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.)