OmniFocus 4 for Mac now in TestFlight

For those who need to spend more time checking out task manager alternatives, OmniFocus 4 is in TestFlight for the Mac. Thank goodness, I say - some of us were uncomfortably close to settling down to just, you know, manage tasks.

[Details](Blog - The Omni Group

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Wow, that’s another excuse for not doing stuff.

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Exactly what I was thinking

What a burden! I’m glad I can just get my usual work done with the same task database and contribute feedback to make the release better.

I think it’s going to be a good update. It’s not as “game-changing” as OF4 on iOS is, but it’s making everything consistent while keeping the Mac app a Mac app, if that makes sense.

The kinks they’ve worked out in the new fluid outline on iOS are already applied to the Mac version. Having the more useful and configurable Forecast view on Mac is welcome–that’s something I only started to really use with OF4 and I like it a lot.

Location-based on Mac isn’t something I plan on using to complete tasks, but it’ll be nice for reviews and adding/editing tasks that get used when out with other devices.

I’m on board with the visual changes, other than it doesn’t seem to have an option to make the UI denser yet, like 3 has.

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That gave me a good laugh!! :rofl:

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So I have a question that applies to OF, as well as to other non-Reminders task managers. I often tell Siri “remind me about x.” I realize that apps like Things (OF?) will pull those reminders into its application but in the case of Things, until I click “import” the task will not trigger a notification reminder. For me this is a big deal because I invoke Siri a lot to set reminders. Does OF pull the reminder in from Reminders AND in such a way that a notification from OF will be triggered at the proper time without intervention on the user’s part?

How Siri works with OF is described here

It refers to OF3 because 4 isn’t released yet.

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I gave it a spin because… I had other things to do. Turns out I was having recurring tasks waiting since mid 2021, it’s been that long since I last gave OF a solid run.

My impression: this is good old OF with a more modern look and feel --the complexity of the tool is there, that’s for sure but I have the feeling that Omni does not pretend to dumb or simplify OF, it is what it is. It does not feel sluggish and I had no crashes.

Feels like a more mature beta release with less rough edges than the initial iOS beta release. Two things come to mind thinking of the generally negative feedback from the betas:

  1. Maybe they rushed the iOS version before the UI direction was clear and the most glaring bugs were squashed --migrating to SwiftUI is not an easy task.
  2. For such a complex tool (it’s the DEVONthink of task managers) the interface revamp would have been much more easier to understand if the first beta was the Mac one.

Anyway, I have always said that betas are only that, betas, and it is unfair to judge a major release for what the betas show. Everybody that is busy doing real stuff with OF, not my case, should wait for the golden releases.

I think I’m going to adopt OF again, and see if it sticks. Who knows… may be I’ll leave Reminders for some time.

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The SwiftUI tools were beta tools themselves. Apple has been fixing SwiftUI bugs along the way which helped a lot of developers. There were a lot of headaches when developers scrambled for workarounds until Apple fixed the bugs.

In the Slack channels, I believe the developers talked about wanting to try to switch as much of the code to SwiftUI. They may as well get started instead of waiting around for SwiftUI version 1.5 (or whatever it is now).

I’m not in the heads of the developers but they may have started on the iOS/iPad version first because there might be a larger user base on those platforms.

In any event, a lot of the foundational code base can be more easily shared between the Mac platform and the iOS platform. It probably didn’t matter in the long run which platform they started on. Most of the work for the Mac now is probably reliant on interface changes (tapping on the screen vs clicking with a mouse or trackpad).

+1

If Reminders works for you, it’s probably good to stay with it?


OmniFocus 4.0 feels a lot like the path that Final Cut Pro took. Final Cut Pro 7 was a rock solid tool that many professionals relied on. But it was starting to show its age with an old code base. Apple took a big hit when Final Cut Pro X came out and it was miles behind FCP7. It was the start of a new code base that allowed Apple to allow new APIs that would provide for a better user experience. Many users stuck with FCP7 until they felt confident enough to take the plunge with FCPX. I think this was the path that OmniGroup took. Set up the foundation for OmniFocus’ future. In time, we’ll see new features that will benefit users and the competition.

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I gave OF4Mac a spin for a while today. Good news is, it doesn’t garble preexisting data – probably because OmniSync is such a solid product in the background.

Several of the dialogs are too clicky-clicky – changing perspective settings used to be one click, now it is 2+. Fonts and layout in OF3 are more to my taste. A lot of that is just my own years of depending on the software for hours every day – it’s a comfort zon. I’ll come back to the beta every few weeks until I’m ready to fully change over.

