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Location-Based Service Helps You Remember

By James A. Martin
May 5, 2009 12:00 PM ET

PC World - Location-based services that remind you about to-dos when you're on the go are exactly what busy mobile professionals need. A new service, ReQall Pro ($3/monthly or $25/yearly), gives you reminders that are tied to specific locations. Unfortunately, in its current incarnation the service doesn't go as far as I'd like, because it's hampered by some technological limitations beyond ReQall's control. Even so, it's worth a try.

The Ideal

In concept, what I'm looking for is a service that ties a specific to-do item or shopping list to a specific GPS coordinate, then gives me an audible reminder (like a buzz on my mobile phone) when I'm approaching that location.

For example: Recently I needed to refill a prescription at a nearby Walgreen's. Wouldn't it be nice if, as I approached the Walgreen's my phone would automatically ping me to pick up that prescription?

That's the concept, anyway. But the technology isn't there yet, at least with ReQall Pro.

The Reality

ReQall Pro, unlike the free ReQall service, offers a feature called "location-based organization and reminders." You can use this feature via the free ReQall app for Apple iPhones and RIM BlackBerry smart phones.

To set up a location-based reminder, you must first create a "place" in ReQall. And to do that, you must physically visit the location--in this case, the drug store--and add it as a place in the reQall app on your iPhone or BlackBerry. Using your phone's GPS, ReQall assigns the appropriate coordinates.

Next, you create a new to-do item in ReQall, in this case "pick up prescription." You can do this by speaking into your phone. (ReQall Pro and the free ReQall service, like Jott, another on-the-go productivity tool, perform voice-to-text transcriptions.) You can also type the reminder into ReQall on your phone or create it by logging into your ReQall account on the Web. Then you assign "Walgreen's," or whatever the appropriate location is, to the task.

Later, when you're near the location, you would whip out your iPhone or BlackBerry and open ReQall. In my example, "pick up prescription" was displayed at the top of my to-do list in ReQall, and at the top of the list in ReQall's "Memory Jogger" feature. This is what ReQall means by location-based reminders. The GPS in your phone tells ReQall where you are, and the app then prioritizes your tasks, showing you those closest to your current location first.

This means you must remember to open ReQall to see your reminders; you don't get automatic reminders as you approach a location. The reason is that iPhones don't allow third-party apps to run in the background while the device is off, explains Sunil Vemuri, chief product officer and ReQall cofounder. While BlackBerrys do allow apps to run in the background, Vemuri says ReQall is gauging how users want to receive reminders before proceeding with development plans: "Do they want their phones to vibrate, to chime, to display a pop-up icon? How much of an alert do they want? That's what we're talking to BlackBerry users about," he says.

Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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