iOS 7: Using your iPhone to get the milk

Apple's iOS lets you create contextual reminders to do things when you reach places -- great for remembering essential but often forgotten tasks.


[ABOVE: Based on an image by GCD on Flickr]

Location, location, location

Apple combines the always-connected nature of its mobile devices with its Reminders app and Location awareness. First you need to turn on Location Services and Background App Refresh for Reminders. (You achieve this by toggling Reminders to the on position in Settings>General>Background App Refresh>Reminders and also in Settings>Privacy>Location Services turn on Location Services and Reminders.)

Now that you've done that, here are a couple of examples of location-based reminders.

Get milk

You need to get some milk when you get home after work, which means you need to pick it up from the store near your work. Here's what to do:

  • Launch the Reminders app, tap + and create your "Get milk" reminder. (To do this, tap an empty line in your reminders list and enter the item.)
  • Now you should tap the circled "i" to the right of that item on the list.
  • The Details screen appears -- choose 'Remind me at a location' and a new screen appears.
  • In the search bar tap your work address, or choose it from the drop down menu below.
  • Once you have chosen the location, you can set the Reminder to initiate when you arrive, or when you leave that location.
  • Set the Reminder to launch when you leave work. You can also choose the radius at which you will be determined to have left that location by reducing or expanding the blue circle that surrounds the location on the map at the bottom of the window.

Now, you will be reminded to pick up the milk when you are leaving work.

Call friends

You want to call a friend when you are near them, perhaps for a quick impromptu get together. This is simple -- create a Reminder as detailed above, choosing their address -- only this time set the reminder for when you arrive in the area. Once again, you can choose the radius at which the reminder will initiate using the blue circle around their address in the map at the bottom of the location search window. Now you will be reminded to call when you are nearby.

Use Siri

You can use Siri to create location-based reminders, for example:

"Remind me to get milk when I leave work."

"Remind me to call Mum when I get home."

For these to work you need to define the relevant locations for yourself in your own Contacts card in Contacts.

Open your card and tap Edit. Your home address is probably defined already, to create others (Work or "The Shop," for example) scroll down the address list, choose "add address" and tap it in. 

Your contacts -- significant people, the doctor and so on will also work as locations in Siri, so you can ask it to remind you to do something when you reach your Mom's house, for example.

Is it working?

  • Reminders need to be working as a background app for these tools to work. You can check it is quietly active in the background by double clicking the Home button on an iOS device. If it is active it will show up in the apps list.
  • You must switch on Background App Refresh in Settings>General>Background App Refresh, where you must ensure the Reminders switch is also set to on. Reminders must also be switched on in Settings>iCloud.
  • You must also enable Location Services for Reminders and Siri in Settings>Privacy>Location Services.

Your location-based Reminders should now work as expected.

Also read:

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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