Omni Roadmap 2020 — July Update

by Ken Case on July 8, 2020

When I shared our 2020 roadmap back in January, little did I know that we were headed into a worldwide pandemic that would touch each of our lives so deeply. I hope that each of you, wherever you are, are safe and well.

Our world is constantly changing, and each year we have to be prepared to adjust our plans based on what we encounter along the way. This year we’ve had to adjust to working from home during the pandemic, of course—but we’re also accustomed to expect big news about Apple’s platforms in June, and this year was no exception. As usual, there were plenty of great improvements to iPhone and iPad—but from our perspective, this year’s big news was about the Mac platform. After two decades of macOS 10 (originally written “Mac OS X”), the Mac platform is finally moving on to macOS 11—and by the end of this year the Mac platform will also start to transition to Apple silicon.

How does this news affect our roadmap?


Roadmap Review

Before we talk about how the roadmap might be changing, let’s start by reviewing this year’s roadmap and where on that road we are today!

With Omni Automation now available in every app, you can leverage plug-ins and scripts to accomplish more every day, automating routine tasks and integrating with other tools and services. We want Omni Automation to be easy for anyone to get started with, not just software developers, so Sal Soghoian and Rosemary Orchard have been helping us build instructional material and sample plug-ins which you can check out over at omni-automation.com. You’ll find new content posted there nearly every week! You’re also welcome to drop by the #automation channel on our Slack workspace, where we have a community of people asking questions and sharing their own projects.

A long-awaited feature has finally landed in OmniFocus, with support for “floating” time zones. This feature lets items always become due or available at the same local time whenever you’re travelling—though, ironically, everyone is doing a lot less travelling right now. (We hope those of you who have been doing some travelling are enjoying this change.)

A steady stream of OmniGraffle updates have greatly improved: performance, support for reading and writing Visio and SVG files, and support for storing documents on third-party document sync services.

With sign-in licensing (coming very soon), you will no longer have to keep track of license codes: to access purchases, you can simply log into our apps using your Omni Account. A single Omni Account can be used across all devices and platforms: with an OmniFocus subscription, for example, the same sign-in will unlock OmniFocus on Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Web.

We launched team subscriptions in March, and will be launching personal subscriptions at the same time as sign-in licensing. Subscriptions give you the latest version of our apps, enabling every feature on every platform (including Pro features)—with a lower cost up front and predictable spending in the future. But knowing that subscriptions aren’t the best choice for everyone, we continue to offer traditional licenses as well: traditional licenses are investments which may cost more up front, but save money in the long run.

We’re bringing one of our most powerful Pro features, custom perspectives, to OmniFocus for the Web. With custom perspectives, you can truly slice and dice your task list, making it easier to focus your attention on the things that need doing right now and to tune out the things that can wait. We’re currently testing custom perspectives internally, and will soon be making them available to everyone through our public test site.

Finally, we have our biggest project from this year’s roadmap: OmniPlan 4. I’m pleased to share that OmniPlan 4 is now feature complete, has been approved for distribution through the Mac App Store, and will be shipping very soon! OmniPlan 4 introduces interval cost and effort tracking, new scheduling features like recurring and manually scheduled tasks, and a new assistant to help set up project schedules. In addition to these powerful new features, a wide range of improvements have been made throughout the app, making OmniPlan easier than ever to use for day-to-day project management tasks no matter how complex your project is.

Sounds like a pretty full year already! What’s left in this year’s roadmap?

There are two big new features that remain from January’s roadmap, and both have to do with collaboration in OmniFocus: sharing linked tasks in OmniFocus, and sharing linked tasks between OmniFocus and OmniPlan. We’ve been hard at work at designing and implementing these, and as we’ve gotten deeper into this work we’ve decided to set our sights higher. Our original plan was to simply enable the sharing of individual tasks with one other person, but as we’ve thought through the various way people will want to collaborate we’ve decided it’s important to support sharing entire projects with teams right out of the gate.

