When I shared our 2022 roadmap back in January, I closed with the reminder that a roadmap is never a perfect prediction of the future. The world around us is constantly changing, and it’s important to review and adapt our plans based on what’s going on around us. One of the predictable sources of news affecting our plans is Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, so each year we leave space in our schedule to jump into that firehose of information—and when we emerge, we update our plans and share what we’ve learned about changes that might affect our roadmap.
Before we dive into the latest news from WWDC, I think it’s worth doing a quick recap of what’s changed since our last roadmap update.
Since January, world changes have our hearts with the people of Ukraine, while Covid vaccinations have made some team members feel comfortable visiting the office more frequently.
When it comes to our product development roadmap, our primary focus continues to be OmniFocus 4. Since starting to test our redesigned iPhone and iPad apps last year, we’ve shipped 133 test builds—with more than a thousand changes and improvements to the app’s feature set, user interface, performance, and stability. Developing an app like OmniFocus 4 is a major undertaking!
OmniFocus reached its Feature Freeze milestone a few months ago (with 1,537 issues resolved), then we split our team to start bringing the Mac app up to date with the latest features. The Mac app is now far enough along that I’m able to do most of my daily work in it (though not far enough along to share it with you all quite yet—soon!). And we’ve also been making steady progress on that Design Freeze milestone: we’re now over half-way through the identified issues (with about 370 resolved as I write this). If you’d like to see some of our recent progress, Tim Stringer posted a nice article (with plenty of screenshots!) over at his Learn OmniFocus site. Our thanks to Silvia Gatta for all the great new icons!
But while OmniFocus 4 has been our primary focus, it isn’t all we’ve been working on!
We’ve been adding attachments support to OmniFocus for the Web, bringing it one step closer to parity with version 3 on other platforms.
For enterprise customers, we’ve continued to roll out licensing support for site licenses with single sign-on (SSO) authentication. Many thousands of users now sign into Omni apps using their organization’s SSO accounts, rather than having to create and maintain separate Omni accounts on our servers. This makes it much easier for our largest customers to manage their thousands of licensed users! And for everyone else, we’re working to simplify our licensing in other ways. (Stay tuned!)
In addition, we’ve been hard at work designing and building the next OmniGraffle, implementing long-requested features like themes and reference objects.
But now, let’s talk about WWDC!
We watch Apple’s announcements closely during their annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). WWDC often brings us both gifts and homework—sometimes wrapped up in the same feature, as when iOS 13 improved the standard document browser enough that we spent the summer rebuilding our document-based apps around it. So we try to be prepared for the possibility that we might have to make significant adjustments to our roadmap in June in light of what’s announced.
So, what did we learn from WWDC 2022?
First off, we’re thrilled that the “supercharged” M2 chip is already becoming the new baseline for the Mac product line: it’s great to see the Mac getting the same sort of frequent performance improvements that we’ve come to expect from the past decade of progress on the iPhone and iPad.
But I confess that we’re already starting to take those hardware improvements for granted. As developers, we’re even more excited to learn about all the new APIs coming to Apple’s platforms this fall!
To start with, Apple’s improvements to SwiftUI—especially custom layouts—will make our work as developers much easier. New technologies like Lock Screen widgets, WeatherKit, Swift Charts, passkeys, Focus filters, and the SharedWithYou collaboration framework, along with improvements to Shortcuts and Siri, give us a wealth of new capabilities to build on as we look ahead. I’ll admit that I’m a tiny bit jealous of people who are just starting their apps now, able to use everything that’s coming soon! It’s been clear for a few years that SwiftUI is the future direction for all of Apple’s platforms, but the changes this year—particularly the new layout work—finally make it feel like something that can take you the full distance, much like AppKit and UIKit have done for the last few decades.
We look forward to using this improved foundation as we continue to rebuild our apps. But I’m pleased to share that there won’t be a big upset to the OmniFocus 4 roadmap and system requirements as there was following last year’s WWDC. We do plan to take advantage of new iOS & iPadOS 16 features like lock screen widgets and customizable toolbars, and those features will require the new operating systems when they ship. But most of the app has already been rebuilt for iOS 15, and we plan to stay the course and ship this work first.
Looking ahead, OmniFocus 4 will continue to make regular progress. Once we close out that Design Freeze milestone, we’ll continue on through our remaining milestones (Usability, Stability & Performance, Documentation, Localization, and finally Code Freeze). We still have a lot of work ahead of us before we reach that final milestone, of course! It’s nice to know that one big source of disruption is now in the rear-view mirror and OmniFocus development can continue on its current path. (Whew!)
And, meanwhile, the OmniGraffle team is already transitioning to build on top of Apple’s improved foundation, working with test builds of Xcode 14 and macOS Ventura. Again, if you’re passionate about OmniGraffle and interested in influencing its future direction—and comfortable with using beta operating systems and tools—please reach out to us at email@example.com!
The future always contains surprises, we know, but we really appreciate all of the information that Apple shared at WWDC about their own plans. Being able to see and plan for what’s coming for their platforms provides a level of continuity and certainty which greatly helps with our own roadmap planning!
We also appreciate all of you and your support through the years—especially the thousands of you who are currently testing our latest work. Thank you!
(At the Omni Group, we make powerful productivity apps which help you accomplish more every day. Feedback? I’d love to hear from you! You can find me on Twitter at @kcase, or send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)