OmniOutliner for iPad Review
iPad App
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OmniOutliner for iPad Review

Our Review by Kevin Stout on May 19th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar :: POWERFUL
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OmniOutliner is an extremely expensive but also extremely powerful productivity app.

Developer: The Omni Group
Price: $19.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

A couple weeks ago I reviewed an outlining app, ThinkBook. It was a nice app for creating outlines, but I said that I was likely to continue using simpler apps. As I used ThinkBook, I started constructing my idea of the perfect outlining app in my mind. Shortly after, OmniOutliner for iPad was released. It’s close to that perfect app.

The most important part of OmniOutliner is that the interface continues to be easy to use despite the abundance of features. Productivity apps that are bursting with features often lose some polish with a confusing or cluttered interface.

Let me list a few of my favorite features. Like Bento, the user can create what OmniOutliner calls a “pop-up list.” The pop-up list feature gives options when filling in a block instead of text. In the “Books” document example, the pop-up list gives a choice of the country of origin for each book. The flexibility of the types of columns that can be created on OmniOutliner (very similar to the options provided by Bento, one of my favorite apps) is one of its most powerful features.

The app has obvious outlining features like indenting, text formatting, adding collapsable notes to each line, and more. But the features that make it such a powerful app are all of the customization tools. Preset highlighters, for example, are available (yellow, green, and pink) called “styles,” but custom styles can be created. Basically any given feature has the option to be customized by the user. Take a minute to look at the screenshots at the bottom. I tried to snap one on most of the menus and features. While it may take a while to customize OmniOutliner the way each user desires, OmniOutliner becomes the perfect, personalized productivity companion.

Now let me mention the real problem with OmniOutliner. There are no major problems with the app itself, though I’d like to see a search (or tagging) and possibly an export as PDF to Dropbox feature. The problem with OmniOutliner is revealed when the we look at the price: it’s $19.99! While one can argue that a powerful application merits a price like that (which it does, but...), there are other apps available on the App Store with much more competitive price that aren’t lacking so many features. ThinkBook is only $1.99. While OmniOutliner is a much more powerful app, it doesn’t have $18 worth of features over ThinkBook. While it's hard to compare such different productivity apps, Bento is an equally powerful app and it sells for only $4.99. But there’s one argument in this situation that’s hard to argue with: a program, gadget, or anything that does exactly what you need in exactly the way you’d like it to be done is almost priceless. And by that argument, OmniOutliner is completely worth it.

Previously, I would default to Bento for any productivity-related project. Now I will seriously consider whether I want something in outline form (use OmniOutliner) or something with separate “files” (use Bento).

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iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

OmniOutliner screenshot 1 OmniOutliner screenshot 2 OmniOutliner screenshot 3 OmniOutliner screenshot 4 OmniOutliner screenshot 5
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