Due has been around since 2010, but candidly I’ve never given it much attention until recently. I was under the mistaken belief Due was another task management application. Once I realized Due was really a better reminders application that could be used in conjunction with my task manager it became much more useful and the possibilities opened up.
As a practicer of the GTD methodology I have been very happy using the powerful OmniFocus suite of productivity apps for managing my tasks. Getting started with OmniFocus isn’t always easy, and it’s not always the task management system for everyone, but as someone who juggles a lot of tasks it’s been a system that has worked well for me. I realized that OmniFocus was a powerful tool for managing tasks and project, but wasn’t necessary best tool for reminders or one-off tasks. While Omni-Focus will notify you of upcoming or past due events, other than a notification or App icon it won’t pester you about something. That means for something that absolutely has to be done on a certain day or a specific time, it may not be the best choice. That’s when I started taking another look at Due.
Due allows you to create reminders and set timers quickly. A reminder can be a one-off event or it can be a recurring event. Due’s hallmark feature is auto-snooze. This allows Due to notify you about a task then automatically dismiss the alarm (or snooze it) but remind you again after a certain time has passed. Depending on the urgency of the event you may choose to create a short snooze, perhaps as little as one minute, or a longer snooze of an hour or more.
One of the problems about the default Reminder application with iOS is that it will trigger a reminder based on a time or place, but if completing the event isn’t convenient at that time you may simply dismiss reminder only to forget about the task. This happens to me all the time. I find using Due to set an alarm with an auto snooze of 15 minutes to an hour is a great way to gently remind me of a task without being overly intrusive. Auto-snooze means that after the elapsed time has passed, and likely I’ve moved on to something else, the task will pop back up and thus be triggered again in my mind and more likely to actually be completed.
The developer of Due has paid special attention to the user interface with a focus on making it quick and easy to create new reminders. When a new reminder is started the user is prompted with a grid with a list of quick access times they can choose from as well as option to add or subtract time. I find this easier to use that Apple’s standard time scroller, which is also available. Give your reminder a title and you’re done. You can then swipe anywhere on the screen to save the reminder and dismiss the window, or click on the checkbox at the bottom of the screen.
In addition to the above, the developer has also built in a few “power user” features to allow you to quickly create reminders. You can simply drag down from the main screen to reveal text input box and immediately begin typing a new reminder. Due also has support for natural language input, similar to apps like Fantastical. This means you can create a reminder such as “Call Mom Monday at 6p” and Due will add a row to the time editor grid with it’s guess at the appropriate due date.
In addition to reminders you can also set timers as well as pre-configure commonly used timers. Admittedly, this is not a feature I use often as I find Siri remarkably well suited for setting timers.
Due organizes reminders by due date. Reminders can easily be marked as completed or deleted with a short or long swipe from the reminder screen. Due is also highly customizable. Custom quick access timers can be set for a variety of uses. In addition, settings can be used to configure a number of options including default times, notifications, snooze options, intervals on the time picker, swipe options and more. Due supports sync via iCloud and Dropbox, though currently background sync is only supported via Dropbox. If you plan on using Due on multiple devices (and their is a companion App for the Mac) you may may want to consider Dropbox sync until support is added for background iCloud sync. Candidly, sync is an area where Due could use a little work. Hopefully they’ll get this sorted out in future versions. For now I use it primarily on my iPhone.
When coupled with an Apple Watch, due can become even more valuable. Since I started wearing an Apple Watch I’m able to keep my iPhone silent (or on vibrate) most of the time since all my notifications come to my wrist. So long as my iPhone is paired and in range, all my notifications come in as a gentle tap on the wrist that can be ignored, marked completed or snoozed for an hour. You can also quickly create timers using voice input and natural language data detection as well as quickly start timers.
Once I realized that I could use Due as a companion to my task management application, things really fell into place. Examples of things that I use Due for now instead of OmniFocus include one-off tasks that are time-specific. Or perhaps recurring single events. For example, a reminder to take out the trash every Monday night, I’ll set a daily reminder to water freshly planted flowers for their first few weeks of life, or I’ll set a repeating reminder for a week that I need to pickup the neighbor’s mail while they’re out of town.
While version 2.0 was released recently, there are still areas of improvement. Due has the ability to import reminders from the native reminders app, but the must be manually triggered. I’d love to see the ability to configure Due to monitor a specific reminders list and automatically import reminders in the background that. OmniFocus and some other task management applications have a similar feature and this would allow users to use Siri to add tasks to a specific Reminders list, but still take advantage of the features of Due. Background sync is also an area that could use improvement. It is currently only supported with Dropbox and then seems to not be 100% reliable.
This article first appeared in the July Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at http://www.screencastsonline.com/magazine/