Featured iPhone App: Due

I definitely have a problem with forgetting to do certain one-time, time sensitive things, returning a phone call, mailing something, ordering something, etc. I use Things to manager my To-Do list but because my personal To-Do list is generally a set of tasks to accomplish by week’s end, there are days where I just don’t have the time or energy to check it or work through it. So I was lacking a way to remind myself the aforementioned one-time things. Enter the iOS app Due, which calls itself “the missing reminder app” for the iPhone. I first heard about Due from Daring Fireball back in September, but didn’t actually purchase it until 52 Tiger gave his three reasons to use it.

An Emphasis on Speed

Due puts an emphasis on speed. It’s a simple app and it’s designed to do just a few things, but do those things quickly and easily. When the app loads and you click the ‘+’ icon, you are presented with a UI to create a new reminder. This includes a field for a name, which is optional, then the time when the reminder is due. The default due date/time is relative to current time (say “15 minutes from now”) and the default value for this field is selectable in the app’s settings. Below these two fields are 4 “quick set” buttons that have absolute times on them. These are also configurable, although the configuration page labels them as “wake”, “lunch”, “after work” and “before bed.” These are great for when I want to set a reminder quickly for when I get home, which is what I do 90% of the time. The convenience of these buttons means that I can add a reminder to do something after work in about 15 seconds or so.

The UI has a lot of features that are quickly available with icons, which means the UI can remain very streamlined. By clicking on an existing reminder a series of icons slides out underneath. The first one is Auto Snooze (more on this in a minute) and the second is a way to set the reminder to recurring. Clicking once sets the reminder to daily, hitting it again sets it to weekly, a third time makes it monthly and a fourth time gets it back to non-recurring. The third icon is the type of alert that will happen, primary, secondary or silent (more on this below). The fourth button moves the reminder 10 minutes further in the future, the fifth button moves it an hour and the sixth moves it an entire day. These buttons can be hit repeatedly to move a reminder multiple hours or days in the future. Shaking the phone will bring up an Undo button so that you can roll back accidental taps.

Effective Reminders

Due has some cool features built-in to make their reminders effective. Many apps will pop up a reminder once, as an iOS notification and then disappear. By default, Due comes with auto-snooze turned on in one minute intervals1. If you don’t dismiss the notification or go into the app and extend the reminder, the app will keep popping up notifications every minute forever2. This is nice if you miss the first vibration in your pocket or you are out of earshot of your phone at the time it goes off. The ability from the notification to go to the Due app and quickly extend the alert with the same 10 minute or hour interval buttons mentioned above is invaluable. Also mentioned above was the ability to select secondary alerts. The primary and secondary alerts are app-wide settings that give a variety of sound choices of varying lengths. The idea, according to the app, is that you may want a longer or more obtrusive sound if you are someplace loud.

The built-in timers are nice as well. I have a couple saved so that I can re-use them for recurring tasks, but there really isn’t anything special to them.

Downsides

There are a couple of downsides I have noticed. The Settings menu is accessed via the Logbook tab, which isn’t terribly intuitive. I had to hunt around a bit for it, which is only inconvenient the first time you try to use it. The auto snooze time is selectable, but only has options for None, 1 minute or 1 hour. I understand the simplicity of not making this completely customizable, but some range between 1 and 30 minutes would be great. The last downside is price. At $2.99, it’s a little steep for some people for a fairly simple app.

Wrap Up

I personally don’t measure price by how simple an application is, but rather how frequently I will use it. At 99 cents, I will buy pretty much anything, at $1.99, I rarely hesitate, so $2.99 is essentially the first price point that gives me pause. I also won’t force myself to use an application to justify it’s purchase. All that being said, I do use Due multiple times per week so I personally think it’s definitely worth $3.

The great thing about Due is how quick and easy it is. The built-in calendar app requires you to create an actual appointment in order to get reminded to do something. This is cumbersome just to get a simple reminder. Also, the inability to snooze these built-in alerts means you better not miss them. I tried Alarmed for a while, which is very similar but I had some issues with recurring reminders not recurring. I also tried Tell Me When and it was OK but not great.

I have been very happy with Due for about the month or so I have been using it. It looks good, it’s fast and it helps me be more productive. I don’t think you can ask for more.

App: Due
Price: $2.99 (iTunes)

  1. This can be turned off or set to an hour instead []
  2. At least I assume forever []