The only feature of my new iPhone 4S that I was actually excited about was location-based reminders. Basically, the ability to tell the phone to do things like, “Next time I’m at the hardware store, remind me to pick up furnace filters” or “Next time I leave the house, remind me to check that I have my passport with me.” As someone with a sieve-live memory for these kinds of things, this is life-changing, and I’ve been waiting for phones that do this for at least 10 years.
And then Apple implemented it inexplicably poorly. Like, intern-bad.
The most egregious, bizarre problem is that, in order to attach a reminder to a location, that location has to be someone’s address in the phone’s Contacts app. So, if I want to create a reminder to pick up milk at the 7-11 on my way back home from the movie theater, I have to enter the 7-11 and its address into the phone's main contact list –even if I don’t expect to ever visit it again. Not only is this a clunky, multi-step process that involves switching between the Reminders app and the Contacts app unnecessarily, but I end up with a contact list that’s cluttered with single-use contacts that were added solely so that I could get a one-time reminder for those locations at some point in the past.
Obvious solution A: In the Reminders app, when specifying a location, add a “Select on map” option.
Obvious solution B: In the Reminders app, enable me to directly type in an address when specifying a location (which, believe it or not, the current Reminders app doesn’t allow), then show me the address I typed in on a map (to verify that the Maps app was able to find it).
Obvious solution C: In the Maps app, when I tap-hold a location on the map (which causes a “pin” to be dropped at that location), give me the option of attaching a reminder to that location.
The number-two problem is that there’s no way to bookmark commonly-used locations, like my local grocery store. I have to create an entry for these in my contact list, and then find and select them from my (long) list of contacts every time I want to attach a reminder to these super-common locations.
Obvious solution A: Use locations that I’ve bookmarked in the Maps app as bookmarked locations in the Reminders app.
Obvious solution B: When selecting a location in the Reminders app, show me the last 10 locations I selected, and allow me to select from that list (or enter a new location).
Obvious solution C: In the Reminders app, give me an “Add frequently-visited location” option, that allows me to select a location in the Maps app / enter an address / select an address from the Contacts app, and add it to the list of commonly-used locations.
(I actually found a work-around for this, but it’s uber-ugly.)
Other BASIC usability problems:
- I have to click two or more “Done” buttons to actually add a reminder (so clicking the first “Done” button doesn’t mean you’re actually done).
- When creating a new reminder, I first have to first name it and add it to the Reminders list, then go back and re-select it to edit it in order to add basic info like time/date or location. One step that’s been inexplicably split into two.
- Even creating simple date-based reminders requires too many taps. I can think of a dozen ways to remove taps from the process without sacrificing intuitiveness.
The whole thing feels like it was designed by an inexperienced UX designer, and Googling for solutions showed that these gripes are shared by many. Especially from a company like Apple, this kind of amateurish, clunky UI is surprising and disappointing.
But I’m still using it.
But please fix it.