Tuesday, September 24, 2013

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone Review

The Getting Things Done philosophy has captivated freelancers, procrastinating students and life hackers since David Allen came up with the concept over a decade ago. Put simply Getting Things Done, or GTD, involves getting all of our tasks, no matter how small, out of our heads and into a place where we can deal with them appropriately. Taking on this philosophy has made OmniFocus  the go-to productivity app for Apple geeks. Having being available for Mac for several years gave it a substantial head start on rivals when it came to developing a great iPhone to-do list and productivity app. The first generation of the iPhone software, however, had serious limitations. Omnifocus has just released an update, and rather unusually for iPhone apps, it's not free, and you'll have to download an entirely new app.

The new app is a clear improvement on the original OmniFocus for iPhone. This is apparent from the first time you load the app and experience the improve syncing speed with the free to use Omni Cloud service. All your data from the previous app or the Mac or iPad versions of the app is synced so you can start using the app straight away. For those who are new to OmniFocus getting started with it is intuitive - you add to do items, filling in as much or as little as you want of the fields. Items with not enough information are kept in the inbox to either assign to projects and contexts later, or simply tick off when complete as with a simple to do list.

The new app is more based around forecast views than the previous version, which should suit most users - especially those with deadlines to meet. While perspectives are easy to access if you prefer other ways of working, the forecast view is generally found to be the most useful. If you're the sort of person who has tasks in different locations, for instance if you move between offices or simply have to purchase many items from different stores, the much improved map and nearby functions will come in handy.

The design aesthetics have completely changed and fit in better with the new iOS 7 feel. The first page in the app is no longer a to do list, but instead a list of options with numbers by them - for instance 10 items in Inbox, 5 Flagged items, the number of tasks in each of the upcoming days, and easy to access links to contexts, projects, nearby tasks and perspectives.

Those new to OmniFocus might be a little confused by the idea of contexts and projects to start with. Projects are in effect tasks that have more than one part to them. For instance if you're making a blog this would be the project, and it would contain tasks such as choosing a design and writing the about us page. Projects can be sequential or allow any order, and can contain unlimited numbers of sub-projects.

Contexts meanwhile might seem a little confusing for those used to traditional to-do lists. The idea of contexts is that a to-do list should only present tasks to you that are relevant to what situation you are currently in. For instance if you're at home there's no point in your to-do list including tasks you can only complete in the office. These contexts can be geotagged enabling you to see nearby projects - this is particularly useful for when you are on your mobile phone. Contexts are flexible too - you can use them for mindsets, for instance if you prefer some tasks when you're feeling creative and others when you're feeling efficient you can use contexts to only show you relevant tasks too.

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone is a much improved version of the application that all users of the existing app should upgrade to. Having to pay for an iPhone app upgrade might be a little hard to accept at first, but the app has been completely rebuilt so we can understand the logic of Omni Group in charging again. For those searching for a to do list app who think they might benefit from something more than a simple list we'd strongly recommend this over the competition.


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