*Backs Away Slowly*

I’m not always sure where my thought process starts with certain feelings I have. And generally speaking, I make my peace with that. This can be for many things: home, work, hobbies, etc. Things ruminate for a while, sometimes they go somewhere and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they completely consume me.

It’s that last point that really has been on my mind lately: consumption. For better or worse, my consumption level has been indicative of my current mental state: the more stressed/depressed I’ve been, the more I consume.1 But in the past six months or so, I’ve been finding myself consuming the wrong type of content. I’ve been too focused on certain things, and ultimately have come to the conclusion that many often do – this isn’t healthy.

Again, not sure where it started, but all of these thoughts came to a head when I had to write recently. Really, that’s the words I felt at the time: “I have to do this”. I felt that I owed someone somewhere what I had to say. But due to over consumption of other things, I was completely zapped creatively. It felt laborious. It felt like a chore. It felt like a job and no longer a hobby.

Since that time, I’ve been doing some other things in life that I’ve done in the past, but are things for which I have a renewed focus – woodworking, photography, and music. As my wife set off for a weekend of fun with her gal pals, I set off for a weekend of fun here at home. I found myself lost in creativity with the projects I was undertaking, though they were quite small. I combined the woodworking and photography by framing some shots of what I was doing and having a little fun. I realized that I could catalog my life a little more by only taking a few moments to set up a shot.

And that’s really when it hit me: I’ve spent far too long consuming and not enough creating. The endless checking and scrolling has finally caught up with me, and like anything else that is done too much, it no longer makes me feel good. I feel better for the times I’m doing something meaningful rather than being online. So I’m going to fill my life with more of the things that excite me and fill my cup up rather than view things that bring me down or make me feel longing for something I don’t or can’t have.

I’m not leaving the internet. I’m not shutting anything down or stepping away for a bit only to come back. I’m just backing away slowly and letting my creativity point me in the direction that feels right to me. This whole new approach feels healthier and has reframed how I’m viewing my life in general. I’ve picked my head up from looking down, and I’m starting to notice a lot more of the things around me. For the last few years, life has been moving pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

  1. Yeah, this includes food too. Not proud of it, but it’s common and normal, and if you’re reading this, you should know that as well. 

A Decade of Drafts

I was a late iPhone adopter. I held on tight to my BlackBerry for way too long. It wasn’t until the iPhone 4S that I made my way over to the iPhone. And then a new opportunity really opened up for me – the App Store. There was a lot more development happening on iOS than any other platform, and there were new possibilities for me to explore. Of all the apps the App Store had to offer, one of the most transformative apps for me at the time was, you guessed it…
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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.

Close Your Rings Differently

Listening to Upgrade recently, I was reminded about a feature that I really want to see incorporated into the Apple Watch fitness tracking: rest days. I’m not a fitness expert by an means, and I have a long journey ahead of me to start living a healthier lifestyle in 2022. But I’ve done a lot of training in the past, and I can adamantly say that rest days are vital whether you’re starting a new routine, are years-deep into one, or even if you’re a pro-level athlete. There are many situations where resting for a day is actually more beneficial than continuing to push through an injury or illness. And Apple would do well to make a feature available to users to implement days of rest. I think there are a couple of different ways to handle this: one is a simple change that could be done now, the other would take a bit more to implement but I think would ultimately be the better of the two solutions.
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