OmniOutliner 2 and OmniPlan 2 for iPad

The OmniGroup is known for fantastic, best-in-class Mac and iPad apps that help people get the job done. We’ve previously reviewed OmniGraphSketcher and OmniGraffle, finding them both incredibly powerful and even given their high (relative to other iOS apps) price tags, worth the investment and something that could be recommended to any iPad owner. With the release of new versions of OmniOutliner and OmniPlan, to take advantage of the new iOS7 features, we thought it would be worth taking a look.

First, OmniPlan allows iOS users to sketch out all of the details and tasks involved in a project. It helps to visualise the projects as a chart rather than just having a checkbox list of all the remaining jobs. It really helps to see just what is required if you’re undertaking any job, big or small. It’s easy to see what tasks are still left to do, how long they should take and who is supposed to be doing each one. Of course, you can also list other details such as the cost, venue as well as anything you want. With all of the tools it’s incredibly easy to manage a project and help to set one up. Considering all of the features it should really help to make the project planning stage both easier and quicker, saving time and money. Later on you can save time tracking the progress. For example, if you’re currently using a notepad, it’s a lot quicker to be able to access all of your information in one place in this app, rather than having to look through different pages for the answer.

If you manage any project, big or small, this is something you need. It’s incredibly well designed, with a simple and visual user interface, meaning that even people who don’t have any experience with the app will be able to tell what’s going on. This is handy because the developers have thought of almost everything, including the ability to be able to send the plan via PDF to others. You’ve also got the ability to arrange costs in either hourly or flat fee rates, suiting any line of business. In addition, since it’s digital, you can also easily make changes and resend the document. Much better than crossing something out on a wall chart, as that easily becomes complicated and full – making you less productive. Users can quickly see what tasks need to be done in a job and check the progress of tasks currently underway.

OmniOutliner is a tool to help people organise notes. It’s incredibly easy to use, being able to drag and drop anything to any area of the document. For example, if you’ve create an outline that has a conclusion column at the end of each section you can easily move it to the front if you want to quickly be able to view what’s going on. It’s also just as easy to add in new information or criteria. Yet, even when you start to have pages and pages of data you can quickly organise it all. For example, by creating drop downs you can easily hide everything, just showing what you need. For example, if you’ve got meeting minutes, you could hide certain information to just be able to show the main topics and when they started, opening up the drop downs to show more information when required. The app’s got a few different pre made templates and customised fonts and colours. For power users you can add charts and images, as well as other things, making the outlines as advanced as you want. The app can sync with the Mac version with feature parity, making both of them a powerful combination. In addition, you can also export the outliners to either Excel or Word format, meaning it’s easy to share with people who aren’t privilege to use OmniOutliner. Overall, it’s the perfect tool for any note taker – whether you want the advanced features or just the basic gadgets. It’s a joy to use, making such powerful features seem so simple.

The apps, at $29.99 for OmniOutliner and $59.99 for OmniPlan are more expensive than many App Store customers have become accustomed to. However, as productivity apps, they’re comparable to enterprise software that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, making them good value for money. At the same time, they can help get your work done faster and more efficient than before, saving both time and money. It’s rare that you can find yourself being able to use the same pieces of software that , making these seem even better value for money. For something that lasts years and years and the fact that they could become such valuable parts of your everyday life, combined with the updates meaning that they will continue to evolve, they’re both fantastic purchases.

I didn’t find any bugs in my testing for either of the apps, but even if there is, the Omni apps are regularly updated, with many new features and bug fixes ensuring that they are always up to date. Competitors don’t always have the same attention, meaning that your investment quickly becomes a waste as iOS changes and evolves. For example, you can guarantee that the developers at the OmniGroup are already thinking of new and powerful features that will be enabled with the changes made in iOS8, making the apps even better. I really can’t wait to see what they have in store. We’ve already had developers talking about the possibilities and with OmniGroup apps leading the way, you can guarantee that OmniOutliner and OmniPlan will be leading the pack. We could see an extension in Notification Center providing quick access to an outline for OmniOutliner or OmniPlan could see tasks from a specific project highlighted in the widget. Either way, as these are OmniGroup apps it’s guaranteed that you will be happy with the app for years to come.  

People always say that to help handle workloads and manage projects, whether it’s college work or full-fledged construction projects, you should create outliners and use project management tools. However, when I’ve used them in the past I’ve always found them a waste of time, difficult to use and causing more harm than good. It’s like a New Years’ resolution. Start off trying to be good, using the outliner tool at every occasion, but after a few weeks, losing the enthusiasm and going back to square one. Yet, time and time again I see the Omni Group apps recommend for these situations and after using them for a few hours I’m already seeing the benefits. It’s a lot more powerful than other tools, while still being incredibly easy to use and perfect for the scenarios where you only need something basic. Time will tell if I keep using them, but from reading other people say they’ve got their whole life planned in OmniPlan it gives me hope. To me it already seems more promising than the times I’ve tried before. I’ll have to update the review in the coming months to provide some insight into how I get on.

One thing’s for sure, if you use either of these apps you will quickly look like a pro. Need to create outlines at college? You will quickly become the envy of everybody else with your digital and fantastic looking powerful outlines if you use OmniOutliner. Similarly, if you need to be able to manage a project of any size, if you use OmniPlan you will quickly look like a true professional and gain plaudits for your work. The bottom line is that both of these apps are easily worth the money and live up to the high expectations that we have all come to expect from Omni Group software. With iOS 8 these apps are only going to become more powerful so it’s a good idea to start using them now so that you can take advantage of all of the power later on.



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