Features are important to a productivity app, but designing and building a great user experience is even more essential to delivering a great app—so the other big project remaining in this year’s roadmap was to improve the flow of using our apps, particularly on iPad and iPhone. We want our apps to be easy to navigate, so everything in the app feels like it’s right at your fingertips—whether your fingertips are using a mouse, touch screen, or hardware keyboard. And we want to leverage the strengths of each platform, while maintaining consistency so it’s easy to switch from one platform to another. This isn’t easy to do! But we know the results will be worth the effort.


So how does WWDC affect this roadmap?

Apple announced a host of platform updates this year: from Apple Pencil handwriting recognition, to new date and color pickers on iPad and iPhone, to new Macs built with Apple silicon which can natively run iPhone and iPad apps on macOS 11. (And if Apple follows their usual pattern of launching new products in September, there’s not a lot of time before these platform updates start shipping!)

Our roadmap itself isn’t changing dramatically. We’re going to continue working on OmniFocus collaboration, and we’re going to continue improving the flow of using our apps. But the latest news from Apple has inspired us to take this work even further.

One of our top priorities is to make sure our Mac apps work well on Apple silicon. In theory we could just let Apple silicon do all the work, taking our existing Intel apps and converting them to run them on the new processor. Depending on how soon Apple is ready to ship their hardware, we may need to do that in the short term. But in the long term, that’s a recipe for apps getting stale and left behind—as so many 32-bit apps were left behind last year when Catalina shipped. The future of the Mac platform is Apple silicon, and we want to be ready to fully embrace that future. (I look forward to working on a Mac platform which gets better every year because it’s built on Apple silicon—much as we’ve already seen happen with the iPhone and iPad platforms!)

But Apple silicon isn’t the only big change Apple announced at WWDC. Along with support for new system hardware, macOS 11 is introducing a new design for the Mac platform—and quite a few new technologies which weren’t available just a few short years ago. With frameworks like SwiftUI, it’s easier than ever to design and build an app which behaves consistently across all of Apple’s platforms, while adapting behavior to leverage the strengths of each platform. The combination of new designs and new cross-platform technologies is a perfect fit with our roadmap for improving the flow of using our apps.

We see building for macOS 11 as an opportunity, much like building for Mac OS X was an opportunity twenty years ago. When Mac OS X was introduced, it had “Carbon” frameworks which made it possible to build apps which ran natively on X but were also compatible with Mac OS 9. Those frameworks were important to the transition from 9 to X, because the ecosystem of customers and products couldn’t leap to X overnight. But while those frameworks were important—essential, even—they didn’t represent the future of the Mac platform. That future belonged to the Mac’s newer “Cocoa” frameworks. And twenty years ago, those newer “Cocoa” frameworks were what we successfully leveraged to build our products and business (winning a record-setting five Apple Design Awards).

A similar transition lies ahead. We know that not all Mac customers will be ready to adopt macOS 11 the day it ships. And we know that we could continue to build apps using older macOS 10 technology and have those apps continue to run on macOS 11. But we also know that macOS 11’s new technologies represent the future of the platform, and that they have the potential to greatly improve our productivity as developers.

Twenty years ago, I had trouble understanding why so many Mac developers were sticking with Carbon rather than taking advantage of Apple’s newly introduced Cocoa frameworks. Facing a similar transition today, I have a much better appreciation for why that would be: as developers who have been working with Mac OS X for twenty years, we have a ton of code which is written using the old paradigm. We know the old frameworks inside and out, what to use and what to avoid. And it’s almost certain that the new frameworks aren’t fully baked or complete yet; they will have bugs in areas that haven’t been tested yet, and they may be missing some important capabilities. Building new code on a new foundation isn’t nearly as comfortable as building old code on a foundation we know.

