For years, Apple has made available its own applications to help solve some of your daily issues. These includes apps such as Calendar, Clock, Books, Mail, and even Reminders.
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However, until iOS 13, Reminders seemed to be the forgotten one for years, as there were no major features added. With iOS 13, that all changed and Reminders has transformed into a competitor against the likes of Todoist, Things, or even OmniFocus.
What’s new with Reminders in iOS 13?
The application was essentially rewritten from the ground up for iOS 13, with many requested features finally being added. Plus, Apple added some additional features that make life easier in general and that you won’t find elsewhere.
To quickly summarize the biggest additions, here’s a quick breakdown:
- Groups/Lists – You can now organize your different tasks into lists, and then add those to different groups. These Groups and Lists can be customized with different colors and icons.
- Natural Language Parsing – Typing “remind me to check finances daily” will set a daily recurring task to Check Finances. This allows you to essentially type how you would if you were asking someone else to do these tasks.
- Messages integration – When creating a reminder, a new setting will provide a reminder to bring something up when you are chatting with someone else in Messages.
This list does not account for the general overhaul provided by the redesign. Instead of different “cards” stacked on top of each other for your lists, you get a much nicer interface to interact with your various tasks.
Keep track of everything with Smart Lists
If this is your first go ’round with Reminders, then you will want to get your tasks inputted and entered. Once that has been done and you have set due dates or reminders for them, you can take advantage of Smart Lists.
When opening Reminders, these will appear at the top of everything else and are as follows:
As one would expect, the “All” smart list shows all of your tasks that are entered into Reminders. Today, gives you a quick overview of whatever needs to get done before the end of the day.
Scheduled will show any of your tasks or reminders that have a due date, along with the time they are due. Finally, Flagged is an option that is provided if you want to add an extra level of urgency to a task. Those tasks will show up under the Flagged Smart List.
These lists are automatically generated and aim to make your life easier. However, it seems that for the time, you cannot create your own Smart List based on specific parameters. But there’s always hope for that in iOS 14 and beyond.
Group your Lists together
Having a list of tasks in Reminders is nothing new, but there are some new changes in iOS 13. Now, you can create Groups of Lists, which is especially useful if you have multiple “workspaces” that you want to create.
Just a basic example of this is having a list for your home to-do’s and another for bills. This could create a group simply labeled “Home”. Then, you could have a set of lists which include various tasks for your job or another facet of your life, which would be named something different like “Work” or “Other”.
Personalize and customize your different Lists
Keeping on the topic of Lists, Apple has made life easier for organization when it comes to these. You can actually customize each list to match whatever the list consists of.
There are 60 different icons to choose from, along with 12 different colors to switch between. It is absolutely wonderful to change the color and icon to something different which helps a specific list stand out in the crowd.
In order to customize an already-created list, follow these steps:
- Open the Reminders app
- Select the List you wish to customize
- Tap the “…” button in the top right-hand corner
- Tap Name & Appearance
- Make your selections
- Tap Done in the top right-hand corner
Once you have customized your List, it will appear in the under My Lists with the new icon and name. The hope here is to add some personalization to the app, while also making some lists stand out more than others.
Subtasks make life even easier
It’s all fine and dandy if you want to remind yourself to pack up for an upcoming trip. But you don’t necessarily want to create a List just named “Pack” with a bunch of extra tasks.
Instead, with iOS 13, you are now able to add sub-tasks to a primary task. This will make your packing or grocery list much easier to manage, as you can drop down the primary task and view everything you need.
Here’s how you add a sub-task:
- Open the Reminders app
- Choose the list you want the primary task added to
- Create the primary task
- Tap the “I” button on the right-hand side
- Scroll down and select Subtasks
- Type away
Organization is key with a task management system, and the ability to add subtasks is extremely convenient. Just by adding sub-tasks, it will remove the necessity for using another todo application for many people.
Attach Web Links or Images to tasks
Now that you know about sub-tasks, let’s talk about what you can add to any of your tasks in Reminders. Previously, you would try to copy and paste a link and it would just be pasted as plain text. That is no longer the case!
