7 Great Things Coming to Apple Reminders in iOS 16
Apple’s Reminders app has come a long way from its humble beginnings in iOS 5. What began as a relatively basic task list app has evolved over the past few iOS releases into a more full-fledged task and list management app.
Although Reminders was largely neglected by Apple for several years, even in its original form, it had several advantages that made it worth a look, especially for those with simple needs who found more sophisticated task management apps downright intimidating.
Reminders has always been elegant in its simplicity, and that hasn’t changed even with the recent big improvements. iOS 13 brought a new layout with pre-defined smart lists, nested lists, natural language parsing, and contact tagging to link Reminders to conversations in the Messages app. Last year iOS 15 beefed that up even further with the addition of tags and smart lists to help you organize your Reminders even more effectively.
Now, iOS 16 is set to bring even more improvements to Apple’s Reminders app. While we still don’t expect it to reach the level of sophistication of third-party apps and services like Things, Omnifocus, and Todoist, it’s getting much closer to filling that gap that’s long existed between the “pro” task and project management apps and more basic list apps. If you’ve found yourself living in that grey zone, you’ll want to take a look at these seven things that Reminders will bring to the table in iOS 16.
Organize Your Reminders by Time
If you’re the sort of person who likes to break your day’s tasks down into more manageable groups, you’ll appreciate this new iOS 16 feature.
Rather than presenting all your day’s tasks in a single list, Reminders can now group them by time: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening (Tonight). This is done based on the times you’ve set for each task; untimed tasks remain at the top, above the time groupings.
What’s even cooler is that you can drag tasks into the individual time blocks. This will set a time for the task based on which section you drop it into: 9 a.m. for Morning, 3 p.m. for Afternoon, and 6 p.m. for Tonight. You can also edit the time manually like before, and Reminders will display the task in the appropriate time slot.
Note that there doesn’t seem to be any way to set these default times right now, but that could change by the time iOS 16 is released this fall. These groupings are entirely optional; if you want Reminders to show your tasks in a single list like it does in iOS 15, simply uncheck the Group by Time from the menu in the top-right corner.
Along the same lines, the Scheduled list also adds new week and month groups to make it easier to see your longer-term organization.
Pin Important Lists to the Top
When Apple introduced a new layout for Reminders in iOS 13, it brought several pre-defined smart lists to the top of the screen. Although Apple added the ability to hide these, there was no way to put your own up there, even after custom Smart Lists came along in iOS 15.
That’ll change with iOS 16, which will let you “pin” any list into that section. This is similar to how pinning works in Apple’s Notes app, although in this case, your pinned lists will become a rectangular tile alongside the predefined lists.
You can have a maximum of nine things pinned to the top, which is an odd number considering that it’s a two-column grid. These can be any combination of your own lists and the built-in Smart Lists like Today, Scheduled, and Flagged. If you want to pin more of your own lists up top, you’ll need to hide some of the built-in ones.
Quickly See Your Completed Tasks
Speaking of built-in smart lists, Apple has added another very useful one to the mix: Completed tasks.
Before iOS 16, seeing your completed tasks required that you visit each individual list and toggle on Show Completed from the menu. With iOS 16, you’ll be able to see them all in one place by visiting the new Completed smart list.
This will show you all of your completed tasks across all of your lists, sorted by date. As a bonus, you can also now see the exact time you checked off each task. This wasn’t previously available anywhere in the Reminders app, and it’s still not shown when viewing completed tasks in an individual list.
Save Any List as a Template (and Share It)
Apple’s Reminders app isn’t just about reminders; many folks also use it for creating simple checklists for things like packing or daily routines. It’s actually an excellent tool for that purpose, and now iOS 16 will make it even better by letting you save those lists as templates so you can re-use them as many times as you want.
Any list can be quickly turned into a template, and you can choose whether to include completed items when saving a list as a template. Once you’ve done that, you can create a new list from that template as often as you like — simply choose the “Templates” tab when creating a new list.
While you’ll need to use an actual list to create a template, you can also edit existing templates without re-saving them. Pull up the templates list from the menu and tap the info button to find the “Edit Template” option.
Apple didn’t stop there. Templates can also be shared publicly via iCloud, so you can share your favorite templates with family and friends or even find templates others have shared publicly.
More Powerful Smart Lists and Filtering
Smart Lists and Tag Filtering are getting a nice boost in iOS 16, with the ability to filter by “any” and not just “all.”
This is a massive improvement for those hoping for a more powerful way to organize their tasks in Reminders. In iOS 15, a Smart List could only be created to match ALL the criteria on the list, which was pretty limiting. For example, you couldn’t make a Smart List that would show tasks that were flagged OR high priority, or tasks that were either in a selected list OR had no date. Similarly, filtering by tags could only show tasks with ALL of the selected tags applied.
With iOS 16, a new heading is shown in the tag browser and Smart List editor to let you choose whether to include reminders that match ALL selected tags or filters or ANY of the selected tags or filters. In the tag browser, you can also tap on a tag a second time to exclude tasks with that tag.
It’s much better than before, although there are still a few limitations. Most significantly, you still can’t create a Smart List based on multiple instances of the same criteria, such as combining tasks from two different lists or making a list of tasks that are medium and high priority. Each filter in a Smart List can be used only once.
Format your Reminder Notes
In iOS 16, Notes in Reminders support rich text, so you’ll be able to bold, italicize, underline, strike-through text, and even create bulleted lists.
Formatted text can be pasted in from Notes, Mail, or any other app that supports rich text, or you can format text while entering a note by selecting the text and using the Format option on the pop-up menu that appears.
Edit Reminders on your Apple Watch
The Reminders app in watchOS 9 is also getting a significant upgrade that will take it beyond just a place to view and check off your reminders.
With watchOS 9, you’ll be able to edit just about everything in a reminder that you can from your iPhone. This includes adjusting the date and time, flagging a reminder, changing its priority, adding notes and tags, setting location reminders, or even assigning it to a different list. For Apple Watch users, this alone makes Reminders a much more powerful task management app than ever before and puts it well ahead of the competition, most of which offer little to no editing capabilities.