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iOS 5 Features Spotlight – The GTDs

by on August 2nd, 2011

In our continuing series of feature spotlights to gear up for the iOS 5 launch, I’ll be focusing on two features requested by our readers last week, and both have to do with GTD or Getting Things Done. This week, it’s Reminders and the Calendar.

If you’re familiar with Microsoft Exchange (especially if you’re working in the enterprise) or Google Tasks, you’ll already be quite well-versed with both of these features. After all, both Reminders (or Tasks for the old school MS Exchange folks) and Calendar are meant to catch up to enterprise level features and continue the iPad’s push into corporate adoption.

The major changes to the Calendar app are functional and are really just bringing the original app in line with what corporate Exchange users have come to expect in Outlook or even Google Calendar. The new app allows you to drag events in the calendar to change its date, time and duration. It also allows you to invite others to an event. All fairly standard modern calendar functions. What’s nice though is the tighter integration with the cloud. In previous iterations of the app, there was a recurring bug where an accepted invite would show up only on the iPad and not on the desktop Exchange client, which proved the app to be useless. They seem to have resolved that issue in the latest OS. Also, the Calendar app is now synced with iCloud, freeing you from using a third party intermediary such as Google.

Reminders is a new feature in iOS 5 that’s simply a native To-Do list app much like Remember the Milk (though significantly more pared down) and there really isn’t anything significant to write home about. Create tasks, set due dates as necessary, and check them off when they’re done. Like Calendar, it’s also iCloud synced, allowing you to share these lists across devices for free, which is a nice distinction from other similar services you might find in the app store. There are one or two drawbacks with the app though. Alerts for tasks only happen once on the day that it’s due. Also, the app is still incomplete. I can’t seem to add new tasks lists, which is a bit annoying, but otherwise, the app seems to work as advertised.

What strikes me as a failure between the two apps is how little the two interact with each other. Given that both keep track of similar things and are iCloud compatible, I was surprised to find that Reminders with due dates and times aren’t shown in the Calendar as an event, and vice versa. I’m also curious why the Reminders app simply wasn’t built into Calendars itself.

The new GTD tools built into iOS 5 seem to raise more questions from me than actual benefit. In fact, the disintermediation of app functionality (Music and Videos, Calendars and Reminders, etc.) could point to a broader strategy that just isn’t apparent right now.

What do you think? Will you be using Calendars and Reminders much? Any other features that you’d like to see in the next few weeks? Just let us know in the comments below.

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  • Kenstevens

    Very interesting features.  I was pleased to hear there will finally be a task management app included.  I rely heavily on the Tasks functions in Outlook but have to use the Toodledo app and their client installed on my work computer to get Outlook tasks on my iPad which is not ideal.

    Will the new native iPad Tasks integrate with my Outlook account similar to how email and calendar do?

  • Kenstevens

    Very interesting features.  I was pleased to hear there will finally be a task management app included.  I rely heavily on the Tasks functions in Outlook but have to use the Toodledo app and their client installed on my work computer to get Outlook tasks on my iPad which is not ideal.

    Will the new native iPad Tasks integrate with my Outlook account similar to how email and calendar do?

  • Kenstevens

    Very interesting features.  I was pleased to hear there will finally be a task management app included.  I rely heavily on the Tasks functions in Outlook but have to use the Toodledo app and their client installed on my work computer to get Outlook tasks on my iPad which is not ideal.

    Will the new native iPad Tasks integrate with my Outlook account similar to how email and calendar do?

  • Dkimak

    I find the native calendar to be very weak and not having tasks has been a great disappointment.  As an Outlook power user I depend on Pocket Informant to give me the tools I need to manage both of these.  

    Based on the review above, I will ignore the native apps and stick with Pocket Informant.  Apple continues to half-heartedly (if at all) respect and support the majority of us that live in the real (M$ Windows) world.

  • Eytan Biala

    I find Apple’s native applications to be missing important features as well. I started using IQTELL (www.iqtell.com) recently for my email, contacts, calendars, notes, tasks, etc. and I can’t wait for their mobile apps to come out so I can stop using Apple’s. It’s still in beta, but I have a few invites if anyone is interested: eytanbiala+iq@gmail.com

  • Eytan Biala

    I find Apple’s native applications to be missing important features as well. I started using IQTELL (www.iqtell.com) recently for my email, contacts, calendars, notes, tasks, etc. and I can’t wait for their mobile apps to come out so I can stop using Apple’s. It’s still in beta, but I have a few invites if anyone is interested: eytanbiala+iq@gmail.com