With this update, you actually have the ability to add rich web links or other attachments to your reminders. So, say you want to try out a new recipe for Thanksgiving and you already have a reminder. With Reminders, you can copy the URL and add it to that specific task item and it will show a preview of the website when attached.
- Open the Reminders app
- Tap the task you want to add to
- Paste the previously copied URL under URL
- Tap Done
Keeping with a recipe for Thanksgiving dinner for a moment. If your friend sends you a picture of a hand-written recipe, you can also add that to a specific task. Being able to add attachments to tasks gives you a one-stop-shop for everything you may need for your todo list.
Take advantage of the Quick Toolbar
There is a lot more power under the hood with Reminders and what you can do. Let’s try something really quick. Open up the application on your iPhone or iPad and begin typing a task.
Once you start typing, the new Quick Toolbar will appear, with a few different options for that task. Here’s what you see in the toolbar:
- Time – The far right button, which looks like a clock, will allow you to set a timed reminder. There are options for Today, Tomorrow, This Weekend, or Custom. The Custom option opens another “Details” panel with many more options to select from.
- Location – As one would expect, the GPS icon gives you options for setting a reminder when you arrive or leave a location. The default selections are Arriving Home, Getting in Car, and Custom. Just like with Time, you can add a specific address or search for a location.
- Flag – If you have a task that you just can’t let fall to the wayside, then you will likely want to add a Flag to it. This will give it higher priority on your list than other tasks making it less easy to forget about it.
- Attachment – The camera icon gives you the ability to add specific attachments to your task. You an take a photo, add one from the Photos app, or scan a document directly from the Reminders app.
All of these tools are designed to help expand what you can do with your Tasks while making your life just a little bit easier. Plus, you get many of the controls that you will need to get your daily todo list taken care of.
Add Reminders from other applications
If you don’t use a service like Pocket or Instapaper, this next option can be extremely helpful. If you are browsing the web and come across an interesting, but long-winded, article you want to read later, you can add it to Reminders.
Instead of having to copy and paste the URL and then opening the application, creating a new task, and hitting save, the process is much easier now. Now, you can just hit the Share icon at the bottom, scroll over to Reminders and tap the icon.
This will automatically create a new task, with the title of the article becoming the name of the task. The rich web link will be added, and there is an empty block where you can write something to go along with the task.
Then, you can hit the Details section at the bottom to add a reminder on a day, flag it, or change the list/priority. You can even set up to remind you when messaging a specific contact.
Get reminded when you are texting someone
Speaking of messaging a specific contact, that’s where one of the biggest features of this iteration comes into play. Apple worked its magic and made it possible to have a task reminder appear when messaging a specific person.
Before you can do this, you must make sure that they are added to your Contacts list. If that’s done, just follow these steps:
- Open the Reminders app
- Create a new reminder
- Once added, tap the “I” icon on the right
- Scroll down and toggle Remind me when messaging
- Select Choose Person
From here, you can scroll through and select the contact that you want to be reminded about when messaging them. Once the time arrives, a notification bubble will appear, giving you the ability to talk to them about whatever your reminder says.
Type like you’re talking
A big benefit to many task managers now is the ability to type like you are talking. This is called Natural Language Parsing, which means that if you type “remind me to take the dog out at 8AM tomorrow”, the following pieces of information will auto-populate:
- Task created named “Take the dog out”
- The due date will be “Tomorrow”
- The reminder time will be set to 8AM
Then, a notification will go off at 8AM tomorrow reminding you to take the dog out. This has been available in some apps like Todoist for quite some time, but with Reminders in iOS 13, you get the benefit of Apple’s research with the help of Siri.
Reminders has all but replaced any other task managers in iOS 13 for myself, with the exception of the Mac app. There are far too many bugs with the Reminders app, one of which wiped out all of my tasks randomly.
However, the application works absolutely perfectly on both my iPad and iPhone with iOS 13. Let us know if you’ve taken this for a spin and what made you decide to change from what you were using before.
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.
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