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Omnifocus and Android


At first, this article will probably strike you as odd as the Omnigroup isn’t doing anything with Android nor specifically making their product cross platform. However, if you are an Omnifocus user who has an Android phone you can still use it thanks to a third party product that was developed called Focus GTD. Unless you want to, there is no need to go to say Todoist although there are advantages to this program over Omnifocus.


Omnifocus the Product by which GTD Products are Measured

Omni screen

Omnifocus is a wildly successful product and for its detractors there are strong adherents of the program. It is a powerful yet flexible product that for many are the lifeblood of their productivity.

I have written extensively about Omnifocus and although you can get a little religious around the program there is no need to. It will simply, most certainly, help you improve your productivity.

Omnifocus is the GTD product by which a number of other manufacters measure their own product. Some are inclined to say ours is a powerful GTD product that is simpler to use that Omnifocus.

Omnifocus has been Given a Bad Rap

There is a steep learning curve to Omnifocus in the beginning but once learned it is actually a very logical, easy to use program. Depending on how detailed you want to get with the product it can either be easy to use or very time consuming. Some people carry the creation of tasks to get something done too literally and carry it far too far.

These people end up spending a fair bit of time trying to unwind the project they’ve outlined. They might not even remember the goal as they get too stuck on every minutae of the product’s operation. This is not a problem with Omnifocus but a problem with the person who is using it.

The Omnigroup is Mistakenly avoiding the Cross Platform territory Systems Development is Taking

The Omnigroup has consciously decided not to do an Android product for their group of products. The feeling more can be done in IOS/OSX/Mac than Android which would strike me as far from the truth. Systems and IT departments have pretty well embraced BYOD. They have recognized benefits to be had by both parties.

Android is growing in popularity in the developed world as evidenced by Canada. Canada was predominantly IOS and now things have turned a corner and they are 51% Android vs 39% IOS. People have decided they want to move to Android and that’s exactly what they are doing. I would suspect this trend to follow suit in the U.S. in the near future.

In other parts of the world, especially the non-developing countries, Android overwhelmingly predominates. Google has recognized that they have such a popular and effective offering, they are working on a strategy of taking more control. The fragmentation in the Android world is doing nothing to help it’s cause but this is the outcome of a Google acquiring the product, and then throwing it out there as Open Source allowing developers to do whatever. Now that they have a hit on their hands, they are looking for ways to solidify Android for the sake of the market and it certainly doesn’t hurt Google.

As Tides Turn

Tides always turn. Those who aren’t prepared for this could be at great danger. However, everyone knows that this is the case.

In the Android market, there could have been a vast hole for Omnifocus if something weren’t there to fill the Omnifocus void. Yes, there would be the competition with some very fine offerings, however, there is no need to give up Omnifocus. There are two third party players that make an Android version of Omnifocus and they are quite well done. I specifically prefer one though over the other.


FocusGTD is a third party program written by Rainer Burgstaller to work with Omnifocus on an Android phone. Although it doesn’t work identically to its counterpart on the iPhone, it does a very good job on Android using Burgstaller’s implementation. There are some things I prefer, such as the ease of getting to a specific item or set of items such as the “all” list. Other things lack some functionality such as the ability to move an item under a different list.

The key to this though is the program allows you to look at the data created in other parts of Omnifocus. If this application wasn’t available a huge splash of customers would have to give up on Omnifocus and probably use something like Todoist. This item exceeds though the scope of this article but might be dealt with in a future article.

Proof of Concept

One aspect this application deals with is simply a proof of concept. It appears that an application, written by a third party, can sell very well. More importantly, there is a demand for this application on Android. People are often reluctant to buy such an application from someone other than the primary vendor. Many concerns crop up such as compatiblity from a third party vendor, performance and stability issues. Even with these issues in mind, people still buy the product and it has a good satisfaction rating.

Omni Themselves

It would be very nice to see Omni step up to the plate and recognize that we are moving in to a cross platform world. Todoist is a company I think few had heard about a couple of years ago and now the name is everywhere. What distinguishes them. They run identically, with a local client plus a web client, across all the major platforms equally. This is no small feat.

An Omni user would likely find Todoist an acceptable alternative. However, many users are wedded to their applications as they are their platforms. A die hard Mac user is unlikely to go PC unless s/he has to. The same goes with software.

The iPhone garnered a lot of its success from this very quality. However, as prices of the iPhone have increased and were high from the beginning and people’s wallets are tighter, there is a natural tendency to check out alternatives.

Apple is changing but Android had something for everyone from the very high performance but well priced premium phone to a good but inexpensive phone. The software also appeals to younger and older users as well. The customizability allows you to accentuate some functions over others and many looks of a different nature. It has always been human nature to express identity.

The trend to Android or another platform other than the iPhone has broader implications and purviews than I’ve suggested here but Omni would be wise to keep their eyes open. The trend to cross platform basically benefits all; the individual user; company or corporate user and the bosses. Open systems or integrated office systems have been long sought after. It is only now that this can be realized with the powerful platforms that are available. These platforms and especially the mobile ones have very powerful capabilities. They make it possible for the software manufacturers to run everywhere with fantastic performance and a broader market to sell into.

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