The Omni Group Roadmap and A Few Thoughts on OmniFocus

The Omni Group has published its latest road map. As a fan of their software, I love reading these. They are committing to release OmniFocus 4 this year and they are also working on an update to OmniGraffle. I’ve heard from a lot of folks about the OmniFocus 4 release, and I’ve got a few thoughts:

  • Many readers tried the early betas and didn’t care for it. If that’s you, I’d encourage you to give the current, later betas, another look. A year ago, they were focused on features. They’ve done a ton of UI polish since then.
  • The Omni Group is the first company I’ve seen emerge from the morass of Swift UI with a high-end productivity app. I expect this will pay dividends going forward. Just like we’re now seeing Apple release major new features across all platforms at once, I expect we’ll see the same from the Omni Group going forward.

I went into the wild over the last six months looking seriously at other task manager options including Reminders, Things, and some of the emerging online tools. I started that survey willing to move to another app, but ended up right back where I started. My takeaway is that OmniFocus is still the only option for me. (Perspectives are so powerful and you can link anything, anywhere.) While Reminders is a lot better, on a scale of 1 to 10 it goes to 7 and OmniFocus goes to 11.

Finally, now that I’ve finished my survey, I’ve committed three months to making an entirely new edition of the OmniFocus Field Guide once the new version ships.

The Hypothetical Folding iPad

Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst that gets most of his insight from the Apple supply chain is predicting Apple will ship a folding iPad next year (as reported at 9to5 Mac). We’ve been hearing about folding iPhones and iPads for years but this is the first time someone as notable as Ming-Chi Kuo has planted a flag.

I generally like the idea of Apple getting more experimental with hardware. It’d be pretty cool if you could carry something about the footprint of an iPad mini (but thicker) which unfolds into something much bigger. The trick would be in that transition on the screen and the hinge. If true, I expect Apple would have some interesting ideas.

Mac Power Users 677: Software Club: Fantastical

The Software Club talks about Fantastical and how it compares to Apple’s default Calendar application on this episode of Mac Power Users. Michael Simmons then joins us to discuss Fantastical’s history and the changes he has seen in the Apple software ecosystem over the years.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Never forget a password again.
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Automators 120: Looking at Launchers

Rosemary and I spent some time looking at Raycast, the latest Mac launcher to arrive on the market, and on this episode of Automators, we compare it to our current favorite launcher, Alfred.

This episode of Automators is sponsored by:

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Things Update Brings the Shortcuts

I know you all think I’m in the bag for OmniFocus, but I’m always interested in seeing progress with task apps in the Apple ecosystem, and Culture Code just made a nice update to Things.

You know I’m a big fan of Shortcuts, and Things 3.17 has vastly enhanced integration with Shortcuts on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. They’ve rebuilt the app’s actions with the new App Intents framework. They’ve added nine entirely new actions that deliver way more power. You can now create full-blown projects with headings and to-dos. You can query their database, edit items, duplicate them, and much more. The more developers that embrace Shortcuts, the happier I am. For those of you using Things, it just got a lot more automation-friendly.

The Rumored iPad Pro 2024 Revamp

Mark Gurman is reporting that our next major iPad revamp will be next year with a design overhaul to the iPad Pro, possibly with a glass back, instead of the current aluminum design.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m always interested in new designs, but I dig the current design. And an extra 11” (or 13”!) piece of glass would be heavy and much more prone to breaking than the current aluminum back.

There have also been rumors of bigger iPads up to 16 inches. I’d like to see that. The iPad needs a Hannah Montana to Wrecking Ball sort of transformation, and a bigger one would help that along. Personally, a larger iPad on my desk acting as a Sidecar screen/Universal Control device/status board would be cool.

And while the hardware team continues to march forward, we still have all these questions about the iPad software stack. It could be so much more.

Drafts Is the Tool for Text (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by Drafts, the one text app to rule them all. I’m a fan of Drafts. So much so that we recorded an entire MPU episode about it. But if I had to summarize why I dig this app so much, there are a few points to make:

Fast Capture

I can get into Drafts and start typing or dictating faster than any other app. Sometimes it feels like an idea is a fish I’m trying to land. The sooner I get it in the boat, the less likely it gets off the hook. Drafts helps you land bigger fish.

Text Tools

Once your precious words are in Drafts, you can do just about anything to them. You can send them to others, format them, send them to your favorite app, and add automation. As Drafts has matured, you can even keep them all right there in Drafts.

The Big Picture

Drafts is the only text app I know that constantly evolves and grows. There is polish everywhere. Not surprisingly, I wrote this post in Drafts. If you haven’t tried Drafts, you really should.

Mac Power Users 676: Workflows with Kaitlin Salzke

Kaitlin Salzke is an accountant, student, and programmer who has built a library of OmniFocus automations. On this episode of Mac Power Users, she joins Stephen and me to talk about using JavaScript for automation, working on a PC during the week, and pushing the boundaries of what macOS can do.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • TextExpander: Get 20% off with this link and type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander.
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Leaning Into the Notch

So I’ve had the MacBook Pro for a while now, and while I usually use it connected to an external display, there are also plenty of times that I bask in the brightness of that high frame rate HDR screen. As laptop displays go, it’s the best I’ve ever seen.

There is, however, the question of that notch. It took some getting used to and made the installation of Bartender a must, but I barely notice it at this point. So I thought it’d be fun to lean into the Notch a bit and see what developers are doing with it. My favorite Notch-adjacent app is Notchmeister.

Close-up of the MacBook Pro Notch with 8 small alternating purple and blue bulbs hanging below it.
Notchmeister’s Festive Theme

Notchmeister from The Iconfactory and Craig Hockenberry isn’t practical but loads of fun. The app lets you plus up your notch with effects like Glow, Plasma Leak, and Nano Radar. They even have a Festive theme that strings lights from your notch.

It’s a silly little app, but it also brings some whimsy to your Mac. That used to be commonplace, but these days not so much. I wish there were more.