iOS 5 Location Based Reminders: A Case Study and a Call for Improvement

October 26, 2011

3:00 pm

Call me a liar if you will, but an app that allows for location-based reminders is something I’ve been clamoring for for a couple of years now.  Unfortunately, I never took the time to put it in writing.  Now that iOS 5 has allowed for this functionality, it seems that, on the surface, yeah I’m probably trying to take credit for the invention of fire.

That’s neither here nor there. 

I’m going demonstrate one practical use of location-based reminders, and offer one suggestion for improvement.  The idea of improvement stems merely from my original visual of how the app would work, but, again, I digress….

One Practical Use for Location Based Reminders

I currently live in the middle of Small Suburb, Illinois.  To save a few bucks while I write my book, I am using my parent’s couch as my home base to avoid that annoying monthly nuisance most people deal with, commonly referred to as “rent” (or a mortgage, for those light-years ahead).

Prior to hiking the Appalachian Trail, I spent the previous 2 and half years living in sunny San Diego.  In the process I became a bit of a food snob.  Not only did fruits and vegetables become a major part of my diet, I would only settle for organic fruits and vegetables.  In southern California, where appearance ranks at the top of people’s daily thought consumption, finding organic fruits and vegetables was no problem.  There was a Whole Foods, local co-op, or, my favorite, Trader Joe’s, on every other block.  This is not the case in Small Suburb, Illinois.

Although, because I live within an hour and a half drive of Chicago, Trader Joe’s do exist, it’s just a bit of a hassle to get to the closest store, which is 30 minutes each way (without traffic) to be exact.  Because an hour’s drive for groceries doesn’t make a ton of sense when there’s a (organic produce-less) grocery store down the street, my TJ’s trips are few and far between.  There are times, however, when I need to go in that direction anyway, so logically, I can kill two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately for me, I am forgetful.  The last two times I was in the area, I drove right passed Trader Joe’s without having a single thought about a giant bag of frozen organic spinach or “two-buck Chuck”.

Enter location-based reminders.

Since upgrading to iOS5, I have set a reminder to go off anytime I near the Trader Joe’s lest my simple brain continue to forget.  Who needs a brain when you’ve got an iPhone anyway? 

Here’s how.

Step 1) Search the location of the place you’d like a reminder for in the local Maps app

Picture 1

Step 2) Save that location to your contacts  (Use a creative name such as “Trader Joe’s”)

Save trader joes to contacts

Step 3) Open the Reminder’s app

reminders app ios 5

Step 4) Add a new reminder

Step 5) Open said reminder, and select the “Remind Me” option

Remind me ios5

Step 6) Turn “At a location” to the ON position

Turn location based reminder on

Step 7) Select the arrow next to the “Current Location” option

Same screen as above

Step 8) “Choose Address”, pick your establishment’s name from the Contact’s list

You’re done.  Your iPhone has successfully compensated for the forgetful part of your brain.

Perhaps grocery shopping isn’t your Achilles heal. 

Think of an errand that you’ve been putting off for a significant amount of time, partially because you continually forget, and partially because it sits low on your priority list.  Maybe it’s a trip to the bank, the florist to gain bonus points with the missus, or the gym where you haven’t been in a while.  Oftentimes the task sits low on the priority list because the act of getting to the particular venue is the biggest obstacle in its execution.  If a reminder goes off when you’re right next to the bank’s entrance, the task suddenly becomes less daunting (not that going to the bank should be daunting).

A Complaint With the Current State of Location Based Reminders

Sure, this is the first iteration of the app, but it still leaves a lot to be desired.  The whole process of having to go through and saving Trader Joe’s as a contact seems unnecessary.  I should be able to simply input an address, or better yet, search for a venue within the location based reminder app itself.

Additionally, upon finding the venue, there should be a greater host of options.  This includes a customizable radius (in case you don’t drive exactly by the given address), making the reminder applicable to only a certain time of day (driving passed Trader Joe’s at midnight shouldn’t warrant a reminder), and having the option to set multiple locations for a certain reminder (in the off chance I were to drive by a different Trader Joe’s that I had not known about).

All in all, the complaint pales in comparison to my joy that this technological advance has finally arrived.  Even if I get none of the credit. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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