Reminders is an app made by Apple that comes pre-installed on Macs with Mountain Lion as well as iPads, iPhones and iPods with iOS 5 and higher. Although it’s a simple app to use there are some features you may not know about that really make this app stand out. There are a multitude of task management apps out there in the App Store, and a lot of them have a lot of powerful features. Reminders was designed to be simple and easy to use without having a ton of features to choose from. Although when you know how to use all of Reminders features it can become a little more powerful. In this article we’ll go though some of features of the Reminders app, such as how to add location-based reminders and how to share your Reminders lists.
The Reminders app comes pre-installed on Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads.
It utilizes iCloud to backup and sync all your reminders across all your devices, this way there is no excuse for “oops, I must have forgotten”.
Uses of the Reminders app
The Reminders app actually has quite a few cool little features, a lot of them are tied directly into Siri. There are a couple different kinds of reminders you can set, there are date / time based reminders as well as location based reminders.
The date / time based reminders are pretty self explanatory, they will send you a notification on a pre-determined time. The location based reminders are a bit more interesting, they will notify you when you reach a certain destination. For instance, if I’m at home and remember that I need to go to a meeting when I get to work, I can simply tell Reminders to remind me when I arrive at work. It does this by constantly checking on the current location and upon arriving at the destination simply shows a reminder notification. A quick tip about using location based reminders; it uses up a lot of battery life. If you’ve read my previous article on prolonging battery life, you’ll notice that location based services take up the most battery life.
The Reminders app uses iCloud to backup and sync all your reminders, it can even use iCloud to share your reminders with other people. With the Reminders app you’ll be able to sort all your reminders into categories, view them by list or date view and even search for them.
To add a date / time to a reminder, tap on the reminder and turn on “Remind Me on a Day”. This will allow you to enter a day as well as a specific time to be notified of your reminder. You can also set it to remind you on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even by yearly intervals.
The same goes for adding a location based reminder. Turn the “Remind Me At a Location” on. You’ll be presented with two options. One will be “When I Leave” and other “When I Arrive”. Basically, just enter in a location and decide whether you’d like to be notified when you leave or arrive at a specific location / destination.
You’re also able to give the reminder a priority of importance by tapping the “Show More…” button. You can choose between Low, Medium and High. When you give it a priority, it shows little red exclamation marks over the reminder signifying that it is extra important. Of course if you so choose you can also add extra notes to the reminder under the “Show More” option.
How to Setup Locations for the Reminders app
Before you can start to use location based reminders there are a couple of things need to be set up in order for it to work. First, the Reminders app is going to have to know what your home and work location are. To do this go into your contacts, and search for your own contact information. What you need to do is add the locations that you want to use in the Reminders app. As you can see in the picture I have my home and work address (fake of course) added into my contact information.
Now that is done, you need to tell the Reminders app that it needs to use this specific contact card for the home and work locations. Go into Settings -> General -> Siri -> My Info. In the next windows that slides up, choose the contact card that you want to use.
That’s all that’s required to setup location based reminders. Now you can tell Siri, “Remind me to do the dishes when I get home” and it will fetch your home location and remind you when you get home.
This is not limited to just a home and work location however. Lets say you have a friend name Jeff. If the contact card for Jeff has an address, you could set a reminder to remind you to do something when you get to Jeff’s house. This is something even Siri picks up on. For instance I could tell Siri, “Remind me when I get to Jeff’s house to pay him back the $20 I owe him”.
There are two ways to create new reminders based on location. Since the location information is fetched from your contacts, you can either continue to add locations to your existing contact card or create a new contact card for each location. I’ll explain, say you want to be reminded to buy something at Walmart, you can create a new contact called Walmart and then add the address to its contact card. The other method (method I prefer) is to simply add the Walmart location to my contact card. I do it this way because I prefer not to have multiple different contact cards simply for location based reminders. This can be done by going to your contact card, tapping the “Edit” button and then tapping the “add new address” button.
Next, you are given the choice of selecting whether this is your home or work location. What you want to do instead is tap the “Add Custom Label” button. This will allow you to enter a name for the location. If you wanted to add Walmart as a location, you’d type “Walmart” into the “Custom Label” box. Next simply add the address for your local Walmart. Now if you tell Siri to remind you to do something when you reach Walmart it will search your contact card, find the information and remind you at the proper location.
How to Share Reminders
This is a somewhat hidden feature that not many know about. This is one of those times when I have to wonder what Apple was thinking, since it has a somewhat… well stupid way of enabling it. First off, creating a shared Reminders list can not be done on an iOS device. To enable shared Reminders it has to be done on a Mac or at icloud.com. Although even while on a Mac or on the iCloud website it is still somewhat hidden.
Login into your iCloud account and go to Reminders. Next hover your cursor over the category you’d like to share, and a small broadcast button will appear. Once you click this you’ll be able to enter in the email address of the person you’d like to share the Reminder category with. They will receive an email asking if they’d like to join your shared Reminders list. The method on a Mac is pretty much the same thing, open the Reminders app, hover over the category and click the little broadcast button.
I’m really hoping Apple makes this possible without have to use the iCloud.com website or a Mac. It should be possible to enable simply on an iOS device. I’m just speculating, however it will probably be one of the “amazingly new and revolutionary” features added in iOS 7.
Once you have successfully created your shared Reminders list it is actually quite useful however. Your wife or husband could create a shopping list for you while you’re at work and have it sync to your iOS device so when you go to pick up the milk, you can be reminded that there are also another 20 things to pick up. Yay…