But if we were building a new app today, I believe the best way to invest in the future of our products would be to take full advantage of these new frameworks rather than continuing to build on older technology. And if we want our products to stay relevant for another twenty years, I believe that adopting the latest technologies is the right move for them as well.

So, that’s exactly what we’re going to do: as we redesign our apps, we’re going to leverage the latest technologies. We’re not going to completely restart our development from scratch—but we are taking a step back to think about how we would design and build our apps if we were starting again now, building on the latest technologies and taking into account everything we’ve learned from our customers—you!—about how you use our apps. We’ll preserve much of our battle-hardened cross-platform application logic—the same business logic that we already share between Mac, iPad, and iPhone. And of course we’ll keep all of the new Omni Automation work we just completed, since our JavaScript-based plug-in and scripting code works well down at that layer with our business logic, aligning perfectly with our goal of delivering the best experience for our customers independent of the Apple devices they use. But when it comes to drawing content on the screen, processing input and commands, adapting to screen changes and so on, we’re going to take a fresh look at today’s technologies to see what we can best leverage as we redesign our apps.

This is obviously a huge undertaking. Can we redesign and rebuild our apps on top of new frameworks between now and September? That seems extremely unlikely! If we’re lucky, I’m hopeful that we might have test builds of new versions of OmniFocus and OmniGraffle ready to use by then. It will take us a while to get where we’re going–but in the meantime, we’ll continue to make sure that our current apps work well on the new operating systems.

With major new upgrades to your apps on the way, should I buy them today?

If you just want to get work done rather than worrying about timing, your best option might be to purchase a subscription! As noted earlier, subscriptions require the least up-front investment and always give you access to the latest version of our apps, enabling every feature on every platform. Team subscriptions are available today, and as noted above personal subscriptions will be available very soon.

But while we’re on the topic of licensing…

Over the last decade, the ways that apps are designed and built aren’t the only things which have changed: market expectations around how apps are bought and sold have also changed. Rather than buying independent apps for each platform (Mac, iPhone, iPad), in today’s market we expect to be able to purchase an app once and use it on every device where that app is available. This is already true for all of our subscriptions (where one universal subscription gives you access to the app on all devices), and as we look to the future we think it’s appropriate to use this model for our traditional licenses as well.

To that end, starting with OmniPlan 4 (but ultimately expanding to include our entire productivity suite), whether you purchase our apps using a subscription or a traditional license your purchase will be a universal purchase which unlocks the app on every device where it can run.


Wrap-Up

I hope this roadmap update gives you a sense of where we’re headed next! When we think about what to focus on next, we think about how to build products that help you, our customers, be your most productive selves. You’re working on big projects, and you’re looking to us for powerful tools to help you with those projects. It’s our job to help you accomplish those projects efficiently and effectively, without wasted effort. As we work to improve our products, we hope that the improvements we’re making will help you do just that.


(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)

Omni Roadmap 2020

by Ken Case on January 29, 2020

Looking Back at the 2010s

Welcome to the 2020s! Ten years ago (on January 27, 2010), Apple introduced iPad—a new device category that would, as Steve Jobs put it, “connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.” Inspired by the announcement, we put many of our plans for the next few years on hold—and just two days later I shared our first public company-wide roadmap, “iPad or Bust!

When we completed “iPad or Bust!” a few years later, I found myself reflecting on 2012 and looking ahead to 2013. This established a pattern for the rest of the decade, as we started regularly sharing roadmap updates for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and of course 2019.

Our roadmaps have never been perfect predictions of the future. Our world is constantly changing, and each year we have to be prepared to adjust those plans based on what we’ve encountered along the way:

Changes to the projected iPad or Bust! roadmap

But while our roadmaps don’t predict the future, they do state the direction in which we’re headed—and I hope you find them useful!

Looking Back at 2019

Before we talk about future roadmap, let me quickly summarize the major updates from last year:

(For more detailed notes on what we did last year, I recommend reading last year’s September roadmap update.)


