Apple's Reminders app needs two features

NOTE: This review has been superseded by my review of Reminders for iOS 13, iPadOS 13 and macOS Catalina.

Apple Reminders screenshot. Judging by the popularity of third party apps like Things and OmniFocus, we like a to-do list. Personally I couldn’t operate without lists of some sort and where they were once held on paper, they’re now held on computers.

Apple have their own app of this nature by way of their Reminders app. It’s a very simple app. It allows you to set up lists and then within each list you can add checkbox-style to-do items. It’s a little more than just that: each to-do item can have a priority and you can ask it to remind you about items on a given date and time or at a particular location.

That, essentially, is Apple’s Reminders app. The app is available on both macOS and iOS and you can sync reminders across platforms via either iCloud or Exchange. You can also manage it by shouting at a HomePod if that tickles your fancy.

It works but it lacks for a couple of key features and the omission of those features means I use OmniFocus exclusively for all my to-do and reminder requirements. This is a huge shame because I think Apple’s Reminders has much potential.

I certainly do not expect Reminders to become a full project management app because I think this is where the third party apps should prevail, but at the moment it has the feel of a Friday afternoon app where 5PM rolled around and some developer simply said “that’ll do” and left the building.

The first thing it needs is some way to subdivide lists. This could either be a sublist-style setup like OmniFocus has or provision for some sort of headings within lists like Things does. I find it completely baffling that it doesn’t have this basic feature.

The second thing it needs is a way to duplicate lists. For my shopping lists, for example, I keep a template shopping list and just duplicate it each week and then go through and delete things I don’t need that week.

In the macOS version of Reminders you can select all the reminders in a list and then paste them into a new list, which is effectively duplication. But you can’t do this on iOS, which, incidentally, crosses a red line I use when reviewing iOS apps: iOS apps must have all the functionality of macOS apps. If they don’t they’re platform-prejudiced and I will automatically deduct a star from my rating just for that.

If Reminders had these two added features I’d use it for all my to-do lists and it would potentially be a five star app. As I said previously, I don’t want it to become a full-blown project management app and I’d still be using OmniFocus for that.

So, come on Apple, this really can’t be that much work. Let Reminders reach its potential.