First Look: OmniFocus 4 for iPhone and iPad

Announcements

Earlier today the Omni Group shared a first look at OmniFocus 4 for iPhone and iPad. This major update is currently in development and slated for release later this year. Check out Omni’s blog post to learn more and to find out how you can provide feedback and help with the testing.

I’ve had the good fortune of being one of the first people outside of Omni to put OmniFocus 4 for iPhone and iPad through its paces. Now that the embargo has been lifted, I’m excited to share a taste of OmniFocus’ exciting future. This future is built on modern Apple technologies that will help ensure a consistent user experience across all of the platforms that Omni supports.

Favourite New Features

In addition to sporting a new, modern design, OmniFocus 4 brings features to the iPhone and iPad that were previously only available in OmniFocus for Mac. Below are some of my favourite new and enhanced features.

It’s important to note that OmniFocus 4 is a work in progress and that details of the user interface and functionality are subject to change as OmniFocus continues to evolve.

Redesigned Sidebar

One of the first things you’ll notice when you open OmniFocus 4 on the iPad is the completely redesigned sidebar.

You can easily customize the list of perspectives to include your favourites, and hide those that you use less frequently. And your favourite OmniFocus 4 perspectives are always a tap away on the iPad. You can tap a button to reduce favourite perspectives to a vertical toolbar that shows only the icons, minimizing the amount of space they take up on your screen. This will happen automatically if you open up additional panels (e.g., the sidebar and the inspector) and OmniFocus needs some extra screen space.

Speaking of additional panels, the sidebar can now be shown and hidden independently of the perspectives panel. Previously, hiding the sidebar meant hiding the perspectives as well.

On the iPhone, your favourite perspectives are always within easy reach, regardless of how deep you dive into your project hierarchies. This, combined with Quick Open, make it very efficient to navigate your OmniFocus database.

Quick Open

Quick Open is a signature feature of OmniFocus for Mac that makes it quick and convenient to jump to a specific perspective, folder, project, or tag. OmniFocus 4 brings this feature to the iPhone and iPad for the first time. Simply tap the Quick Open icon in the toolbar (or press ⌘O if your iPad has a hardware keyboard) and start typing.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, projects and action groups can be expanded and collapsed, allowing you to focus on the information that’s most relevant and hide details when they’re not needed.

Redesigned Task Outline

The task outline has been completely redesigned for OmniFocus 4 and offers much more flexibility on the iPhone and iPad. You can specify what to include in the outline, both app-wide and for specific perspectives, and there’s a new “columnar layout” that displays information in columns that resize automatically to accommodate the available screen space.

Focus

Speaking of focus, it’s now possible to focus on specific folders and projects and have everything else hidden from view. For example, if it’s the weekend, you may choose to focus on the Personal folder that contains all of your personal projects and actions. This allows you to give these tasks your full attention without being distracted by work-related tasks.

Redesigned Inspector

The inspector is also new and improved. It’s no longer necessary to customize the inspector. Simply hide the elements that aren’t relevant and reveal those that are. Additionally, the Info, Note, and Attachments tabs are a thing of the past. Instead, all the inspector elements are contained within a single pane.

More to Come

This is just a taste of what’s new in OmniFocus 4. I’ll be keeping a close eye on OmniFocus 4 throughout the development cycle and will continue to post updates and highlights as we get closer to the release date. I also look forward to sharing consolidated feedback on behalf of our Learn OmniFocus community.

I’m dreaming up all kinds of creative new ways to put these advancements to good use. Furthermore, I’ll be sharing new and updated content once OmniFocus 4 is out in the wild and inviting new and returning workflow guests to share their experiences.

As always, many thanks to the talented folks at Omni for all the time and energy that they continue to put into OmniFocus and their other productivity apps.

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