Looking Ahead

In last year’s roadmap, I said that beyond shipping OmniFocus for the Web, we would continue to work on site licensing, JavaScript-based automation, sharing linked tasks, and improving the flow of using our apps:

“We’ll be reviewing the ways customers navigate our apps—making them easier to navigate on small touch devices, more efficient to use from a keyboard, and more accessible to the sight-impaired. We’ll be improving integration between our own apps (such as linking tasks between OmniFocus and OmniPlan), between our apps and others (such as OmniGraffle’s import and export of Visio and SVG files), and with the rest of the system. We’ll be tracking down and fixing rare crashes and other bugs. And we’ll be taking a hard look at performance issues, so our apps respond to your input faster.”

We did ship OmniFocus for the Web as planned—but when iPadOS was announced in June we took a pretty big detour from the rest of our planned roadmap. There was a lot of benefit in that detour: it’s great to have multiple windows on iPad, support for iCloud Drive and other document providers, and Dark Mode! But it did leave a fair amount of unfinished business from last year’s roadmap, and we’re continuing with that work this year.

Specifically, we will continue our work on sharing linked tasks in OmniFocus, and on improving integration both between our own apps (such as linking tasks between OmniFocus and OmniPlan) and between our apps and others (such as OmniGraffle’s import and export of Visio and SVG files).

We’re also continuing to improve the flow of using our apps—particularly on iPad and iPhone. We want easy navigation, so everything in the app feels like it’s right at your fingertips—whether your fingertips are using the mouse, touch screen, or a hardware keyboard.

As we do this work, we’re also actively listening to your feedback. When we hear that you’re repeatedly encountering pain points in our apps (whether you’re encountering performance or stability issues, or dealing with common workflow issues such as time zone changes in OmniFocus), we will be setting aside time for addressing those issues.

Using Automation for Custom Features and Integrations

With AppleScript, we’ve always had first-class support for automation in our Mac apps. This support for automation has enabled our customers to create some wonderful solutions, such as the Kinkless GTD scripts for OmniOutliner which inspired us to build OmniFocus.

But AppleScript had some big caveats: it was generally easy to read, but it was a fairly esoteric language that many developers found less easy to write. It was able to accomplish some amazing things, much faster and more accurately than working by hand—but it was generally slow enough that you could watch it work, and if it had a lot of work to do you could be watching and waiting for a while. And it was only available for the Mac platform—which was totally fine in the ’00s when that was the only place our apps ran, but was a lot less useful in the ’10s when our customers were increasingly spending their time on mobile devices.

To overcome those limitations, in 2015 we started working on Omni Automation: a technology which lets customers run JavaScript code in our apps using Apple’s highly-optimized JavaScript engine. Since then, we’ve shipped Omni Automation support for OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle, OmniPlan—and in 2020 we will be officially shipping support for Omni Automation in OmniFocus.

Why does this matter? If you don’t know how to program JavaScript, how does Omni Automation benefit you?

By providing automation technology in our apps, we make it possible for customers to extend our apps’ capabilities. People can build customized solutions to meet their own needs—and then share those solutions with others. We had thousands of customers using Kinkless GTD in OmniOutliner, even though most of those customers didn’t know AppleScript. I’ve been told that one of JTech Communications’ most popular blog posts was for a script for OmniGraffle which counts items on a canvas. With automation, people are able to create their own keyboard shortcuts to quickly perform actions like creating a task calendar from OmniFocus, or exporting Markdown from OmniOutliner—and those solutions can often be shared with others, making everyone’s lives easier.

Automation is also a building block that can be used to integrate our apps with other applications and systems. We’ve had customers use AppleScript automation to sync OmniPlan with their internal bug tracking systems, so they can easily keep their project plans up-to-date as work gets completed and their tracking system up-to-date as their plans change.

