Primer on iPhone Alarms and Reminders

One of the nice things about the iPhone is that it comes with several built-in apps that serve a variety of reminding functions.  However it’s good to know what the differences in function are since they all have different strengths and weaknesses.

iPhone timer

  • Timer
    • Simplest interface (especially if you use Siri – just say “set timer for 10 minutes” and it will start counting)
    • Very limited on features, including that you have to remember what you set the timer for!  But good for parking meters, timing food, etc.
  • Alarms
    • Pros:
      • Simple interface – easy to set quickly
      • Alarms can be labeled to tell you what they’re reminding you to do
      • Alarms sound even if phone is muted with the ring/silent switch
        • Use this if you want to get an auditory alarm no matter what, e.g., if you have to wake up at a certain time, or if you want to make sure you’re alerted and the sound won’t be a problem.
    • Cons
      • Alarms will sound even if phone is muted (bad for meetings, theater, etc.)
      • The Siri default setting is AM, so if you create a new alarm with Siri and you want it to be PM, you much specify that or edit it to PM once it’s created.
  • Reminders
    • Pros:
      • Checklist style
      • Can be set to show on lock screen until actively dismissed (set as an “Alerts” style alert in Notifications)
      • Can be categorized and prioritized
      • Can be set for time or place notifications
      • Time notifications can be set to repeat at desired intervals (e.g, daily, weekly, etc)
      • Easy to set with Siri, eg., “Remind me at 8pm to do the laundry,” or “Remind me when I get home to take my vitamins.”
    • Cons:
      • Multiple features/menus make setting potentially more involved (compared, for example, to Alarms)
      • Alarms do not sound if phone is muted (though they vibrate once)
  • Calendar
    • Pros:
      • Placed on Calendar (for easy reference if you refer to Calendar a lot or have coordinated Calendars, etc.)
      • Repeatable
      • Can set up to 2 alerts at different intervals up to and including the event time
    • Cons:
      • Alarms do not sound if phone is muted but vibrate and otherwise function like reminder alerts.

That’s my rundown.  If there’s something important I missed, you can add a comment, or let me know on the Google Group (see About) and I’ll add it!

[Photo credit: Author]

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