iOS 5 review: Ambitious update rings in the changes

By Dan Moren, Macworld |  Unified Communications, Apple, IOS

The announcement that Apple would, at long last, add a to-do style app to its iOS raised concerns from some that Cupertino was pulling a Sherlock on a field dominated, to date, by third-party app makers. But given the application's extremely bare-bones and inconsistent nature, I think those developers have little worry about.

Reminders seems straightforward enough: Create a task you need to do, specify how you'd like to be reminded, and you're done. Surprisingly, though, Reminders ends up being perplexing, with a superfluous feature or two, an occasionally strange interface, and a general impression that every time you launch the app it's muttering "Who am I? What am I doing here?"

Take, for example, the option to add a priority to tasks. While you can add a ranking of Low, Medium, or High to a task (in addition to the default None), doing so appears to have no effect whatsoever on the item in question. It's not reflected in the list of tasks or the order of the tasks, and you can't filter for priority at all; that priority does, however, show up in the Calendar Web app for iCloud, as well as in iCal on your Mac if you sync your reminders via Apple's rechristened Web-based service. So why not on your iOS devices?

Much of Reminders seems to be built around two ideas: First, filling that longstanding gap for syncing tasks from iCal to your iPhone; and second, location-based reminders. This latter feature is a clever one, even if Apple's not the first to roll it out. Basically, the idea is that if you want to reminded to do something at a particular place—say, remembering to buy stamps while you're at the post office—you can input that location and, when you arrive there (or depart the scene), your iPhone will display a notification.

Sounds great, in theory, and it works—albeit it with some caveats. The biggest, in my opinion, is an inability to specify a location that's not associated with a contact (or that's not your current location). So if, in the aforementioned example, you want to remind yourself to buy stamps at your local post office, you have to add a contact for that post office. It's clumsy and bizarre, especially given the far superior interface that iOS's Maps app uses for a similar process.

You also can't manually reorganize items in a list—nor do they change position based on the time you set for the alerts; they're always in the same order that you add them.

All in all, Reminders may be sufficient for the most basic task-tracking, but anyone who seriously relies on managing their to-dos will probably want to turn to a third-party solution for now.

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Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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