It’s definitely true that writing JavaScript code isn’t for everyone! But automation solutions powered by JavaScript have the potential to benefit everyone—and we’ll be working to make it easier for all of you to share your solutions with each other.

Simplifying Licensing with Sign-Ins

In our ideal world, nobody would have to think about how our apps are distributed and licensed. You would simply install the app from whatever source is most convenient for you, and pick whatever licensing option works the best for you. This was how our software worked in the ’90s and ’00s: you could install our apps from CDs or our website, and you could purchase licenses for those apps from retail stores or our website—whichever was most convenient for you.

That picture has changed with the App Store. We can still offer app downloads and licenses on our website, but only for the Mac platform—to install on an iPad or iPhone, you must install from the App Store. We can offer trials and upgrade discounts and price protections in the App Store, but only when we use free downloads with in-app purchases. But in-app purchases can’t be made directly by businesses and schools—so those customers really need the option to pay in advance as well.

In our attempt to provide the best options to everyone, we’ve ended up with three different distributions of our apps: website installs (purchased from our store), free App Store installs (licensed with in-app purchases), and pay-in-advance App Store installs. (The pay-in-advance App Store option is certainly the most straightforward—but with no options for trials or discounts, it’s also the least friendly and flexible.)

Those who follow closely may have noticed that we introduced another approach to this problem last year: sign-in licensing, which is used for our cross-platform OmniFocus subscriptions. While the App Store doesn’t allow apps to be unlocked using license codes, it does allow apps to be unlocked based on signing into the app (as seen with Microsoft Office, Netflix, and many other apps). With the sign-in licensing model, you no longer have to worry about how the app was installed, or whether their subscription was purchased from within the app or directly from our website. You don’t even have to worry about which platform you’re using: the same sign-in unlocks OmniFocus on Mac, iOS, and web.

We think this provides a much better experience overall. But right now this experience is limited to individual OmniFocus subscribers—which means most of our customers still have to think about how they’re licensing our apps, because it doesn’t apply to any of the other licensing methods. To make this benefit universal, we’re working on supporting sign-in licensing in all our apps. We’re extending it to support teams, so organizations can purchase subscriptions for people on their teams. (This includes single sign-on support for our larger customers—many of whom have tired of managing spreadsheets with hundreds of license codes.) And we’ll also be updating our store to support sign-in licensing for one-time “à la carte” purchases of our apps, so customers who prefer that model can benefit from it as well.

OmniFocus for the Web

OmniFocus for the Web is still relatively new, having shipped less than a year ago. It’s been very useful and popular—but in terms of functionality, it still has a lot to do to catch up with its older siblings on other platforms! Aside from keeping pace with new features (like floating time zones), our top priorities are to add support for custom perspectives and for the Mac app’s Focus feature (so you can focus on your work projects when you’re on your Windows box at the office).

OmniPlan 4

We’ve been listening carefully to your feedback on OmniPlan, and I’m very pleased to share that we’ll be shipping OmniPlan 4 for Mac in the first half of this year! We’ve improved the discoverability and ease-of-use of OmniPlan’s existing feature set, and introduced a number of new features like Recurring Tasks and Task Roll-Up. We’ll be introducing OmniPlan 4 more fully as we start its public test period (soon!), but for now I’ll focus on just one of those features, Interval Tracking:

Many of our OmniPlan customers have asked for a way to report on the costs of a project over time, not just broken down by task or resource groupings. OmniPlan 4 solves this problem by adding Interval Tracking, which breaks down the cost over time of each item on the Gantt chart, based on your current Gantt scale:

OmniPlan 4 Interval Tracking

For those of you doing cost planning (or reporting), Interval Tracking makes it much, much easier to see exactly how much time or money you’re going to need to spend (or have already spent) on each item or group. (And if you just need to see the totals, we’ve got you covered! You can enable Interval Tracking for just the headers.)


