Yesterday all nerds around the world waited anxiously for Apple to release its iOS 7 update and happily queued in the virtual download line to install it. The wait and effort were worth it and I am impressed and very happy with the new iOS version (I have not been running any betas, as you can tell). While the icons are debatable and may need some time to get acceptance, the overall UI design and UX concept is exactly the big overhaul that iOS needed.
Once you have iOS 7 on your iPhone or iPad, all apps that looked gorgeous on iOS 6 immediately appear out of fashion. Many developers have been busy and released their revamped applications in iOS 7 style yesterday as well. And while there are a number of extremely good redesigns, the OmniGroup really killed it with their launch of OmniFocus 2 for iPhone.
As Don Southard puts it in his review of OmniFocus 2 for iPhone:
OmniFocus 2 is a bold redesign. The Omni Group could have played it safe but instead they dove head first into creating an app from the ground-up that is fully assimilated to the new iOS 7 way of life.
OmniFocus 2 is a landmark redesign, I believe. OmniGroup went entirely out of their way and designed what I think is representing a design language for all the company's applications, not only the iOS ones.
When I interviewed Ken Case about the state of OmniFocus 2 for Mac development, he reflect on WWDC and Apple's new iOS design with a statement that did not make much sense for many at the time:
For many years, Apple’s design goals and ours were completely aligned: we’ve won five Apple Design Awards since Mac OS X shipped. But when we won the last one five years ago, I started to wonder whether it might be our last. Apple’s designs (with their stitching and felt) seemed to be headed towards prioritizing form over content.
Seeing Apple turn back towards putting the user’s content first was hugely inspiring. If you haven’t watched their video about the design priorities of iOS 7 yet, I highly recommend doing so: Apple iOS 7 Design.
I love their emphasis on deference, clarity, and depth. Particularly the notion of deference: that our design should recede, so that we elevate your content. This is just as important on the Mac as it is on iOS.
After opening OmniFocus 2 on the iPhone, it should now be very clear to everyone what Ken meant and where the OmniGroup is heading. I cannot wait to see how the new design makes its way into OmniFocus 2 for iPad and Mac.
In July this year I covered the OmniFocus for iPhone design study by Chris Sauvé. A huge number of people were very positive about the fresh design that Chris was suggesting. I am pretty sure that the fine people at the OmniGroup had at a minimum already a solid idea and some mockups of what they wanted to do.
OmniFocus 2 for iPhone does not introduce many new features. It focusses on the entire user interface, design and experience, changes some terminologies for the better (e.g. 'Start Date' is now called 'Defer until') and makes use of iOS 7's enhanced multitasking capabilities by introducing background sync. If you like to learn more about the changes in greater detail I really recommend reading the OmniFocus 2 for iPhone review by David Sparks.
The Big Price Debate
The fact that OmniFocus 2 for iPhone comes as a brand new app and requires existing users to pay $19.99 has caused quite a debate. OmniFocus for iPhone was originally released in 2008, five years ago, and ever since the OmniGroup has provided free updates introducing significant new features to the app. If Apple would allow upgrade pricing in the AppStore, OmniGroup would definitely have used that approach instead as their recent efforts concerning upgrades to MAS purchased applications have shown. But Apple does not support upgrade pricing, neither on the iOS AppStore nor on the Mac AppStore.
Professional applications cost money – every time there is a major upgrade (anyone sank buckets of money into Adobe applications in the past years?). That money pays the developers, designers, testers and all other people involved in creating the application. And yes, it also makes a profit for the company behind it. I seriously wonder what has happened that this is now wrong. Only because it is a product you cannot touch does not mean it is not worth something! Try to walk into a BMW dealership and upgrade 3 series to the latest version for free.
The OmniGroup has been very busy the last weeks and have also released iOS 7 versions of OmniOutliner and OmniPlan for iPad. Since they obviously needed something to relax, they also overhauled their website entirely.