Reminders and Why Siri Rocks ‘Em

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #219

Long ago in the dark ages before the iPhone, I used to tell my family that if they didn’t see me physically write an event down in my day planner or to-do list, the event didn’t exist. If they didn’t confirm that it was written down in one of those two places, there was little-to-no chance of me showing up.

Siri Reminders

I recently realized that I haven’t said that in many years and Siri is the reason. You see, while I’m getting older and my memory is slowly failing me, Siri never forgets anything. And since I’m never far from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, I use Siri as my backup memory. Unlike yours truly,  Siri never forgets.

Good Reminders

Here’s how it works: When I need to be reminded of something—anything—I merely summon Siri on my nearest Apple device and say something like, “Remind me to call my mother.” Siri always complies, and adds an item to the Reminders app that says, “call your mother.”

Better Reminders

That’s good, but it requires me to open the Reminders app to be effective. So, I rarely just ask Siri to remind me of something. Rather, I ask her to remind me of things at a specific time or date: “Remind me to call my mother at 12:15PM today,” or “remind me to call my mother tomorrow morning.”

Siri will remind me at the appropriate date and time.

Siri will remind me at the appropriate date and time.

Now, my reminder is not only stored safely in the Reminders app, but I’ll be alerted on the appropriate time or day on all my Apple devices.

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The Best Reminders

That’s better, but not appropriate for everything I might wish to be reminded of. For example, if I need milk or eggs, I’d rather be reminded when I’m near the grocery store. This one requires a bit of preplanning but it’s worth it.

The preplanning consists of adding the addresses of merchants whose locations might be useful as Reminder triggers to your Contacts. I added the HEB grocery store closest to my house, so now I can ask Siri to, “remind me to get some milk when I’m near HEB,” and when I drive by HEB, I’ll get an alert on my iPhone that says, “pick up some milk.”

When I get close the the supermarket I'll receive an alert like this on my iPhone.

When I get close the the supermarket I’ll receive an alert like this on my iPhone.

If the alert doesn’t give you enough warning, open Reminders (iPhone or Mac), click on the location for the reminder, and then click the blue dot on a circle and drag to enlarge the location’s radius. The default is around 200 meters; to get sufficient warning at 35 MPH, I drag it to a radius of 1,000 or 1,500 meters.

Drag the dot until the circle represents around 1,500 meters (as shown on the right).

Drag the dot until the circle represents around 1,500 meters (as shown on the right).

One last thing:

I haven’t burned a frozen pizza in years because I always ask Siri to, “set a timer for 18 minutes,” before I put it in the oven. Unlike all the previous reminders, a timer doesn’t create a reminder in the Reminders app; it merely alerts you at the appropriate time and then disappears.

3 Comments Add a comment

  1. JohninCT

    Reminders + Siri is pretty much my favorite thing on the iPhone. It works reliably, they sync to iPad and Mac (sluggishly, but they sync) and it is very easy to use Siri. I couldn’t live without it and I tell everyone who will listen how great it is.

  2. geoduck

    Tried this today. Nice.
    One thing though. My first attempt didn’t work. I had to make sure Notifications is turned on for Reminders. Otherwise it just makes a reminder but you never get reminded about it.

  3. Bob LeVitus

    Geoduck:

    D’oh! My bad for not mentioning Notifications. I made an assumption… and you know what happens when I make assumptions….

    You are absolutely correct – the trick is nearly useless without turning on Notifications for Reminders.

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