OmniPlan project manager launches as an iPad app

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OmniPlan, a popular Mac-based project management application in its desktop version, is now available on the iPad.

OmniPlan for iPad, launched Wednesday from The Omni Group, is priced at $50. It syncs with and complements the company’s $200 desktop software of the same name. Like its Mac-based companion, OmniPlan is designed to help users oversee and work with others on complex tasks featuring multiple collaborators.

It also completes a year-long effort by The Omni Group to offer an iOS version of its task-management product.

“I think the iPad is getting a lot more traction in business in the last few years, more than the Macintosh has had in decades on the market,” said Ken Case, CEO of The Omni Group. “We’ve had lots of customers writing and asking when we’d bring our apps to this setting.”

OmniPlan was the last of the company’s products to get the iOS treatment, Case said, in part because the most recent version of its desktop program was unveiled only a year ago. Developers also needed to think about how visual features like the project-monitoring Gantt chart would work with the reduced real estate of the iPad—the OS X version was built for users working on monitors 30 inches or larger.

The company addressed that challenge by including new labels in the timeline to guide users ahead to upcoming tasks, expecting that the iPad’s multitouch interface will invite users to pinch-and-zoom for close views of individual items rather than view everything from a big-picture project perspective.

“It’s much easier (on the iPad) to zoom in and out, with the touch interface, to change your current focus,” Case said.

In addition to syncing with the desktop version, OmniPlan for iPad lets users create projects and invite collaborators—and sync project updates with those collaborators. The app offers change tracking, to allow users to review a project's history. It also offers an alert in the event that a project encounters a “logical impossibility”—a completion date scheduled before the start date, say—and suggests solutions. The app also lets users assign different tasks in a project to different teams of collaborators.

While the growth of the iPad in the business world has been phenomenal, Case has designed OmniPan for iPad to be used both as a standalone app and in conjunction with its desktop companion app.

“What we’ve seen with our other apps is that people seem to get more than one edition and sync between machines. You get the best experience if you can switch places,” Case said. “If you have both devices, a lot of people might want both (apps). But a lot of people might not have both devices—there might be on a Windows machine at their desk—and we’ve designed this so that if they want to use it independently (on the iPad) they can.”

There is no plan to bring the app to Android tablets, according to Case. He says The Omni Group will focus its efforts on the Apple product line.

OmniPlan for iPad is compatible with tablets running iOS 5.0 or later.

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