Worried About OmniFocus?

It was pointed out by Ken Case that Omni was using the TestFlight as a testing ground for different ideas and a lot of the cluttered UI were placeholders for future ideas. It has cleaned up a lot over the past few months. Sometimes a Ui was suggested by someone in TestFlight and was installed into a new TestFlight release to see how people would respond to it. Many ideas were tossed and many other ideas were refined based on feedback.

It is still too early in the testing grounds for anything to be considered “feature frozen.”

If you don’t want to play with it, that’s fine. If you’re curious, give it a test drive.


Unless you are a podcast host, don’t play with betas for any mission-critical tools or only do so with a non-critical database if you can’t help yourself.

I am happy with OF3, which is in daily use and keep reading the OF4 discussions in the forums with great interest.

I am convinced Omnigroup want to evolve the tool in the right direction and think they has no interest in killing their flagship tool. I commend their approach of opening up betas for hands-on feedback and their guts for doing so for an obviously opinionated user group.

Nothing is as hard as an embedded workflow being force changed. Only a few like @MacSparky make that a hobby for the sake of the larger community.

That said; I do believe OF is already overkill for the many who are looking for simpler UI or even the alternatives mentioned in this thread.

The reason there are more “to-do” managers available than we all can mention is that there are as many opinions, personal prefs and ways to succeed in getting things done.

Stick to what you like and constructively use any opportunity to interact with your fav tool developers. Only because of well-formulated feedback they are able to build the tool of choice for many.


As someone on the Beta since very early it certainly has evolved in the “right” direction. However OmniGroup have decided to double down on their inline inspector which frankly I just do not like at all. OF user for a good many years, but as of last week switched to Things 3.

Reasons are many and varied but kudos to OmniGroup for their open approach and seemingly endless patience with the Beta Slack Channel.

  1. I simply and pathologically dislike the aforementioned inline inspector, it is in my view ugly and a feature which duplicates another sidebar inspector. It to me anyway just feels wrong.
  2. The app is written in Swift which given the obvious technical abilities at OmniGroup I would have to say seems not to be ready for mission critical apps. Tap targets are off, crashes are many, drag and drop is shall we say unpredictable. Yes I know it’s a beta but this seems to be Swift issues more than anything else.
  3. Omni are saying the beta has now (nearly?) reached “feature freeze” state, and having trialled both Things and Todoist recently the ability to create headings and checklists in projects without resorting to action groups which clutter the interface for me is the deciding factor on top of the visual improvements.

I jumped ship before earlier in the beta but decided I have so much time and emotion invested in OF that I would persevere, this time however I have deleted the apps from iOS, backed up my database (just in case) and gone full Things 3. I had to make some changes to my workflows but overall I seem to have reached a much calmer interface without sacrificing any functionality I need day to day. In fact my productivity seems to have improved.

If nothing else changing apps occasionally at least makes you reconsider and rework your workflows which can be no bad thing I guess.


This is my biggest concern. I think they will get to a polished state, but slowly and at the expense of additional feedback rounds in design and feature stages. it was too early a bet. Some of the code will be more future-proofed, but I don’t know to what degree given the workarounds required to make Swift UI behave in all states and screen sizes. Other developers have eschewed Swift UI because it harms their ability to rapidly develop features. E.g., Raycast explicitly says they don’t use it in their job ads for native app developers.

I like the utility of the inline editor over the full inspector, but as I said in the feedback channel, the additional utility creates new expectations which lead to wanting to more frequently adjust view settings, which makes accessing the existing filters and settings feel weightier. Hoping they can improve that. I also agree the look of the inline editor isn’t right yet, but I don’t know what to suggest.

Edit: to be clear, this is all in the context of preferring early access OF4 to OF3. I’ll never go back to not having quick open on mobile. :slight_smile:

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I believe we all need to wait until OF4 is golden, I think at least Omni deserve that :wink:

Still the graphic line of the product dont seem to be bound to change and it clearly shows that they are not going after Things in terms of design, but on my iPhone it feels even better than OF3. On iPad it’s another thing, yes.


Fair point - but IMHO, I knew OF3 was getting stale, and having seen and used OF4 throughout the beta I can see that the direction is not for me, so I’ve decided to bite the bullet and move on. Worth noting that Todoist costs about 1/3 of OF, not a major factor for me, but I’m not getting 3x value at all anymore. :cry:

Side note: I’ve got nothing but love for Omni and hope they change my mind when OF4 is ready for prime time.

My concern is they are putting a lot of resource into building OF4, which is pretty unpopular on most (all?) reviews.

This is then at the cost of developing OF3, which I really like, with the odd frustration (e.g., unable to sort by certain tags - seems like such a simple fix but it’s been around for as long as tags have been around).

I’d be interested to know what they don’t like about OF3 such that OF4 feels like the right direction.

Either way I won’t be leaving OF based on a beta. I love OF3 and for as long as it is supported I’ll keep using it.

I’ve tried Todoist and hated it (I have a Windows work computer), and haven’t tried Things but will be the one I go with if I switch.

I don’t think anyone should be definitively reviewing OF 4 yet.

There are some really nice features coming, though. Quick open, more accessible automations, modern iPad app sidebar/multi-pane design, fewer taps to reach views, full outlines with search and tap-based filtering, way more keyboard shortcuts. I don’t think many who want a powerful task app will prefer 3 to 4 once 4 is polished and released. There’s excitement about these features evident in the early access program, less so on this forum.


There tends to be a skewed take on the inter-webs where the most vocal takes (usually criticism) are amplified. Meanwhile, users who are content with what is being shown or are waiting for the final product might not have anything to say.

