To Due? Or Should You Set Reminders?

The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more productive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).

Regular readers of my weekly Techie Scheky posts know that I separate tasks into three categories:

  • Appointments – Important tasks that must happen at a specific time and/or place.
  • To-Dos – Important tasks that need to get accomplished without a deadline or by a specific time.
  • Reminders – Insignificant tasks that must happen at a specific time or when arriving or leaving a specific place, that I always somehow manage to forget (e.g. Bring something to work for a coworker, mail something for my wife, etc.)

While I recently shifted from Things to Omnifocus for To-dos, I’ve remained loyal to Fantastical and iCal for Appointments and Due for on-the-go Reminders. With the unveiling of both the iPhone 4S (which is now blissfully in my possession) and iOS 5, I’ve had to take a good look at how I handle Reminders with the introduction of Apple’s brand-new addition, the aptly named Reminders app.

Much as I knew that the Reading List feature in Safari would not replace Instapaper, I always believed that Reminders would never be able to get me away from Due. However, Apple is making it pretty darn tempting and disappointingly, the developer for Due seems to be against adding one of the best features of iOS 5, location-based reminders.

Before I get into why I find this disappointing, let me give you a quick breakdown on why you may not like either option:

Due

Pro:

  • Persistent reminders1
  • Easy to edit and defer to-dos
  • Four adjustable pre-set times
  • Quickly share tasks with others
  • Dropbox Sync for multiple devices

Con:

  • No location-based reminders
  • No Siri integration
  • Doesn’t work with iCal or Outlook
  • If you’re cheap, you’ll mind spending the $5. I didn’t. This app paid has paid itself back in spades.

Reminders

Pro:

  • Siri integration (e.g. you can tell your phone to “Remind me to pickup Milk at 6pm”)
  • Location-based reminders (e.g. Remind me to stop at the ATM when I leave work)
  • Works seamlessly with iCloud, iCal and Outlook and multiple iOS devices
  • It’s free (and as with all other Apple apps, it’s impossible to remove it from your phone)

Con:

  • Reminders are not persistent
  • Editing reminders can be a bit clunky
  • Locations must be based on existing locations in your calendar2
  • Works seamlessly with iCloud, iCal and Outlook (This is both a pro and a con as more often than not, people will end up adding things that have no business being on their calendar to their calendar.)

At the moment, my common use for Due is to remind me to take things with me as I head out the door for work (which always happens in the same 15 minute window) and when leaving the office (which can happen at a variety of times). Due works perfectly for the former. As I’m gearing up to head out, my phone starts buzzing every minute (literally) reminding me to grab whatever it is I need before heading out the door. The latter has always been a little more annoying. As my schedule changes, I find myself constantly editing and deferring tasks, occasionally forgetting them altogether if I leave early for some reason.

Now there is an easy solution: Use Due for time-based reminders and the Reminders app for location-based reminders, but I’m not a fan of this idea. I’m a big believer in using as many applications as are needed, but I find it cumbersome to choose between multiple apps that essentially handle the same functionality. Ideally, the team at Due will hear what A LOT of their customers are telling them and come up with a solution for location-based reminders.

While I can’t fault Due for the lack of Siri integration (something Apple isn’t allowing at the moment), I struggle to understand why they wouldn’t take advantage of location. The reason they offer up on their website is that they feel that this would not benefit their app. They see their focus on time as the killer feature, but it is the persistent reminders that set Due apart. The persistence of the reminders would be enhanced by location-based reminders and would keep Due lightyears ahead of Apple’s own Reminders offering.

For the moment, I’m sticking with Due. If for no other reason than the fact that I am helpless without their persistent reminders (and the fact that my wife LOVES the newly added ability to send me reminders by email or text). Location-based reminders are not enough by themselves, so I don’t think there is any question of which app to choose on the iPhone 4, but when you add in Siri on the iPhone 4S, Reminders is tempting. Even still, while I’m envious of the quick entry through Siri and location options, the app isn’t feature-rich enough to steal me away from all the little touches that consistently drive me to give Due its due3.

share reminders as long as both people are using iCloud. Hat tip to TNW and Moolelo808.Update: You can also

To learn more, subscribe for free by Email or RSS to automatically receive future Techie Scheky posts from MichaelSchechter.me.


  1. The phone essentially stalks you on the minute or on the hour until you do whatever it is you need to do.  

  2. in other words, it will be difficult to tell it to remind me to do something when I get off the subway.  

  3. But seriously, figure out how to take advantage of location… for the children…  

9 Responses to To Due? Or Should You Set Reminders?

  1. I really love your breakdown of the three types of tasks. I originally used to OmniFocus for both TO DOs and Reminders. But I recently realized that it wasn’t so effective for these not-so-consequential reminders. Here is how it would go: I’d be at work, I’d look at OmniFocus and then see the list of three things I was supposed to do earlier before leaving the house :) Anyway, this Siri/Reminder integration is pretty fabulous and in one weekend has become my new method for tracking reminders. (And at least for now, Siri makes these things so much fun…) But you make a good point about the need for persistent reminders… Nice post.

    • Should be interesting to see how/if the addition of location to Omnifocus changes things, because while I love it for work, I still struggle with it for home. Having it nag me when I get there should help.

      As for the Siri/Reminders integration, I couldn’t agree more, but the friggin notifications are too easy to avoid. Here’s hoping that WWDC opens Siri up to 3rd party apps and that Due has a come to Jesus moment on location…

  2. Just FYI (in case you didn’t know), you can share a reminders list with your wife in Reminders. Full read/write/complete access for each of you, assuming she has iCloud.

  3. The worst thing about Due is that its file format is completely proprietary and there is no way whatsoever to export even a simple list of reminders as text. It’s a total non-starter until this glaring oversight is fixed.

    • The developer is very open to comments like that and I wonder what he’d say. Part of me thinks this is actually by design. It seems designed more for short term quick reminders than the amount of data that would really require an export feature.

      • He said that he was working on it about six months ago and there hasn’t been any progress as far as I can see. Entering information into Due is like entering it into a prison. If I need to refer to something next year and I’ve happened to move to another piece of software or another platform (less likely) then that will be impossible at worst and inconvenient at best.

        So for now I am using Apple’s Reminders and that’s what I recommend for everyone. Even though I miss some of the features it’s very comforting to know that I can easily export/access all of that data whenever I need it.

  4. […] time, but when we got to the Reminders app, my loving family member was very reluctant to learn how location based reminders (easily one of the best features of the app) work. It wasn’t as if he understood it and […]

Leave a reply