Wrap-Up

I hope this year’s roadmap gives you a sense of where we’re headed next! When we think about what to focus on next, we think about how to build products that help you, our customers, be your most productive selves. You’re working on big projects, and you’re looking to us for powerful tools to help you with those projects. It’s our job to help you accomplish those projects efficiently and effectively, without wasted effort. As we work to improve our products, we hope that the improvements we’re making will help you do just that.


(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)

Omni Roadmap Update: September, 2019

by Ken Case on September 12, 2019

Welcome! With iOS and iPadOS 13 right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to share the latest news regarding our plans for 2019.

In January’s roadmap, I shared that we would be launching OmniFocus for the Web, along with the optional OmniFocus subscriptions needed to support that service. We successfully launched on May 28, and the service has been very stable as we’ve scaled up to thousands of subscribers and added new features like Forecast, new keyboard shortcuts, support for Dropped Actions, and localizations for German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Simplified Chinese.

Of course, the bulk of our attention remains focused on our native apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The OmniFocus team has been working towards collaboration, adding support for Dropped Actions which we feel is an important status to communicate when sharing tasks. The OmniGraffle team shipped a new wrap-to-shape text formatting feature early in the year, then spent several months focused on improving drawing performance in the Mac app. And the OmniPlan team added support for Omni Automation, which lets our Pro customers build their own custom app integrations, workflow improvements, and reports using cross-platform JavaScript that runs on both Mac and iOS.

All of the above was according to the plan we laid out in January. But we always know going into the year that our plans will need to change mid-year—and right on schedule, in the first week of June, Apple announced new operating system features which would be shipping in the Fall. So we paused work on our January roadmap, making and sharing new summer plans which were all focused on updates to our iPhone and iPad apps. We also decided that this was the right time to adopt Apple’s standard document browser.

Which brings us to the present! Apple has announced that iOS 13 will be shipping next week, with iPadOS 13 following along at the end of the month. So we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled roadmap soon. But what have we been working on all summer? What have we been doing to prepare for iOS 13?

Well, first of all, we think it’s essential to make sure we have apps that behave well on iOS 13 on the day it launches—so we have a few small bug-fix updates that will be shipping before iOS 13 ships, such as the OmniFocus 3.3.6 update that is currently in TestFlight.

But while these day-one bug fix updates are important, we have much bigger updates coming to each of our apps which we’ll be shipping as soon as possible! When I look at the work we did across our apps this summer, I classify it into three broad areas of change:

  1. We added support for the new native Dark Mode in iOS 13. This means that we had to review and update nearly every pixel our apps draw to the screen, since those pixels now have to draw in different colors based on the user’s chosen preference—and also have to be ready for those preferences to change on the fly.

  2. We added support for multiple active windows from the same app in iPadOS 13. The platform never supported that feature in the past, and every bit of logic which managed application state and user interactions had to be updated to support the possibility of user interactions coming from and going to multiple windows at once.

  3. Adopting Apple’s standard document browser (replacing the home-grown browser we’ve been using since iOS 3.2) meant that we needed to change much of the code which reads or writes or syncs our documents. Of course this affects the main document being edited, but it also affected the template chooser for new documents, the stencil browser in OmniGraffle, and the theme picker in OmniOutliner.

That’s a lot of change. We touched pretty much everything involving drawing, managing document/application state, or reading/writing/syncing data. (And that’s just the general cross-app overview. Specific apps had other specific work to do for other operating system changes—like the vastly improved Shortcuts in OmniFocus, or the gestures overhaul in OmniGraffle to avoid conflicts with some of Apple’s new system-wide gestures.)

If you’re impatient to try out these great new features, and don’t mind living on the edge, we currently have public TestFlight builds for OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, and OmniGraffle which you can download and start using today. We also have a public iOS 13 TestFlight for OmniFocus, which is focused on its bug fix release today but will be switching over to its feature update very soon.

