Reminders – The Best Geographical Reminders

11/24/2012 6:21:00 PM

Reminders is built into the current versions of iOS and OS X. It has one neat trick that none of its rivals can match: geographical reminders. This makes use of Location Services to pop up a prompt when you arrive at - or leave - a particular location.

If you're using a Mac (and for obvious reasons this is really only relevant to MacBook users), it does this through OS X by looking up local Wi-Fi networks - those visible to your system, regardless of whether you've ever attempted to connect to them - against a database maintained by Apple. This relies on Location Services being enabled in System Preferences, so if you can't get location-based reminders to work, check that setting. If you're on an iPhone or an iPad 3G or Cellular, it uses the built-in GPS, augmented by network triangulation. (Again, you may need to enable this in Settings > General > Restrictions).

Not only does this work on both platforms, but it also works between them. So you can set a reminder in the Reminders app on your Mac that you need to pick up some stamps next time you're passing the post office, and next time you're passing the post office an alert will pop up on your iPhone.

Of course. Reminders also support regular time-based alerts if you prefer to organize your tasks by time rather than place. Synchronization works via your iCIoud account, which is free, and naturally works in both directions, so tasks tapped in on your iPhone will be waiting on your Mac when you get home.

Reminders doesn't provide the quick entry or daily review features of Things, but it does come with rudimentary project management in the form of lists, and you can add notes to flesh out a task. You might want to remind yourself in a note, for example, that you need to drag some files into a particular folder before performing your preset backup task.

Location-based reminders As well as regular time-based alerts, Reminders lets you set a prompt to be displayed when your MacBook or iOS device detects your arrival at or departure from a given location

Consistent interface Reminders' compact iOS version still has all the tools you need to set due dates and file tasks into different lists

There are also priority options, which let you order tasks in terms of importance. But there's no support for tags, which in other apps let you gather together similar tasks across the boundaries between multiple lists or projects.

Beyond its trick of popping up alerts based on your location - and we wouldn't want to underplay how remarkable a feature that is - Reminders is still rather a slim offering from Apple, and doesn't add very much to the Calendar app (or iCal, in previous operating system versions). It's just as well that it's free for iOS 5 and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion users; it's not a sufficient reason in itself to persuade anyone on an earlier release of OS X to upgrade to 10.8. And if you need more functionality than it provides, well, that's where the other apps on test here come in.

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