bugs were fixed, a lot snappier interface, syncing and loading times greatly improved and one can say that OmniFocus for the iPhone has really grown up. This is not to say there there are still no problems but OmniGroup’s past record reassures that any bugs or problems still around will be resolved very soon. Omni continues to improve the desktop app with nightly builds. The most recent release includes wifi sync across multiple machines and we are told that this will be included in the next version of the iPhone app.
To conclude, OmniFocus for the iPhone is a great app, a must for all GTD fans out there. Fortunately, Omni is not the only one on the playing field so this will keep them on their toes. AmongstÂ manyÂ to-do apps available in the appstore, Â ThingsÂ is a another desktop and iPhone application that offers very similar features. I for one, believe that GTD apps need to be clean, fast and rock solid. Things’ eye candy interface, for me, gets in the way of actually getting things done but this is just my personal preference. If you are considering purchasing a GTD app for your iphone you should use a desktop app (OmniFocus, Things) as a guide. Syncing feature is a must for GTD apps. Both Things and OmniFocus are great apps. For me, Omni wins this round and I highly recommend it.