While waiting for Apple to announce improvements to iOS notifications, a bombshell dropped on Due instead.
Apple announced a new built-in app, Reminders.app, as part of 10 top features introduced for iOS5.
Reminders are something I always thought should have been part of iOS, which is why Due has been marketed as the ‘missing reminder app’ at the outset.
As a third-party app, there are a number of limitations in place for what I could do with Due.
For example, unlike Apple’s own Clock.app, I can’t override the mute switch to play sound alerts. I can’t snooze reminders with a tap of a button on the alert itself without first booting you out of whatever you’re doing and throwing you into Due. I can’t allow you to use your own alarm sounds. I can’t sync reminders in the background without first requiring you to run the app.
Some of these limitations are annoyances, but some are more serious that I had initially thought they would seriously hurt Due’s chances of being a good reminder app.
So on one hand, I’m really excited that Apple is baking reminders functionality right into iOS, which could potentially provide all the functionalities I could only dream of providing.
On the other, I’m also worried about what it means for Due and its future. Would Reminders.app in iOS5 make Due ‘redundant’, as one of the guys on Twitter described what iOS5 would do to a bunch of third-party apps? Is there enough differentiation and room for Due to co-exist alongside the built-in app, and for Due to continue to grow as a reminder app?
Can Due continue to do reminders in a way that is superior to the new built-in solution by Apple?
The knee-jerk reaction that many have when Apple announced Reminders.app was: RIP Due. I remembered feeling that way for a brief moment too.
But once the initial wave of shock has settled, and I had time to take a look at what Reminders.app really is, things don’t seem as grim as it had first seemed.
Apple may have named its new app Reminders (which really, had caused most of the anxiety), but on closer examination, it would probably be more apt for Apple to name it Todos.
Its premise is on making lists of things you’ve to do and checking them off. It just so happens that it does some reminders as well. Sounds familiar?
Put it simply: Reminders.app isn’t trained on Due, but on simple todo list and GTD managers.
The good news here is, Due has never strived to be a todo list or a calendaring app.
In fact, Due makes a terrible todo list. People have been asking for the ability to create reminders without due dates so that Due could function more like a todo list. Never once did I think that that would be a good idea.
To these users, I’ve always pointed them to apps such as wunderlist or Simplenote, or for really heavy GTD users, OmniFocus. These are apps I use myself to complement Due because they’re excellent at making lists of todos, while Due is excellent at reminding.
And Due has always been doing things that could already be done with built-in apps on the iOS, just in a lot more inefficient ways. You could, of course, set up events in Calendar.app with alerts that function like reminders. Or you could use Clock.app for your timer needs.
But you didn’t.
There are quite a few notable third-party apps that thrived by improving or even replacing core functionalities on the iPhone. Just think Simplenote and the built-in Notes.app, Week Cal and the built-in Calendar.app, Dialvetica and the built-in Phone and Contacts.app, one of the thousands third-party weather apps vs the built-in Weather.app.
So am I worried about it? Yes and no.
Yes—because it’ll probably provide less incentives for new or potential customers to look for third-party reminder apps on the App Store.
No—because once people figured that adding a reminder with a due date takes way too much effort, or that the reminders are not persistent enough for their needs, or that rescheduling a reminder is not as easy as it is in Due, or that it doesn’t support the advanced recurrences that Due does, they’ll start looking elsewhere, just as people did to replace many of the built-in apps on their iPhone.
In fact, it may even be a blessing in disguise, that the next time someone asks me to support reminders without due dates, I could simply point them to the Reminders.app that Apple baked right into their devices (although I continue to think that the apps I recommended above do todos better).
Reminders.app won’t replace OmniFocus for a diehard GTD-fan, in the same way it won’t replace Due for people who truly appreciates the way Due does reminders.