For any long-time customers who might still be running our older v2 apps for iOS, please know that you’re welcome to continue using those older apps as long as you wish—the license you’ve purchased will never expire. But you’re responsible for maintaining an environment where those apps can run—and if you’ve been reading closely, you may have noted that even our current v3 apps needed to be updated in order to be compatible with iOS 13. Our older v2 apps haven’t been sold in quite some time, and are no longer being maintained—so I’m afraid they’re not going to be compatible with iOS 13. If you’re planning to upgrade to iOS 13, please also make sure you plan to upgrade your v2 app to the current version. (Our v3 apps come with free two-week trials, and every v2 customer is eligible for a 50% upgrade discount!)

For customers who have already purchased our current v3 apps: these updates, major as they are, are absolutely free. Thank you for your support, and we hope you enjoy Dark Mode, multiple windows, more flexibility in where you keep your documents, and more!


(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)

Adopting Apple’s Standard iOS Document Browser

by Ken Case on July 30, 2019

When we launched our first iPad apps in April, 2010, the iPad platform was completely new. (We launched our first apps the day the App Store launched!) At that time, there was no built-in document browser, or even a rich text editor: if we wanted those features—essential to apps like OmniGraffle and OmniOutliner—we had to build them ourselves.

There was also no built-in mechanism for syncing documents: iCloud itself didn’t exist in 2010, and iCloud Drive didn’t exist until it was introduced with iOS 8 (in September, 2014). We knew how important it was to be able to easily sync documents between multiple devices, so in May of 2013 we shipped our own syncing solution, OmniPresence.

A document browser with integrated cloud syncing was a great solution—for 2013. But time marches on, and in 2019 we now have lots of cloud storage options which integrate strongly with Apple’s standard document browser—a browser which is now built into iOS and available to every iOS app. It’s understandable that, more and more, we’ve been hearing from customers who find it frustrating that they can’t easily use the cloud syncing service of their choice within our apps.

In 2019, we think it’s time to retire our custom document browser in favor of using Apple’s built-in document browser—and with our iOS 13 updates this fall we’ll be doing just that. Instead of seeing our custom file browser, you’ll be presented with the standard iOS document browser—just like in Apple’s own iWork apps. Using Apple’s browser, you’ll be able to store and sync your documents using Apple’s built-in iCloud Drive, or third-party commercial options like Box—or even in cloud- or self-hosted collaborative git repositories using Working Copy.

Syncing through OmniPresence will still be an option, but it will no longer be the only integrated option. In fact, it might be the least privileged option: since OmniPresence isn’t its own separate app, it won’t be listed in the document browser’s sidebar where you find your other document storage solutions. Instead, it will present itself on iOS much like it does on Mac—as a folder of synced documents. We’re not trying to drive people away from using OmniPresence—but in 2019 we don’t think it makes sense to push people towards it either. OmniPresence is not a core part of our apps or business, and in 2019 there are lots of great alternatives. Seamless document syncing is essential to our apps—but exactly where and how those documents are synced is not!

Adopting the standard iOS document browser will make it easier than ever for you to choose where you want to keep our apps’ documents. If you’re already testing the iOS 13 betas and would like to help test our apps, please sign up for our iOS 13 TestFlights!


(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)

Open Test of OmniFocus for the Web Drawing to a Close

by Ken Case on May 22, 2019

Hi, all! Thanks for all of the great feedback during the open test period of OmniFocus for the Web!

I just wanted to give you all an early heads up that the public test of the web app will start to require a paid subscription late next week (after we’ve updated our online store to offer a $5/month web-only add-on subscription).

Subscribers will be welcome to continue to use the public test if they wish (continuing early access to features like the Forecast perspective that are still in development), or to switch over to the more stable production site.

For reference, here are links to both sites:

Whether or not you end up subscribing, thank you very much to all 20,000+ of you who signed up for the public test! Your participation and feedback have been very helpful!


(Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on twitter at @kcase, or send me email at kc@omnigroup.com.)