Simple Reminders Improvements Which Should Be in iOS/iPadOS 16

Ever since Reminders got the redesign in iOS 13, I’ve been back to using it for my personal tasks between the app and the other Reminders clients out there. With the new features added in iOS 14, I’ve been using the Reminders app exclusively. With the state of the API – something that I hope Apple fixes, and soon – most of what I do for my personal life needs to run through the Reminders to work.

But Reminders could be so much better. I’m hoping that there are improvements coming to Reminders in iOS 16 that make the app more usable and better for everyday users. There are some bigger things that I’ll explain in a few moments, but there are some small improvements which could make today’s app better. For example, take the medium and large widgets. These widgets have enough width that you could give users the option to show the due time off to the right within the widget settings. Additionally, overdue tasks should show up as red in the widget view. In the Today view, tasks with subtasks should have the ability to expand the list to show them, just like they do in a regular list; having to jump into the list or the information of the reminder is more cumbersome than it needs to be.1st

The current widget could be so much better, even if it _isn’t_ interactive.

For the big changes, let’s start with smart lists. Smart lists need to be, well, a whole lot smarter on iOS/iPadOS. I can create these very easily within GoodTasks, and it’s baffling why some of the smart list options aren’t also available in Reminders. A great example of this is having a Tomorrow widget: the only option I have right now is to create a relative date for a smart list, showing me all the tasks due within the next day. This doesn’t show me what I want. Of course, I could use the Scheduled list, but that’s not what a tomorrow list should be. There also should be more customizations to combine the search features of the smart lists. Not only should you be allowed to search better by dates, but also combine them by lists or tags or locations as well. It’s a small-enough change in user interaction that would pay large dividends in user benefit.

One of the biggest features I want to see overall for iOS/iPadOS 16 on the home screen is interactive widgets. Reminders had this in the Today view, and it’s functionality that should be there for any todo app that implements it. I don’t want to have to go into the app just to check something off the list when I could just do this from the widget itself. I’d also like a larger XL widget in iPadOS 16, but I want it to be something more than just a single list. My vision for an XL widget would be to allow the selection of up to 3 different lists at any given time. This would be a perfect way to show a Today, Tomorrow, and Next 3 Days smart list setup. It provides a better look at my week for the real estate it takes up. I think Reminders would do well to steal inspiration here from other apps like GoodTasks and Things for how those apps have implemented the XL widget size.

Reminders could offer a lot more with an XL-sized widget.

Since Apple creates both the Reminders and Calendar apps, there could be an additional XL widget option which shows both Reminders and Calendar events in one single XL widget. Other apps like GoodTask and Fantastical show both reminders and events, but I think Apple could do a unique take on this: keep them separated and distinguished somehow in the XL widget, with Reminders on one side and Calendar on the other. If they would add both the three-list and list/calendar XL widgets, I’d have them stacked on my homescreen.

A combination Reminders and Calendar widget could have multiple options.

And if Apple really doesn’t want to devote much time into making a more customizable app, then they absolutely should open up the API. Let third party apps create and access subtasks, create smart lists with parameters, add tags, urls, etc. It would even improve their own apps like Shortcuts. Open up the ecosystem to more possibilities, better interactions, and more useful tools.

All of this certainly seems possible to add when Apple announces the tent pole features of iOS/iPadOS 16. I know it’s early to have some of these desires, but if nothing gets posted before WWDC, it might never happen. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store this summer.