OmniGroup always runs good betas, IMO. Inch by inch without a bunch of big bang stuff. It’s a good approach when dealing with carefully curated project/task data.

Katie

Am I the only one a little disappointed? There’s nothing about the beta that will make me want to upgrade when this comes out. I understand that a lot of effort went into this, but I’m a little disappointed from a feature perspective. What am I missing?

You aren’t. OF4 is about bringing feature parity and a framework to all platforms for future feature building. OF4 is bringing all the power of OF for the Mac to iOS devices. Thus this release on macOS isn’t going to be super thrilling from a feature perspective.

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As @kennonb says, it’s feature parity on all 3 platforms for version 4.0. Previously, there would be features that won’t be on one platform or another. Here’s an example:

I can create a tag called “House”. I need to go to my iPhone or iPad and assign a location (GPS, physical address). I can’t do that on OmniFocus for Mac 3.x. Version 4.0 allows me to edit the location coordinates. I can assign location data to my office, grocery store, hardware store, etc by using it any of the platforms. It might not matter much to some people but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.

Version 4.1 and beyond will be where the Omnigroup developers will start adding new features.

We can see more developers adopting a new approach to software development. Instead of saving everything for a future version, we’ll start seeing a steady flow of features. We’re seeing apps like Agenda, Mindnode, Ulysses, and Things slowly add features. It’s not sexy and there’s no Big Bang showcase but it’s very welcome to get features as they become available.

You can always wait for version 4.1 or later to upgrade.

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All true - and, in addition, they’ve essentially rebuilt the app using Apple’s more recent development tools to provide some (IMO) necessary reassurance about the future.

One of the reasons the iOS/iPadOS OF4 has been such a long time in gestation is the sheer amount of work needed to recreate a usurer experience on a new platform.

I shared a First Look: OmniFocus 4 for Mac post on the Learn OmniFocus blog, complete with screenshots and demo videos. I highlighted some of the additions and enhancements, noting that the UI is in a state of flux and that some new features are missing in the initial OmniFocus 4 Mac TestFlight (e.g. back/forward navigation buttons).

It’s important to emphasize that the Omni Group has done a lot of work under the hood since OmniFocus 3, including adopting Apple’s SwiftUI technology. This foundational work will help Omni maintain UI consistency and feature parity across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac moving forward.

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For me it’s time to see what else is out there before I commit to buying a version 4 when they release it.

I’ve played around a bit with reminders for non-project actions and Vikunja for projects, and actually kind of like it. The integration of reminders is very easy and having projects separate in another app is growing on me.

I still don’t like the new iOS/iPadOS interface, but the macOS v4 beta is not as cluttered and involved. So maybe with time I will get used to working with it.

The landscape’s changed a lot since OF3 was released. At that time, broadly speaking, it was Things, OF or a couple of others. If you wanted a different model, Trello & Asana offered Kansan-based taks management, with some added team bells and whistles.

Now, there’s a raft of straight competitors to Things?OF (TickTick Todoist and the like, Trello etc are still around and there’s a bunch of alternative paradigms to play with - Logseq/Roam/Obsidian, Notion/Craft/Clickup and probably a whole bunch I don’t remember. The upgrade-or-not-to-OF4 decision might be hard for many users - especially since (for good reasons), there’s no major new functionality in OF4. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

FWIW, I’m on the fence - I like OF4 and I’ve always liked OF. I just don’t know whether it’s going to be worth the upgrade cost to go to versions 4 on all devices.

After having trialled the OF4 beta on ios for some months, I’m back with Things we’re I’ve been the last few years. OF4 mac is still too rough for me.

It really does depend on the complexity that you need, but using Things I’ve got a simple and effective workflow.

I’ve always like the review feature in OF, but it isn’t really any trouble to review all my projects and tasks in Things.

The Things UI is so much cleaner than OF and I’ve always disliked the notes field being in the right sidebar at the bottom. That’s not the place for those like me who write notes into tasks and projects.

I’d also think many would find a $100/year subscription off-putting. I realize that one can purchase a traditional license for OF 3. Is that also available for OF 4, and does it release all features? I have, as stated elsewhere, defaulted to Reminders. I ask merely out of curiosity.

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I absolutely loved Omnifocus 1.0. I found it quick, effortless and a joy to use. It kept my life on track through a signifcant period of change and upheaval. I upgraded through 2 and 3 and used them daily but if anything they became harder to use, added more friction and became more ‘work’ than 'joy.

I know that objectively things have improved but personally I stopped getting enjoyment and value from omnifocus in version 3. I can’t imagine I will upgrade to 4, which is a pity as I do like the omnigroup.