I wouldn’t call the current takes a “review.” They’re constructive criticism to help guide the developers into possible new directions. Development comes in slow and repeated iterations. A cake starts off as globs of flour, butter, and whatever ingredients and are all laid out in a chaotic mess in the kitchen. It won’t look pretty until we put the final icing and a birthday candle on top at the end. The developers have welcomed the constructive criticism from the TestFlight users and are slowly trying out different UIs before settling on something that most of us would like.

It’s been voiced on the Omni Group Slack channels that version 4.0 is mostly a rewrite of the app in SwiftUI with a few tweaks. This is by no means the final product. Omni Group has shown the tendency to roll out features over time based on constant user feedback. It may feel like 20 dog years but it’s coming along.

I wouldn’t worry about OmniFocus 4. If there are other apps available, it’s always within our control to switch to another app that fits our current needs.


The OF4 direction was alarming enough that I swapped after about almost 10 years of using it

That’s too bad. I thought your design feedback in Slack last year was pretty good, and they’re in heavy design refactoring right now.

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I think the main issue with OF4 (apart from the early adopter issues of using Swift which I am guessing OmniGroup have a degree of buyers remorse about) is Omni doubling down on the inline inspector.

They obviously looked at the main competitors offerings and felt they needed the same. That’s fine, the problem I see it the design has just failed to meet the standards of Things or ToDoist, both of which handle task editing in a way that presents choices much much better. Omni had the sidebar inspector they have decided to retain it, and keep the new inline version (which has a horrible electric blue border by the way), so now there are double the ways to tinker with every task. It’s just too many and too busy!

For me ToDoist failed as it allowed perspectives (saved views) but without the power of OF’s. Things allows neither perspectives or saved views, but has managed to install a sense of calm across what is a lot of tasks in a lot of different projects/lists even though I have had to amend my working.

I have been experimenting with KeyBoardMaestro and Shortcuts and have been able to duplicate my important perspectives in Things by setting lists and filters, so that’s, one of the other reasons to use OF gone.

Yes Things is pretty, but as someone who uses Mailmate DevonThink and previously OF I am used to less than pretty apps, it’s nice to have but not a major consideration. OMniGroup has certainly listened to feedback, and certainly you can’t please everyone but the inline inspector and incredibly busy interface especially on the phone is loosing users in my opinion. This coupled with the lack of innovation, yes I know it may come when the Mac app is rewritten but it may not, and it could take another six months to a year given the speed of the current Beta. Checklists and headings seem indispensable once you have them.

They are also pushing automation a lot, and having gone through the examples, most seem very clever but unlikely to save me any great amounts of time or radically improve my personal workflow. In some ways it seems a (clever) solution looking for a problem. Others may differ or course.

Anyway as people have said there are a lot of task managers because people have a lot of different needs or prejudices, and I certainly wish Omni Group luck.

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I think they need an option to disable the inline editor. They already have an option to pull up the inspector upon tapping a task (OF 3 style), but behind the inspector modal, the outlined inline inspector jumps to the task that was tapped. I would think anyone enabling the inspector auto-pull up wouldn’t want to see the blue outline or the inline editor’s layout of the outline information at all.

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I agree with everything you have said. Even on this thread people are leaving OF completely based on the OF4 design, however in draft it is.

Just noting that this is one of the many reasons most companies don’t do software development in public. The vast, vast majority of people don’t understand the difference between “we’re playing around with this new idea” and “this is the finished product we’re releasing next”. Speaking of which…

I would go so far as to say that there are no reviews of OF4. At this point it’s like reviewing a finished house based on seeing a poured foundation and some stacks of lumber. “We stopped out to look at the building, and there are NO BATHROOMS!” Well, yeah - because those aren’t installed yet. :slight_smile:

The thing is, this is how all software companies work. Release v3, do features planned for v3 and some bug fixes, then start working on v4.

If they weren’t doing this public “early access” they likely wouldn’t be spending any more time developing v3 than they are now - they’d just be developing v4 behind closed doors.

“Don’t develop v4 and just keep developing v3” isn’t an option that was ever on Omni’s roadmap. :slight_smile:

Just like how Apple will likely never have a “no new features; bug fixes only” year. Apple could fix every existing bug in macOS, iOS, watchOS, etc., and come up with a program where all new reported bugs were fixed within a week, and the headlines would not be “Apple now makes the most reliable operating systems in the world” or “Apple - the most stable computing platforms”. They’d be “Apple is out of ideas”, “Apple no longer an innovator”, and “macOS is stale and dated”.

OF4 may completely suck. Or it may be completely awesome. I wouldn’t ever abandon OF3 without seeing something that Omni had at least categorized as a mid-to-late beta version of v4 - something they’re logically planning on actually releasing.


Not an OF or Things user but secretly waiting for another thread after OF4’s release titled “OF4 - Were we wrong?” :laughing:


Retrospective introspection isn’t a strong point of Internet culture. :slight_smile:


I do understand the difference between playing with ideas and a finished product as I develop on the web for a living. What will not change substantially is OF’s adoption of the in-line inspector or introduce headings and checklists at least until OF4 for Mac is released. It may come in OF4. Something or 5, that is why I jumped ship. Waiting for the final release will fix none of these issues for me.

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Although it’s not the final product and it’s premature to make judgments. The Omni people already said they’re near feature freeze, which means it’s unlikely to have significant changes that make or break OF 4. Personally I like the changes in OF 4 but it’s not compelling enough for me to switch from Things 3.

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My understanding is that “feature freeze” is followed by “design freeze” though, so while it’s not likely to get many new features the UI is still very much being worked on. And the UI seems to be the cause of many of the complaints I’ve seen. We’ll see how it all shakes out, of course. :slight_smile: